Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Driftwood Lane; The Sister Bride

Driftwood Lane
(A Nantucket Love Story, Thomas Nelson)

By Denise Hunter

"A heart-warming romance . . . The perfect beach read!" --Kristin Billerbeck, best-selling author of What a Girl Wants

Chapter One

Meridith Ward surveyed the mess cluttering Delmonico's kitchen and shuddered. The kitchen staff scurried in quick, jerky movements, but then, it was lunch hour, and a hundred St. Louis business people had to get fed and back to their jobs.

The owner, Angelo Bellini, burst through the swinging door, nearly slamming into Meridith's back. "Please . . . we were not expecting you," he said over the din of clattering pans and voices shouting orders.

"That's kind of the point, Mr. Bellini." Meridith opened her notebook and continued the inspection.

The owner discreetly removed raw chicken breasts from the sink, setting them in a nearby skillet. He did not wash his hands.

Meridith made another note on the list of infringements.

"Meridith . . ." His accent caressed her name. He flashed his dimple.
She shot him a look.

"Ms. Ward," he continued, "we have had an unusually difficult morning. My cook, he called in sick, my prep boy did not even show up, and I have our host cutting vegetables." He gestured wildly. "He does not even know what he is doing. Such a day!"

Meridith strolled through the kitchen, still writing. The cook staff wove around her as though their moves had been choreographed. Despite the disorder, the savory smells of garlic and roasted chicken filled the air.

"I cannot even tell you!" Mr. Bellini continued. "Please, we can do this another day. I would be happy to show you around myself tomorrow."

Meridith's phone vibrated in her pocket. "Excuse me," she shouted over the whir of a machine roaring to life.

She retreated to a quieter corner of the kitchen and opened her phone, so eager to escape Mr. Bellini, she didn't check the caller ID. "Meridith Ward."

A moment's silence made her wonder if she'd missed the reply.

"Hello? This is Meridith."

"Meridith Ward?" A male voice, unfamiliar.

"Yes, may I help you?"

"Do you know T. J. Ward? Terrance James Ward of Nantucket?"

It was a name she hadn't heard in years. A name she tried not to think about, usually with success. The name sucked the moisture from her mouth, set her heart racing, stole the reply from her tongue.


It was just a phone call. She cleared her throat. "Yes, you have the right Meridith. How may I help you?"

"My name is Edward Thomas. I need a moment of your time, but it sounds like I've caught you in the middle of something."

Her excuse to avoid this altogether. She could hang up and never accept another call from Edward Thomas. But problems didn't resolve when you ignored them, they got worse. She scanned the kitchen. Case in point.

She drew a shaky breath and pulled herself to her full five-foot-three inches. "Now is fine, Mr. Thomas. Go ahead."

"I'm an attorney on the island of Nantucket. First of all—and I'm so sorry to relay this over the phone—we've been trying to locate you for two weeks. I'm afraid that your—that T. J. Ward and his wife, Eva, were involved in a boating accident. They didn't, that is . . . I'm afraid neither survived, Meridith."

Her racing heart skipped a beat, like the wheels of a tire hitting a speed bump, then continued on its frantic way. They were gone? Both of them, just like that?
She waited for the numbness to dissipate and the wave of pain to wash over her. But it didn't come.

She should feel something. Something other than this cold void. Was there something wrong with her? Maybe she needed time to process. Two weeks ago, he'd said. The funerals were over by now. It was all over, and there was nothing for her to do.


She watched Mr. Bellini continuing his belated cleanup. She remembered her relief at the call and realized now that she'd chosen the worse of two evils.

"Thank you for notifying me, Mr. Thomas. I appreciate your taking the time to locate me, but I really must return to work."

"Wait, Meridith, I—I'm afraid there's more. I handled T. J. and Eva's legal matters."
Of course, there was the matter of his estate. This was a lot to digest.

"I'm sure you're aware that T. J. and Eva ran a bed-and-breakfast—I'm not certain how long it's been since you've seen them."

"Quite a while." Years, actually.

Mr. Bellini was yelling at the prep guy, making imaginary chops with the side of his hand.
"I surmised as much. Nonetheless, T. J. and Eva were very clear in their provisions, should the unthinkable happen. They wanted Summer Place to go to you. Furthermore, they've named you as guardian of the children."

