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Monday, May 30, 2011

Jacob's Return by Annette Blair


Discription: Jacob Sauder abandons his Amish heritage when the woman he loves, Rachel Zook, agrees to marry his brother, Simon. Though he adapts to the ways of the “English” — even fathering twins — he remains an outsider. When the mother of his twins dies, Jacob knows only one way to raise his children — the Amish way. He brings them home to the community he vowed to leave forever. For his children he can do anything, even be strong when he sees Rachel, his love, married to his brother.

Years ago, Simon lied to ensure a future with Rachel Zook as his wife. Now Rachel is barren, a disappointment to him. Unaware of the lie Simon told to drive Jacob away, Rachel believes Jacob abandoned her when he left the Amish community. Shocked when he returns with two-year-old twins, Rachel knows there can be nothing between them, for marriage is a life-long commitment among the Amish. But the twins need a mother and Rachel loves children. As she cares for Jacob’s children as if they were her own, her feelings for him deepen into a love that cannot be.

Jacob’s Return is the story of a prodigal son, a forbidden love, and a fanatical preacher. As shocking as it is compelling, Jacob’s Return is both uplifting and unforgettable. A wonderful read, this is a universal story about love and faith in impossible circumstances.


This book really brought you into Amish life, and some of the harsh realities of it. I found it very interesting and a very fast one day read. It is not for everyone and could be considered X rated. If it weren't for the explicit sex, it was a wonderful story of repentance and forgiveness.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Unbridled Hope by Loree Lough

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:


Unbridled Hope (Book Three in the Lone Star Legends Series)

Whitaker House (July 5, 2011)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Loree Lough is a well-known, beloved Christian romance writer with nearly three million books in circulation. She's released 78 books, including one that's been optioned for a TV movie, 68 short stories, and over 2,500 articles. A tireless advocate of Christian fiction, she's recognized as a leader in the genre and spends time mentoring aspiring writers. She's also a sought-after speaker who encourages audiences with her comedic learned-the-hard-way lessons about writing and life. Loree and her husband Larry have four daughters and seven grandchildren. They split their time between Baltimore and their cabin in the Allegheny Mountains. An avid advocate for endangered species, Loree supports The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania and other worthy causes close to her heart including The Wounded Warriors Project and The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Callie Roberts' life is turned upside down when her parents, older brother, and fiancé are killed in a steamboat boiler explosion that leaves her younger brother deaf. Callie survives with a scar from cheek to chin that serves as a daily haunting reminder of the tragedy for which she's partly to blame. Hoping to put the past behind her, Callie moves to Eagle Pass, Texas, launches a successful business, and meets local rancher Micah Neville who is embroiled in a different kind of family drama. In an attempt to protect his cousin's honor, Micah returns from what he told others was a business trip to San Antonio, with a baby boy in tow. He handles the gossip just fine, especially when Callie volunteers to help -- and manages to capture his heart.



Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (July 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742271
ISBN-13: 978-1603742276

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


December 1887

On the Brazos River near Sweetwater, Texas

Raw, unrelenting wind whistled across the deck boards, scattering newspapers and rattling the cleats as the steamboat chugged toward its next major stop, Clear Fork. Callie cupped her elbows, wishing she’d thought to grab her shawl. She’d never liked weather like this, for it reminded her too much of the bitter Baltimore winter of ’85 that had nearly killed her mother and had prompted her father’s decision to move the family west. Ever since, Callie had begun every day with a prayer for her mother and ended by asking God to ease the ache of homesickness.

In time, the Lord had answered her first prayer, restoring her mother to robust health. The second He’d granted in the form of a young seminary graduate who’d been hired to entertain guests with the soothing sonatas of Beethoven and Bach. And, just as the sunshine dispels the nippy mists from the river, the music of Seth’s love had turned her longing for Maryland into a dim yet melodious memory.

Tonight, her beloved beau would give his final performance for the tycoons, high rollers, and politicians who gathered nightly in the grand salon. His final because, in twelve short hours, Callie’s father, a chaplain and owner of the Maybelline, would pronounce him and Callie man and wife.

Heart throbbing with hope and excitement, she hurried toward the jackstay, the secret meeting place where Seth had first confessed his love. Her fingers throbbed, too, from sewing fifty-two satin-covered buttons up the back of her full-skirted gown and from attaching a feathered headdress to her long, lacy veil. Callie smiled, knowing the discomfort would vanish the instant she saw Seth smiling at her from the makeshift altar where he would become her husband.

Sadly, the gown would not fit inside her valise. What a pity she wouldn’t be able to save her beautiful dress for the daughters she and Seth might have! She imagined a bright-eyed young woman with her papa’s dark eyes and her mama’s diminutive stature, walking down the center aisle toward her intended in the little church in Eagle Pass, Texas, where Seth’s dream of shepherding a flock of his own would come true, and he would eventually unite his own daughter with her soul mate.

Still, she took comfort in knowing that her hours of hard work had not been in vain. She said a little prayer for the senator’s wife, who’d agreed to pay a handsome sum for the gown and veil—and for Callie’s eternal silence. “Lord, help the poor woman keep secret the fact that her daughter will be married in a used—”

“Talking to yourself again?”

She stifled a tiny squeal. “Jonah Everett Roberts, you frightened me half to death!” How a boy of her brother’s height and weight managed to sneak up on her at least once a day, she’d never know. Raising one eyebrow, she rested a fist on her hip. “Say, what are you doing out here, anyway? Didn’t I hear Papa ask you to sweep out the saloon?”

He frowned. “I’m waiting for the green flash,” he said, taking a bite of an apple.

Not that again, she thought. “Well,” she said on a sigh, “if that’s the cause for the holdup, you’ll never get the job done, because the sun went down more than an hour ago.”

“Humpf. Leave it to little miss stick-in-the-mud to spoil the moment for a boy.”

“Boy, indeed. Papa says when he was sixteen, he worked as hard as any man on the family farm, and that his folks never had to remind him to do his chores.”

Jonah swallowed a mouthful of fruit. “Yeah, and he also says that if I’m patient, I’ll see the green flash, eventually.”

Callie couldn’t count the number of times she’d heard the same assurance. In fact, she’d heard so much about the elusive emerald flare, which was visible only under precise atmospheric conditions as the sun disappeared into the horizon, that she’d wished a time or two for the patience to believe in the phenomenon, herself.

But wishing wouldn’t get her any closer to the jackstay and her darling Seth. “Your tactic might work on Mama and Tim,” she said, giving his shoulder a playful shove, “but I see it for what it is: a ‘clever’ way to shirk your responsibility—”

A thunderous roar set the deck to quaking beneath their feet. Please, Lord, not the boilers! she thought as a second deafening blast threw her and Jonah to the floor. Instinct made her grab his collar and drag him under a heavy table, where she covered their heads with a tablecloth. Shards of glass and splinters of wood rained down as a third explosion rocked the steamer.

Choking smoke closed in around them as flecks of glowing ash floated down like fiery snowflakes. With its shallow keel and inch-thin hull, the Maybelline’s flimsy design assured swift river travel—and guaranteed that it would sink swiftly, too.

If that happened, it would be her fault.

If only she’d stoked the boilers like she was supposed to, instead of handing the job over to Tim! She’d seen the vacant “I don’t understand” stare in her older brother’s eyes enough times to recognize it for what it was, yet she’d ignored it to gain a few minutes more with Seth.

Callie scrambled forward with one objective: to make sure that Tim, her parents, and her beloved Seth had survived.

“Wait!” Jonah hollered.

“You’re safer right here,” she said, meeting his frightened eyes. “I know you’re scared, Jonah. I’m scared, too.” Using a corner of her apron, she dabbed at the blood dribbling from both of his ears. “But you need to stay here, before you’re hurt even worse.” She gave him a little shake. “If the steamer starts taking on water, I want you to make your way to the riverbank. Once you’re there, find the biggest tree and stay put. Do you understand?”

His confused expression mirrored the one that had long seemed frozen to Tim’s face. But their older brother had been slow from the day he was born, unlike Jonah, who could solve arithmetic problems without the aid of slate and chalk. She blamed Jonah’s expression on fear and scrambled to her feet. Why did both her brothers turn to her for comfort and support, when she was younger than both of them?

On the heels of a frustrated sigh, she scooted out from under the table. “Lord, watch over him,” she prayed as she raced along, darting between rivers of blue-orange fire that snaked and coiled across the deck and dodging the witch-finger flames that flared from each cabin window. When a fierce groan sounded from above, she crooked her elbow to protect her eyes and looked up. The breath caught in her throat when she saw the tallest of the three fat smokestacks teeter as it gave way to the gluttonous fire monster gnawing at its wooden moorings.

Callie barely gathered her wits in time to sidestep it. If only she’d thought to gather her skirts, too. The heel of her boot caught on a fold of muslin, slowing her escape by a mere fraction of a second. She was already falling when a grapefruit-sized lump of glowing coal slammed into her right temple.

“Sweet Jesus,” she prayed as dizziness overwhelmed her “Keep…them all…safe.”

For the second time in as many minutes, her prayer was interrupted, as she slipped into the dark unconscious.

Two years later~October 2, 1889

The Lazy N Ranch, Eagle Pass, Texas

The sweet-smelling envelope was addressed to “M. Neville.” At least, that’s what Micah had thought at first glance. But the message inside the envelope didn’t make a lick of sense. So, he studied the addressee a second time, and a third, before realizing that the fanciful M was, instead, a D. Guilt at reading his cousin’s mail was quickly overshadowed by concern at the nature of the message. Dan had already lived two lifetimes’ worth of misery in his twenty-eight years.

