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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Litfuse Publicity Book Tours Presents: The Cat That God Sent by Jim Kraus



Meet Petey, your not-so-average cat—on a mission from God Disillusioned young pastor, Jake Wilkerson, has just arrived at his new assignment in the small rural church of Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Also new on the scene is Petey, a cat of unknown origins and breed—but of great perception. As Jake sets about doing the business of ministry, Petey’s continued interference brings chaos to the community of curiously off and eccentric people—residents like the faith-avoiding veterinarian Sally Grainger and Tassy, a young runaway with a secret. An expert at hiding his fears, Jake wonders if all this—and the cat to boot—is more than he can handle. What is Petey’s real “mission”? Perhaps something larger than Jake—or even Petey—can possibly know.




Purchase a copy here.


Be sure to check out Jim’s The Dog That Talked to God which was nominated as an ECPA book of the Year (2013).





About The Author


Jim Kraus grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has spent the last twenty years as a vice president of a major Christian publishing house. He has written more than twenty books and novels, including the best-selling The Dog That Talked to God. He and his family live outside of Chicago with a sweet miniature Schnauzer and an ill-tempered Siberian cat named (of course) Petey.
www.jimkraus.com








My Review:

When the new Pastor, Jake Wilkerson, arrives at his new rural church in Caudersport, PA, he finds a cat on his doorstop. The cat adopts Jake, and is soon named Petey. Is it a coincidence that the cat is there? I think not!
Jake comes with a secret...he has lost his faith. A Minister without faith?
When Petey arrives he seems to make it his mission to help Jake. He sure does!! You delight in some of the things that cat says, no he can't talk, but we can read it. At times he is hilarious!
We meet all the different people who attend the church, some appear gruff, and end up with hearts of angels. Of course, all want to meet and greet Petey. Now you think someone would be against having a cat in church...nope!
One thing for sure is Jake's taste in Woman sure could be better. Can he redeem himself? Or is history going to repeat itself?
One thing I didn't care for was that the ending appeared rushed, and there wasn't much epilogue. I felt the story needed more added at the end.

I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Blog Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.

Captured by Moonlight (Twilight of the British Raj #2) by Christine Lindsay

 

Prisoners to their own broken dreams…

After a daring rescue goes awry, Laine Harkness and her friend Eshana flee to the tropical south of India…and headlong into their respective pasts.

Laine takes a nursing position at a plantation in the jungle, only to discover that her former fiancĂ© is the owner…but fun-loving Laine refuses to let Adam crush her heart like he had years ago.

Eshana, captured by her traditional uncle and forced once more into the harsh Hindu customs of mourning, doubts freedom will ever be hers again, much less the forbidden love that had begun to flower.

Amid cyclones, epidemics, and clashing faiths, will the love of the True Master give hope to these searching hearts?



About this author










Christine Lindsay writes historical inspirational novels with strong love stories, and she takes pride in her Irish roots. Her great grandfather and grandfather worked as riveters in the Belfast shipyard, one of those ships her ancestors helped build was the Titanic.

On her mother’s side, it was stories of ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India that seeded Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj and became the stimulus for her series Twilight of the British Raj.

The Pacific coast of Canada, about 200 miles north of Seattle, is Christine’s home where she lives with her husband, David, and they enjoy the visits from their adult children and grandchildren. Like a lot of authors, Christine’s chief editor is her cat.








My Review:

This is the second book in this series that I have read, and equally amazing, I loved it.
We are in India, the age of Gandhi, and just after WW1. The descriptions of the beauty of the Country, made me feel like I was there. Watching the beautiful birds, and smelling the glorious flowers.
We do see the differences in people living in the Caste system. Fine if you are at the top, but who wants to be the untouchable? To give aid and comfort to one so low, is punishable by law. I asked an Indian Dr once about the Caste System...he loved it, said it was necessary...guess where he was in it?
Of course, Laine Harkness and her friend Eshana, don't let the law trouble them when they felt called to help an unfortunate girl. How the things that were happening to her could be allowed...ugh! They enlist Dr Jai, in their need for medical help for the girl. Sparks fly between Eshana and Dr Jai, but she is a Christian and he a Sikh.
Then there is Lani who loved Adam with her whole heart, but he was killed in the war. Or was he?? Here is a man do indebeted to another, for saving his life, that he has given up his own for the others sake.
You will become so enraptured with this story, even when it is finished you crave more. I for one never wanted it to end. It is wonderful!

I received this book from the Author, and was not required to give a positive review. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Litfuse Publicity Tours Presents: Undeniably Yours (A Porter Family #1) by Becky Wade



When Meg Cole’s father dies unexpectedly, she’s forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of his empire. The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father’s Thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.
Bo knows he ought to resent the woman who’s determined to take from him the only job he ever wanted. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them and earn her love.
Just when Meg realizes she can no longer deny the depth of her feelings for Bo, their fragile bond is broken by a force from Meg’s past. Can their relationship–and their belief that God can work through every circumstance–survive?




Purchase a copy here.

About The Author


Becky Wade is a graduate of Baylor University. As a newlywed, she lived for three years in a home overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, as well as in Australia, before returning to the States. A mom of three young children, Becky and her family now live in Dallas, Texas. Visit her website at www.beckywade.com.





Watch the Trailer}







 My Review:

A sweet romance. Once you pick this one up you wish you were in Meg Cole's shoes, or not. She can buy anything she wants, but love! Guess that other side of the fence does always look greener.
Bo Porter's first meeting with her, is a life changer in more ways than one. She wants to close down her deceased father's race horse ranch and stables. Bo begs and wins six months to make the ranch pay for itself...she says yes, but no guarantees.
I loved the compassion both of the main characters seemed to possess for others, especially the less fortunate. Also enjoyed the fact that the both have a great love for The Lord! Who does turn up in interesting places!
Can you imagine walking in the world of the upper elite? How would you fit in? Bo seems to do a fairly good job. We see him judged, a bit unfairly. There is also some evil lurking about, and maybe the end of some of these individuals. Enjoy going to country music dances and elegant formal dinners.
This is one of those books you can't wait to read the next book in the series. Don't miss the first one!

I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review. 

Litfuse Publicity Book Tours Presents: Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck


The Royal Wedding Series Book One


Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess—just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.
The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.
Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.
It’s the ultimate choice. His kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own?




Purchase a copy here.




Meet Rachel:

Rachel Hauck is the bestselling author of Carol Award winner "Sweet Caroline", and RITA Finalist "Love Starts With Elle", and of the critically acclaimed fiction collaboration with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, "The Songbird Novels". She lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and their ornery pets. Rachel earned a degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes football fan. She is the past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and now sits on the board as an Advisor.


Find out more about Rachel at: http://RachelHauck.com
 
 
Watch the Trailer: 
Once Upon a Prince, Book Trailer - Rachel Hauck
Once Upon a Prince, Book Trailer - Rachel Hauck
 
 
My Review: 
 
A really sweet read to get lost in. Once the cover is open the words fly off the page, and make it hard to put it down.
When the book opens Susanna Truitt's boyfriend for the past twelve years, tells her that he has found the right ring, and the right girl, but it is not her.
Susanna should have been devastated, but she knew it was the right thing. He had become comfortable, like an old shoe. We spend time with her as she struggles with Garden Design business. She is good at what she does, and has a tell it like it is attitude. The last thing she needs is a new boyfriend, but a chance meeting with a cute guy Nate Kenneth, quickly changes that. They seem to have a lot in common, and that includes a great love of the Lord.
When we find out that Nate is really in line to become King of Brighton, and blurts out to her that he can never marry her. UGH! Poor Suzz.
Then his Father dies, and he must take the throne, and hopefully a wife. There is a conniving, lovely Lady Genevieve, who has the right lineage to become his wife and keep the kingdom.
You have to like her, but Nate's Mother arranges for Suzz and her sister to come to the coronation. She is hoping when Nate sees her, he will realize that she is not for him. So what will Nate do when he sees her? Will he give up the throne to marry her? Will he do his kingly duty and help his country by marrying Ginny?
Enjoy this wonderfully written fairy tale, I loved it!!

I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review. 