Summer Place . . . the children?An inappropriate bubble of laughter caught in her throat.
"I know this must come as a shock. I'm not unaware that—"

"There must be some mistake." Her hand worked its way to her throat. The children? Three of them. How old were they now?

What did it matter? This was a mistake. A clerical error.

"I spoke with T. J. and Eva myself. The will was drawn up several years ago, but I've spoken with them regularly since then. We were friends as well."

Then they should've left the children to you! Meridith pressed her fingertips to her forehead. Impossible. What did she know about children? Especially these children?

"I don't know what to say, Mr. Thomas." A gross understatement.

"This is a lot to take in all at once, I understand. But we're in a bit of a pickle here. An elderly neighbor has been staying at Summer Place, caring for the children. As I said, it's taken two weeks to locate your number. Mrs. Hubbard is in poor health, and there's no one else. Your presence is needed rather immediately."

"My job . . ."

"Might I suggest a short leave of absence?"

There had to be somebody. Somebody else. Eva had a brother, didn't she?

As if reading her mind, Mr. Thomas continued. "We've been unable to reach Eva's brother. He's traveling and, last the children heard, he was in Georgia, but that's all we know. You should know that he was named as a possible guardian in the event that you declined the task. But again, the need for help is immediate."

She played with her engagement ring. She couldn't leave Stephen, couldn't leave her job, could she? The thought of leaving St. Louis, leaving all that was familiar, even for a short time, brought a tidal wave of anxiety she hadn't felt since college. She drew a deep breath, then another.

"The fact is, the children are in dire need of your assistance, Meridith. Since Mrs. Hubbard fell ill, members of the church have been taking shifts. Very kind of them, of course, but it can't go on. If you don't come quickly, I'm afraid I'll have no choice but to alert Child Protective Services. I'd hate to see the children go to foster care, even temporarily. And there's no assurance they'd be placed together."

Foster care! Meridith imagined suited men coming into their home, carrying them off. She imagined the littlest, a boy, screaming for his mommy.

From somewhere deep inside compassion swelled, followed quickly by a surge of protectiveness she didn't know she was capable of. She had no doubt there were decent foster homes. But the thought of the children being separated seemed cruel when they'd just lost their parents.
She had to do something. It was her responsibility, even if she'd never met them, because T. J. and Eva had named her the children's guardian. And because, like it or not, she was their sister.

Do not reproduce without permission

* * *

The Sister Wife, book one: Brides of Gabriel

by Diane Noble

"Diane Noble not only explores the early days of the Mormon church; she also probes deeply into the human heart... the pages turn faster and faster…right up to the breathless conclusion and the promise of more drama to come." (Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of Thorn in My Heart )

"Diane Noble is at her best in The Sister Wife. I found myself transported by the richness of her

words, the authenticity of her research and the depth of her spirit. Well done!" (Jane

Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of An Absence So Great )

Mary Rose loved her husband, but could she do what the Prophet asked?

Set in the earliest days of a new nineteenth-century sect known as the Saints, The Sister Wife is a riveting account of two women drawn into religious practices they don't understand, bound by devotion to Prophet Joseph Smith. When Mary Rose marries Gabriel, neither of them could foresee how quickly the community would turn to the practice of plural marriage. Devastated when Gabe is faced with an order from the Prophet to marry her best friend, Bronwyn, Mary Rose searches her heart for the faith she learned as a child, a different faith -- and God -- than the one being proclaimed by the Prophet. Even as her journey takes her into a dark and heartbreaking place, a still small voice beckons her toward the Truth she thought she'd lost forever. Will she find the One who can give her the strength to see her through? Can she forgive the ultimate betrayal by her husband and best friend? Will she find the courage to do what is required of her?

Enter the riveting world of the Brides of Gabriel.

Mary Rose is a young Mormon convert of aristocratic English blood.

Bronwyn is a beautiful young widow with a baby.

And Enid, Gabe's first love,
holds a secret she's never revealed ...

June 28, 1842

Mary Rose refused to let the sting at the back of her throat turn to tears. Instead, she drew in a deep breath and reached over her swollen stomach to pluck weeds from between the rows of cabbage seedlings.

