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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guilty by Association Virtual Book Tour with Pat Simmons

About the Book
The Jamieson Family Legacy series follow the lives of two Jamieson brothers in Boston, Kidd and Ace, and their cousin, Cameron, from St. Louis. The older brother, Kidd, is struggling with anger and resentment issues toward his absentee father who never married his mother. Yet, he had the audacity to demand his illegitimate sons carry his Jamieson name. Ace, on the other hand, is on his collision course to be a chip off the old block when it comes to women. Their highly MIT educated cousin, Cameron Jamieson, is all about saving family from self-destruction. Through genealogy research, Cameron's mission is to show his cousins their worth as the eleventh generation descendants of a royal African tribe and to give them a choice: live with the stereotypical "angry black men" syndrome or to crush any obstacles that try and stop them to become strong successful black men.

There are three books in the Jamieson Legacy series: Guilty by Association (Kidd's story), The Guilt Trip (Ace's story), and Free from Guilt (Cameron's story). Each of the three Jamieson men have to accept that their past and present are in God's hand, and without Him they can't advance to their future blessings. The bonus storyline in Guilty by Association is one that progresses the story of the much-loved character in the previous three book Guilty Series, Grandma BB. This time, she picks up a sidekick Mrs. Valentine.

Guilty by Association is the story of Boston bad boy Kevin "Kidd" Jamieson. His gripe is with his father who dared to insist that his two illegitimate sons carry his last name. To add insult to injury, the man never bothered to stick around to provide love and guidance as his boys matured into men. Kidd's anger overflows into every area of his life. As his animosity festers, Kidd becomes as a roaring lion, seeking whatever and whomever he can devour. He's as gritty as his cousin in St. Louis, Parke Jamieson VI, is polished. The two strong-willed men clash when Kidd relocates to St. Louis where his cousin assures him it's a land of milk and money in job opportunities. Where is lands a job is far from it.

Through a series of events that involve Grandma BB, her dog named Silent Killer and her Stacy Adams shoes, Kidd meets two women who recognize his hostile tendencies and immediately begin to administer CPR to his soul. LPN Eva Savoy eventually becomes his "Eve," a woman God created from the underlying goodness hidden in Kidd's own heart.

Reluctantly, Kidd allows Parke to divulge information about their royal family heritage. While everyone's care and compassion begins to smother Kidd, he struggles to keep up the bad boy attitude as his walls start to crumble. Kidd learns it's not his association with the name that identifies him, but the man he becomes that defines him.



About the Author
Pat Simmons is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth. She is passionate about digging up the dirt on her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She has been a genealogy enthusiast since her great-grandmother died at the young age of ninety-seven years old. Pat has won numerous awards for her novels which include: Talk to Me, Grace and Humility and Still Guilty, which was voted the Best Inspirational Romance for 2010. Pat is best known for her Guilty series: Guilty of Love, Not Guilty of Love, and Still Guilty. She is continuing the series through the Jamieson Family Legacy trilogy: Guilty by Association, The Guilt Trip, Free From Guilt. Pat has recently been nominated for the best Christian fiction award by the African American Literary Awards for her latest release, Crowning Glory. Pat and her husband live in Missouri and have two children.



My Review: 5 *
I really enjoyed reading this book, it was hard to put down!
Kevin "Kidd" Jamieson has lived his life with his Mom Sharon, and brother Aaron in Boston. He has never had a relationship with his father, and carries a very big chip on his shoulder because of it. He is hanging around with the wrong tough crowd. When his cousin Cameron comes to school in the area and wants to get in contact with his Jamieson side of the family.
At first Kidd doesn't want anything to do with him, but when more of the family comes from St Louis, it is an answer to his Mother's prayers that he goes home with them and get away from the "Guilty by Association" group he hangs around with.
He goes to live with Parke, who helps him get three different jobs...but he has that Chip on his shoulder. When Grandma BB falls and has to go into the nursing home, Garden Chateau, Parke talks him into doing him a favor and become their eyes. This place is a real eye opener and he meets Eve, who sets him heart awhirl. She has a real love with the Lord, and will never marry anyone who isn't saved.
All of the St Louis love God, and are in constant prayer for Kidd.
Love this family, and the kids are adorable!! This is a must read and it will warm you all over!

First Wild Card Tours: Threads of Hope by Andrea Boeshaar

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:


Realms (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach; a popular speaker at writers’ conferences, workshops, and women’s groups; and the author of numerous published books, including the Seasons of Redemption series: Unwilling Warrior, Uncertain Heart, Unexpected Love, and Undaunted Faith.



Visit the author's website.






SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Kristin Eikaas has her hopes set on a new life in America.



The year is 1848, and Kristin Eikaas has traveled from Norway to Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. But when she arrives, she finds one disappointment after another. Worse, her superstitious uncle now believes that his neighbor’s Oneida Indian wife has put a curse on Kristin. Everyone knows the Sundbergs put spells on people…



Everyone except Kristin. Her run-ins with Sam Sundberg only prove that he is a good man from a Christian family. But when her uncle discovers she’s been associating with Sam, his temper flares. To escape his wrath, Kristin gratefully accepts a job as the Sundbergs’ house girl, finding solace at the family’s spinning wheel.



In the time Sam and Kristin spend together, their friendship develops into much more, and Sam prays about a match between them. But opposition threatens to derail their newfound love. Will they have the courage to stand up for what is right—even against their own families?





Product Details:



  • List Price: $13.99
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616384972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616384975






    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







    September 1848

    It looks like Norway.

    The thought flittered across nineteen-year-old Kristin Eikaas’s mind as Uncle Lars’s wagon bumped along the dirt road. The docks of Green Bay, Wisconsin, were behind them, and now they rode through a wooded area that looked just as enchanting as the forests she’d left in Norway. Tall pine trees and giant firs caused the sunshine to dapple on the road. Kristin breathed in the sweet, fresh air. How refreshing it felt in her lungs after being at sea for nearly three months and breathing in only salty sea air or the stale air in her dark, crowded cabin.

    A clearing suddenly came into view, and a minute or so later, Kristin eyed the farm fields stretched before her. The sight caused an ache of homesickness. Her poppa had farmed . . .

    “Your trip to America was good, ja?” Uncle Lars asked in Norwegian, giving Kristin a sideways glance.

    He resembled her father so much that her heart twisted painfully with renewed grief. Except she’d heard about Onkel—about his temper—how he had to leave Norway when he was barely of age, because, Poppa had said, trouble followed him.

    But surely he’d grown past all of that. His letters held words of promise, and there was little doubt that her uncle had made a new life for himself here in America.

    Just as she would.