Micah shook his head and said a silent prayer for Dan, who’d shouldered a burden of self-blame ever since his twin sister had died tragically at the age of thirteen, even though nobody held him responsible. Guilt and remorse, along with the whiskey used to numb the emotional pain of his loss and the physical torment of a bum leg suffered in a stampede, had managed to turn the once shy, gentle boy into a man hell-bent on self-destruction and prone to angry brawls. About once a year, Dan had summoned the strength to shake his addiction, but, all too soon, self-loathing would lure him back to the bottle. Fourteen months into the latest stint of sobriety, Micah had begun to notice signs that made him fear things were about to take another ugly turn, but then, praise God, Levee O’Reilly had come to town as the new schoolteacher. She’d taught her students reading, writing, and arithmetic, all the while teaching Dan to value his own life.

The two had married, and their relationship seemed solid and strong. But now, something like this? Micah glared at the single sheet of scented ivory paper on which, with a few well-chosen words, the writer had implied a dozen sinister things, any one of which could start the dominos toppling in Dan’s life yet again.

Slumping onto the edge of his bed, Micah read the letter a fourth time. Maybe he’d underestimated his cousin’s ability to stand strong, even in the face of this woman’s spiteful threats. He had a lot more to live for now, though. Maybe this woman wanted to destroy him, once and for all.

Micah would not take that chance. For one thing, Dan had always been his favorite cousin—a statement in itself, since there were dozens in the Neville clan. For another, Dan had protected him more times than Micah could count. As a youngster, he’d been puny and timid and had spoken with a lisp, just the sort of stuff that invited the taunts of the bigger, older boys. But, without fail, Dan would always put a stop to it.

Eventually, Micah’s front teeth had grown together, eliminating the lisp, and his body had grown, too. At six feet three inches, and with two hundred and twenty pounds of raw muscle, Micah’s size alone would have discouraged any bully. But by the time the Neville men had embarked on the trail drive of ’86, Dan’s determination to defend Micah had become so ingrained that he hadn’t thought twice about maneuvering his horse between his cousin and a bevy of gun-blasting rustlers. Dan had laughed off the bullet in his shoulder in exactly the same way he’d laughed off every swollen knuckle, bloodied lip, and black eye endured to protect Micah. “You’ve done me a favor, cousin,” he’d said, gritting his teeth as Cookie dug out the slug, “because certain ladies like a man with scars!”

Had the author of this letter been one of those ladies?

Micah harrumphed. “A female, maybe, but I’d bet my horse she’s no lady.” Scooting closer to the night table, he turned up the lantern and leaned into the golden light to read those ominous closing lines yet again:

…at two o’clock on Friday afternoon, the fifteenth of October, I will be at the train station in San Antonio, Texas. If you choose not to meet me there, I shall have no alternative but to bring this very urgent matter to the attention of the authorities.

Most sincerely yours,

Pauline Eden Devereaux

“Urgent matter”? A dozen possible scenarios flashed in Micah’s brain, none of them good. Under ordinary circumstances, Dan wouldn’t squash a beetle under his boot, but there was nothing ordinary about the way his personality changed once a few pints of whiskey burned in his veins. If he was drinking when he ran into this woman….

Micah got to his feet and started pacing. He didn’t want to believe that Dan was guilty of any offense. The more likely story, he told himself, was that this Pauline character had gotten wind of how many acres made up the Lazy N Ranch and hoped to weasel a few hundred dollars in exchange for her silence about whatever matter she seemed to believe might interest the authorities. And, since the family never discussed their troubles beyond the closed door of Uncle Matthew’s office, she had no way of knowing how steeply their profits had dropped due to anthrax, weevils, droughts, and storms.

There was only one way to know for sure, and that was to take a trip to San Antonio to meet this femme flimflammer face-to-face. He didn’t know what excuse he’d cook up to put himself there, or how he’d squash her scam, but Micah knew this much: he intended to defend Dan for a change.



My Opinion:
This book does teach some great Christian values and is a sweet story of acceptance, and forgiveness.

Callie Roberts is a driven to make things up to her younger brother Jonah...she believes that it is her fault that he is deaf. While Micah is trying to help his cousin Dan.
When Micah returns to town with a baby, it is Callie who comes to his rescue. Hard to believe a woman would give away her baby, but that same child is destined to start healing lives.

Some parts of the book will have you giggling, and others are sad. Felt bad for Micah's sister who is morning the loss of her husband. I also loved the character of Gus, what a great friend he is.

I enjoyed reading this fast pace book and it will make a great summer read.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Trigger: A Novel on the Revelation by Hon Hoh

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:


The Trigger

Living Impact (May 16, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Hon S. Hoh is a gifted teacher of the Word. He is a minister committed to the calling that God has placed on his life. He began studying the Book of Revelation in Bible college, and he is passionate about reaching people with the truth and love of Christ.

Hoh has been a pastor in Australia for over ten years and is gifted in preaching, teaching, and visionary leadership. He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne (Psychology), the Swinburne Institute of Technology, the Bible College of Victoria, and the Harvest Bible College (M.A. Ministry). Hoh worked in the field of social welfare prior to entering pastoral ministries.

Hoh is the author of Risen Lamb, Empowered Saints: The Book of Revelation Made Easy (Maryland: McDougal Publishing, 2002). His latest book, The Trigger: A Novel on the Revelation, is based closely on the theology expressed in his first book.
Hoh is the founder and executive director of Living Impact Inc, a non-denominational Christian ministry with an emphasis on global missions. He founded the ministry to help fulfil the Great Commission in reaching some of the poorest and most unevangelized peoples of the world. Living Impact started at the turn of the century, in 1999.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Do each of us play a role in the kingdom of God? Can the choices we make affect God’s timing of future events? Hon Hoh examines these questions while taking his readers on a riveting adventure in The Trigger: A Novel on the Revelation. Through twists and turns, readers will be led on a powerful journey.

The Trigger follows three individuals (a pastor, a spy, and a missionary) from three continents (the United States, China, and Australia) who find their lives merged in a single divine purpose: to win the last unreached people group on earth and usher in the Second Coming of Christ. They must succeed in order to release the trigger for the return of the Lamb as declared in Matthew 24:14.

In their way stands a legion of demonic principalities intent on destroying the plan. Against the backdrop of unprecedented persecution and the onslaught of cataclysmic events, they must remain steadfast in order to carry out the priority revealed to them by God. It is evident that no believer will escape the greatest tribulation in human history and that only the matchless return of the King can deliver mankind from evil’s reign.

The climactic battle between Good and Evil unfolds as Lucifer executes his definitive act of defiance: the global genocide of all Christians. With the sound of the trumpets reverberating throughout the heavens, the events that have been set in motion must now complete their course. Eternity and the fate of the earth are at stake, and there is no plan B.

Far more than just another End-Times novel and theologically distinct from the Left Behind series, Hoh will alter the way you see the world and prepare you for the future. This novel is based closely on Hoh’s theology expressed in his book Risen Lamb, Empowered Saints: The Book of Revelation Made Easy. Although the events described are entirely fictional, they are but one of many plausible scenarios in which the end could occur. Though these depictions may not arise for more than another hundred years, it is conceivable that they could begin to unfold within the next decade—or less.

Hoh has written a thought-provoking and exciting novel that looks at the events leading up to the Second Coming and challenges us all to follow the plans that Christ has for our lives.




Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Living Impact (May 16, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0578071959
ISBN-13: 978-0578071954

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Josh felt exhilarated as he left the apartment of one of the five key leaders of the persecuted church in China. Preaching and teaching the scriptures was one of Josh’s greatest ministry gifts. A distinct and powerful anointing of the Spirit came upon him whenever he was engaged in the delivery of the Word of God. That was abundantly evident while he was speaking in the underground churches of Shanghai, China.
“Jai Jian—goodbye,” Josh blurted out awkwardly. They were about the only Chinese words he had managed to learn in the past three weeks.

“Tank you for being good blessing to our people,” said Tai, one of the leaders sending him off. “Soli we cannot go wit you to airport; it not safe for us to do that for long time now. Government eyes everywhere, you know.”
“I understand. God bless you, brothers.” Josh waved his final farewell as the yellow taxi drove slowly away.

Everything had gone remarkably smooth. Despite the heightened crackdown on underground churches in the past six months, he had not run into trouble with the Public Security Bureau. Around five hundred Han Chinese had made first-time decisions to follow Christ during the many evangelistic meetings in and around the Shanghai area. Josh’s teaching had been well received by congregations of all sizes, a few of which had as many as a thousand worshippers. The secret police had been well aware of those larger congregations for many years. According to the latest statistics, 48% of mainland Chinese professed to be Christian, but only 15% were registered with the government endorsed Three-Self Patriotic Church. The Communist Party was clearly worried.

The journey to Hongqiao Airport was relatively short; soon Josh was lining up to check in for his flight to Australia. He was looking forward to his stopover Down Under before traveling home. The queue was long, but Josh was relaxed, thankful that his Shanghai mission had gone so incredibly well. He had at least a dozen intriguing stories waiting to fascinate Beverly and Rebecca, the two most precious women in his life.

His moment of reverie was quickly interrupted by a loud squeal as a dark green van braked to a stop at the entrance of the airport. Within seconds, a group of uniformed police stormed in the double glass doors. Josh quickly counted—there were eight of them. He tried to convince himself that it was just a routine operation in communist China, especially with the ongoing international clampdown on terrorist suspects.

To his dismay, the officers were moving in his direction. As they approached the United Airlines counter, Josh instinctively looked away. Surely they can’t be searching for me. The commotion was drawing closer to where he stood. He could feel his heart begin to race.

