Monday, August 10, 2009

Chapter of the Week

A Surrendered Heart
Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

"This conclusion of a great series by two talented authors has everything: romance, family secrets, villains, and faith messages woven throughout." (Romantic Times 4 ½ stars)

When cholera strikes Rochester, New York, in the spring of 1899, the members of the Broadmoor family flee to their castle home in the Thousand Islands. But Amanda Broadmoor, who has always held a special compassion for the less fortunate, resolves to remain in Rochester with Dr. Blake Carstead, working to help control the spread of the dreaded disease. However, much more than Amanda's health hangs in the balance. Mishandling of the family fortune threatens to leave the Broadmoor family penniless-and even willing to sacrifice Amanda's future. Will she be forced to marry a man she disdains in order to save the Broadmoor legacy?

Chapter 1
Wednesday, April 26, 1899
Rochester, New York
Amanda Broadmoor glanced at the imprudent headline that emblazoned last night's edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Why must the newspaper exaggerate? People would be frightened into a genuine panic with such ill-advised news reporting. Turning the headline to the inside, she creased the paper and slipped it beneath a stack of mail on the marble-topped table in the lower hallway of her family's fashionable home. Certain this most recent newspaper article would cause yet another family squabble, she had hidden the paper in her bedroom the previous evening.
No doubt the glaring headline had increased sales for the owner of the press. The paper had been quick to report four recent deaths attributed to the dreaded disease, and with an early spring and unrelenting rains, a number of prominent families had already fled the city. After yesterday's report, more would surely follow. And for those who didn't possess the wherewithal to flee, the report would serve no purpose but to heighten their fear.
Of course the Broadmoors were among the social elite of Rochester, New York. Amanda had never known need or want, and when bad things dared to rear their ugly heads, she had been carefully sheltered from the worst of it. All that had changed, however, when she decided to seek a career in medicine.
At twenty-one, Amanda felt she had the right to make her own way in life, but her father and mother hardly saw it that way. Their attitudes reflected those of their peers and the world around them. Women working in the medical field were highly frowned upon, and a woman of Amanda's social standing was reared to marry and produce heirs, not to tend the sick. Especially not those suffering from cholera.
"And Mama can be such an alarmist."
At the first report Amanda's mother had suggested the entire family take refuge at their summer estate located on Broadmoor Island in the St. Lawrence River. But that idea had been immediately vetoed by her father. Jonas Broadmoor had avowed his work would not permit him to leave Rochester. And Amanda agreed with her father's decision. After devoting much of her time and energy to medical training at Dr. Carstead's side, Amanda couldn't possibly desert her work-not now-not when she was most needed.
Amanda glanced at the clock. Her mother would expect her for breakfast, but remaining any longer would simply ensure a tearful plea for her to cease working with Dr. Carstead. She would then need to offer a lengthy explanation as to why her work was critical, and that in turn would cause a tardy arrival at the Home for the Friendless. Before the matter could be resolved, much valuable time would be wasted, time that could be used to care for those in need of her ministrations. With each newspaper claim, an argument ensued, leaving Amanda to feel she must betray either her mother or Dr. Carstead. She didn't feel up to a quarrel today.
After fastening her cloak, she tucked a strand of blond hair beneath her bonnet and slipped into the kitchen, where the carriage driver was finishing his morning repast. "Do hurry," she said, motioning toward the door. "I'm needed at the Home."
He downed a final gulp of coffee, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and nodded. "The carriage is ready and waiting." He quickstepped to the east side of the kitchen and opened the door with a flourish. His broad smile revealed a row of uneven teeth. "You see? Always prepared. That's my motto."
"An excellent motto, though sometimes difficult to achieve," Amanda said, pleased to discover the rain had ceased.
She hurried toward the carriage, the driver close on her heels. Her own attempts to be prepared seemed to fall short far too often. Since beginning her study of medicine with Dr. Carstead, she'd made every effort to anticipate his needs, but it seemed he frequently requested an item she'd never before heard of, a medical instrument other than what she offered, or a bandage of a different width. Amanda was certain her inadequate choices sometimes annoyed him. However, he held his temper in check-at least most of the time.
"Did you read today's headline?" the driver asked before closing the carriage door.
Amanda nodded. "Indeed. That's why we must hurry. I'm afraid there will be many at the clinic doors this morning. Sometimes simply hearing about an illness causes people to fear they've contracted it." A sense of exhaustion washed over her just thinking about the work ahead.
The driver grimaced. "I know what you mean, miss. I read the article in the paper and then wondered if I was suffering some of the symptoms myself."
"Have you been having difficulty with your digestive organs?"
At the mention of his digestive organs, the color heightened in the driver's cheeks. He glanced away and shook his head. "No, but I had a bit of a headache yesterday, and thought I was a bit thirstier than usual."
"It's likely nothing, but if you begin to experience additional symptoms, be sure to come and see the doctor. Don't wait too long."
Still unable to meet her gaze, he touched his finger to the brim of his hat. "Thank you for your concern, miss. I'll heed your advice."
When they arrived at the Home for the Friendless a short time later, Amanda's prediction proved true. Lines had formed outside the building, and there was little doubt most of those waiting were seeking medical attention. After bidding the driver good day, she hurried around the side of the building and entered through the back door leading into the office Dr. Blake Carstead occupied during his days at the Home.
She stopped short at the sight of the doctor examining a young woman. "You've arrived earlier than usual, I see."
He grunted. "After reading last night's newspaper, I knew we'd have more patients today. I wish someone would place a muzzle on that reporter. He seems to take delight in frightening people. Did you read what he said?"
Amanda removed her cloak and hung it on the peg alongside the doctor's woolen overcoat. "Only the headline," she replied. "I do hope the article was incorrect."
Dr. Carstead continued to examine a cut on his patient's arm. "It was exaggerated. There was one death due to cholera, but a colleague tells me the other deaths occurred when a carriage overturned and crushed two passersby. I don't know why the owner of that paper permits such slipshod reporting. If I practiced medicine the way that newspaper reports the news, I'd have a room filled with dead patients."
The patient's eyes widened at the doctor's last remark.
To purchase A Surrendered Heart, go to or or visit your local bookstore
To discover more about Tracie Peterson or Judith Miller, go to: and
Copyright 2009. Do not reproduce without permission.