    Visions of a storefront scampered across her mind’s eye—a shop in which she could sell her finely crocheted and knitted items. A shop in which she could work the spinning wheel, just as Mor had . . .

    Uncle Lars arched a brow. “You are tired, liten niese?”

    Ja. It was a long journey.” Kristin sent him a sideways glance.

    “I am grateful I did not come alone. The Olstads made good traveling companions.”

    Her uncle cleared his throat and lowered his voice. “But you have brought my inheritance, ja?” He arched a brow.

    Ja.” Kristin thought of the priceless possession she’d brought from Norway.

    “And you would not hold out on your onkel, would you?”

    Prickles of unease caused Kristin to shift in her seat. She resisted the urge to touch the tiny gold and silver cross pendent suspended from a dainty chain that hung around her neck. Her dress concealed it. She couldn’t give it up, even though it wasn’t legal for a woman to inherit anything in Norway. But the necklace had been her last gift from Mor. A gift from one’s mother wasn’t an inheritance . . . was it? “No, Onkel.”

    She turned and peered down from her perch into the back of the wooden wagon bed. Peder Olstad smiled at her, and Kristin relaxed some. Just a year older, he was the brother of Kristin’s very best friend who had remained in Norway with their mother. She and Peder had grown up together, and while he could be annoying and bad tempered at times, he was the closest thing to a brother that she had. And Sylvia—Sylvia was closer than a sister ever could be. It wouldn’t be long, and she and Mrs. Olstad would come to America too. That would be a

    happy day!

    “You were right,” John Olstad called to Uncle Lars in their native tongue. “Lots of fertile land in this part of the country. I hope to purchase some acres soon.”

    “And after you are a landowner for five years, you can be a citizen of America and you can vote.” The Olstad men smiled broadly and replied in unison. “Oh, ja, ja . . . ”

    Uncle Lars grinned, causing dozens of wrinkles to appear around his blue eyes. His face was tanned from farming beneath the hot sun, and his tattered leather hat barely concealed the abundance of platinum curls growing out of his large head. “Oh, ja, this is very good land. I am glad I persuaded Esther to leave the Muskego settlement and move northeast. But, as you will soon see, we are still getting settled.”

    Ja, how’s that, Lars?”

    Kristin heard the note of curiosity in Mr. Olstad’s voice.

    “I purchased the land and built a barn and a cabin.” He paused and gave a derisive snort. “Well, a fine home takes time and money.”

    “Oh, ja, that way.” Mr. Olstad seemed to understand.

    And Kristin did too. One couldn’t expect enormous comforts out in the Wisconsin wilderness.

    Just then they passed a stately home situated on the Fox River. Two quaint dormers peered from the angled roof, which appeared to be supported by a pair of white pillars.

    “That is Mr. Morgan Martin’s home. He is a lawyer in town.”

    Uncle Lars delivered the rest of his explanation with a sneer. “And an Indian agent.”

    “Indians?” Kristin’s hand flew to her throat.

    “Do not fret. The soldiers across the river at Fort Howard protect the area.”

    Kristin forced her taut muscles to relax.

    “Out here the deer are plentiful and fishing is good. Fine lumber up here too. But the Norwegian population is small. Nevertheless, we have our own church, and the reverend speaks our language.”

    “A good thing,” Mr. Olstad remarked.

    “I cannot wait for the day when Far owns land,” Peder said, glancing at Mr. Olstad. “Lots of land.” The warm wind blew his auburn hair outward from his narrow face, and his hazel eyes sparked with enthusiasm, giving the young man a somewhat wild appearance. “But no farming for me. I want to be rich someday.”

    “As do we all!” exclaimed Mr. Olstad, whose appearance was an older, worn-out version of his son’s.

    Kristin’s mind had parked on land ownership. “And once you are settled, Sylvia will come to America. I cannot wait. I miss her so much.”

    She grappled with a fresh onset of tears. Not only was Sylvia her best friend, but she and the entire Olstad clan had also become like family to her ever since a smallpox epidemic ravaged their little village two years ago, claiming the lives of Kristin’s parents and two younger brothers. When Uncle Lars had learned of the tragic news, he offered her a place to stay in his home if she came to America. Onkel wrote that she should be with her family, so Kristin had agreed to make the voyage. Her plans to leave Norway had encouraged the Olstads to do

    the same. But raising the funds to travel took time and much hard work. While the Olstads scrimped and saved up their crop earnings, Kristin did spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing for those with money to spare. By God’s grace, they were finally here.

    Uncle Lars steered the wagon around a sharp bend in the rutty road. He drove to the top of a small hill, and Kristin could see the blue Lake Michigan to her left and farm fields to her right.

    Then a lovely white wood-framed house came into view. It didn’t look all that different from the home they’d just past, with dormers, a covered front porch, and stately pillars bearing the load of a wide overhang. She marveled at the homestead’s large, well-maintained barn and several outbuildings. American homes looked like this? Then no wonder Mr. Olstad couldn’t wait to own his own farm!

    Up ahead Kristin spied a lone figure of a man. She could just barely make out his faded blue cambric shirt, tan trousers, and the hoe in his hands as he worked the edge of the field. Closer still, she saw his light brown hair springing out from beneath his hat. As the wagon rolled past him, the man ceased his labor and turned their way. Although she couldn’t see his eyes as he squinted into the sunshine, Kristin did catch sight of his tanned face. She guessed his age to be not too much more than hers and decided he was really quite handsome.

    “Do not even acknowledge the likes of him,” Uncle Lars spat derisively. “Good Christians do not associate with Sam Sundberg or any members of his family.”

    Oh, dear, too late! Kristin had already given him a little smile out of sheer politeness. She had assumed he was a friend or neighbor. But at her uncle’s warning she quickly lowered her gaze.

    Kristin’s ever-inquiring nature got the best of her. “What is so bad about that family?”

    “They are evil—like the Martins. Even worse, Karl Sundberg is married to a heathen Indian woman who casts spells on the good people of this community.”

    “Spells?” Peder’s eyes widened.

    Ja, spells. Why else would some folks’ crops fail while Karl’s flourish? He gets richer and richer with his farming in the summer, his logging camps in the winter, and his fur trading with heathens, while good folks like me fall on hard times.”

    “Hard times?” Peder echoed the words.

    Ja, same seed. Same fertile ground. Same golden opportunity.”

    Uncle Lars swiveled to face the Olstads. “I will tell you why that happens. The Sundbergs have hexed good Christians like me.” He wagged his head. “Oh, they are an evil lot, those Sundbergs and Martins. Same as the Indians.”

    Indians? Curiosity got the better of her, and Kristin swung around in the wagon to get one last glimpse of Sam Sundberg. She could hardly believe he was as awful as her uncle described. Why, he even removed his hat just now and gave her a cordial nod.