Please, Lord, make them blind to my presence if it’s me they’re After.
He had barely completed his lightning prayer when he felt a firm tap on his shoulder.
“Are you Mr. McGuire?” One of the officers inquired.

“Why?”
“Show me passport.”
“Sure, but can you tell me what’s happening? I mean, is there a problem?” Josh handed the officer his American passport, trying to keep as calm as possible.
With barely a glance at the document, the officer announced, “Come wit us, Mr. McGuire.”
Grabbing his bags, Josh hoped they would ask him some questions at the airport, but they placed him in the police van instead and sped off, honking impatiently at the passersby.
“May I know where you’re taking me, please?”

“Headquarter.”
“The local police headquarters?”
“No. MSS.”
“Forgive my ignorance, sir, what is this MSS?”

“Ministry of State Security! No more questions.”

Josh’s heart immediately sank with that curt reply. The Ministry of State Security was the Chinese equivalent of the CIA, or worse, the Soviet KGB in the former USSR. Josh figured that he could be in serious trouble. What did they want from him? What if they were after the names of his contacts, or wanted him to divulge some incriminating evidence? What was he going to do? Josh slid his left hand slowly on top of his trouser pocket to make sure his cell was still there. Perhaps he should call the American Embassy, if they’ll even let him. At least he was assured of one

thing, folks at home were praying. Bev would be, no doubt about that. His staff, his elders, and his band of intercessors had also assured him of their daily prayers.
What’s your purpose for allowing this to happen, Lord? Strengthen me now that I may know and fulfill your will in this .Josh closed his eyes to focus on Jesus. It took a while for his heart to stop pounding. Gradually he began to sense the presence of God permeate his soul.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<>~~~~~~~~~~~
Michael was about to enter, then hesitated. The Twenty Four were in session, and he had no desire to interrupt. It was not that he was intimidated—the Twenty Four and the archangels had always gotten along perfectly well ever since the dawn of time, and angels have no human apprehensions—not archangels anyway. Like Michael, the twenty-four elders were spiritual beings of an exalted order, not humans, even though they were referred to as “elders” in that sacred scroll called the Apocalypse.

He knew the session they were having with the Lamb was of paramount importance. At the appropriate moment, Michael made an entrance into the throne room, kneeling before the King of Kings. He had always felt amazed before the presence of the Resurrected One. Since the ascension of Jesus over two thousand years ago, the splendor of the Lamb had never ceased to create a sense of awe and wonderment in him. The face of Jesus beamed with pure power, and His voice thundered mightier than Niagara Falls. The matchless Lamb of God was on the throne—the only one worthy to open the seven seals, slain in weakness yet risen with power. For centuries angels had striven to determine Yahweh’s plan of salvation, but they couldn’t—until the crucifixion and resurrection.

The Lamb stood to welcome Michael into the celestial council, and immediately the Twenty Four bowed in worship as Jesus rose to His feet. Michael could not get accustomed to that either.

The glorified Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega, approached to make him feel welcome while he elders knelt in meek reverence to the Almighty. Then again, the Ascended One did put His hand on old Apostle John, saying, “Do not be afraid,” when the beloved disciple first received the vision of Revelation. John was trembling with dread as any man would.

“Forgive me for interrupting, my LORD,” Michael said. “The accuser has come to make his demands once again.”

“We know what he wants,” one of the Twenty Four said.

Michael nodded. “Yes, he wants all restraints to be removed so that he can begin his vengeful and wicked scheme.”

“Tell the evil one,” Jesus said, “that Gabriel will be out of his way only at the appointed time. If he maneuvers for more information, you may reveal a little extra at your own discretion.”

“Yes, my LORD.” Michael took a bow to the Lamb and the elders before exiting the throne room. As he was leaving the chamber, he heard one of the spiritual beings ask, “While we are on the matter, LORD, may I inquire if our favored servant is on schedule?”

“Most definitely,” the Lamb said. “It is progressing exactly as I have anticipated; he truly does have an obedient heart.”

Michael smiled, and sped to his destination in a brilliant beam of light.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<>~~~~~~~~~~~
The interrogation room was bright and clinical. The entire building looked new, or at least recently renovated. In the middle of the room was a chrome rectangular table with a red chair on each side. The walls were painted stark white, with no sign of a two way mirror on any of them. The guards confiscated Josh’s phone and ordered him to sit and wait for the interrogating officer. He looked at his wristwatch; it was 10:15 A.M.

An hour later, the door swung open. Two sagacious-looking agents entered swiftly, files in hand. The female officer sat down without a word, studying the files. The silence was disquieting and deafening, with the only sound an antiquated Mandarin clock on the wall.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, on it went.

“Mr. McGuire, what have you been doing in Shanghai?” the woman finally asked.
“I came as a tourist. This is my first time in China.” Josh was relieved to tell the truth. He was touring the underground house churches and some Three-Self congregations, and he had ticked the ‘tourist’ box on the disembarkation form on arrival.

“Have you been visiting illegal churches?”

“Why do you ask?” Josh tried to give nothing away. Maybe they are only fishing for information, he hoped.

“We know you’ve been preaching Christianity at some illegal gatherings.”
Josh swallowed hard. “Have you been following me? Why is it illegal to worship God?”
The man who was standing next to the female officer weighed in, “We don’t want to waste your time, Mr. McGuire, and believe me, you don’t want to waste ours. Whether you get out of here in a matter of hours, days, or weeks is up to you. Just answer the questions.”

For a moment Josh was glad he didn’t say months or years.

“Who are your contacts for the house churches? We want all their names!”
Josh was silent. He could not give them the names of the underground leaders. It would implicate them, and they could be imprisoned for years as a result. Those flourishing house churches could be closed down forever. Josh did not want to jeopardize the work of God, no matter what they might do to him personally. He decided to keep quiet.

“Names, Mr. McGuire!”
Josh stared hard at the files on the table in front of him.

“Your contacts, McGuire, or you will know the true meaning of PAIN,” the male officer hollered, pounding the table with his huge palm.

Josh clasped his hands tight beneath the table and raised his eyes to bravely meet the agent’s.
The man swung his fist in a rapid move, striking Josh with the back of his knuckles. The blow landed hard upon his right cheek. He fell off his chair on to the floor, and bubbles of blood instantly oozed from his nose.
A solid kick directed firmly at the abdomen followed.

Josh gritted his teeth to endure the agony. He had never been punched or kicked by a grown man in his life. He’d had fights with others when he was a young boy, but that was long ago and far different.

“I…demand…to see the U.S. ambassador,” Josh managed to say, groaning as he sat up on the floor. “You…have no right to strike me…. I’m a citizen of the United States.”

“Sure, you can tell that to the chief when you see him!”

The two agents stormed out the room, infuriated by Josh’s refusal to cooperate.
Did he say the chief? That was probably the last person Josh wanted to see; he could imagine a three-headed beast coming to torture him. With his handkerchief, Josh wiped the blood off his nose. Oh, Lord Jesus, help me to fear nothing and no one. Help me to be your faithful witness, and when your purpose for this is completed, get me out of here.


There was nothing Josh could do in the interrogation room but wait, pray, and not allow his imagination to run wild with anxiety. He remembered the strong anticipation he’d had for this trip and the thrill he’d felt at the airport before boarding. For a long time, particularly after the much-needed renovation, JFK has been his favorite airport. Actually, he had quite enjoyed visiting international airports around the world. This in spite of September Eleventh, which had taken place thirty-one years ago. Airports had not been quite the same since; for some, flying had permanently lost its appeal, with pleasure being replaced by apprehension and in some cases loathing because of those obtrusive security checks. The same couldn’t be said for Josh, though. Perhaps it still gave him

a sense of adventure—the restaurants and cafes, the bookstores, the movement of different people, planes taking off, each stirring within him a feeling of embarking toward something exciting.

It was often hard saying goodbye for the pastor and his wife, even if it was only for four weeks. One month could seem like a long time, and it sure did feel that way for Josh and Bev, particularly for this trip. He was travelling to a “closed” country on a mission, ministering and preaching at different underground churches. In the continuing era of international terrorism, he knew how difficult it would be for Bev not to worry about this particular mission of his. But her faith in God’s willingness and capacity to protect His own in any and every circumstance had rarely wavered over the years.

Josh remembered Rebecca, who’d been waiting ruefully at the front door, looking a little sad but eager to give Josh her warmest goodbye hug. “Go give them all you’ve got, Dad. I’ll be waging war on your behalf 24-7, both mom and I.” She’d given him the tightest bear squeeze a teenager can muster.

“I know you will, my panda bear. And you’ll look after mom for me, won’t you?”
He used to call her panda bear when she was little. He would never forget that cherished occasion when Rebecca was just four years old. She was playing in bed with both him and Bev when he cuddled her gently and asked, “Will you still be my panda bear when you grow up?”

“Yes, a BIG ONE!” was her spontaneous reply. They all broke into laughter. It was one of those precious moments enshrined forever in his memory. Now she was sixteen, and exceedingly pretty with her mesmerizing blue eyes.
Josh recalled giving Bev a long caress. “The Lord is with you as always, my dear, so there’s nothing to fear. Love you heaps.”

“We’ll be fine, hon, don’t worry about us. I’ll be praying hard for you. Hurry on now, Bill’s been out there a long time.”

Senator Bill Davies had been patiently waiting in his white limousine for Josh to say his good-byes. He usually insisted on chauffeuring his pastor to JFK, knowing that Bev didn’t fancy the 90-minute drive.

“Love ’em lots, don’t you? Gonna miss them, I bet?” the Senator had said when Josh climbed into the back seat.