Litfuse Publicity Tours Presents: The Face of the Earth: A Novel by Deborah Raney

When Mitchell Brannon’s beloved wife of twenty years kisses him goodbye one autumn morning, he has little idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised Jill’s car isn’t in the garage. Her conference in Kansas City is only a few hours’ drive from their little town of Sylvia, Missouri. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. “Hey, babe, I’m just now checking out of the hotel, but I’ll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you.” Mitch sets the table with their best china and lights some candles, looking forward to their first weekend as empty nesters. But at eight o’clock, the candles have burned to stubs and Jill still hasn’t shown up. Mitch tries her cell phone only to get her voice mail over and over again. Their two college kids haven’t heard from their mom either. At midnight, Mitch’s irritation turns to dread. And later, when the police and Missouri Highway Patrol have turned up nothing, the Kansas City hotel calls to say they’ve found property belonging to Jill in a hotel maid’s possession. Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill’s best friend, Shelley, and together they search for clues to Jill’s disappearance. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, Mitch and Shelley’s friendship grows ever closer—and decidedly complicated with Jill as the tie that binds them together. Just when Shelley decides to finally reveal her feelings for Mitch, a clue to Jill’s whereabouts is uncovered. But every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. Purchase a copy here.




About The Author

Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including "A Nest of Sparrows" and the RITA award winning "Beneath a Southern Sky" and its sequel, "After the Rains." Deborah's first novel, "A Vow to Cherish," was the inspiration for World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, "Playing by Heart," was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, "Yesterday’s Embers," appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas.


Find out more at DeborahRaney.com


My Review: 

A story that makes you think...all that we take for granted. No matter who in your family doesn't come home, there is a sense of panic. Going around for about a year with no answers has got to be heart wrenching.
I could not imagine my husband's voice on our answering machine, saying he would be home shortly, and then vanishing with no trace. What length would you go to to find your loved one?
We find Mitchell Brannon's wife Jill showing up in unexpected ways...but where is she? Will Mitch make it through this trauma. What will happen to his college age children?? How do you deal with school when part of your family is missing. Did Jill take off of her own free will? Where is she?
I don't think I could, and know Mitch didn't without God's help! As time goes on by, you wonder how her reappearing in their lives is going to effect them, or if she never comes home.
The not knowing has got to be the horror of this book. It becomes a real page turner trying to see where the answers are going to come from. I highly recommend this mystery....it is a great read.

I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review. 



Orangeberry Book Tours – ‘Til the Last Drop by Marquis Boone


It is February of 2000, and Arthur and Valencia Todd and their twelve-year- old daughter, Lindsy, are living very happily—until Valencia receives a life- changing phone call. Life deals her a crisis that requires a miracle of biblical proportion.
Six months later, Valencia’s life is still in shambles. As she walks on a path lined with grief, frustration, illness, and loneliness, Valencia is too frightened to seek help from doctors, on whom she quietly blames her mother’s premature death. As she prays for answers, nothing seems to heal her persistent medical condition, prompting Valencia to plummet down a dark tunnel of despair. Desperate for answers, Valencia draws inspiration from the worn pages of her mother’s Bible, fueled by an unyielding determination to find healing. But three years later, as she is led to the doors of a holistic center where she believes she will finally be helped, Valencia helplessly watches as her life disintegrates once again—completely unaware that the Holy Spirit is waiting to comfort her.
’Til the Last Drop is the inspirational story of one woman’s journey to the truth as she learns to listen to her heart, never give up, above all, trust in God.


About The Author

Marquis Boone is a pastor, motivational speaker, author, entrepreneur, mentor and spiritual advisor to a host of celebrities. Marquis is the Lead Pastor of Fresh Start Church which exists to revive, refresh, release and restore people back to God. He has been deemed one of America's most influential and talented pastors in his generation. His message of resurrection, healing and restoration is unparalleled and transcending cultural barriers within the church. Boone holds a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership and Masters of Divinity from Luther Rice University. He studied at World Harvest Bible College and completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Management from American InterContinental University.











My Review:

I loved this story. It is one very fast read, and once you start you won't stop until it is finished. It made me feel loved, and blessed. God is so good.
We find the pressure of an illness putting such a strain on a marriage. We also find perseverance and the laying of God's hands. You see the obstacles Satan puts our ways, but God's Angles are ever vigilant. Loved the people who were put in Valencia's and Lindsy's path.
Never give up and with God all things are possible. Such a wonderful inspiration. Throughout the book I keep thinking of Luke 8:40-49.
Don't miss this one, it is so good!

I received this book through Orangeberry Promotions, and was not required to give a positive review.

Friday, May 24, 2013

First Wild Card Book Tours Presents: Diamond In the Rough (Charm and Deciet, #1) by Jennifer AlLee

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 authors are:


and the book:

Whitaker House (May 1, 2013)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Veteran authors Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon Richardson have combined their considerable skills to create the action-packed historical romance series, Charm & Deceit, for Whitaker House.


Jennifer AlLee is the bestselling author of The Love of His Brother (2007) for Five Star Publishers, and for Abington Press: The Pastor's Wife (2010), The Mother Road (April 2012), and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (November 2012). She’s also published a number of short stories, devotions and plays. Jennifer is a passionate participant in her church’s drama ministry. She lives with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visit the author's website.


Lisa Karon Richardson has led a life of adventure — from serving as a missionary in the Seychelles and Gabon to returning to the U.S. to raise a family—and she imparts her stories with similarly action-packed plot lines. She’s the author of Impressed by Love (2012) for Barbour Publishing’s Colonial Courtships anthology, The Magistrate’s Folly, and Midnight Clear, part of a 2013 holiday anthology, also from Barbour. Lisa lives with her husband and children in Ohio.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Grant Diamond is a professional gambler on the run from his past. When he comes across a wagon wreck, the chance to escape his pursuers is too good a gamble to pass up, so he assumes the identity of the dead wagon driver. His plan takes an unexpected turn, though, when heiress Lily Rose mistakes him for the missionary she had asked to come to Eureka, California to work with the local Wiyot Indians. Seeing Eureka as a promising place to lay low, Grant plays along. Before he knows it, he’s bluffing his way through sermons and building a school. But with a Pinkerton on his trail and a rancher rousing fresh hatred against the Indians, Grant fears the new life he’s built may soon crumple like a house of cards.
Genre: Historical Christian Romance


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (May 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603747427
ISBN-13: 978-1603747424


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

April 1861

Eureka, California

“They’re dying, Hodge!” Lily burst through the door of the general store. “I don’t know what’s wro—oomph.” She jerked to a stop as her hoopskirt caught in the door. Again.
A handful of choice phrases leaped to mind, but she settled for inarticulate grumbling as she reached back with one hand to wrench the flexible metallic hoops free. As she staggered forward, her skirts belled out, knocking over a display of stacked baking soda tins. She stooped to prevent the cans from rolling willy-nilly across the floor, only to have the back of her skirt swing in the opposite direction and make contact with something solid.
Hodge wiped his hands on his apron as he hurried around from behind the counter. “Just leave it, Miss Lily.”
Lily straightened, shifting the cumbersome flowerpot she held in the crook of one arm. With her free hand, she swept the loose tendrils of hair from her eyes and tucked them behind her ear. “You really need to widen that door.”