    “Turn around, niese, and mind your manners!” Uncle Lars’s large hand gripped her upper arm and he gave her a mild shake.

    “I . . . I am sorry, Onkel,” Kristin stammered. “But I have never seen an Indian.”

    “Sam Sundberg is not an Indian. It is his father’s second wife and their children. Oneida half-breeds is what we call them.”

    “Half-breed, eh?”

    Kristin glanced over her shoulder and saw Peder stroke his chin.

    “Interesting,” he added.

    “How very interesting.” Kristin couldn’t deny her interest was piqued. “Are there many Indians living in the Wisconsin Territory?”

    Ja, they trespass on my land, but I show my gun and they leave without incident. Sundberg brings his Indian wife to church.” He wagged his head. “Such a disgrace.”

    “And the Territory officials do nothing?” Mr. Olstad asked.

    Uncle Lars puffed out his chest. “As of three months ago, we are the State of Wisconsin—no longer a territory.” Uncle Lars stated the latter with as much enthusiasm as a stern schoolmaster. “Now the government will get rid of those savages once and for all.” He sent Kristin a scowl. “And you, my liten niese, will do well to stay away from Indians. All of them, including our neighbors, the Sundbergs. You hear, lest you get yourself scalped.”

    Ja, Onkel.”

    With a measure of alarm, Kristin touched her braided hair and chanced a look at Peder and Mr. Olstad. Both pairs of wide eyes seemed to warn her to heed Uncle Lars’s instructions. She would, of course. But somehow she couldn’t imagine the man they’d just passed doing her any harm. Would he?



    Sam Sundberg wiped the beads of perspiration off his brow before dropping his hat back on his head. Who was the little blonde riding next to Lars Eikaas? Sam hadn’t seen her before. And the men in the wagon bed . . . he’d never seen them either.

    After a moment’s deliberation he concluded they were the expected arrivals from the “Old Country.” Months ago Sam recalled hearing talk in town about Lars’s orphaned niece sailing to America with friends of the family, so he assumed the two red-haired men and the young lady were the topics of that particular conversation. But wouldn’t it just serve Mr. Eikaas right if that blonde angel turned his household upside down—or, maybe, right-side up?

    He smirked at the very idea. Sam didn’t have to meet that young lady to guess Mr. Eikaas would likely have his hands full. Her second backward glance said all Sam needed to know.

    The word plucky sprang into his mind. He chuckled. Plucky she

    seemed, indeed.

    But was she wise enough not to believe everything her uncle said?

    Sam thought it a real shame. Years ago Pa and Lars Eikaas had been friends. But then Pa’s silver went missing, insults were traded, and the Eikaases’ prejudice against Ma, Jackson, and Mary kept the feud alive.

    The Eikaas wagon rolled out of sight, leaving brown clouds of dust in its wake. A grin threatened as Sam thought again of that plucky blonde’s curious expression. Maybe she did have a mind of her own. Now wouldn’t that be something? Sam thanked God that not everyone around here was as intolerant of Wisconsin Natives as the Eikaas family. There were those who actually befriended the Indians and stood up to government officials in their stead. Like Pa, for instance. Like Sam himself.

    The blistering sun beat down on him. Removing his hat once more, he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He started pondering the latest government proposal to remove the Indians from their land. First the Oneida tribe had been forced out, and soon the Menominee band would be “removed” and “civilized.” As bad as that was, it irked Sam more to think about how the government figured it knew best for the Indians. Government plans hadn’t succeeded in the past, so why would they now? Something else had to be done. Relocating the Menominee would cause those people nothing but misery. They’d stated as much themselves. Furthermore, the Indians, led by Chief Oshkosh, were determined not to give up their last tract of land. Sam predicted this current government proposal would only serve to stir up more violence between Indians and whites.

    But not if he and Pa could help it.

    In the distance he heard the clang of the dinner bell. Ma didn’t like him to tarry when food was on the table. Across the beet field, Sam saw his younger brother run on ahead of him. He wagged his head at the twelve-year-old and his voracious appetite.

    With one calloused hand gripping the hoe and the other holding the bushel basket, Sam trudged toward their white clapboard home. Its two dormers protruded proudly from the second floor.

    Entering the mudroom, he fetched cold water from the inside well, peeled off his hat, and quickly washed up. Next he donned a fresh shirt. Ma insisted upon cleanliness at the supper table. Finally presentable, he made his way into the basement where the summer kitchen and a small eating area were located. The cool air met his sun-stoked skin and Sam sighed, appreciating the noonday respite.

    Next he noticed a cake in the middle of the table.

    “That looks good enough to eat,” he teased, resisting the urge to steal a finger-full of white frosting.

    Ma gave him a smile, and her nut-brown eyes darkened as she set the wooden tureen of turkey and wild rice onto the table. “Since it’s Rachel’s last day with us, I thought I would prepare an extra special dessert.”

    Sam glanced across the table at the glowing bride-to-be. In less than twenty-four hours Rachel Decker would become Mrs. Luke Smith. But for the remainder of today she’d fulfill her duties as Ma’s hired house girl who helped with the cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing, and ironing whenever Ma came down with one of her episodes, which were sometimes so intensely painful that Ma couldn’t get out of bed without help. Rachel had been both a comfort and an efficient assistant to Ma.

    “I helped bake the cake, Sam.”

    He grinned at his ten-year-old sister, Mary. “Good job.”

    They all sat down, Mary taking her seat beside Rachel. Sam helped his mother into her place at the head of the table then lowered himself into his chair next to Jackson, who’d been named after Major General Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of this great country.

    “Sam, since your father is away,” Ma began, “will you please ask God’s blessing on our food?”

    “Be glad to.” He bowed his head. “Dearest Lord, we thank Thee for Thy provisions. Strengthen and nourish us with this meal so we may glorify Thee with our labors. In Jesus’s name, amen.”

    Action ensued all around the table. The women served themselves and then between Sam and Jack, they scraped the bowl clean.

    “Good thing Pa’s not home from his meetings in town,” Jack muttered with a crooked grin.

    “If your father were home,” Ma retorted, “I would have made more food.”

    “Should have made more anyhow.” Jack gave her a teasing grin. “No seconds.” He clanged the bowl and spoon together as if to prove his point.

    “You have seconds on your plate already,” Ma said. “Why, I have never seen anyone consume as much food as you do, Jackson.”

    His smile broadened. “I’m growing. Soon I’ll be taller than Sam.”