“Nah! Not much,” Josh had joked, half-smiling, staring blankly out the tinted window.
“You’re a great pastor, Josh, and you have a wonderful relationship with Bev and Rebecca. Everyone in the church knows that. But tell me, why do you do this?”
“Do what, pal?”
“Go preaching to these dangerous and peculiar places.”

“Compelled to.”
“Just make sure we don’t have to send in our Special Forces to get you out of the ‘Middle Kingdom,’ okay?”

“Oh, I won’t bother; God has already sent His units ahead of me. Your guys are no match for His.”

The Senator had smiled and nodded. “Dead right there.”

Given what had just transpired in the last four hours, Josh sure hoped Bill wouldn’t have to stage a rescue from Shanghai.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<>~~~~~~~~~~~
The Prince of Darkness had been pacing restlessly. His hollow eyes revealed nothing except a pit of venomous hatred stretching back through eternity. “What took you so long? Did He just delay you as usual?” The voice of Satan, once called Lucifer, was deep and demeaning.

“Keep your sarcasm to yourself,” Michael commanded, unfazed by Satan’s provocation, though saddened at the sight of such insatiable evil. “You shall not begin global persecution of the faithful until the time foreordained by the LORD God Almighty. Gabriel will not be out of your way until then.”
“Spare me your totalitarian autocratic babble. Tell me when that time is.”

“When the designated one is born again—”

“And who might that be?”
“You know.”
“I see. You mean the one whom my foot soldier has been pestering the last few years. Why is that pathetic, insignificant soul so important?”

“The LORD rebukes you, Satan. I do not want to see your face here ag—”
“Oh, you surely will. Just let Him know that I have the right to begin implementing my great plan for the earth when the hour arrives. I will not wait for even half a second longer.”

As the devil swept out on his scheming way, Gabriel appeared alongside Michael. His being emitted a pure, shimmering glow, much like his comrade except for a tint of sapphire.

“The Day is drawing very near indeed,” Gabriel said.

“You are right, my friend. The Great Commission has made outstanding progress over the past two decades. The gospel of our LORD has touched almost every people of every nation.”

“Only one city and one group remain…our very last bastion.”

“Hmm. The final frontier...”
From an enormous distance, they were taking an extended gaze at the Earth.

She was exceptionally beautiful.


My Thoughts: What an amazing book Mr Hoh has written, he put the Book of Revelations into a story that everyone can understand. The events that happen in this book sound almost like our world today…or at least the set up for the Book of Revelation

The story starts in China where Josh McGurie has been preaching in the underground Church. As he begins his journey home he is detained at the airport, and in an amazing twist Josh ends up riding the Chinese Official Yang of a demon. Mr Yang ends up being a supporter of the Word and helps in bringing it to the people of Yangon in Myanmar. He is now known as The Chief!

Another supporter is a Pastor in Australia Scott Cunningham who also receives a message from God to go you Yangon. As the story plays out the French Prime Minister becomes Demonized and appears to be the Antichrist,and he starts fulfilling the prophecy of Marking everyone for the Devil.
Even though The Trigger is an End of Times Revelations page turner, the author gives us a fresh concept interpretation to the Second Coming.

You will not be disappointed in reading this book!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How Huge the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn Litfuse Blog Tour








Welcome to the blog tour for Heather and Lydia Munn's debut novel! The Munns are mother and daughter and have teamed up to pen their first YA fiction story. How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens and adults alike turning the pages as they learn about a fascinating period of history and consider more deeply their everyday choices.

To celebrate the release, Kregel Publications is giving away a $50 Amazon.com gift card. All you have to do is send a tweet (using #litfuse) about How Huge the Night or share about it on Facebook!

If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use the hashtag (#litfuse), if you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (info@litfusegroup.com). Easy. (All Litfuse bloggers who post a review are automatically entered and do NOT need to email us.)

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea.

TWEET THIS: How Huge the Night - compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens and adults alike turning the pages! #litfuse http://ow.ly/4RBXc