Hodge cocked his head and planted his hands on his hips. “You really need to wear skirts that don’t endanger life and limb.”
Lily narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth to correct him, but she snapped it shut again when she noticed a man leaning against the counter. His dark hair stood up in spiky patches, as if he’d run his fingers through it repeatedly since removing his hat. His craggy complexion was saved from severity by the quirk of a dimple at the corner of his mouth and the glint of humor in his green eyes.
With a barely perceptible nod, Lily turned away from the stranger’s amused glance and squared her shoulders. She wasn’t above arguing with Hodge, but she couldn’t afford to antagonize him right now. She needed his help.
She thrust the flowerpot she carried at the shopkeeper. A feathery purple peony drooped listlessly over the side, its leaves marred by irregular black spots. “Can you tell me what’s wrong with this thing?”
Hodge plucked off one of the saddest-looking leaves and rubbed it between his fingers, then lifted it to his nose and sniffed. “You’ve got blight.” He tossed the leaf back into the pot.
“Blight?” That sounded bad. And pervasive. Whatever it was hadn’t afflicted just this particular plant. Half the peonies in the greenhouse looked the same. Mama was going to have a fit when she got back from San Francisco. “What did I do?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. It’s caused by a fungus.”
“Oh.” That was some small consolation. “Is there any cure?”
“Sure, there is.”
Lily tamped down her irritation, forcing a smile instead. Getting information out of Hodge was more tedious than pulling weeds from the garden. “And what might that cure be?”
“Steep a handful of elder leaves in hot water with some Castile soap, then rub it on the leaves.”
“Castile soap?”
“Yep. I’ve got some in the back.” Hodge held up his hand, halting her attempt to follow him. “Oh no, you don’t. You’ll leave another trail of destruction in your wake.”
Lily sniffed and raised her chin. Hodge didn’t know the first thing about fashion. Granted, she hadn’t quite gotten the hang of these hoops yet. But, when she did, the whole town would be impressed with her grace and style. And Mama would finally be happy.
With great care, she glided across the room, mindful not to knock over anything else. No use proving Hodge’s point. She halted at the counter and picked up a seed catalog. Maybe Mama need never know. Lily could order replacement seeds, or bulbs, or whatever these plants came from. Only, how long did they take to grow?
The black-clad stranger stood only a few feet away, studying a sheaf of paper in his hands. For some reason, his dimple showed. Lily made a pointed flip of the catalog page. If he thought she’d come over here to speak with him, he was sorely mistaken.
“You’ll need root cuttings to plant peonies.” The stranger turned his head and offered her a roguish smile.
Lily nodded once. They hadn’t been introduced, but a lady wasn’t rude without reason.
“I don’t think they’ll carry them in that catalog, though.”
“Where might I get some?” The question crossed her lips before she could frame it in her mind. Her hand jerked to her mouth, as if she could catch her words and snatch them back before they reached his ears.
“Special dealers, horticultural friends, botanical gardens.” The words rolled effortlessly off his tongue.
Lily blinked. He looked so…rough. What did this sort of man know about frivolities like flower gardens?
He pushed away from the counter and turned to face her fully, giving her an accurate picture of just how tall he was. At eye level with her was his neck, which, she now noticed, was encircled by a clerical collar. Her jaw dropped a notch. A clergyman? Mindful of Mama’s opinions on good breeding, she pressed her lips together again, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from that stark white square.
Hodge bustled back in from the storage room. “Here you go, Miss Lily. Had to open a new crate.” He held out a bar wrapped in paper.
“Thank you.” Lily accepted it, then glanced at the stranger again. The way he looked at her made it feel as if the room were ten degrees warmer. Resisting the urge to press her palms against her cheeks, she fumbled with the clasp of her reticule. “How much do I owe you, Hodge?”
“A dime’ll do it.”
The preacher put on his hat, tipped it at her, and headed outside.
Lily found the coin and handed it over without bothering to quibble about the outrageous price.
“See you were talkin’ to Reverend Crew. He’s fresh from out East. Sent by some missionary society, think he said.”
Lily’s head jerked up. “Missiona—oh, no!” Snatching up her flowerpot and bar of soap, she whirled around and strode toward the door, heedless of the destruction she wrought in her pursuit of the stranger.
***
The smell hit him first. Pinkerton Detective Carter Forbes covered his mouth and nose with his handkerchief. His trusty mare, Friday, hesitated, and he patted her neck. “It’s okay, girl. Whatever caused this should be long gone by now.”
She whickered softly in response, then moved forward with cautious, delicate steps, her muscles bunched and ready to gallop if necessary.
Around the next bend in the trail was a covered wagon toppled on its side. Carter scanned the area. The horses that had been hitched to it were nowhere in sight. Enormous redwoods stood like sentinels protecting the smaller denizens of the forest. One wagon wheel had caught against a tree. Leaves covered the chassis and littered the torn canvas. Nothing moved.
Senses jangling, Carter dismounted and looped Friday’s reins over a nearby tree limb. The birds overhead ceased their chattering, and even the breeze stilled, as if the whole forest held its breath in anticipation. The rustle of his footsteps through dry leaves sounded remarkably loud in the hush. His fingers grazed the butt of his pistol.
He twitched aside the flap of the canvas. The stench redoubled nearly knocked him off his feet. He staggered back, letting the fabric fall closed again. Gagging, he sucked in a gulp of relatively pure air, but the foulness refused to be purged from his lungs. Over and over he inhaled, pressing his nose against his shirtsleeve in a futile attempt to mask the disgusting odor. At last, he clamped one hand over his mouth and, with the other, wrenched the canvas away with a terrible rip.
The dead man lay on his back. Carter swore under his breath. Why did he always give in to his infernal curiosity? A prudent man would’ve ridden on by. Minded his own business. But not Carter Forbes. Oh, no; he had to see. The quality made him a good Pinkerton, but it could be downright inconvenient.
He squatted and moved closer to the man. The scurry of tiny, clawed feet against the wood made him flinch. The corpse had lain exposed to the elements and scavengers long enough to make identifying the fellow impossible. Carter shook his head. The poor man hadn’t had anyone on hand to mourn his loss.
Sighing, he backed away. The least he could do was dig the man a decent grave. A shovel was still tied to the outside of the wagon. He grabbed it and began digging. The rhythmic thump of the blade biting into the earth sounded a primitive lament.
By how much would this set him back? He had made up a lot of time by riding hard. Still, Diamond probably had almost a day on him.
At last, the hole was large enough. Panting, Carter put aside the shovel and scrabbled out of the pit. He removed his coat and vest and slung them over Friday’s accommodating back. Now for the worst of it.
He ducked inside the wagon again. He couldn’t bring himself to touch the body’s decaying limbs, so he grabbed a fistful of pant fabric and another of jacket. The corpse was heavier than he’d expected it to be as he dragged it to the edge of the makeshift grave.
Lord, keep me from such an end. Carter rolled the corpse over so that it lay facedown. A small round hole penetrated the back of the jacket at about the level of the heart. The area around the hole was stained with blood, but death must have been nigh instantaneous.
Murder.
He stood and pushed his hat back from his forehead. Why hadn’t he passed on by when he’d had the chance? Blast. Maybe God was punishing him for leaving his sister alone for so long.
He maneuvered the body so that it was face-up again and then methodically searched the pockets. He needed to figure out who the victim was. Then he would ride to the nearest town and turn the matter over to the local sheriff.
When he reached his hand inside the inner breast pocket of the jacket, his fingers found something hard. He plucked out the item—a locket on a gold chain. Could it be? He opened the tiny silver clasp to reveal the serious-eyed gaze of a striking young woman.
Triumph tasted bitter—too tangled up with the scent of death. Could it be that he’d finally found Grand Diamond, the infamous murderer?
His search intensified, as though the evidence might begin to vanish if he wasted any time. He turned up a pocketknife, a handkerchief, a twist of string, a pencil stub, and a thin packet of letters. No gun. Carter frowned. A man wanted for murder wasn’t likely to travel unarmed. Whoever had killed him had probably stolen his weapon.
Carter sat down on an overturned bucket and took up the packet of letters. He pulled on the end of the faded satin ribbon that bound them together. The pages were fragile and scarred with soft, fuzzy creases, as if they’d been folded and unfolded with great frequency.
Grant, my love, I will wait for you in the conservatory at midnight.
More confirmation that the dead man was Diamond. After three years of near misses, Carter finally had his man. Now he could collect his bonus, return to Emily, and get her started on her new treatments.
Yet he didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment. His fingers caressed the worn paper. These letters would be enough proof for anybody. But it was wrong—all wrong. The body was damp, as if it had been out when it had rained two days ago. The letters weren’t. They were almost entirely dry.
And the body was too far decomposed to have been dead only a day or two. This man must have been killed at least a week ago.
Carter pinched the bridge of his nose. He’d been after Diamond for so long, and he wanted nothing more than to close the case and go home. But he couldn’t. Not yet. There was more to this thing than met the eye, and Carter had to see it through, no matter where it led.