    “Brotherly competition.” Sam had to chuckle. But in the next moment, he wondered if his family behaved oddly. Didn’t all families enjoy meals together? Tease and laugh together? Tell stories once the sun went down? According to Rachel, they didn’t. The ebony-haired, dark-eyed young woman had grown up without a mother and had a drunkard for a father . . . until Ma got wind of the situation and took her in. She invited Rachel to stay in the small room adjacent to the kitchen and offered her a job. Rachel had accepted. And now, years later, Rachel would soon marry a fine man, Luke Smith, a friend of Sam’s.

    Taking a bite of his meal, he chewed and looked across the table at Mary. Both she and Jack resembled their mother, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and graceful, willowy frames, while Sam took after his father, blue eyes and stocky build, measuring just under six feet. Yet, in spite of the outward dissimilarities, the five Sundbergs were a closely knit family, and Sam felt grateful that he’d known nothing but happiness throughout

    his childhood. He had no recollection whatsoever of his biological mother who had taken ill and died during the voyage from Norway to America.

    Sam had been but a toddler when she went home to be with the Lord, and soon after disembarking in New York, his father met another Norwegian couple. They helped care for Sam and eventually persuaded Pa to take his young son and move with them to Wisconsin, known back then as part of the “Michigan Territory.” Pa seized the opportunity, believing the promises that westward expansion touted, and he was not disappointed.

    He learned to plant, trap, and trade with the Indians, and he became a successful businessman. In time, he saved enough funds to make his dreams of owning land and farming a reality.

    Then, when Sam was a boy of eight years, his father met and married Mariah, an Oneida. Like her, many Oneida were Christians and fairly well educated due to the missionaries who had lived among them. In time Sam took to his new mother, and she to him. Through the years Ma cherished and admonished him as though he were her own son. She learned the Norwegian language and could speak it fluently. As far as Sam was concerned, he was her own son—and Mariah, his own mother.

    They were a family.

    “Was that the Eikaas wagon driving by not long ago?” Mary asked.

    Sam snapped from his musing. “Sure was. It appears they have relatives in town.”

    “Mr. Eikaas didn’t stop and visit, did he?” Mary’s eyes were as round as gingersnaps.

    Sam chuckled. “No, of course not. I can’t recall the last time Lars Eikaas spoke to me . . . or any of the Sundbergs, for that matter.”

    “Erik is nice to me at school.” Mary took a bite of her meal.

    “Glad to hear it.”

    “I can’t wait to begin school next week.”

    Sam grinned at his sister’s enthusiasm. He’d felt the same way as a boy.

    “Sam, what made you assume Mr. Eikaas transported relatives in his wagon today?”

    He glanced at Ma. “A while back I’d heard that Lars’s niece was coming to America, accompanied by friends, and since I didn’t recognize the three passengers in the wagon this morning, I drew my own conclusions.”

    “Is she pretty?” Jackson’s cheeks bulged with food.

    “Is who pretty?”

    “Mr. Eikaas’s niece . . . is she pretty?”

    Sam recalled the plucky blonde whose large, cornflower-blue eyes looked back at him with interest from beneath her bonnet. And pretty? As much as Sam hated to admit it, she was about the prettiest young lady he’d ever set eyes on.

    Jackson elbowed him. “Hey, I asked you a question.”

    Sam gave his younger brother an annoyed look. “Yeah, I s’pose she’s pretty. But don’t go getting any big ideas about me courting her. She’s an Eikaas.”

    “You’re awful old to not be married yet.” Jack rolled his dark eyes.

    “What do you know about it? I’m only twenty-one.” Sam grinned. “Hush up and eat.” It’s what the boy did best. “So . . . did everyone have a pleasant morning?” He forked another bite of food into his mouth, wondering why he tried so hard to shift the subject off of Lars Eikaas’s niece.



    Kristin looked around the one-room shanty with its unhewn walls and narrow, bowed loft. Cotton squares of material covered the windows, making the heat inside nearly unbearable.

    Disappointment riddled her being like buckshot. Although she knew she should feel grateful for journeying safely this far, and now to have a roof over her head, she couldn’t seem to shake her displeasure at seeing her relatives’ living quarters. It looked nothing like her uncle had described in his letters nor the homes she’d glimpsed on the way.

    “Here is your trunk of belongings,” Uncle Lars said, carrying the wooden chest in on one of his broad shoulders. With a grunt, he set it down in the far corner of the cabin. “Where is my inheritance? Let me have a look at it.”

    “Right now, Onkel?”

    Ja, ja . . .” Impatience filled his tone.

    Pulling open the drawstring of her leather purse, she reached inside and extracted the key. She unlocked the trunk and opened its curved lid. Getting onto her knees, Kristin moved aside her clothes and extra shoes until she found what she searched for. Poppa’s gold watch. She held the black velvet-covered box reverently in her hands for one last, long moment before she stood and presented it to her uncle.

    “This belonged to my poppa.”

    “Ah . . .” Uncle Lars’s face lit up with delight as he opened the box. Looking to Aunt Esther, he nodded. “This will bring a fair price, do you think?”

    Disbelief poured over her. “But . . . you would not sell Poppa’s watch, would you?”

    “None of your business!”

    Kristin jumped back at the biting reply. Her opinion of her uncle dropped like a rock into a cavern.

    “Anything more?” Her uncle bent over the wooden chest and quickly rummaged through it, spilling clothes onto the unswept floor.

    Onkel, please, stop. My garments . . .”

    “Does not seem to be anything else.” Uncle Lars narrowed his gaze. “Is there?”

    “No.” The necklace Mor had given her burned against her already perspiring skin. Still, Kristin refused to part with the gift. “Nothing more. As you know, Poppa was a farmer. He supplemented his income by working at the post office, but no money was ever saved. After my parents died, I sold everything to help pay for a portion of my passage to America. I earned the rest myself.”

    “Any money left?”

    Kristin shook her head as she picked up the last of her belongings, careful not to meet her uncle’s stare. A little money remained in the special pocket she’d sewn into her petticoat. For safety, she’d kept her funds on her person throughout the entire voyage. The last of her coinage would purchase muchneeded undergarments. She’d managed to save it throughout the journey for the specific purpose of buying new foundations when she reached America. It wasn’t inherited. She’d worked hard for it.

    With a grunt Uncle Lars turned and sauntered out of the cabin.

    “You will sleep in the loft with your cousins.” Aunt Esther’s tone left no room for questions or argument. Wearing a plain, brown dress with a tan apron pinned to its front, and with her dark brown hair tightly pinned into a bun, the older woman looked as drab as her surroundings. “Your uncle and I sleep on a pallet by the hearth.”

    “Yes, Tante. I am sure I will be very comfortable.” Another lie.

    “Come, let us eat.” Aunt Esther walked toward the hearth where a heavy black kettle sat on top of a low-burning fire. “There is venison stew for our meal.”