FACEBOOK THIS: How Huge the Night by Heather & Lydia Munn is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens and adults alike turning the pages late into the night! http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13181161

~~~

Praise for How Huge the Night:
"The Munns have written an engrossing historical novel that is faithful to the actual events of World War II in western Europe during the tumultuous year 1940. But How Huge the Night is more than good history; it is particularly refreshing because the reader sees the conflict through the lives of teenagers who are forced to grapple with their honest questions about the existence and goodness of God in the midst of community, family, and ethnic tensions in war-ravaged France." --Lyle W. Dorsett, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

"Seldom have the horrors of war upon adolescents--or the heroism of which they are capable--been so clearly portrayed. I loved this coming-of-age story." --Patricia Sprinkle, author of Hold Up the Sky

"The book expertly weaves together the lives of its characters at a frightening moment in conflicted times. As we read of their moral dilemmas and of their choices, we too wonder, Would I do has these in the story have done?" --Karen Mains, Director, Hungry Souls


About How Huge the Night:

Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens.Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father's dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair.

Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough-and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.

Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon-the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust-How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices.

About the Munn's:



Heather Munn was born in Northern Ireland and grew up in southern France where her parents were missionaries like their parents before them. She has a BA in literature from Wheaton College and now lives in a Christian intentional community in rural Illinois, where she and her husband, Paul, host free spiritual retreats for the poor, especially those transitioning out of homelessness or addiction. When not writing or hosting, she works on the communal farm.




Lydia Munn, daughter of missionary parents, grew up in Brazil. She received a BA in literature from Wheaton College, and an MA in Bible from Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions. With her husband, Jim, she has worked in church planting and Bible teaching since 1983, notably in St. Etienne, near the small town in the central mountains of France which forms the background of How Huge the Night. The Munns now live in Grenoble, France.

My Review: I loved this book, we tend to forget what these poor people went through with Hitler coming to power.
This is Julien Losier story, a fifteen year old from Southern France, and Nina Krenkel [Niko] a Jewish girl from Austria. There is also the Losier family, and Benjamin Keller a Jewish boy who comes to live with them. The story includes every day life before the thick clouds of danger start to descend on the people of Tanieux.
The people of Tanieux show what it is to be a Christian. They give whatever they to those in need, and people live out their faith in Jesus no matter the cost

I really loved the fact that even though this story is fictional it is really based on fact according to the Historical Notes at the end of the book. Wish there was another book in the story, would like to know how all of the character's stories finish.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications and Litfuse Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Winner

I have a winner!!!!
Congratulations Beverly (Kameko)
The Lightkeepers Ball by Colleen Coble

Monday, May 23, 2011

False Witness by Randy D. Singer

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:


False Witness

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (April 25, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned 10 legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel, Directed Verdict. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Clark Shealy is a bail bondsman with the ultimate bounty on the line: his wife's life. He has forty-eight hours to find an Indian professor in possession of the Abacus Algorithm—an equation so powerful it could crack all Internet encryption.

Four years later, law student Jamie Brock is working in legal aid when a routine case takes a vicious twist: she and two colleagues learn that their clients, members of the witness protection program, are accused of defrauding the government and have the encrypted algorithm in their possession. After a life-changing trip to the professor's church in India, the couple also has the key to decode it.

Now they're on the run from federal agents and the Chinese mafia, who will do anything to get the algorithm. Caught in the middle, Jamie and her friends must protect their clients if they want to survive long enough to graduate.

An adrenaline-laced thrill ride, this retelling of one of Randy Singer's most critically acclaimed novels takes readers from the streets of Las Vegas to the halls of the American justice system and the inner sanctum of the growing church in India with all the trademark twists, turns, and the legal intrigue his fans have come to expect.



Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (April 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414335695
ISBN-13: 978-1414335698

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


MONDAY, AUGUST 9

THE LONGEST THREE DAYS of Clark Shealy’s life began with an expired registration sticker.

That was Clark’s first clue, the reason he followed the jet-black Cadillac Escalade ESV yesterday. The reason he phoned his wife, his partner in both marriage and crime . . . well, not really crime but certainly the dark edge of legality. They were the Bonnie and Clyde of bounty hunters, of repo artists, of anything requiring sham credentials and bold-faced lies. Jessica’s quick search of DMV records, which led to a phone call to the title holder, a Los Angeles credit union, confirmed what Clark had already guessed. The owner wasn’t making payments. The credit union wanted to repo the vehicle but couldn’t find it. They were willing to pay.

“How much?” Clark asked Jessica.

“It’s not worth it,” she replied. “That’s not why you’re there.”
“Sure, honey. But just for grins, how much are we passing up?”
Jessica murmured something.

“You’re breaking up,” Clark said.

“They’d pay a third of Blue Book.”

“Which is?”

“About forty-eight four,” Jessica said softly.

“Love you, babe,” Clark replied, doing the math. Sixteen thousand dollars!
“Clark—”
He ended the call. She called back. He hit Ignore.

Sixteen thousand dollars! Sure, it wasn’t the main reason he had come to Vegas. But a little bonus couldn’t hurt.

Unfortunately, the vehicle came equipped with the latest in theft protection devices, an electronically coded key supplied to the owner. The engine transmitted an electronic message that had to match the code programmed into the key, or the car wouldn’t turn over.

Clark learned this the hard way during the dead hours of the desert night, at about two thirty. He had broken into the Cadillac, disabled the standard alarm system, removed the cover of the steering column, and hot-wired the vehicle. But without the right key, the car wouldn’t start. Clark knew immediately that he had triggered a remote alarm. Using his hacksaw, he quickly sawed deep into the steering column, disabling the vehicle, and then sprinted down the drive and across the road

.

He heard a stream of cursing from the front steps of a nearby condo followed by the blast of a gun. To Clark’s trained ears, it sounded like a .350 Magnum, though he didn’t stay around long enough to confirm the make, model, and ATF serial number.

◁▷

Six hours later, Clark came back.

He bluffed his way past the security guard at the entrance of the gated community and drove his borrowed tow truck into the elegant brick parking lot rimmed by manicured hedges. He parked sideways, immediately behind the Cadillac. These condos, some of Vegas’s finest, probably went for more than a million bucks each.

The Caddy fit right in, screaming elegance and privilege—custom twenty-inch rims, beautiful leather interior, enough leg room for the Lakers’ starting five, digital readouts on the dash, and an onboard computer that allowed its owner to customize all power functions in the vehicle. The surround-sound system, of course, could rattle the windows on a car three blocks away. Cadillac had pimped this ride out fresh from the factory, making it the vehicle of choice for men like Mortavius Johnson, men who lived on the west side of Vegas and supplied “escorts” for the city’s biggest gamblers.

Clark speed-dialed 1 before he stepped out of the tow truck.
“This is stupid, Clark.”

“Good morning to you, too. Are you ready?”

“No.”
“All right. Let’s do it.” He slid the still-connected phone into a pocket of his coveralls. They were noticeably short, pulling at the crotch. He had bought the outfit on the spot from a mechanic at North Vegas Auto, the same garage where he borrowed the tow truck from the owner, a friend who had helped Clark in some prior repo schemes. A hundred and fifty bucks for the coveralls, complete with oil and grease stains. Clark had ripped off the name tag and rolled up the sleeves. It felt like junior high all over again, growing so fast the clothes couldn’t keep up with the boy.

He popped open the hood of the wrecker, smeared his fingers on some blackened oil grime, and rubbed a little grease on his forearms, with a dab to his face. He closed the hood and walked confidently to the front door of the condo, checking the paper in his hand as if looking for an address. He rang the bell.

Silence. . . . He rang it again.

Eventually, he heard heavy footsteps inside and then the clicking of a lock before the door slowly opened. Mortavius Johnson, looking like he had barely survived a rough night, filled the doorway. Clark was tall and slender—six-three, about one-ninety. But Mortavius was tall and bulky—a brooding presence who dwarfed Clark. He wore jeans and no shirt, exposing rock-solid pecs but also a good-size gut. He didn’t have a gun.
Clark glanced down at his paper while Mortavius surveyed him with bloodshot eyes.

“Are you Mortavius Johnson?”

“Yeah.”
“You call for a tow?”

Mortavius’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. The big man glanced at the pocket of Clark’s coveralls—no insignia—then around him at the tow truck. Clark had quickly spray-painted over the logo and wondered if Mortavius could tell.

Clark held his breath and considered his options. If the big man caught on, Clark would have to surprise Mortavius, Pearl Harbor–style, with a knee to the groin or a fist to the solar plexus. Even those blows would probably just stun the big man momentarily. Clark would sprint like a bandit to the tow truck, hoping Mortavius’s gun was more than arm’s length away. Clark might be able to outrun Mortavius, but not the man’s bullet.

“I left a message last night with the Cadillac dealer,” Mortavius said.
The Cadillac dealer. Clark was hoping for something a little more specific. “And the Cadillac dealer called me,” Clark said, loudly enough to be heard on the cell phone in his pocket. “You think they’ve got their own tow trucks at that place? It’s not like Caddies break down very often. If everybody could afford a Caddie, I’d go out of business.”
Clark smiled. Mortavius did not.

“What company you with?” he asked.

“Highway Auto Service,” Clark responded, louder still. He pulled out the cell phone, surreptitiously hit the End button with a thumb, then held it out to Mortavius. “You want to call my office? Speed dial 1.”
Mortavius frowned. He still looked groggy. “I’ll get the keys,” he said.
He disappeared from the doorway, and Clark let out a breath. He speed-dialed Jessica again and put the phone back in his pocket. He glanced over his shoulder, then did a double take.

Give me a break!

Another tow truck was pulling past the security guard and heading toward Mortavius’s condo. Things were getting a little dicey.

“I left some papers in the truck you’ll need to sign,” Clark called into the condo. But as soon as the words left Clark’s mouth, Mortavius reappeared in the doorway, keys in hand.

Unfortunately, he glanced past Clark, and his eyes locked on the other tow truck. A glint of understanding sparked, followed by a flash of anger. “Who sent you?” Mortavius demanded.

“I told you . . . the Cadillac place.”

“The Cadillac place,” Mortavius repeated sarcastically. “What Cadillac place?”

“Don’t remember. The name’s on the papers in my truck.”
Mortavius took a menacing step forward, and Clark felt the fear crawl up his neck. His fake sheriff’s ID was in the tow truck along with his gun. He was running out of options.