Outlaw's Bride
Lori Copeland

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun western, July 23, 2009
R. Stoddard (McGuire AFB, NJ)See all my reviews(REAL NAME)
Lori Copeland is such a fun writer. Her books are always so enjoyable. This book falls right in line with her previous stories. Ragan works hard to support her family. Her father, suffering from dementia of sorts, and sisters rely on her and she has lovingly sacrificed her future to help care for them. As a housekeeper for the retired Judge McMann, she is also tasked with tolerating prisoners who have been given a 2nd chance-- a chance to change and become productive citizens-- and writing a book with the Judge on this unprecedented experiment. Johnny McAllister might be a drifter with vengeance in his heart, but he is innocent of the crime for which he has been accused. But since evidence points to the contrary, he is convicted of bank robbery. Fortunately, the presiding judge sees worth in him and, rather than the more common hanging, sentences him to 2 yrs in Barren Flats (formally Paradise... but plagued by gangs has changed its name) at the home of Judge McMann... and Ragan. Johnny and Ragan, of course, feel first contempt and then attraction (I don't feel this spoils it because of the nature of this genre.. isn't it to be expected?). But Johnny is not free to love someone as pure and sweet as Ragan when he seeks blood as revenge. Can Ragan convince him to leave vengeance to the Lord? Can his love for her conquer his hate for his enemy? Copeland makes this story fun with efforts to rid the town of its gang-- I really laughed out loud several times causing some raised eyebrows from strangers sitting nearby at the pool. Wonderfully witty dialogue dominates this book as in usual in her tales. This is a great start to a new series. I can't wait to read the next installment!!

A tender romance that shows how even the hard law of the West doesn't stand a chance when God's mercy, warm friendship, and true love come to reside in a lonely man's heart.

Back cover copy:
What are you going to do, McAllister? Put your life on hold forever and let a woman like Ragan slip through your fingers so you can pursue scum like Bledso?