    “It sounds delicious.” Kristin’s stomach growled in anticipation. She’d eaten very little on the ship this morning. Excitement plus the waves on Lake Michigan made eating impossible. But after disembarking in Green Bay, her stomach began to settle, and now she was famished.

    Aunt Esther called everyone to the table, which occupied an entire corner of the cabin. Her three children, two girls and one boy, ranging in ages from seven to sixteen, came in from outside, as did the Olstads. After a wooden bowl filled with stew was set before each person, the family clasped hands and recited a standard Norwegian prayer . . .

    I Jesu navn gar vi til bords,—We sit down in the name of Jesus,

    Spise drikke pa ditt ord,—To eat and drink according to Your

    Word,

    Deg Gud til are, oss til gavn,—To Your honor, Oh Lord, and

    for our benefit,

    Sa far vi mat i Jesu navn.—We receive food in the name of

    Jesus.

    Amen.

    Having said grace, hands were released, and everyone picked up a spoon and began to eat. Kristin noticed her cousins, Inga and Anna, eyeing her with interest. They resembled their father, blonde curls and blue eyes.

    “What do you like to do on sunny afternoons such as this one?” she asked cheerfully, hoping to start conversation. After all, Inga’s age was close to hers. Perhaps her cousin would help her meet friends.

    “We do not talk at the table,” Aunt Esther informed her. “We eat, not talk.”

    “Yes, Tante.” Kristin glanced at Peder and Mr. Olstad who replied with noncommittal shrugs and kept eating.

    Silently, Kristin did the same. The Olstads always had lively discussions around their table.

    When the meal ended, the girls cleared the table and the men took young Erik and ambled outside.

    “May I help with cleaning up?” Kristin asked her aunt.

    “No. You rest today and regain your strength. Tomorrow we are invited to a wedding, the day after is the Sabbath. Then beginning on Monday, you will labor from sunup to sunset like everyone else in this place.”

    “Except for one,” Inga quipped. No one but Kristin heard.

    “Who?” Her lips moved, although she didn’t utter a sound.

    Far, that is who.” Disrespect seeped from Inga’s tone, which was loud and clear.

    Hadn’t Aunt Esther overheard it?

    Tante suddenly whirled around and glared at Kristin. “Do something with yourself. We are working here.”

    With a frown, Kristin backed away. Her aunt’s brusque manner caused her to feel weary and more homesick than

    ever. She missed her parents and her little brothers. Why did God take them, leaving her to live life without them? And Sylvia . . . how she longed for her best friend!

    Kristin knelt by the trunk and carefully lifted out a soft, knitted shawl that had once belonged to her mother, Lydia Eikaas. Mor had been an excellent seamstress, expert in spinning wool into yarn and thread, as well as in weaving and sewing garments. She’d taught Kristin everything she knew about the craft. Surely Kristin could now put her skills to good use in this new country, this land of opportunity.

    She sighed and glanced over to where her aunt and two cousins continued straightening up after the meal. Inga and Anna barely smiled, and her aunt’s expression seemed permanently frozen into a frown. Is that what this country really afforded . . . misery?

    Allowing her gaze to wander around the dismal cabin once more, Kristin began to wish she had not come to America.


    My Reiew: I really enjoyed reading this book. The year is 1848 and Kristin Eikaas has just arrived in Wisconsin from Norway. Her Uncle Lars had written her and told her how wonderful living in America would be. She is now all alone, as her parents and brothers all died in the Small Pox epidemic two years prior.
    She shared her glowing letters of the life her Uncle pictured for her in the US with her best friends family. In the end the Olsteads, John and Peder, her friend Sylvia's father and brother decided to come with her. Her Uncle did remind her to bring his inheritance, the gold watch that had been her father's and grandfather's.
    Everything looks as Uncle Lar's had described, but he wasn't describing his own place, but the neighbors.
    There is bad blood between Lar's and Karl Sundberg, and he tells them that Karl's Indian wife puts curses on people. That is why they have nothing, and in reality you soon find out that Uncle Lar's is very lazy.
    The town does become torn apart, and even the Norwegian church is affected. Will God be able to soften their hearts, and will they remember the forgiveness that Jesus offered all? Will Kirsten and Karl's son Sam be able to work to a relationship between the two feuding families?
    Once you pick this book up, you won't be able to put it down!

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    First Wild Card Tours: Love Out Loud: Devotions on Loving God, Yourself, and Others by Joyce Meyer

    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:


    FaithWords (November 2, 2011)

    ***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist | FaithWords & Center Street | Hachette Book Group, for sending me a review copy.***




    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




    Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than eighty inspirational books, including The Secret to True Happiness, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, her first venture into fiction with The Penny, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings, as well as a complete video library. Joyce’s Enjoying Everyday Life radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.



    Visit the author's website. Visit the author's twitter. Visit the author's Facebook.





    SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




    Jesus said, "You must love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." - Luke10:27



    If one had to choose a single verse in the Bible that is a formula for successful living, this would be the one to live by, says Joyce Meyer: love God, yourself and others - in that order.



    Many Christians get mixed up about love. They know they should love God and others, but many do not understand that loving oneself is one-third of God's equation. They mistakenly think of it as selfishness or self-aggrandizement.



    Joyce Meyer believes that this misconception is one of the greatest pitfalls in the Christian journey. Loving oneself in a balanced, healthy manner is essential in order to have healthy relationships with God, ourselves and others.



    Drawing upon her previous work and teaching series as well as original devotions, the author of Power Thoughts examines the three loves that we've been commanded to exhibit.





    Product Details:






    • List Price: $16.99


    Hardcover: 384 pages

    Publisher: FaithWords (November 2, 2011)

    Language: English

    ISBN-10: 0446538477

    ISBN-13: 978-0446538473



    AND NOW...Press the Browse Button to Read THE FIRST CHAPTER:







    My Review: A great encouraging way to start each day. Joyce Meyer has wonderfully expressed her thoughts and prayers, encouraging scripture. She shares how God has taught us how to "Love" one another as ourselves!
    Each day includes scripture and thoughts for a whole year.
    What an uplifting book and one you will want to share! Such a great Devotional...365 days of a great read!

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren | Come back to Deep Haven and Win a $200 Visa Card!

    Welcome to the blog tour and giveaway for Susan May Warren's latest book in the Deep Haven series, The Shadow of Your Smile. The latest stand alone offering has critics raving ...

    Booklist says: "Quiet yet powerful, like a blizzard in Deep Haven, Minnesota, Warren’s latest inspirational novel is a story of hidden pain. …Like the spring thaw, Warren’s novel is cold and hard at the outset, but as the story unfolds, characters with frozen hearts begin to revive. At the end, hope is in full bloom."