“Who sent you?” Mortavius demanded.

Clark stiffened, ready to dodge the big man’s blows. In that instant, Clark thought about the dental work the last incident like this had required. Jessica would shoot him—it wasn’t in the budget.
A hand shot out, and Clark ducked. He lunged forward and brought his knee up with all his might. But the other man was quick, and the knee hit rock-solid thigh, not groin. Clark felt himself being jerked by his collar into the foyer, the way a dog might be yanked inside by an angry owner. Before he could land a blow, Clark was up against the wall, Mortavius in his face, a knife poised against Clark’s stomach.

Where did that come from?

Mortavius kicked the door shut. “Talk fast, con man,” he hissed. “Intruders break into my home, I slice ’em up in self-defense.”
“I’m a deputy sheriff for Orange County, California,” Clark gasped. He tried to sound official, hoping that even Mortavius might think twice before killing a law enforcement officer. “In off hours, I repo vehicles.” He felt the point of the knife pressing against his gut, just below his navel, the perfect spot to start a vivisection.
“But you can keep yours,” Clark continued, talking fast. “I’m only authorized to repo if there’s no breach of the peace. Looks like this situation might not qualify.”

Mortavius inched closer. He shifted his grip from Clark’s collar to his neck, pinning Clark against the wall. “You try to gank my ride at night, then show up the next morning to tow it?”

“Something like that,” Clark admitted. The words came out whispered for lack of air.

“That takes guts,” Mortavius responded. A look that might have passed for admiration flashed across the dark eyes. “But no brains.”
“I’ve got a deal,” Clark whispered, frantic now for breath. His world was starting to cave in, stars and pyrotechnics clouding his vision.
The doorbell rang.

“Let’s hear it,” Mortavius said quietly, relaxing his stranglehold just enough so Clark could breathe.

“They’re paying me six Gs for the car,” Clark explained rapidly. He was thinking just clearly enough to fudge the numbers. “They know where you are now because I called them yesterday. Even if you kill me—” saying the words made Clark shudder a little, especially since Mortavius didn’t flinch—“they’re going to find the car. You let me tow it today and get it fixed. I’ll wire four thousand bucks into your bank account before I leave the Cadillac place. I make two thousand, and you’ve got four thousand for a down payment on your next set of wheels.”
The doorbell rang again, and Mortavius furrowed his brow. “Five Gs,” he said, scowling.

“Forty-five hundred,” Clark countered, “I’ve got a wife and—”
Ughh . . . Clark felt the wind flee his lungs as Mortavius slammed him against the wall. Pain shot from the back of his skull where it bounced off the drywall, probably leaving a dent.

“Five,” Mortavius snarled.

Clark nodded quickly.

The big man released Clark, answered the door, and chased away the other tow truck driver, explaining that there had been a mistake. As Mortavius and Clark finished negotiating deal points, Clark had another brilliant idea.

“Have you got any friends who aren’t making their payments?” he asked. “I could cut them in on the same type of deal. Say . . . fifty-fifty on the repo reward—they could use their cuts as down payments to trade up.”

“Get out of here before I hurt you,” Mortavius said.

◁▷

Clark glanced at his watch as he left the parking lot. He had less than two hours to return the tow truck and make it to the plastic surgeon’s office. He speed-dialed Jessica.

“Highway Auto Service,” she responded.

“It didn’t work,” Clark said. “I got busted.”
“You okay?”

He loved hearing the concern in her voice. He hesitated a second, then, “Not a scratch on me.”

“I told you it was a dumb idea,” Jessica said, though she sounded more relieved than upset. “You never listen. Clark Shealy knows it all.”
And he wasn’t listening now. Instead, he was doing the math again in his head. Sixteen thousand, minus Mortavius’s cut and the repair bill, would leave about ten. He thought about the logistics of making the wire transfers into accounts that Jessica wouldn’t know about.
Pulling a con on pimps like Mortavius was one thing. Getting one by Jessica was quite another.


My Notes: 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:


False Witness

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (April 25, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned 10 legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel, Directed Verdict. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Clark Shealy is a bail bondsman with the ultimate bounty on the line: his wife's life. He has forty-eight hours to find an Indian professor in possession of the Abacus Algorithm—an equation so powerful it could crack all Internet encryption.

Four years later, law student Jamie Brock is working in legal aid when a routine case takes a vicious twist: she and two colleagues learn that their clients, members of the witness protection program, are accused of defrauding the government and have the encrypted algorithm in their possession. After a life-changing trip to the professor's church in India, the couple also has the key to decode it.

Now they're on the run from federal agents and the Chinese mafia, who will do anything to get the algorithm. Caught in the middle, Jamie and her friends must protect their clients if they want to survive long enough to graduate.

An adrenaline-laced thrill ride, this retelling of one of Randy Singer's most critically acclaimed novels takes readers from the streets of Las Vegas to the halls of the American justice system and the inner sanctum of the growing church in India with all the trademark twists, turns, and the legal intrigue his fans have come to expect.



Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (April 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414335695
ISBN-13: 978-1414335698

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


MONDAY, AUGUST 9

THE LONGEST THREE DAYS of Clark Shealy’s life began with an expired registration sticker.

That was Clark’s first clue, the reason he followed the jet-black Cadillac Escalade ESV yesterday. The reason he phoned his wife, his partner in both marriage and crime . . . well, not really crime but certainly the dark edge of legality. They were the Bonnie and Clyde of bounty hunters, of repo artists, of anything requiring sham credentials and bold-faced lies. Jessica’s quick search of DMV records, which led to a phone call to the title holder, a Los Angeles credit union, confirmed what Clark had already guessed. The owner wasn’t making payments. The credit union wanted to repo the vehicle but couldn’t find it. They were willing to pay.

“How much?” Clark asked Jessica.

“It’s not worth it,” she replied. “That’s not why you’re there.”
“Sure, honey. But just for grins, how much are we passing up?”
Jessica murmured something.

“You’re breaking up,” Clark said.

“They’d pay a third of Blue Book.”

“Which is?”

“About forty-eight four,” Jessica said softly.

“Love you, babe,” Clark replied, doing the math. Sixteen thousand dollars!
“Clark—”
He ended the call. She called back. He hit Ignore.

Sixteen thousand dollars! Sure, it wasn’t the main reason he had come to Vegas. But a little bonus couldn’t hurt.

Unfortunately, the vehicle came equipped with the latest in theft protection devices, an electronically coded key supplied to the owner. The engine transmitted an electronic message that had to match the code programmed into the key, or the car wouldn’t turn over.

Clark learned this the hard way during the dead hours of the desert night, at about two thirty. He had broken into the Cadillac, disabled the standard alarm system, removed the cover of the steering column, and hot-wired the vehicle. But without the right key, the car wouldn’t start. Clark knew immediately that he had triggered a remote alarm. Using his hacksaw, he quickly sawed deep into the steering column, disabling the vehicle, and then sprinted down the drive and across the road

.

He heard a stream of cursing from the front steps of a nearby condo followed by the blast of a gun. To Clark’s trained ears, it sounded like a .350 Magnum, though he didn’t stay around long enough to confirm the make, model, and ATF serial number.

◁▷

Six hours later, Clark came back.

He bluffed his way past the security guard at the entrance of the gated community and drove his borrowed tow truck into the elegant brick parking lot rimmed by manicured hedges. He parked sideways, immediately behind the Cadillac. These condos, some of Vegas’s finest, probably went for more than a million bucks each.

The Caddy fit right in, screaming elegance and privilege—custom twenty-inch rims, beautiful leather interior, enough leg room for the Lakers’ starting five, digital readouts on the dash, and an onboard computer that allowed its owner to customize all power functions in the vehicle. The surround-sound system, of course, could rattle the windows on a car three blocks away. Cadillac had pimped this ride out fresh from the factory, making it the vehicle of choice for men like Mortavius Johnson, men who lived on the west side of Vegas and supplied “escorts” for the city’s biggest gamblers.

Clark speed-dialed 1 before he stepped out of the tow truck.
“This is stupid, Clark.”

“Good morning to you, too. Are you ready?”

“No.”
“All right. Let’s do it.” He slid the still-connected phone into a pocket of his coveralls. They were noticeably short, pulling at the crotch. He had bought the outfit on the spot from a mechanic at North Vegas Auto, the same garage where he borrowed the tow truck from the owner, a friend who had helped Clark in some prior repo schemes. A hundred and fifty bucks for the coveralls, complete with oil and grease stains. Clark had ripped off the name tag and rolled up the sleeves. It felt like junior high all over again, growing so fast the clothes couldn’t keep up with the boy.

He popped open the hood of the wrecker, smeared his fingers on some blackened oil grime, and rubbed a little grease on his forearms, with a dab to his face. He closed the hood and walked confidently to the front door of the condo, checking the paper in his hand as if looking for an address. He rang the bell.

Silence. . . . He rang it again.

Eventually, he heard heavy footsteps inside and then the clicking of a lock before the door slowly opened. Mortavius Johnson, looking like he had barely survived a rough night, filled the doorway. Clark was tall and slender—six-three, about one-ninety. But Mortavius was tall and bulky—a brooding presence who dwarfed Clark. He wore jeans and no shirt, exposing rock-solid pecs but also a good-size gut. He didn’t have a gun.
Clark glanced down at his paper while Mortavius surveyed him with bloodshot eyes.

“Are you Mortavius Johnson?”

“Yeah.”
“You call for a tow?”

Mortavius’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. The big man glanced at the pocket of Clark’s coveralls—no insignia—then around him at the tow truck. Clark had quickly spray-painted over the logo and wondered if Mortavius could tell.

Clark held his breath and considered his options. If the big man caught on, Clark would have to surprise Mortavius, Pearl Harbor–style, with a knee to the groin or a fist to the solar plexus. Even those blows would probably just stun the big man momentarily. Clark would sprint like a bandit to the tow truck, hoping Mortavius’s gun was more than arm’s length away. Clark might be able to outrun Mortavius, but not the man’s bullet.

“I left a message last night with the Cadillac dealer,” Mortavius said.
The Cadillac dealer. Clark was hoping for something a little more specific. “And the Cadillac dealer called me,” Clark said, loudly enough to be heard on the cell phone in his pocket. “You think they’ve got their own tow trucks at that place? It’s not like Caddies break down very often. If everybody could afford a Caddie, I’d go out of business.”
Clark smiled. Mortavius did not.

“What company you with?” he asked.

“Highway Auto Service,” Clark responded, louder still. He pulled out the cell phone, surreptitiously hit the End button with a thumb, then held it out to Mortavius. “You want to call my office? Speed dial 1.”
Mortavius frowned. He still looked groggy. “I’ll get the keys,” he said.
He disappeared from the doorway, and Clark let out a breath. He speed-dialed Jessica again and put the phone back in his pocket. He glanced over his shoulder, then did a double take.

Give me a break!

Another tow truck was pulling past the security guard and heading toward Mortavius’s condo. Things were getting a little dicey.

“I left some papers in the truck you’ll need to sign,” Clark called into the condo. But as soon as the words left Clark’s mouth, Mortavius reappeared in the doorway, keys in hand.