My Review:

This story is set in Eureka CA in 1861, just prior to the start of the Civil War. Grant Diamond is on the run from the past and has assumed a dead man's identity. Of all the people to take their name, he has become a Reverend...Rev Crew from Harvard's Divinity School.
There are some very serious issues tackled here, issues of hate. Hate so strong people are willing to kill. Of Course, where do we find this heathen? In Church!
Maybe God will reach their hearts? One of these evil men wants to marry Heiress Lily Rose! Lily is quite the character, think I would have been in complete chuckles watching her antics in her hoop skirts. Can't you just picture her at the General Store...can just see those displays tumbling down. Later she is rolling down a hill, she does get injured, but what a spectacle!
Can't you just picture a gambler, playing a Preacher, and then asked to give the sermon? Something has to give! As I said there are a lot of chuckles, and then some ultra serious moments. The chapters are short, which I like, and it becomes a very fast read. Smell the Ocean and stay awhile.

I received this book through First Wild Card Book Blog, and was not required to give a positive review. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Litfuse Publicity Tours Presents: The Offering: A Novel by Angela Elwell Hunt


From bestselling author Angela Hunt, the heart-wrenching story of a young mother who unknowingly gave away her own child after serving as a surrogate for a childless couple.
After growing up as an only child, Amanda Lisandra wants a big family. But since she and her soldier husband can’t afford to have more children right away, Mandy decides to earn money as a gestational carrier for a childless couple. She loves being pregnant, and while carrying the child she dreams of having her own son and maybe another daughter…
Just when the nearly perfect pregnancy is about to conclude, unexpected tragedy enters Mandy’s world and leaves her reeling. Devastated by grief, she surrenders the child she was carrying and struggles to regain her emotional equilibrium.
Two years later she studies a photograph of the baby she bore and wonders if the unthinkable has happened—could she have inadvertently given away her own biological child? Over the next few months Mandy struggles to decide between the desires of her grief-stricken heart and what’s best for the little boy she has never known.


Purchase a copy here.

About The Author


With over four million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including "The Nativity Story." Hunt is one of the most sought-after collaborators in the publishing industry. Her nonfiction book "Don’t Bet Against Me," written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela’s novel "The Note" (with sales of over 141,000) was filmed as the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movie for 2007 and proved to be the highest rated television movie in the channel’s history. Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, including the RITA, the Christy Award, the ECPA Christian Book Award, and the Holt Medallion. She often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences, and she served as the keynote speaker at the 2008 American Christian Fiction Writers’ national conference. She and her husband make their home in Florida with mastiffs. In 2001, one of her dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest dog in America.



My Review:


Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. Even though a lot is given away, by reading the back of the book, I kept hoping it wasn't true. It was almost like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
While I was questioning my Christian beliefs, with regard to the unused embryos. This is thorough talked about in the story. Not that I agree with it, but it does give thought.
What would you do? When my daughter experienced fertility, I thought about doing what Mandy did, but is it morally right? Each person has to answers these questions on their own. Also, once she felt that she and her husbands were the parents of the little one. What great harm is she going to do pulling him away from the only parents he has known. On the other hand, this little boy is a surviving part of her husband. Oh my, somehow someones heart will be broken.
There are some very tender loving moments here, the extended, wonderful Cuban family her husband comes from. We spend time with their gifted and talented daughter Marilee. We grieve for Gideon, and feel his loss.
Through out the book a poigant theme is spoken "Meet at the river." "Yeah, I'll be waiting under the tree."

I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.

Pump Your Book Virtual Book Tours Presents: Seeds of Evidence by Linda J White


ABOUT SEEDS OF EVIDENCE

Stressed-out FBI Special Agent Kit McGovern returns to her grandmother’s Chincoteague Island home in search of peace. But when a little boy’s body washes up on the beach, Kit cannot resist throwing herself into the mystery of his murder. Her only clues: the tomato seeds in the Latino boy’s gut, and the acorns in his pockets.
The medical examiner points out that the volume of tomato seeds in the boy’s gut could indicate he was from a farm worker’s family. But the acorns? Kit discovers they’re from a Virginia live oak, not native to the area where the boy was found. Can she use those to identify his origins anyway? And why hasn’t anyone reported him missing?
Kit meets David O’Connor, a D.C. homicide detective in Chincoteague recovering from a shooting incident. She makes it clear she’s not interested in a relationship, but their passion for justice is mutual and they soon forge a partnership to find the boy’s murderer. As plant DNA evidence leads them straight into the dark world of human trafficking, Kit and David wrestle with the depths of human evil, with questions of faith, and with possibilities for hope. “Seeds of Evidence” takes readers on a white-knuckle ride they won’t soon forget.

Purchase Your Copy:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

 

ABOUT LINDA J. WHITE


By day, Linda J. White writes editorials for The Free Lance-Star, a newspaper in Fredericksburg, VA. By night, she plays the “what-if?” game, entangling engaging characters in “white-knuckle” plots. Her first FBI thriller, “Bloody Point,” was published in 2005. “Seeds of Evidence” (Abingdon Press) will be released in April 2013. Linda’s husband, Larry, was a video producer/director at the FBI Academy for over 27 years. Married since 1970, they have three grown children and now live with two dogs and two cats on two beautiful, wooded acres in Virginia.
You can visit Linda’s website at www.lindajwhite.com.





Connect with Linda!





My Review:

This story takes place in the beautiful Virginia Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. The breathtaking beaches, and beautiful waters. I've read about the wild ponies from here, and we do see some in this book.
FBI Agent Kit McGovern is here for some R&R, her Grandmother had owned a home on the Island. She is dealing with Job and relationship stress. We also meet David O'Connor a Washington D.C. Police Detective. He is here to decide whether he will return to work after being shot, and being involved in the death of a teen.
The two main characters have a horrible chance meeting when they find the body of a young Latin boy, about 7 or 8, washed ashore on the beach. The boy has some acorns in his pockets and some tomato seeds rolled in his sleeves, along with a large amount of seeds in his stomach. Someone so young should not have died.
Agent Kit is in turmoil after she has been dumped by her husband Eric, and Det. O'Connor is having a hard time dealing with killing a young man who had his entire life ahead of him.
Together will these enforcement agents begin to heal? Will they be able to help each other. What are they in for trying to find answers to the crime they led them to each other.
Be ready for a page turning, fast past, never a dull moment read. The story is fictional, but it reads so true, and really could be really happening.

I received this book through Pump Your Book Virtual Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.





 


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First Wild Card Book Tours Presents: Katie's Choice (Clover Ridge, #2) by Amy Lillard

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:

B&H Books (May 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Laurel Teague for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amy Lillard is an award-winning writer who loves reading romance novels from contemporary to Amish. These two genres met in her first book, 2012's Saving Gideon. Born and bred in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. To find out more about Amy and her books, please visit her online at http://amywritesromance.com.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Katie Rose Fisher loved Samuel Beachy with an intensity that shook their Amish district. No one doubted they would one day marry, until Samuel turned his back on the church and joined the world of the English. Alone now in Clover Ridge, Katie Rose dedicates her life to God and the school children she teaches each day. Although she secretly longs for more, Katie knows God’s hand is at work, and she is happy. News correspondent Zane Carson never even knew Oklahoma had an Amish community until he got the chance to live among them and learn about their day-to-day activities. Their simple way of life is intriguing, but not half as much as the young teacher. Katie Rose is flattered over the attention she receives from Zane, but she has resolved to never marry. Even if she were to entertain the idea, it surely couldn’t be with an outsider like Zane. Never one prone to the restraints of organized religion, Zane finds a comfort in the rituals and blessings in the day to day righteous living of this small Amish community. He finds himself, God, and love with Katie Rose. But as Zane draws closer to Katie Rose, Samuel comes back to repent his ways and return to his place at her side. Can Zane convince Katie Rose that he is committed to adapting to her way of life, or will Samuel win her affections back for himself once again?


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (May 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433677539
ISBN-13: 978-1433677533



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Are you ready to go back out on assignment?” The phone line crackled slightly on the last word, but he thought Jolene Davidson, senior editor for Around the World magazine, had said “assignment.”

Zane Carson sat up in a hurry. He’d been lounging on the couch watching reruns of Happy Days when he should have been at his physical therapy session. But he just wasn’t up to another round of incredibly boring exercises with the commando instructor. No sir, he just couldn’t do it again today. He’d been a little contemplative lately.

Okay, so he had been downright depressed. But who wouldn’t be? One bullet and his entire life had been put on hold. His entire life had changed. He’d been sent home, grounded, and for once he’d started to think about the future. His future. His and Monica’s.