    Romantic Times says: "4 Stars! The amnesia storyline could have been clich├ęd, but Warren handles it with such grace that the reader is drawn into the tale. This is a beautifully written book."

    Susan is celebrating the book's release with a fantastic $200 Visa Cash Card giveaway! Details below.



    More about The Shadow of Your Smile:

    A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage.

    After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle's memory. Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As

    she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember?

    Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future? Read the story behind the story here.

    More about Susan:

    Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of thirty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.


    A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. You can find her online at: www.susanmaywarren.com.

    More about the Giveaway:

    Sometimes love requires a little forgetting ... Come back to Deep Haven and find out what's been happening in your favorite quaint hamlet. If you're new to the Deep Haven series - this is the perfect book to start with - each book in the series is a stand alone story.
    Susan is celebrating the release of The Shadow of Your Smile by giving away a prize pack worth over $200 from 1/9-1/28.


    One grand prize winner will receive:

    A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to rekindle a little romance, treat yourself to a spa day, snap up those shoes you’ve been eyeing, or purchase a few great books!)
    The entire set of Deep Haven Books

    The winner will be announced on 1/30/12 on Susan’s blog, Scribbles! Just click one of the icons below to enter and tell your friends about Susan's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.



    My Review: There is a lot of tragedy in this book. The book opens with Noelle Hueston's running from a Murder robbery. She takes a terrible fall and ends up with a head injury and amnesia. She doesn't know her son's Kirby or Kyle or her husband Eli.
    Three years ago there was another robbery and a double murder...Eli and Noelle's 17 year old daughter Kelsey, and Kelsy's best friends Dad is also killed. The toll of this puts a big strain on their twenty-five year marriage. So when Noelle doesn't remember them he makes a decision not to tell her about Kelsey.
    There is so much action in this book that I read this in one day! You need to get to the end to find out the answers, much is answered, but I still have a few unanswered. The book will want to make you move to Deep Haven MN, and embrace this wonderful God loving people.
    I recommend this awesome read!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    First Wild Card Tours: Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go by by Naomi Dathan

    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:


    Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)

    ***Special thanks to Ryan Rotz, Publicist, Kirkdale Press for sending me a review copy.***




    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




    Naomi Dathan has been fascinated with prairie life since her third grade teacher read Little House in the Big Woods to the class. She finally indulged this fascination with her fourth novel, Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go. She lives in Ohio with her two daughters and two undersized beagles with oversized egos.





    Check out her witty blog http://naomidathan.com









    SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


    For everything there is a season. A season for joy. A season for sorrow. A season for testing.



    Jem Perkins has it all – money, a fine house, a handsome husband, and a new baby boy. But when her family fortunes turn, Jem’s husband Seth leads her to a new home: a sod house on a Nebraska homestead.



    It is a season of growth for Jem as she reluctantly confronts her new realities: back-breaking labor, dangerous illness, and mind-numbing isolation. She learns to embrace her new role as a capable woman and marriage partner and discovers an awareness of God’s hand in her life.



    Then, on January 12, 1888, the history-making Children’s Blizzard sweeps across the land, ushering in a season of hardship she never expected. Can Jem’s confidence, marriage, and new-found faith weather the storm?





    $.99 Sale!
    Buy the ebook Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go from Vyrso for $.99. Use the coupon code WILDCARD at checkout or simply click HERE.
    Offer ends this Friday.

    Whither is also available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Books.

    About Vyrso
    Vyrso is a new Christian ebookstore and reader app from Logos Bible Software. You can read Vyrso ebooks on your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone, and online at Biblia.com.




    Product Details:






    • Kindle Price: $6.15
    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 382 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
    • Publisher: Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)
    • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B006FK72QE
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled






      AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







      January 12, 1888




      At midnight, Charley woke shivering in his trundle bed. “Ma?”

      He rose, but couldn’t see his mother’s form in the faltering lamplight. “Ma? Mom-mom?”

      Still no answer. The cast iron stove was dark and silent. The wind outside howled like a wolf, and caught at the door of the sod house, swinging it open and shut.

      Where was Ma? Why wasn’t she making the stove hot or snuggling him warm under the covers? Was she outside with the wind-wolf?

      Charley went toward the door. Ice blew into his eyes, making them water. But he wasn’t crying. Not yet. Warmth brushed his legs, a wetness caressed his cheek. The big dog, Zeke, curled his shaggy body against Charley, pushing him backward—away from the open door.

      Charley pushed back and shook his finger at him. “No! Bad.”

      Zeke whined and pressed harder. Charley fell, landing on something warm and solid. It didn’t hurt, but he set to wailing anyway, protesting his alone state, his empty belly, and the bitter cold that bit at his eyes and ears and nostrils like fierce ants.

      No one came to comfort him, so his cries soon dried up. He scuttled across the still form on the floor, pausing at a tinkling sound. “Ging,” he said, remembering. “Ging, ging, ging.”

      The bell. Pa had rung the bell today. Ding, ding, ding. He’d stoked the fire high and hot, gave Charley cold mash to eat, and clung to the doorframe, ringing and ringing the bell. Once, Pa had fallen to the dirt floor, but after a long while, he pushed himself upright, clutched the doorframe, and rang the bell again.

      Now Pa was on the floor again, unmoving.

      Charley stepped on Pa’s head as he went to look outside “ Ma!” The storm sucked his voice away so fast that he didn’t even hear himself. The winds answered in high voices, scared and scary at the same time. Was Ma out there in the black with the wind voices?

      At last, Charley made up his mind. With Zeke making little worried sounds close beside him, Charley stepped out into the blizzard to find Ma.

      ***
      August 14, 1886 (Seventeen months before)

      The Reynolds’s tea was well attended, but the August heat oppressed the guests, subduing the conversation to a languid pace. Servants discreetly watered—and even fanned—the profusion of roses arranged in vases through the room. Ladies and gentlemen sipped English tea and nibbled at scones and trifles to be polite, waiting for the blessed moment when they could return home, untie their cravats and corsets, and have a cool bath.

      Jem Perkins had nothing but sympathy for the wilting flowers. She sank onto a thickly upholstered chair next to her sister and fanned herself.

      “Can we go home now?” she whispered.

      “Hush!” Sally hissed, shooting a worried glance toward their hosts. “Mrs. Reynolds has been planning this tea for weeks. And we haven’t even greeted the guest of honor yet.”

      Hiding behind her fan, Jem peeked at Mrs. Ashley Grayson, seated near the window. She couldn’t hear what Mrs. Grayson said, but it drew appreciative laughter from the surrounding crowd. Jem smiled at her sister with her eyes. “She does feed off the adoration, doesn’t she?”