Unfortunately, he glanced past Clark, and his eyes locked on the other tow truck. A glint of understanding sparked, followed by a flash of anger. “Who sent you?” Mortavius demanded.

“I told you . . . the Cadillac place.”

“The Cadillac place,” Mortavius repeated sarcastically. “What Cadillac place?”

“Don’t remember. The name’s on the papers in my truck.”
Mortavius took a menacing step forward, and Clark felt the fear crawl up his neck. His fake sheriff’s ID was in the tow truck along with his gun. He was running out of options.

“Who sent you?” Mortavius demanded.

Clark stiffened, ready to dodge the big man’s blows. In that instant, Clark thought about the dental work the last incident like this had required. Jessica would shoot him—it wasn’t in the budget.
A hand shot out, and Clark ducked. He lunged forward and brought his knee up with all his might. But the other man was quick, and the knee hit rock-solid thigh, not groin. Clark felt himself being jerked by his collar into the foyer, the way a dog might be yanked inside by an angry owner. Before he could land a blow, Clark was up against the wall, Mortavius in his face, a knife poised against Clark’s stomach.

Where did that come from?

Mortavius kicked the door shut. “Talk fast, con man,” he hissed. “Intruders break into my home, I slice ’em up in self-defense.”
“I’m a deputy sheriff for Orange County, California,” Clark gasped. He tried to sound official, hoping that even Mortavius might think twice before killing a law enforcement officer. “In off hours, I repo vehicles.” He felt the point of the knife pressing against his gut, just below his navel, the perfect spot to start a vivisection.
“But you can keep yours,” Clark continued, talking fast. “I’m only authorized to repo if there’s no breach of the peace. Looks like this situation might not qualify.”

Mortavius inched closer. He shifted his grip from Clark’s collar to his neck, pinning Clark against the wall. “You try to gank my ride at night, then show up the next morning to tow it?”

“Something like that,” Clark admitted. The words came out whispered for lack of air.

“That takes guts,” Mortavius responded. A look that might have passed for admiration flashed across the dark eyes. “But no brains.”
“I’ve got a deal,” Clark whispered, frantic now for breath. His world was starting to cave in, stars and pyrotechnics clouding his vision.
The doorbell rang.

“Let’s hear it,” Mortavius said quietly, relaxing his stranglehold just enough so Clark could breathe.

“They’re paying me six Gs for the car,” Clark explained rapidly. He was thinking just clearly enough to fudge the numbers. “They know where you are now because I called them yesterday. Even if you kill me—” saying the words made Clark shudder a little, especially since Mortavius didn’t flinch—“they’re going to find the car. You let me tow it today and get it fixed. I’ll wire four thousand bucks into your bank account before I leave the Cadillac place. I make two thousand, and you’ve got four thousand for a down payment on your next set of wheels.”
The doorbell rang again, and Mortavius furrowed his brow. “Five Gs,” he said, scowling.

“Forty-five hundred,” Clark countered, “I’ve got a wife and—”
Ughh . . . Clark felt the wind flee his lungs as Mortavius slammed him against the wall. Pain shot from the back of his skull where it bounced off the drywall, probably leaving a dent.

“Five,” Mortavius snarled.

Clark nodded quickly.

The big man released Clark, answered the door, and chased away the other tow truck driver, explaining that there had been a mistake. As Mortavius and Clark finished negotiating deal points, Clark had another brilliant idea.

“Have you got any friends who aren’t making their payments?” he asked. “I could cut them in on the same type of deal. Say . . . fifty-fifty on the repo reward—they could use their cuts as down payments to trade up.”

“Get out of here before I hurt you,” Mortavius said.

◁▷

Clark glanced at his watch as he left the parking lot. He had less than two hours to return the tow truck and make it to the plastic surgeon’s office. He speed-dialed Jessica.

“Highway Auto Service,” she responded.

“It didn’t work,” Clark said. “I got busted.”
“You okay?”

He loved hearing the concern in her voice. He hesitated a second, then, “Not a scratch on me.”

“I told you it was a dumb idea,” Jessica said, though she sounded more relieved than upset. “You never listen. Clark Shealy knows it all.”
And he wasn’t listening now. Instead, he was doing the math again in his head. Sixteen thousand, minus Mortavius’s cut and the repair bill, would leave about ten. He thought about the logistics of making the wire transfers into accounts that Jessica wouldn’t know about.
Pulling a con on pimps like Mortavius was one thing. Getting one by Jessica was quite another.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chocolate-Covered Crime by Cynthia Hickey


Summer Meadows' chocolate candy business is booming in Spring, Arkansas, and she becomes overwhelmed with her own April Fool's Day wedding plans. But then her cousin/wedding planner is found murdered and more mysteries keep occurring at family parties. Can Summer resist the urge to investigate when she and her dysfunctional relatives are dipped into a plot of unrequited love, internet scam, and jilted hearts? Could the murderer be related to her and have Summer targeted next? Will her fiance' support her sleuthing antics, or is another suspect with something to hide?

Sweet romantic murder mystery...kind of sums it up. This is the third book in the series, but you don't need to have read the other two to read this one! There are some references to past murders-crimes!
The story revolves around the central character Summer is engaged to Ethan and planning their April Fools Day Wedding.

The story begins with Summer bringing her best friend April and her Aunt Eunice to her Cousin Mae Belle's Wedding Planning Store. Now life can't be that simple, especially around Summer a bonafide wannabe detective.
Cousin Mae Belle turns up murdered and that sets Summer off on a new crime solving adventure!

I love the Christian values put forth in this book! What a wonderful man Summer has in Ethan! Her cousin Joe is a Policeman and is engaged to April, Ethan's Sister. Then there are her wonderful Aunt Eunice and Uncle Roy.
The book is a very quick read, but you won't be able to put it down until you know who did it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan A Gay Son's Journey to God. A Broken Mother's Search for Hope. by Christopher Yuan


Synopsis from BN:
Coming Out, Then Coming Home

Christopher Yuan, the son of Chinese immigrants, discovered at an early age that he was different. He was attracted to other boys. As he grew into adulthood, his mother, Angela, hoped to control the situation. Instead, she found that her son and her life were spiraling out of control—and her own personal demons were determined to defeat her.

Years of heartbreak, confusion, and prayer followed before the Yuans found a place of complete surrender, which is God’s desire for all families. Their amazing story, told from the perspectives of both mother and son, offers hope for anyone affected by homosexuality.

God calls all who are lost to come home to him. Casting a compelling vision for holy sexuality, Out of a Far Country speaks to prodigals, parents of prodigals, and those wanting to minister to the gay community.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” - Luke 15:20

Includes a discussion guide for personal reflection and group use.

My Review: Didn't know what to expect when I chose to read this book. The subject mater is not warm and fuzzy, it is written by Christopher [son]and Angela Yuan his Mom.
Angela and her Husband Leon are immigrants from China. At the beginning of this book Angela is an atheist and her husband a nominal Catholic. Their 2 boys are agnostic...Christopher admits in the book that he believed in God, but did not worship him. Love the way the Lord worked in all of their lives.
Angela and Christoper alternate the chapters and give their points of view.
In the beginning Angela is so depressed and suicidal. She and her husband have nothing in common, and her Son has come out of the closet as being Gay.
Christopher goes to Dental School in Louisville KY. There he gets heavily into drugs and the Gay Scene. He gets about a low as one can go. Until he ends up in Atlanta and there his life will start to turn around when he is arrested.
Actually Angela was hoping for this...she told the Judge not to let him out until he accepts Jesus as his Savior.
Christopher had to hit rock bottom, and finally began to find his way. Wow!! Loved his Chapter 30 on "Holy Sexuality". Not at all what I was expecting...he has turned his life around and now lives to serve Christ.
Don't miss this amazing book! There is an Epilogue included and will bring you up to date in their lives!
I was provided a copy of this book by Waterbrook, the opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Judgment (Rose Trilogy, #2) by Beverly Lewis



Synopsis:Rose Kauffman is engaged to Silas Good, a well-liked Amish fellow, so why does she still pine for Nick Franco, the former foster son of the bishop? Especially now that Nick has left the Amish community under a cloud of suspicion after the death of the bishop's biological son? Will Rose marry Silas, even while struggling with romantic feelings for Nick?
Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, has returned to live at her parents' farm with her young daughter. Hen and her modern husband, Brandon, are separated by mutual agreement, although he is threatening to sue for custody of their daughter if Hen does not return soon. Will the judge rule in Brandon's favor? Is there any way Hen can reestablish her place among the People without sacrificing her marriage?
My Review: The Judgement is the continuing story of Rose Ann Kauffman and her family. Loved getting reacquainted with everyone. Rose Ann is now secretly engaged to Silas Good, her sister Hen and niece Mattie Sue are living in the Dawdi House. Her Mamm is still struggling with the constant pain from her accident. Rose is still missing Nick, and the Community is morning Christian.
Mattie Sue is missing her Dad, who won't accept that Hen misses the Simple Life. Don't know what the answer is going to be here. Brandon is adamant that he wants Mattie Sue to come home. He is threatening a divorce and custody.
I can't wait for the next book with the answers...some things looks so promising. I love absorbing myself into this family. Another great book from Beverly Lewis!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble Review and Giveaway

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:


The Lightkeeper’s Ball

Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (April 19, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Colleen Coble’s thirty-five novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers Best, and the 2009 Best Books of Indiana-Fiction award. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Olivia seems to have it all, but her heart yearns for more.

Olivia Stewart's family is one of the Four Hundred—the highest echelon of society in 1910. When her sister dies under mysterious circumstances, Olivia leaves their New York City home for Mercy Falls, California, to determine what befell Eleanor. She suspects Harrison Bennett, the man Eleanor planned to marry. But the more Olivia gets to know him, the more she doubts his guilt—and the more she is drawn to him herself.

When several attempts are made on her life, Olivia turns to Harrison for help. He takes her on a ride in his aeroplane, but then crashes, and they’re forced to spend two days alone together. With her reputation hanging by a thread, Harrison offers to marry her to make the situation right. As a charity ball to rebuild the Mercy Falls lighthouse draws near, she realizes she wants more than a sham engagement—she wants Harrison in her life forever. But her enemy plans to shatter the happiness she is ready to grasp. If Olivia dares to drop her masquerade, she just might see the path to true happiness.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (April 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159554268X
ISBN-13: 978-1595542687

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The New York brownstone was just half a block down from the Astor mansion on Fifth Avenue, the most prestigious address in the country. The carriage, monogrammed with the Stewart emblem, rattled through the iron gates and came to a halt in front of the ornate doors. Assisted by the doorman, Olivia Stewart descended and rushed for the steps of her home. She was late for tea, and her mother would be furious. Mrs. Astor herself had agreed to join them today.

Olivia handed her hat to the maid, who opened the door. “They’re in the drawing room, Miss Olivia,” Goldia whispered. “Your mama is ready to pace the floor.”