“Of course I am,” he lied. But what better way to prove to everyone that he was ready to hit the red zone than jumping on the horse, so to speak?



“Are you sitting down?”

“As a matter of fact, I am.” Jo was always one for drama. If she weren’t such a wordsmith, she could have been an actress instead. “Lay it on me.”

“Oklahoma Amish country.”

“Come again?” Surely he heard her wrong, because he thought she’d said—

“Oklahoma Amish country.”

He leaned forward. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about you . . . going to Oklahoma . . . and living among the Amish to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be part of such a community.”

“Jolene, I am a war correspondent. That means I cover wars.” He purposefully made his voice sound like he was talking to a four-year-old. When would they accept that he was ready to go back out into the field? Maybe ready was a bad word, but he needed to get back out there, if only to prove that he could.

“Now, Carson, this is an important assignment—”

“Jolene, there aren’t many wars in Oklahoma, and there certainly aren’t any in Amish territory.”

“Country.”

“Whatever.” He flopped back on the sofa, then grimaced as he jarred his healing shoulder. “Aren’t they conscientious objectors?”

“You’ve been calling every day asking for an assignment.”

He hadn’t called today and look where that got him.

“Now they want to give you one. You can’t turn it down if you ever want to get back into the red zone.”

She was right. But . . . “Did you say Oklahoma?” Did they even have an Amish community? Why not Pennsylvania? Everybody knew about Lancaster County.

“Everybody knows about Lancaster County. We’re looking for something different—smaller settlement, tighter surrounding community. Alternate worship right there in the buckle of the Bible Belt.”

Zane didn’t know if he would call their manner of religion “alternate,” but what did he know about such things? He’d never been to church. His parents had preferred to worship nature and his uncle hadn’t had time for that sort of thing.

“I need you to do this for me.” Those quietly spoken words held a wealth of information. “You do this and I’ll make sure you get the Juarez assignment.”

“I thought Douglas was in Mexico.”

“He’s ready to come home, but he’s willing to stay until we can find a suitable replacement.”

Juarez, Mexico. Where innocent people died for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was dangerous, very dangerous, this war on drugs. And exactly where Zane wanted to be. Jo knew that, and she used that information to her advantage.

He sighed. “When do you want me there?”

“Day after tomorrow.”

That didn’t give him much time. Zane pushed his fingers through his hair. It needed a cut, but it seemed like even that would have to wait. At least he was going back to work. Sort of. He really didn’t consider an assignment like this work. How challenging could it be? Amish. Right. But with Mexico dangling in front of him, what choice did he have?

“You’ll fly Chicago to Tulsa. There’s a driver who will pick you up and take you to Clover Ridge. And . . .” she paused for dramatic effect. “I’ve arranged for you to stay with a host family.”

“Wait. What? Hold on.” Zane ran his hands down the legs of his faded jeans and tried to get a handle on the information she just dumped on him. “A driver? Why do I need a driver? What about a car?”

Jolene sighed in an aren’t-you-just-the-silliest-thing kind of way that set his teeth on edge. “Zane, the Amish don’t drive cars.”

What had he gotten himself into?

“You’re going there to learn how to live like them, give the world an inside perspective. You certainly can’t do that if you’re zipping all over the place in a rental.”

That might be true, but he was sure he could get the feel for the lifestyle without being stranded in podunk Oklahoma with no means of transportation. But he knew better than to argue with Jo when she thought she was being brilliant. “Define ‘host family.’”

“Basically there’s a family, let me see here . . .” Zane could hear her shuffling papers. “The Fishers. You’re going to stay with them, and learn how to live like the Amish.”

“And what do they get out of the deal?”

She paused. “The satisfaction of helping their fellow man?”

He shook his head. “Helping their fellow man sell countless magazines and make lots of money. Isn’t that a little . . . un-Amish?” Even writers were sometimes at a loss for words. But someone once told him that the Amish weren’t interested in making money and getting ahead. They only earned what they needed to in order to care for their families. Or maybe he had read it in a magazine during one of his countless layovers.

“The mom has cancer. They’re hoping that the exposure will help bring more people into the community and thereby raise enough money to cover the medical costs.”

That seemed a little out of character too. But what he knew about the Amish could fit on the back of a postage stamp—with room to spare.

Host family usually meant an in-depth study, a series of articles, and quite a bit of time away from home. Zane glanced around his tiny apartment. He was so sick at looking at these walls. Maybe an assignment like this was worth getting out for. “How long are we talking about here?”

“Three months.”

“Are you insane? Three months?” He flipped the calendar to October. Three months would get him back to Chicago at the first of the year. “I’ll be gone during Christmas.”

Jolene snickered. “I thought you might like to spend the holidays with someone other than me.”

Truth was he’d never spent any personal time with Jo at the holidays, or any other time for that matter, but he was one of the few reporters at Around the World that had no family to speak of. No one would miss him if he were on assignment Christmas Day. Not even Monica. Well, she might miss him, but she would understand. Not that it mattered. It’d never been a big holiday for him before or after his parents died.

“And you’re sure it’s okay with them?” The Amish were a tight-knit group, and the last thing he wanted was to invade their inner sanctum. He’d been in war-torn countries with bullets whizzing past his head like fiery hail, he’d suffered discrimination of being the only white face in the jungles of Africa, but there was no way he’d overrun someone’s private time with their family. That was not a road he wanted to travel down.

“Are you worried, Zane?” She said this, but what she really meant was, Are you going soft on me?

“Not at all.”

“Good, then. They’ll be expecting you on Thursday. I’ll send over the specs on the angle we’d like to see. This is a serious assignment, Zane. We want it all—interviews, pictures, the works.”

“Got it.”

“In the meantime, it’s probably best to start your own research. You’d better get on it though. You only have a day and a half to learn how to live like the Amish.”

***

Soft music played in the dimly lit restaurant. Zane smoothed a hand down his tie, resisting the urge to loosen it. He was certain the maitre d’ would frown upon anything less than perfection from his diners. And the noose was for a good cause. He glanced at his dinner companion.

To call Monica Cartwright pretty was the understatement of the century. With her silky, black hair, flawless complexion, and petite frame, beautiful didn’t seem to cover it either. Gorgeous, stunning, breathtaking—those came close. Or maybe it was the way she carried herself, with a self-assurance that came from old money. Why she had set her sights on a footloose vagrant like him was beyond comprehension.

He wasn’t going to examine it too closely, though, but instead ride it for all it was worth. He absently fingered the little black box he’d tucked away in his suit coat. Tonight was a special night. And he had yet to tell her about his sojourn into the land of the backward.

That wasn’t fair. He was sure the Amish were good people, but he needed to be in the thick of things. That’s what made him tick, made him feel alive. What had Jo talked him into this time? Amish. She had better deliver on Mexico the minute he returned.

“Zane?”

He lifted his gaze to Monica, only then aware he’d been staring at the menu without even reading it.

She shifted in her seat. “You’re a million miles away.” The immaculate navy blue cocktail dress hugged her like a second skin and matched her eyes to perfection.

“Sorry.” He smoothed his tie once again. She was probably sensing his unease. He’d have to tell her eventually about his assignment. She’d be disappointed, but she understood the business. Even if the magazine she worked for was owned by dear old Dad, Monica prided herself on working her way into her current position as staff editor of Talk of the Town magazine. Of course, she wrote about Chanel lipstick and Louboutin shoes, not the harsh realities of war. But she understood.

Of all the days to get an assignment.

“It’s all right.”

He was about to spill the news when the waiter came to take their order. One prime rib and one frou-frou salad later, he couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“I got an assignment today.”

“Oh.” Crestfallen was the only word he could think of to describe her expression. Of course, she thought he was going back to the Middle East.

“It’s an easy assignment.”

She chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, then gave him a sad, brave smile. “Where are you going?” For all her talk about accepting his job, he knew it wouldn’t be easy for her when he headed off to Mexico.

“Oklahoma.”

Her brows rose. “Are you joking?”

“I wish I was. It’s a crazy assignment, but if I want to get back out in the field, then I have to go.”

“I understand.” She looked down, seemingly captivated by the pattern on the ends of their flatware.

He hated the resigned slump of her shoulders. “It’s only for three months.”

“That’s not bad.” There was that brave smile again.