Distant wedding bells tolled, calling the Saints to the meetinghouse for the ceremony sealing seven brides to less than half as many grooms.

As her knees sank into the loamy soil she gave little thought to the peau de soie gown she

wore, one of the few stylish frocks that had survived the voyage and wagon journey to Nauvoo, and the only one with an Empire waist that could accommodate the child growing beneath her heart.

She plunged her hands into the wet soil and breathed in its soft fragrance, thinking of fertility, life, and growth. She would miss her garden; it had been a source of wonder since Bronwyn had helped her turn the first spade of soil. Throughout the winter and early spring they had talked about their plantings: radishes, beans, winter squash, corn, and herbs for cooking; and then they had convinced Gabe and Griffin of their need for an arbor, and amid laughter and loving conversation, all had worked together to build it. Neighbors had supplied them with healthy cuttings of grapevines and berries. With a sense of wonder, she had watched her early garden thrive and felt an almost motherly pride at the tender new growth.

Little more than a year earlier, back in England, the thought had never entered her pampered head that she might take such pleasure in the sun's warmth on her shoulders, or the burial of a seemingly dry and dead seed that days later pushed its tiny sprout-self through the soil, reaching for the same sunlight that gladdened her heart.

From the henhouse, several yards beyond the garden, the low clucks of hens and higher pitched peeps of the fresh-hatched chicks brought another wave of sorrow. How could she leave this place she'd grown to love in such a short time? How could she leave the man she loved with every ounce of her being? Especially now that she carried his child?

The gentle breeze cooled her warm cheeks, and she drew in a deep breath, concentrating on the rhythmic music of the farm: the breeze rattling the oak leaves by the creek out back, the low murmurs of hens and chicks, the nickering of a newborn colt, and the answering neigh of his mother in the pasture.

Her eyes filled, and her heart ached with longing as if she'd already hitched the carriage and driven off.

She tried not to think about Gabe's decision as betrayal, but it crept into her mind anyway. Along with words from an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem . . . It was thy love proved false and frail. She pictured her love's face, imagined him with Bronwyn, and for all her strength and determination to hold back her tears, this time she could not. She whispered the words to the last stanza of the poem. The words, as if driven deep with an ice pick, stabbed too close to the marrow of her bones.

Ah, Sweet, be free to praise and go!

For if my face is turned too pale,

It was thine oath that first did fail,

It was thy love proved false and frail,

And why, since these be changed enow,

Should I change less than thou.

She drew in a shuddering breath to regain control. She needed every ounce of strength to get through this day. She plunged her hands into the earth, drawing comfort from the cool soil and willing away the pain in her heart.

Gabe had taken his time, first with his toiletries, then with the new trousers and gleaming white shirt Mary Rose had laundered just the day before. As he prepared himself to look his Sunday best, she'd fled to the comfort of her garden. Now she heard his footsteps and pulled the brim of her fancy bonnet lower to shade her face from the unblinking sun. And to avoid her husband's eyes.

"Why are you out here? It's almost time to go," he said.

She kept her back to him. "You shaved twice."

He laughed. "I often do that. Why should this be any different?"

"You know why."

"I thought you'd decided to come with me," he said. "I know it's difficult for you, but you gave me your word." If he'd yelled or cursed, it would have hurt less. But as always, he was too much of a gentleman, a loving, kind man, to resort to such behavior.

"I changed my mind," she said as he helped her stand. She gave him a small half-smile.

"A woman is entitled." In truth, she had dressed for the occasion, planning to make an appearance so none would be the wiser when she hitched the horse to the family buggy and rode off in the night. But when he preened in the mirror and then pulled out his straight razor a second time, she knew that no matter what she and Bronwyn discussed, Gabe had plans of his own.

He drew her into his arms. "Mary Rose," he whispered, his breath tickling her ear. "It isn't right or proper that you stay away, today of all days. It is your duty to welcome Bronwyn into our family, standing by my side. I would not have done this without your consent."

She slipped out of his embrace and, pushing back her bonnet, looked up at him in rage. But when he swept his hair back in that way he had, raking it with his fingers, her heart overflowed with the same love she'd had for him since they'd said their own vows.

"My consent?" She almost laughed. "As if, after Brigham told me my options, I had any say in it. You do not have my consent, regardless of what the elders—and you—might tell others."