Olivia patted at her hair, straightened her shoulders, and pinned a smile in place as she forced her stride to a ladylike stroll to join the other women. Two women turned to face her as she entered: her mother and Mrs. Astor. They wore identical expressions of disapproval.

“Olivia, there you are,” her mother said. “Sit down before your tea gets cold.”

Olivia pulled off her gloves as she settled into the Queen Anne chair beside Mrs. Astor. “I apologize for my tardiness,” she said. “A lorry filled with tomatoes overturned in the street, and my driver couldn’t get around it.”

Mrs. Astor’s face cleared. “Of course, my dear.” She sipped her tea from the delicate blue-and-white china. “Your dear mother and I were just discussing your prospects. It’s time you married.”

Oh dear. She’d hoped to engage in light conversation that had nothing to do with the fact that she was twenty-five and still unmarried. Her unmarried state distressed her if she let it, but every man her father brought to her wanted only her status. She doubted any of them had ever looked into her soul. “I’m honored you would care about my marital status, Mrs. Astor,” Olivia said.

“Mrs. Astor wants to hold a ball in your honor, Olivia,” her mother gushed. “She has a distant cousin coming to town whom she wants you to meet.”

Mrs. Astor nodded. “I believe you and Matthew would suit. He owns property just down the street.”

Olivia didn’t mistake the reference to the man’s money. Wealth would be sure to impact her mother. She opened her mouth to ask if the man was her age, then closed it at the warning glint in her mother’s eyes.

“He’s been widowed for fifteen years and is long overdue for a suitable wife,” Mrs. Astor said.

Olivia barely suppressed a sigh. So he was another of the decrepit gentlemen who showed up from time to time. “You’re very kind,” she said.

“He’s most suitable,” her mother said. “Most suitable.”

Olivia caught the implication. They spent the next half an hour discussing the date and the location. She tried to enter into the conversation with interest, but all she could do was imagine some gray-whiskered blue blood dancing her around the ballroom. She stifled a sigh of relief when Mrs. Astor took her leave and called for her carriage.

“I’ll be happy when you’re settled, Olivia,” her mother said when they returned to the drawing room. “Mrs. Astor is most kind.”

“She is indeed.” Olivia pleated her skirt with her fingers. “Do you ever wish you could go somewhere incognito, Mother? Where no one has expectations of you because you are a Stewart?”

Her mother put down her saucer with a clatter. “Whatever are you babbling about, my dear?”

“Haven’t you noticed that people look at us differently because we’re Stewarts? How is a man ever to love me for myself when all he sees is what my name can gain him? Men never see inside to the real me. They notice only that I’m a Stewart.”

“Have you been reading those novels again?” Her mother sniffed and narrowed her gaze on Olivia. “Marriage is about making suitable connections. You owe it to your future children to consider the life you give them. Love comes from respect. I would find it quite difficult to respect someone who didn’t have the gumption to make his way in the world. Besides, we need you to marry well. You’re twenty-five years old and I’ve indulged your romantic notions long enough. Heaven knows your sister’s marriage isn’t what I had in mind, essential though it may be. Someone has to keep the family name in good standing.”

Olivia knew what her duty demanded, but she didn’t have to like it. “Do all the suitable men have to be in their dotage?”

Her mother’s eyes sparked fire but before she spoke, Goldia appeared in the doorway. “Mr. Bennett is here, Mrs. Stewart.”

Olivia straightened in her chair. “Show him in. He’ll have news of Eleanor.”

Bennett appeared in the doorway moments later. He shouldn’t have been imposing. He stood only five-foot-three in his shoes, which were always freshly polished. He was slim, nearly gaunt, with a patrician nose and obsidian eyes. He’d always reminded Olivia of a snake about to strike. His expression never betrayed any emotion, and today was no exception. She’d never understood why her father entertained an acquaintance with the man let alone desired their families to be joined.

“Mr. Bennett.” She rose and extended her hand and tried not to flinch as he brushed his lips across it.

“Miss Olivia,” he said, releasing her hand. He moved to her mother’s chair and bowed over her extended hand.

Olivia sank back into her chair. “What do you hear of my sister? I have received no answer to any of my letters.”

He took a seat, steepled his fingers, and leaned forward. “That’s the reason for our meeting today. I fear I have bad news to impart.”

Her pulse thumped erratically against her ribcage. She wetted her lips and drew in a deep breath. “What news of Eleanor?” How bad could it be? Eleanor had gone to marry Harrison, a man she hardly knew. But she was in love with the idea of the Wild West, and therefore more than happy to marry the son of her father’s business partner.

He never blinked. “I shall just have to blurt it out then. I’m sorry to inform you that Eleanor is dead.”

Her mother moaned. Olivia stared at him. “I don’t believe it,” she said.

“I know, it’s a shock.”

There must have been some mistake. She searched his face for some clue that this was a jest. “What happened?”

He didn’t hold her gaze. “She drowned.”

“How?”

“No one knows. I’m sorry.”

Her mother stood and swayed. “What are you saying?” Her voice rose in a shriek. “Eleanor can’t be dead! Are you quite mad?”

He stood and took her arm. “I suggest you lie down, Mrs. Stewart. You’re quite pale.”

Her mother put her hands to her cheeks. “Tell me it isn’t true,” she begged. Then she keeled over in a dead faint.

#
Harrison Bennett tugged on his tie, glanced at his shoes to make sure no speck of dirt marred their perfection, then disembarked from his motorcar in front of the mansion. The cab had rolled up Nob Hill much too quickly for him to gather his courage to face the party. Electric lights pushed back the darkness from the curving brick driveway to the porch with its impressive white pillars. Doormen flanked the double doors at the entry. Through the large windows, he saw the ballroom. Ladies in luxurious gowns and gentlemen in tuxedos danced under glittering chandeliers, and their laughter tinkled on the wind.

His valet, Eugene, exited behind him. “I’ll wait in the kitchen, sir.”

Harrison adjusted his hat and strode with all the confidence he could muster to the front door. “Mr. Harrison Bennett,” he said to the doorman.

The man scanned the paper in his hand. “Welcome, Mr. Bennett. Mr. Rothschild is in the ballroom.”

Harrison thanked him and stepped into the opulent hall papered in gold foil. He went in the direction of the voices with a sense of purpose. This night could change his future. He glanced around the enormous ballroom, and he recognized no one among the glittering gowns and expensive suits. In subtle ways, these nobs would try to keep him in his place. It would take all his gumption not to let them. It was a miracle he’d received an invitation. Only the very wealthy or titled were invited to the Rothschilds’ annual ball in San Francisco. Harrison was determined to do whatever was necessary to secure the contract inside his coat pocket.

A young woman in an evening gown fluttered her lashes at him over the top of her fan. When she lowered it, she approached with a coaxing smile on her lips. “Mr. Bennett, I’d hoped to see you here tonight.”

He struggled to remember her name. Miss Kessler. She’d made her interest in him known at Eleanor’s funeral. Hardly a suitable time. He took her gloved hand and bowed over it. “Miss Kessler. I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

“I came when I heard you were on the guest list.”

He ignored her brazen remark. “It’s good to see you again. I have some business to attend to. Perhaps later?”

Her eyes darkened and she withdrew her hand. “I shall watch for you,” she said.

And he’d do the same, with the intent to avoid her. “If you’ll excuse me.” He didn’t wait for an answer but strolled through the crowd. He finally spied his host standing in front of a marble fireplace. A flame danced in the eight-foot hearth. Harrison stepped through the crowd to join the four men clustered around the wealthy Rothschild.

The man closest to Harrison was in his fifties and had a curling mustache. “They’ll never get that amendment ratified,” he said. “An income tax! It’s quite ridiculous to expect us to pay something so outrageous.”

A younger man in a gray suit shook his head. “If it means better roads, I’ll gladly write them a check. The potholes outside of town ruined my front axels.”

“We can take care of our own roads,” Rothschild said. “I have no need of the government in my affairs. At least until we’re all using flying machines.” He snickered, then glanced at Harrison. “You look familiar, young man. Have we met?”

Flying machines. Maybe this meeting was something God had arranged. Harrison thrust out his hand. “Harrison Bennett.”

“Claude’s son?”’

Was that distaste in the twist of Rothschild’s mouth? Harrison put confidence into his grip. “Yes, sir.”

“How is your father?”

“Quite well. He’s back in New York by now.”

“I heard about your fiancĂ©e’s death. I’m sorry for your loss.”

Harrison managed not to wince. “Thank you.” He pushed away his memories of that terrible day, the day he’d seen Eleanor Stewart for what she really was.

“Your father was most insistent I meet you. He seems to think you have a business proposition I might be interested in.”

Harrison smiled and began to tell the men of the new diamond mines that Bennett and Bennett had found in Africa. A mere week after Mr. Stewart’s passing, Mr. Bennett had renamed the venture to include Harrison. An hour later, he had appointments set up with three of the men as possible investors. His father would be pleased.

Harrison smiled and retraced his steps to toward the front door but was waylaid by four women in brightly colored silk. They swooped around him, and Miss Kessler took him by the hand and led him to a quiet corner.

“Let’s not talk about anything boring like work,” she said, her blue eyes sparkling. “Tell me what you love to do most.”

He glanced at the other women clustered around. “I’m building an aeroplane. I’d like to have it in the air by the time Earth passes through the tail of Halley’s Comet.”

She gasped. “Do you have a death wish, Mr. Bennett? You would be breathing the poisonous fumes directly. No one even knows if the Earth will survive this.”

He’d heard this before. “The scientists I’ve discussed this with believe we shall be just fine,” Harrison said.

“I assume you’ve purchased comet pills?” the blonde closest to him said.

“I have no fear.”

The brunette in red silk smiled. “If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings. Or so I’ve heard the minister say.”

He finally placed the brunette. Her uncle was Rothschild. No wonder she had such contempt for Harrison’s tone. All the nobs cared for were trains and ships. “It’s just a matter of perfecting the machine,” Harrison said. “Someday aeroplanes will be the main mode of transcontinental transportation.”

The brunette laughed. “Transcontinental? My uncle would call it balderdash.”

He glanced at his pocket watch without replying. “I fear I must leave you lovely ladies. Thank you for the conversation.”

He found Eugene in the kitchen and beckoned to his valet.

Eugene put down his coffee cup and followed. “You didn’t stay long, sir,” he said. “Is everything all right?”

Harrison stalked out the door and toward the car. “Are there no visionaries left in the country?”

Eugene followed a step behind. “You spoke of your flying machine?”

“The world is changing, Eugene, right under their noses—and they don’t see it.”

Eugene opened the door for Harrison. “You will show them the future, sir.”

He set his jaw. “I shall indeed.”

“I have a small savings set aside, Mr. Bennett. I’d like to invest in your company. With your permission, of course.”

Eugene’s trust bolstered Harrison’s determination. “I’d be honored to partner with you, Eugene. We are going to change the world.”



My Opinion: Colleen has done it again…what an exciting fast pace book! It will keep you guessing right until the end. Thought I had it at one time, but was wrong. Olivia is one tough Lady! Don't want to give things away, but you wonder how New York socialite Olivia Stewart survives.
This book is a great page turner! Loved the Historical aspects of this story....using Haley's Comet. You also add in aeroplanes, disasters, and murder! Great descriptions of the 1910's era!
What a great movie this book would make. This is the third book in the series, but it can be read alone with no problem.
I will be giving away a copy of this book! All you need to do is leave a comment along with your email address, and be a follower....drawing on 23rd May! Sorry US only.