He shook his head. “There’s something else I want to talk to you about.”

She took a sip of water, watching him over the rim.

Zane’s hand started to tremble. Surely a natural reaction. After all, it wasn’t every day a man got engaged. He pulled the velvet box from his suit pocket and placed it on the table in front of him.

Her sapphire eyes grew wide. “Zane, I—”

He shook his head, effectively cutting off whatever she was about to say. “Just hear me out.” He took a deep breath, then flipped open the top of the ring box to expose the sparkling ruby and diamond engagement ring inside. Another breath. “Monica, I’ve always been something of a loner. I guess it’s in my genes, but getting shot made me stop and think about the future. That’s when I realized I didn’t have one. At least, not one that I was looking forward to.”

He cleared his throat and dropped down on one knee beside her. “Monica Cartwright, will you marry me?” His voice cracked on the last word, but she didn’t seem to notice.

She looked from the box on the table to the knot in his tie, but made no move toward the ring. “I don’t know what to say.” She didn’t meet his gaze.

“I believe this is where you’re supposed to say yes.”

“Oh, Zane.” Her voice was filled with anguish and indecision instead of the happy love that he’d been expecting. She tugged on his sleeve. “Stand up. Stand up.”

Zane rose, then sat in his chair, wondering where his proposal had gotten off track.

“What about your job?”

He shrugged, his shoulders stiff. Then he tried to laugh it off. “I’ll need to keep it, don’t you think? We’ll still have bills to pay.”

She dropped her gaze to her lap. “You’ll be gone most of the time.”

He reached across the table and took her hands into his own. “I was laying there in that hospital bed wondering if each sight was going to be my last and all I could think about was you. And the future. That’s how those soldiers do it, babe. They can go over there and fight because they know they have someone to come home to. I need you to be my someone.”

Tears filled her eyes, but she blinked them back. “I don’t know, Zane. I—I just don’t know.”

This was not the response he’d expected. In all fairness he was asking a lot. For her to wait on him, to wonder and worry, raise their family and never know if he’d return in one piece. But they weren’t the only couple facing the same prospects in this time of war. Others survived. They could too.

He picked up the ring box, snapped it shut, and pressed it into her hand. “You think about it while I’m gone, okay?”

She nodded and slipped the box into her evening bag. “It’s not that I don’t love you—”

“Shh. I know.” He pressed one finger to her lips. “We’ll talk about it when I get back.”

***

Engaged. He was engaged. Well, almost engaged. He’d taken Monica by surprise was all. And now this assignment. He was counting on the old absence makes the heart grow fonder thing to kick in while he was gone. She’d come around to his way of thinking. He was certain of it.

Engaged. It was a weird thought. There was someone waiting for him to return. Someone who counted on him to come back and continue their relationship without question. The idea was as foreign to Zane as the landscape whizzing past.

As promised, a driver named Bill had met Zane at the airport. Bill was more than willing to talk about the weather, the trees, and how the University of Oklahoma football team was playing this season, but Zane didn’t think it was the time to drill him for secrets into the culture he was entering. Bill wasn’t Amish.

“Mennonite,” he supplied with a smile and a glance in Zane’s direction.

“And what would you say the primary difference is?” Zane asked. “Besides driving.” He’d been a little surprised that the driver was also of the Anabaptist sect, though he wouldn’t have known it if the chatty Bill hadn’t volunteered the info.

“Well, now, there are quite a few differences. ’Course you got your Old Order Amish and your New Order Amish, they differ greatly as well.”

“And Clover Ridge?”

“Definitely Old Order.”

Zane nodded. Not that he understood any of what that meant. He wished he’d done a little more research. All he could remember about the Amish was the tragic shooting several years ago and that they seemed to be a loving and forgiving sort of people. He had been in Bosnia when it happened, so all his info had been filtered by the time it reached him.

“I thought Oklahoma was flat and dusty.” Zane gestured toward the green grass. The sky was colored a pristine blue, and the hills seemed to roll on forever into the distance. Sort of reminded him of Oregon and the commune where he grew up. At least how he remembered Oregon.

Bill laughed. “Not this part. You’re in what’s called Green Country. Out in western Oklahoma, it’s like that. Dry prairie. But neither side lives in teepees.”

Zane turned to face him, questions on the tip of his tongue.

Bill’s eyes twinkled.

Must be an inside joke, Zane thought, and leaned back in his seat.

The rest of the trip flew by in a blur of unexpected green. Bill pointed out a few more things along the way—mistletoe, the state flower, and the scissor-tailed flycatcher, the state bird. And in less time than it would have taken him to drive from his apartment to downtown, they were entering Clover Ridge.

The town was a mixed oddity of old and new. There was a McDonalds and a Walgreens, but somehow they had managed to keep the Walmart invasion at bay. A general store named Anderson’s sat next to the post office, then a lumberyard, and a Dairy Queen.

But most interesting of all were the buggies hitched to horses and tethered in front of all the stores. At least they weren’t in the drive-through line at Mickey D’s, he thought, hiding a smile.

In no time at all, they pulled into a long dirt drive lined with wooden fences on both sides. Across the road from the turn, a field had been left fallow, the rich, dark earth looking like no soil he had ever seen. A small wooden shanty stood at the edge of the field, seeming too new for the rest of the farm.

“Here we are.” Bill pulled the car to a stop in front of a rambling white house that looked like it had been added on to several times.

A big red barn stood opposite the haphazard structure, a pasture with no end spreading behind it. The yard itself teemed with life. Chickens, dogs, cats, geese, and even a duck strutted around pecking at bugs and giving the occasional cat a chase.

Bill didn’t even honk the horn. At the sound of the car’s engine, three people rushed from the house to the porch. Zane stepped from the car, looking from them to the stern-faced man coming from the barn, the obvious Amish patriarch.

Before he could utter one word of greeting, Bill raised his hand toward the elder man. “Abram Fisher. I’ve brought your new house guest.”

Abram raised his hand in return. “Bill Foster. It is good to see you.” The men shook hands and clapped each other on the back as Zane watched the group on the porch. A tall, slender woman stood in the center of the fray, most likely Abram’s wife. What had Jo said her name was? Ruth, yeah, Ruth.

“You’ll stay for natchess,” Abram said, not quite a question, but Bill nodded in return. “Wouldn’t miss Ruth’s cookin’ for nothin’ in the world.”

Abram shook his head. “Ruth’s restin’ more these days. It’s Gideon’s Annie who’ll be preparin’ your food for the evenin’. But a right fine cook she is at that.” Zane couldn’t help but notice the haunted look in his eyes at the mention of his wife’s name and once again he worried that his staying with them might turn out to be more of a hardship than a benefit.

He mentally shook himself. Maybe Jo was right. Maybe he was getting soft. Normally he wouldn’t care about such things. They had invited him here. They were getting something from the deal. He was just doing his job. And that’s all there was to it.

“What say you, Bill Foster?” Abram asked. “What else do we need to pay you for your services this evenin’?”

Zane stepped forward and reached for his wallet. “I’ve got this.” He pulled out two twenties and a ten, more than enough to cover the gas for the trip. He thought better of it and pulled out a couple more twenties. Surely that would pay for the man’s time.

Bill shook his head and made no move toward the money. “I’d rather not have money, if you’ve still got any of them pickles.”

Abram nodded. “That we do. A couple of jars of those, and I’ll say we’re even.”

Zane looked down at the cash he held in his hand. Pickles? Was he serious? The Amish man and the Mennonite shook hands. Evidently they were.

“But—” he started, not really knowing what to do and how to protest that Bill hadn’t taken his money in trade for services. Bill looked down at the bills in Zane’s hand.

“That’s mighty kind of you, son,” he said, plucking it from his fingers and handing it over to Abram. “Perhaps this would be better used in Ruth Ann’s fund.”

“Danki, Bill Foster,” Abram gave a nod of his head. “I’ll make sure Annie gets it.”

“Come on with you both.” Abram pointed to the bags Bill had pulled from the back of the car. The men grabbed the luggage and started toward the house.

“By the way, I’m Zane Carson.” He didn’t know why he felt compelled to say anything. It wasn’t like they had paid him the slightest attention, but he felt he should say something. Or maybe not. He adjusted the strap of his laptop bag and followed behind Bill and Abram.