Do Not Reproduce without permission.
For more information about Diane and her writings visit www.dianenoble.com, connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dianenoblebooks, or send her a tweet at http://twitter.com/dianenoble. Purchase The Sister Wife at http://www.amazon.com/Sister-Wife-Brides-Gabriel-Book/dp/0061962228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270919022&sr=1-1

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Crimson Cipher; Refuge on Crescent Hill

The Crimson Cipher

By Susan Page Davis

Emma Shuster is recruited as a Navy cryptographer in 1915, to help expose enemies she didn't know America had. Lt. John Patterson introduces her to the Signal Corps after her father's brutal murder. She finds new strength in her faith as she strives to outwit her adversary, known only as "Kobold"—German for "goblin." When the young man who built her father's secret cipher machine is also brought to Washington, Emma is annoyed. But with Clark's arrival comes added danger.

Susan Page Davis is the author of 30 novels in the historical romance, romantic suspense, mystery, and romance genres. She's an ACFW Book of the Year Winner, and a two-time

Inspirational Readers' Choice Award Winner. Visit her Web site at http://www.susanpagedavis.com/

This book can be purchased at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.bn.com/, or Christian Book Distributors: http://www.christianbook.com/.

Chapter one

Wednesday, January 27, 1915

Emma Shuster hurried across campus against the cold wind coming off Casco Bay. Six inches of powdery snow draped the college's brick buildings in glittery icing, and Emma's heart sang.
A man in a blue wool coat with epaulets on the shoulders and a peaked hat of the same hue approached the Searles Science Building from the opposite direction. Navy, Emma concluded—a fine-looking officer. She looked away before he could catch her eye.

He reached the door of the brick building just as she did. "Hello." He smiled brightly and opened the door for her.

"Thank you." As she entered, she tucked the large envelope she carried under her arm, pulled off her knit gloves, and headed for the stairs.

"Excuse me," the man said.

She paused and turned toward him. "Yes?"

He unbuttoned his overcoat, revealing a uniform beneath. "I wonder if you could direct me to Professor Shuster's office."

Emma relaxed and smiled. "I'm just on my way up to see him, sir. If you'd like to follow me, I'll take you there." Her father was a Navy veteran. She wondered what the young man wanted with him.

He walked beside her to the third floor landing. The handsome stranger towered nearly a foot over her.

She supposed she should break the silence if she didn't wish to be thought rude. "Several of the mathematics and science professors have their offices up here."

"Indeed. I expect the climb keeps them fit." The young man smiled. "I'm John Patterson."

"And you're with the Navy, Mr. Patterson?"

"Yes. Lieutenant, actually."

They'd reached the door of her father's office. Emma gave a quick knock and turned the knob.

"Father, I've brought someone to—" She broke off with a gasp. Her father's slender form lay sprawled on the floor. Blood seeped onto the varnished oak boards and the papers strewn near him. "Father!"

She dropped her envelope and knelt beside him. Bending close, she touched his arm. The awful stillness of his body sent chills through her. A dry, fierce ache filled her throat. Pushing his shoulder slightly, she tried to speak again, but a sob wrenched her chest.

Patterson knelt on the other side and put a hand to the fallen man's throat. After a moment, he reached across and gently touched Emma's sleeve. "I'm sorry, ma'am."

"No, no! We need to call a doctor."

"I'm afraid there's nothing a doctor could do for him."

She wept then­­—great, hot tears splashing down her cheeks.

"Miss Shuster. Come and sit down."

Emma raised her hand to her mouth, staring at the blood. She struggled to stand, but her knees buckled, and she grabbed the lieutenant's outstretched arm.

He caught her as she wilted. "There, now. Let me help you."

He turned a wooden chair to face the door, holding her upright with his steel-like right arm.

"Sit down, miss."

Emma sank onto the chair and held her hands over her face.

"Can I get you anything?"

"No," she managed. "Thank you. Just...please, see to Father. Make certain..."

He left her side, and she shivered. She wanted to look over her shoulder and see what Patterson did—to assure herself that she'd been mistaken and only imagined the ghastly scene.

She didn't move.