      Sally frowned. “Oh, Jem, I’m sure that’s not fair. Mrs. Grayson deserves credit for starting the Children’s Board.”

      “Of course she does! But don’t you think she has a bit of the look a cat gets when he’s found a sunny spot on the windowsill?”

      Sally pursed her lips. “You could have worked with her, Jem. I know she asked you to. Then you’d be right up there beside her.”

      Wasn’t that just like Sally, to make out that Jem was jealous. What had she to be jealous of?

      Jem fanned herself again, waiting until her irritation ebbed before answering. After all, it wouldn’t do for Jem—the married woman—to engage in sibling squabbling with her poor spinster sister. Once satisfied that there would be only kindness in her voice, she answered. “I was hardly in a position to take on an outside project right then, was I? A woman’s first responsibility is to her family. Perhaps you’ll understand … one day.”

      Sally’s cheeks went pink as the arrow found its mark. She was Jem’s elder by three years, poor thing, and she didn’t even have a serious beau. She sniffed. “I’m sure that was it. I’m sure it wasn’t because you discovered that setting up a charitable foundation actually requires a great deal of work.”

      That stung. Jem lowered her fan. “Now you’re just being cruel. You know I work very hard, Sally. Look at how many hours I put into the flower garden last year.”

      “And then you lost interest and Rogers had to take it over.”

      “And think of all the poetry I’ve written. You’ve never written a poem in your life!”

      “And I’m better off for it.”

      “At least I’m trying things. Maybe I haven’t found my true calling yet, but you shouldn’t fault me for trying.”

      Sally opened her mouth, but then shut it again, holding up a restraining palm. “Oh, we’re quarreling like children.” She sighed. “I apologize. I’m sure you have found your true calling, Jem. I’m sure your true calling is motherhood. You’re wonderful with Charley, and what’s more important than raising a happy, healthy child?”

      Jem settled back in her seat, buying herself a minute by sipping her iced tea. Sally would never have apologized a year ago, would certainly have never offered a compliment. It was disconcerting, really. “It is hot,” she offered.

      Seeing Sally relax, she did too, leaning forward to whisper to her. “And boring. I know Mrs. Grayson deserves all of our admiration. I do, truly. But I’m so tired of seeing all the same people and having all the same conversations, day after day. This city is chockfull of people, but you couldn’t tell by us.”

      “There’s the doorbell,” Sally said. “I’m sure it will be someone fascinating.”

      “Like Mark Twain?”

      “That’s right. Or Buffalo Bill.”

      Jem giggled. “How about Jesse James?”

      “I think he’s dead. Wasn’t he killed? Oh—” Her tone changed abruptly. “Look. It is someone new.”

      Jem looked. Her fan froze. The tall man stood in the entry to the parlor, his bearing military even out of uniform. He bowed slightly to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, shook Mr. Reynolds’s hand, and exchanged greetings with surrounding guests. Feminine eyes followed his progress as he strode in, but he didn’t seem to notice. His pewter gray eyes scanned the crowd, and landed on Jem.

      She returned his gaze, then lowered her attention to her skirts. “Well, now. The new guest is dashing, wouldn’t you say, Sally?”

      Sally made a haughty harrumph. “Oh, Sister, he looks to be a bit of a ruffian to me. Like someone who spends time in the Wild West. You’d do well to stay away from him, I think.”

      Jem murmured her agreement and peeked at the man over her fan again. His eyes were still on her. “I believe I’ll have some refreshment.”

      She approached the buffet table, turning her back on the man. Her sister was at her elbows, but when she felt Sally withdraw, she knew the man was approaching. She peeked at him over her shoulder while she ladled pink punch into a glass. He removed his derby and offered a slight bow.

      “Ma’am.”

      “Lieutenant.”

      His lips twitched at her return address, or perhaps at the Virginia drawl that had crept into the single word. “I wonder if I might join you for a beverage.”

      “Why, sir, as a guest of this tea party, you are as welcome as anyone to partake, I daresay.” Yes, the drawl of her childhood was definitely back, sliding through her words like sugarcane molasses.

      “Indeed,” the man said. He poured himself punch and downed it in a single motion. The glass looked ridiculous in his large hand, like a child’s play teacup. “I have to say, ma’am, that the scenery in St. Paul has certainly improved since my departure to Washington. I don’t remember such fine, dainty creatures as yourself frequenting the Reynolds’s teas in the past.”

      Jem smiled at that, but flushed a little, too. “Perhaps, sir, you are mistaking me for one of the young ladies playing Botticelli in the next room. I’m afraid I don’t particularly”—she took her time with the word, savoring each syllable as she hadn’t in years—“qualify as dainty anymore.”

      He imitated her accent, exaggerated it into a parody of a Virginia gentleman. “Why, ma’am, you are very mistaken, I’m sure. Why, you are the … the epitome of feminine beauty and delicacy. Your eyes are as blue as cornflowers. Your lips, well, they’re two precious little, uh, roses. In fact, I wonder if we could step out into the gardens and take a stroll together? Just the two of us?”

      “Why, sir! Surely you don’t expect me to leave this tea with you, unchaparoned. Think of the scandal.”

      He pressed his hand to his chest, gave her moon eyes. “Nothing of the sort, ma’am. I cherish your reputation as I would cherish, well, the soundness of my horse’s legs. I would die before compromising your honor. In fact, in order to protect your good name, I am willing to go this far: I will tell these people that we are married.”

      Jem started to giggle, then; she couldn’t help it. He grinned back at her, and the game was up. She threw her arms around his neck, in spite of all the company around. “Oh, Seth. I’m so glad you’re home. I thought you wouldn’t be back for two more weeks.”

      “Jem.” He put his arms around her waist and let out a long breath, letting his rigid stance relax. “This was long enough. I missed you. Can we break away from this tea? How is the baby?”

      “Oh, I hated to leave him. I think he might be getting diphtheria.”

      “Diphtheria?” He didn’t sound worried. In fact, he sounded a little amused. She backed out of his arms a little to frown at him.

      “Diphtheria is very serious.”

      “You’ve had the doctor by, I take it?”

      “Of course. Twice now.”

      “And he said?”

      “Oh, you know how Dr. Hollister is. You’d have to lay an egg for him to agree you have chicken pox.”

      Seth took her elbow lightly and led her through the parlor, nodding to the ladies, offering greetings to a few of the men. “Jemima, I’m sure Dr. Hollister would know if Charley had diphtheria. It’s very distinct.”

      “You know I worry. He coughs continually—all night long. And his nose is running.”