“Ach,” Abram said with a shake of his head. “That you are.”

Zane didn’t have time to think about the lack of greeting. All at once they were standing at the foot of the porch.

“Annie, I hope you’ve prepared enough, we’ve got guests for supper.”

A petite woman with dark hair and unusual eyes nodded to Abram. “I have indeed. There is more than enough to go around.”

Her accent was different from the others’. Abram’s voice held the lilt of his German ancestors, but Annie sounded like a purebred Texan. And stranger still, Zane had a feeling he’d met her before.

“Abram,” the woman on the porch said, “introduce the family and guests.”

The eldest Fisher jerked his head. “Zane Carson,” he said with a motion back toward him. “This here’s my wife, Ruth Ann, and that’s Annie Hamilton, my son John Paul. Gideon will be along directly with our son, Gabe, and his boys.”

“And Lizzie,” Annie said. “I mean, Mary Elizabeth, will be here too.”

“Don’t forget Katie Rose,” John Paul added. “She’s my sister.”

Zane did a quick mental calculation and, depending on the number of boys that belonged to Gabe, there would be at least twelve people at this natchess, maybe more. He hadn’t survived in the Middle East without being quick, and he could only assume that natchess was the next meal.

Everyone bustled into the house, the inside much warmer than the greeting he’d received from Abram. Yet, there weren’t any of the vanity objects that dominated non-Amish housing. No pictures on the walls, no knickknacks scattered about. The floors were solid wood, covered only by a few homemade-looking rag rugs. There were no curtains on the windows, no cozy items strewn about. All in all he couldn’t figure out why it seemed so welcoming.

Maybe it was the family. Despite Abram, Ruth Ann and Annie seemed to welcome him into the house. Upon closer inspection, he could see the ravages of cancer treatment on the Fisher matriarch. She wore a black bonnet that he was pretty sure hid the last remains of her chemo-ravaged hair. Her skin held a gray tinge, her cheeks puffy from the steroids, her eyes sunken. Her dress hung on her frame, but those mossy green eyes sparkled with a light that even medical science couldn’t extinguish.

Annie was much younger and healthier, though Zane noticed she hovered close to Ruth as if to spot her in case she stumbled. Zane still couldn’t shake the feeling that he knew her somehow. They say everyone has a twin. Well, at some point in his life, he’d run across Annie’s.

“John Paul,” Ruth commanded, her voice strong despite her frail condition. “Take Zane Carson’s things upstairs and show him to his room.”

“Thank you, ma’am, but I can get it.”

Ruth shook her head. “John Paul will help.”

The young man stepped forward and for the first time Zane noticed he wore faded jeans to rival his own. His blue shirt looked impeccably tailored, and he’d rounded out his attire with a pair of dirty running shoes. Had he not had the distinctive chili-bowl hairstyle, John Paul Fisher would have looked like any other teenager in countless other small towns around the country.

Yet the women had both dressed the same: dresses covered in some sort of apron and shawl, hair pinned back and covered with a small, white cap. Why did John Paul dress differently? Zane made a mental note to find out the first chance he got.

John Paul picked up Zane’s suitcase and started toward the large set of stairs. “This way.”

Zane grabbed his computer and followed behind.

“You’ll be sharin’ a room with me, since Gideon’s Annie has the other.” He nodded his head to the closed door directly across the hall. He pushed open the opposite door and ducked inside.

Two neat beds sat side by side in a surprisingly large bedroom. Each bed was covered with a quilt of vivid colors—black, red, yellow, orange, and green. A rocking chair had a strange-looking floor lamp next to it, the neck of it protruding out of an old propane tank.

“This one’s the bed I usually sleep in.” John Paul pointed to the one on the right, and it wasn’t lost on Zane that he didn’t call the bed “mine.” “But I’m not here much.” He shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “whatever.”

“Then I’ll take this one.” Zane hoisted his laptop bag into the center of the quilt. “Tell me again, Gideon’s Annie is who?”

“She’s the dark-haired girl downstairs. She’s intended to my older brother Gideon.”

“Why do they call her by his name too?”

“You see, there’s a lot of Annies, but she is—”

“Gideon’s. Got it.”

“Come next fall, they’ll be married. Well, once she joins the church.”

Zane sat down on the bed, briefly wondering if John Paul would mind if he opened his laptop and took notes while the young man talked. Probably. So he kept his expression blank as he asked, “She’s not a member of the church?”

“No, she just moved here.”

“From another community, you mean.”

“From Dallas.”

As in Texas? He wasn’t so far off the mark after all. He was pleased to know that six months stuck in his own apartment hadn’t dulled his instincts. “I wasn’t aware they had an Amish settlement in Dallas.”

John Paul shook his head. “Gideon’s Annie isn’t Amish. She’s an Englischer wantin’ to be Amish so she can marry my brother. She can’t do that until she joins the church. And she can’t join the church until she passes her lessons and proves that she’s committed to our ways.”

Now that sounded downright cultish, but Zane supposed love could do that to a person. “How did an Amish man meet a city girl from Texas?”

“Ach, man, now there’s a good story,” he said, sounding all the more like his father. “But it’s better voiced by Gideon or Annie. I can tell you, though, that Annie, she wrecked her car on a snowy night this past spring. Gideon rescued her from the car, and she . . . well, I suppose you could say that she rescued him from his grief. His wife and son died over a year ago. Gideon never quite recovered. Until Annie, that is.”

“I see.” In the shoes he wore right then, he couldn’t imagine how Gideon felt. How would he feel about the matter after Monica gave birth to his child?

John Paul sat down opposite him, and Zane nodded toward the young man’s jeans. “So the men are able to dress like they want and the women wear the . . .” He motioned toward his torso and head.

John Paul laughed. “No. All Amish men and women dress the same as each other, but I’m in rumspringa.”

“And that means . . . ?”

“I get a chance to go out and experience the world. I can wear what I want, drive a car, drink alcohol. Make sure I really want to join the church.”

“And if you decide not to join?”

John Paul shrugged. “Then I can leave the district and go to live with the Englisch.”

“Interesting.” More than, actually. He would have loved to question John Paul some more about the rum-whatever, but they had been gone long enough. Time to get back downstairs and meet back up with his host family. He made a mental note to find out more at the first available opportunity.

“Is there a place I can plug in my laptop?”

John Paul grinned. “No.”

“But the lamp?” He nodded toward the corner light.

“Runs off propane. Didn’t anybody tell you? There’s no electricity in Amish homes.”

He had heard something to that effect, but it just hadn’t sunk in. Or maybe it just didn’t seem possible. “They were serious about that?”

John Paul’s grin got a little bit wider. “Absolutely.”

***

Back downstairs, it seemed that the house would burst with all the people who had arrived for dinner. Gabriel, it turned out, had five sons ranging in age from four to thirteen with his daughter Mary Elizabeth topping the list at fifteen. From her, Zane learned that rumspringa started at sixteen and could last as long as five years. Soon Mary Elizabeth would be joining the run-around time. By the gleam in her eyes, she could barely stand the wait. Gideon also arrived, looking as much like Abram as Gabriel did. Both Fisher boys were bulky and solid, with coffee-dark hair. Their mossy-green eyes were identical to their mother’s, the one trait she seemed to have passed to her sons.

Zane couldn’t help but notice Gideon and his intended were not very affectionate—at least not outwardly. He did catch them staring longingly at each other when they thought no one was looking. Maybe that was part of the culture as well. He wished he’d thought to bring his notebook from his case, but then again, maybe it wasn’t kosher to take notes at the family dinner. Even if Bill the Mennonite driver was also attending. So Zane made do with mental notes, etching the questions into his brain so he could retrieve them later when he went to his room.

“Katie Rose,” Mary Elizabeth said, grabbing the arm of a woman he had yet to meet. With all the milling bodies, it was no wonder he hadn’t seen the Fisher daughter as she had arrived with her brothers.

She turned to face him, and Zane’s greeting died on his lips.

Tall and slim, she looked as much like her mother as the Fisher boys favored their father. Honey-blonde hair, pale green eyes, with the barest hint of color high on her cheekbones.

And she took his breath away.