Chapter 29
Cattle packed the streets of Barren Flats for five endless days. It seemed the animals were everywhere. There was talk of little else, and the subject was close to being exhausted in the McMann home.
"If I never hear another steer bawl, it will be too soon," the judge declared after dinner Saturday. "Ragan, I don't even want you to cook a roast anytime soon."
She put a thick slice of apple pie on Johnny's plate. Their eyes met and she looked away. This fascination with him had to stop. There could be no future together; he cared nothing about her or her town. "We have to be encouraged that the raids have stopped."
"Hummph. Gunshots are almost preferable to this constant racket and the flies."
"I don't want gunshots or cattle." Ragan dropped the knife into the sink then took the end of her apron and wiped her forehead. "I'd prefer a good, old- fashioned thunderstorm."
A streak of lightning flashed, followed by a deafening clap of thunder that shook the kitchen floor.
Laugh crinkles formed around Johnny's eyes. "Be careful what you wish for."
The judge chuckled. "Sounds like you have a connection with a powerful force."
If she had such a connection, she'd ask that Johnny McAllister was an upstanding, solid citizen. That he wasn't a prisoner, and that she could act on these perfectly irrational feelings she was having about him . . . .
Another crack followed, and Ragan stepped to look out the window at the building storm. The air was a still as glassy water.
A low rumble began and quickly grew into a roar.
Turning away, she whispered, "Tornado."
Johnny took hold of the judge's chair. Lightning illuminated the kitchen as they headed for the doorway. Closer and closer, the roar increased. The house shook with pounding vibration.
Ragan grasped the doorway as the porch quivered beneath her feet.
Johnny paused, grasping the porch rail and listening as rain drummed down on the roof. He shouted. "It isn't a tornado!" His eyes swept the sky, and then he looked in the direction of town. "It's cattle!"
"Cattle?" Ragan frowned, trying to shield the judge from the rain with the hem of her apron.
"Stampede!" He pointed toward a dark mass that moved toward Main Street.
Ragan's eyes widened at the sight. "The cattle. They're coming straight toward the house!"
Riders rode the perimeter of the giant herd, trying to gain on the lead animals. Rain pelted the outbuildings and ran in rivulets on the parched ground. Blurred images thundered past, trampling shrubs and flower- beds. The din of pounding hoofs competed with the sound of the driving rain; it was impossible to distinguish one from the other. When the chaos moved past and down the road, Ragan turned to stare in shock at Johnny.
His words barely penetrated. "On to the next plan."
The skies cleared from the brief shower, and the sun came out. Lifting the kitchen window, Ragan wrinkled her nose at the strong odor.
"The air smells of sulfur," the judge remarked, sitting at the open front door.
"Sulfur? Smells like-" Johnny glanced at Ragan, "like the Hostetlers have a manure problem."
Hot, damp air enveloped the house. The stench spread throughout the rooms, saturating furniture and drapes.
Ragan pressed a hanky to her nose. She could just throttle those Hostetlers! How would she ever get rid of the smell?
"We might just as well go look at the stampede damage." Judge McMann fanned the air in front of him as he rolled out the door and down the walk. "Phew-eee."
Phew-ee, indeed. This was ten times worse than the raids! Ragan hurried to catch up with the two men.
The three held handkerchiefs to their noses. Ragan felt something bite her left ankle. She lifted her leg and kicked at a fly at the same time Johnny slapped his neck. The judge shook his foot to ward off two large, green, buzzing insects.
The stench was more pronounced now. The downpour had turned the rutted street into liquefied manure. It was impossible to walk anywhere except the wooden walkway without shoes slipping and hems and cuffs sucking up the muck. Flies buzzed, landed, and then bit. Mosquitoes attacked in angry swarms. Ragan's nose drew into a permanent wrinkle and she pinched her nostrils tight.
"I've seen all I need to see." The judge wheeled his chair around.
Everett hurried toward Ragan with a clean roll of butcher paper.
"Oh Everett, thank you, but it's no use. There's no way to salvage this dress now." If that boy would just find someone to care for besides her!
The judge patted the clerk's arm. "You better get back inside before these bugs eat you alive, son . . . or you're overcome by the fumes."
Everett obeyed, for once seeming anxious to leave.
People stood in doorways. A few balanced on hitching posts, and some high-stepped their way across the street.
On the other side, an angry mob surrounded Rantz and the Hostetlers.
"How do you expect us to conduct business in this stinkin' mess?" Shorty Lynch demanded.
Trish Hubbard buried her nose in her mother's skirt. "I'm going to spit up, Mama. Honest."
Lillian guided her youngest to the side of the general store and held the little girl as she doubled over.
"Now, folks." Buck Hostetler waved his arms above his head. "Folks, let me have your attention, now. There's no harm done here. Don't get excited."
"No harm? Our town stinks like a privy, the road runs with cow manure, and the flies are eating us alive! What do you mean no harm?" Rudolph Miller's massive form towered above Buck. He crossed his beefy arms over his chest and stared. "What are you gonna do about this mess?"
Available at
Do Not Reproduce without permission.
Copyright 1999 Lori Copeland

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