      “Darling, it sounds like he has a cold.” He led her to the front door, where they made their apologies to the Reynolds. “Come,” he said, as he led her to the carriage. “I’ll have a look. I certainly know what diphtheria looks like.”

      Before they’d stepped through the French doors of their home, they could hear Charley’s outraged screams ringing through the house. Jem dropped Seth’s arm and ran up the long, curving staircase, allowing him to follow when he would. “Charley! Oh, dear, what’s happened?”

      She stopped when she entered the nursery. Her boy was upright, clutching the bars of his crib with chubby fingers, red-faced and tearful, but otherwise apparently fine. “Oh, dear.” She hurried to lift him and snuggled him against her bosom. “What’s the matter, you poor little boy? Are you hurt?”

      Charley’s cries subsided. He rested his nearly bald head against her, hiccoughing.

      “Poor boy,” Jem crooned. “Mama’s here, now. Where’s Nursie, hmm? Didn’t she hear you cry?”

      “He has grown.” Seth’s voice came from the doorway. “Was he standing? When did he start that?”

      “Last week.” She smiled up at him, keeping her cheek pressed against the peach fuzz of Charley’s warm head. “I wrote to you about it, but I suppose you didn’t get the letter.”

      “No, but I haven’t stayed in one place for more than a night.” He sighed, came and wrapped his arms around Jem, enveloping her and the baby in a hug. “My family.”

      “Oh, no, ma’am!” Sophie’s voice was sharp. “He’s supposed to be napping.”

      Jem and Seth turned to look at the nurse. Her hands were closed into tight fists, pressed against her stout body as if she were restraining herself from snatching the child and putting him back in his crib.

      “Oh, but he was crying so hard. Poor boy.”

      “Good afternoon, Lieutenant. Welcome home,” Sophie said, then firmed her voice to Jem. “No, ma’am. Colonel Wilkinson was clear on that. The boy must stay in his crib for his nap. The colonel don’t want him spoiled.”

      Seth’s voice was pleasant. “Sophie, I believe you work for me, not Colonel Wilkinson.”

      “No, no.” Jem hurried to the crib. “It’s fine, Seth. Really. My father is right—you know I’ll spoil him.”

      She peeled Charley off her chest and set him in the crib. His screams renewed, broken by sobs. He rolled and pulled himself back up to his feet. Seth picked him up. Charley reached for his mother, but Seth didn’t hand him over.

      “Oh, Seth, really. My father is right.”

      “I haven’t seen my son in two months. I believe he and I will take a walk around the nursery.”

      Sophie gave Seth a long, tight-lipped look, and retreated from the room.

      “Oh, my,” Jem said. “She’ll let my father know. She always does.”

      “Darling, this isn’t your father’s child. It’s ours. Why does he have anything to say about when we hold him?”

      “You know how he worries. He wants the best for his only grandson.”

      Charley stopped reaching for his mother and stared up into Seth’s face.

      “Look, he remembers you.”

      Seth made a scoffing sound, but Jem saw he looked pleased. “He’s far too young. I’m glad he’s letting me hold him, though. So, other than this dire illness that has him at death’s door, he appears to be thriving.”

      Jem sighed. “You shouldn’t tease me, Seth. Ima Caldwell—do you remember her? She said her sister’s husband’s niece lost both of her little boys last winter—one to diphtheria, and the other to pneumonia. And Amy Wiley’s whole family is ill.”

      Seth sobered and kissed Charley’s head, holding him a little closer. “It’s terrible. I can’t imagine what they’ve suffered. But Charley is healthy. God has blessed us. Let’s thank Him for it, instead of borrowing trouble.”

      “Y—yes. I do, of course.”

      She shook her head. It was the sort of comment Sally had been prone to make lately. Seth had been no believer when they met; he’d gone to church only to please Jem and her family. But something had changed over the last year. Seth had changed.

      When he was home, he attended church on Sundays as well as a Bible study on Wednesday. He led prayer at mealtimes, even if it was only the two of them sitting at the long polished dining table. She tried to act like it was normal behavior—after all, she was the one who’d been brought up in the faith—but it was really rather embarrassing.

      “There, you see, Jem? He just needed a little walk.” Charley was settled against his father’s chest. His face had relaxed, his eyes closed in sleep.

      Jem plucked a cloth from the chest of drawers and swiped at the path of drool running down the baby’s chin. “You do remember about this part, don’t you?”

      Seth gave her a wry smile. “I tried to forget. I go through fewer shirts riding on top of the stage coach. Well, I suppose I should put him down.”

      Jem arranged the soft blankets in the crib. After Seth laid Charley on them, they stood side by side, admiring their little boy. “Isn’t he beautiful? I think he’s the prettiest baby in St. Paul.”

      Seth slid his arm around her waist. “By far the handsomest, anyway.” He sighed then. “Is your father at home today? I need to discuss some things with him. I didn’t see him at the Reynolds’s tea.”

      “He said he had business to attend to today. I’m not sure whether he’s at home or at the office. But, Seth, can’t it wait? You’ve just gotten home. Can’t we spend the rest of the afternoon together?”

      She looked up at him as she finished the question, and was surprised to see the grim expression on his face.

      “I’m afraid not, Jem,” he said. “I’m sorry; I know I just got home. But I have to handle some business.”

      She gave him a quick pout, making sure to smile with her eyes so he knew she was teasing. “It’s a shame, when a man would rather spend his homecoming with his father-in-law than with his wife.”

      Seth didn’t smile back, but he kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll be home in a couple of hours. We’ll have dinner together—just the two of us, all right?

      Jem wrapped her arms around his waist and accepted his embrace. “Hurry back. I’m sure my father will be glad to see you, anyway.”


      My Review: Once I started this book I could not put it down...it is a very fast lingering read. It is a well researched based on fact book...so you better have the tissues ready.
      The story starts at the beginning of the Perkins marriage, Jemima, Seth and baby Charlie. Life is good for Jem, she has it all a beautiful baby, a handsome husband, a great home and servants. Her father has set her up by giving them their house. She is a spoiled woman, very unprepared for what is about to happen to her.
      Because of some scandal involving Jem's father, Seth has left the military and is moving his his family to the prairie of Nebraska. They stop for the winter in Kansas and stay with his old friend William and his wife Susan and their family. What a shock for Jem...she is rude and quite unaccepting of her circumstances. She is literaly forced into accepting the role of a wife on the prairie. You will feel sorry for her...she sure hadn't planned on a life of this nature.
      Actually it turned into a good lesson for Jem, and helps prepare her for what is to to come. I loved the faith shown in this book. Hard to accept all that happens here, but you see God helping them. You will get lost here, and am glad to know that some of my questions are going to be answered in the next book..or two??