She exuded an angelic quality that even surpassed the peace and love that shone in Ruth Fisher’s eyes. Wholesome. That was the first word to come to mind. She was what Monica would call a natural beauty. No makeup, no highlights, no artificial anything, and yet she was perhaps the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Was that his voice? He nodded to Katie Rose, still trying to get his bearings, as he reached out to shake her hand.

“And you as well. Welcome to Clover Ridge.” Katie Rose smiled as she shook his hand, and Zane’s breath stilled in his chest. Her fingers were warm in his, solid with just a few rough spots that told the tale of the life she lived. Monica would have been at the salon every day to have them removed, but they fit the natural beauty of Katie Rose Fisher.

He couldn’t pinpoint what it was about her that seemed to seep into his bones. She was not his type, but the man in him could appreciate her beauty. The engaged man in him, however, knew to keep his distance. Now was the time to show his professionalism.

“Katie Rose is our teacher,” Mary Elizabeth gushed. “Well, not mine anymore, but the other children’s. She’s wonderful.”

“I’m sure she is,” he said, realizing that he still held her hand in his.

Katie Rose pulled away, her smile unwavering. “I hope you enjoy your stay here.”

“I’m sure I will.” Zane did his best not to feel discarded as she nodded a “so long” and disappeared in the throng of her family.

Just when he thought the house couldn’t get any fuller, someone called out, “Go get Noni.”

From the back, John Paul brought in a stooped, elderly woman who couldn’t have been a day younger than ninety. Arthritis had gnarled her hands into near talons, but her eyes still held the sharp edge of intelligence. She had a walking cane and a long black dress, her iron-gray hair parted down the middle pulled back and covered just like the young women.

Once they were all seated around the two large wooden tables, everyone bowed their heads. Everyone, but Zane. He looked around at their bowed heads, his gaze stopping on one of Gabriel’s sons. Samuel? Or was it Simon? It didn’t matter. Only the buzzing silence that filled the room as everyone prayed. For what, he didn’t know. Zane had never been one to pray. At least not to a god . . . or the God. He just . . . never saw the point.

His gaze flitted from Simon to his aunt. Katie Rose had her head dutifully lowered, her eyes closed, and her hands folded neatly on the table. There was a peace about her that Zane couldn’t place, and he pushed back thoughts of his earlier reaction to her. Her beauty had taken him by surprise. Where he came from, women did everything from color their hair to inject their lips in order to gain the aura that Katie Rose held by the grace of nature.

Professional, he reminded himself. Be professional. He was a little out of practice at living with other cultures. Six weeks in Chicago had done that to him. Maybe Jo had a point: He needed this assignment more than he realized. He’d definitely be in trouble if he lost his edge in Juarez. Better to get back in the habit of adapting to the Amish before he had to survive in the wild world of Mexican drug lords.

He cleared his mind of personal thoughts of Katie Rose and inspected her with a journalist’s eyes. She, like the other women, wore a white kerchief-kind of hat perched on the back part of her head. Must be an Amish thing. He’d never thought about it until now, but in all the pictures he had seen of the Plain people, the women wore that same type of covering, or something similar. He made a mental note to ask John Paul about it.

Thankfully, Abram uttered “Aemen” and everyone raised their heads. Being at the table with so many people brought back memories of the cooperative where bowls of food were circulated and everyone served their plates before passing to the next person.

Someone burped. No one made mention of it, no one said excuse me or waited for another to do the honors. Another Amish thing? For so many people at the table, there wasn’t a great deal of talking. Even the children were strangely quiet. Granted, what he had seen of Amish children tonight led him to believe that they were better disciplined than kids on the outside. Still, he couldn’t help but believe that his presence at the table had something to do with it.

“How’s your natchess?”

Zane’s gaze jerked to Katie Rose. She smiled, and he realized her eyes were a lighter green than her mother’s. And sweetly smiling instead of tired, as she waited for him to answer.

He realized he wasn’t eating. Old habits and all. He’d never been a big eater. He was usually much more interested in what was around him than in food. But he had the next three months to absorb all he could of the Amish way of life. No sense in starving himself this early in the game.

“Oh, fine, fine,” he answered, taking a bite to add credit to his words. “Very good, in fact. My compliments to the chef.”

A few seats down, Annie blushed.

The meal was tasty. Some of the best food he had ever eaten. Maybe because it wasn’t full of preservatives or lean on fat and calories. He could feel it clogging his arteries that very second, but he wasn’t sure he cared. It was that delicious. “What do you call this?”

“Chicken pot pie,” Annie answered.

“It’s Annie’s specialty,” Mary Elizabeth said with a smile.

“And onkel’s favorite,” Matthew was quick to add.

Everyone laughed.

Another inside joke?

“There was fine weather today,” Abram said from his place at the head of the table. “Tomorrow we’ll start plowin’.”

“Plowing?” Granted he’d been a city boy for the last twenty years, but he’d spent quite a few formative years in a commune. And he’d learned a thing or two about farming. One thing he knew was that it was October. Not time to plant anything.

“Jah,” Abram said with a short nod. “Plowin’.”

“You made out easy,” John Paul added with a nudge to his side. “Last week we laid the manure.”

“Seems like I came just in time,” he said with a laugh. For the first time since he agreed to this crazy plan of Jo’s, he realized the extent of what he’d gotten himself in to. Farming. And backward farming, at that. He rubbed at the dull pain in his shoulder. He supposed it was better than heading into a war zone. Safer, and not as stressful. A little cleaner and a lot cushier. But how was he supposed to live his life to the fullest on an Amish farm in the backwoods of backward Oklahoma? Three months, he told himself. Three months, and he was out of here.

***

Abram Fisher had made a mistake. He was a godly man. He had learned humility. And he could admit when he’d done wrong. And this time he hadn’t done right by his family.

He looked down the table to the stranger he had invited into his home—their home. He’d done it all for Ruthie. He was a selfish man, he knew. Every night he prayed to God to forgive him and his selfish ways and thoughts, but heaven help him, he wasn’t ready to let her go.

But this Englischer with his hard eyes and unsmiling mouth was not a man he should have asked to come into his house. Not like this. But the deed was done. Zane Carson was staying, living among them, writing about what it felt like to be Amish.

Abram couldn’t understand the draw of the outside world to their little community, but the Englischers seemed to be fascinated by the ways of the Plain folk. It beat him as to why. They all acted like Plain folk did something special. More special than just follow God’s plan. Everything was right there in the Bible for everyone to see, to use. T’weren’t any more special than that.

But with Ruthie’s cancer treatments draining the funds from the district, Abram had to do something to put it back. The only thing he could do was take the fancy, fast-talking editor lady up on her plan. Invite a reporter to come into their midst, live with them, work beside them, and then write a bunch of stories about the experience. She assured Abram that the articles would bring tourists from all over to sample the wares, tastes, and simple life that was offered in Clover Ridge. More visitors meant more money for the town, and more money for the town meant more funds in the emergency coffers. More money for cancer treatments.

So he had done it for Ruthie. Everything for Ruthie.




My Review:

I enjoyed reading this book. It helps you realize what exactly is important in life. Zane Carson is a reporter, wounded in Afghanistan. He is recovering and ready to get to get back in action. His Editor thinks it is to soon, but has an assignment for him. Visit and tell about life in Amish Country in Oklahoma.
Thus begins his life awakening moments, refreshing warm memories of his Childhood. He grew up in a Hippie Commune with his parents. Although they died while he was still young, and he finished growing up with his Uncle in Chicago. He was brought up without knowing God, and now he is going to live with people who base their lives on God.
Just before he leaves he asks his girlfriend Monica to marry him, she hadn't given him an answer.
Arriving in Oklahoma he has no idea at all how Amish people live. I was pleasantly surprised at how well he seems to adapt. He of course, being a reporter is full of questions.
Katie Fisher has been hurt when her intended left her a few years ago. He wanted to go English. She now is the Amish School Teacher, and helps her brother with the care of his family. One thing you notice as soon as she meets Zane is sparks. We all know this cannot be, he is Agnostic and she loves the Lord. He is English and she is Amish.
I loved how the whole community comes together, and basically the acceptance of the English man, of course there is a reason behind him being there, which you will soon find out.
Enjoy this quick pace read in the Oklahoma Amish Community. I for one am so glad there is another book in this series.

I received this book through First Wild Card Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.