The lieutenant came back, his jaw tense. "I'm sorry, Miss Shuster. I'm afraid it's too late."
A new sob worked its way up her throat. He touched her shoulder, and the weight of his hand through her coat was oddly comforting.

"We ought to call the police. Is there a telephone box nearby?"

"There's a phone in the front office of this building, to the right of where we came in."

"I'll run down there and call for an officer. Will you be all right?"

She studied his face, wondering how he expected her to answer that.

"I...don't think so."

"No, of course not." He squeezed her shoulder lightly. "I'm so sorry. Would there be people in

the other offices on this level?"

"Yes, probably." She bit her lip. "Professor Fairleigh is across the hall, and Dr. Shaw is next door."

"All right, I'll be right back."

He was at the door before she forced out a word. "Lieutenant—"

"Yes, ma'am?"

She wanted to say, "Take me with you," but she didn't. Even if she couldn't make herself look at Father again, she couldn't leave him unattended. She shook her head and clenched her hands in her lap.

"I promise I won't be long."

She nodded.

His knocking on another door echoed in the hallway. The murmur of voices was followed by quick, heavy footsteps. Short, sturdy Dr. Shaw appeared in the doorway. His gaze pinned Emma to her chair, then shot past her.

He gasped. "Good heavens! Whatever happened?"

"We don't know, sir," Patterson said. "If you would be so good as to go down and phone the police..."

"Of course."

Dr. Shaw's thick shoes clumped on the oak stairs. Far away a bell chimed, and the hubbub of students exiting their classes wafted up the stairwell.

Emma raised her chin and blinked back tears. Patterson stood ramrod straight, just inside the door, as though on guard duty.

"Thank you," she said. Thank you for sending Dr. Shaw, and for not going yourself—but she couldn't say that.

"You're welcome. And if there's anything else..."

"If you are a man of faith, Lieutenant, I'd appreciate any prayers you could spare this morning."

"You have them already. Miss Shuster, I'll help you in any way I can."

Her heart ached, and a fresh stream of tears bathed her face. Patterson reached into a pocket and produced a spotless cotton handkerchief, folded and ironed into a perfect square. He placed it in her hand and pressed her fingers around it. For a moment, the warmth of his hand spread to hers.

"I don't know what I'd have done if I'd walked in alone." She unfolded the fabric and wiped her cheeks.

Copyright 2010, Susan Page Davis

* * *

"It's history, mystery, and treasure hunt wrapped up in one suspenseful adventure! You'll want to keep the lights on while you read Dobson's plot-driven story. She so skillfully sets the scene in this memory-haunting house that you'll hear the creaks and footsteps." --Fiction Editor,

Christian Book Distributors

Refuge on Crescent Hill

By Melanie Dobson

Jobless, homeless, and broke, Camden Bristow decides to visit the grandmother she hasn't seen in years. But when Camden arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away, leaving her the 150-year-old mansion on Crescent Hill. When Camden finds evidence that she may not be the mansion's only occupant, memories of Grandma Rosalie's bedtime stories about secret passageways and runaway slaves fuel her imagination. As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden uncovers deep family secrets within the mansion's walls that could change her life—and the entire town—forever.

Chapter 2

The Bristow family mansion watched over Crescent Hill like a battered Union soldier. Rain had pounded the brick walls for almost two hundred years, and a hailstorm had crumbled one of the four chimneys a decade ago. In spite of the weather that threatened to topple her, the house held strong, braving Ohio's volatile weather like she'd braved the War.
And like a good Yank, she harbored secrets deep inside her walls.

Jake Paxton wasn't interested in the architecture or the history of the old house, but he was very interested in its secrets . . . or at least Edward was.

Now that Rosalie had kicked the bucket—and the crowds of visitors were gone—he promised his grandfather that he would search the mansion, top to bottom, in a day or two. He needed to be sure none of the visitors were still hanging around town.

Edward made him swear he wouldn't get caught this time, like it was his fault that the detective caught him selling Mrs. Rolling's silver on Craig's List. How was he supposed to know her ugly platter was worth ten thousand bucks? Or that it was stolen? Or that Mrs. Rolling would try to buy another platter, only to discover that the replacement platter she purchased was in fact her family's heirloom?

Buck Houston had given him the stupid platter to pay off a gambling debt, and Jake had done what anyone else would do—sold it. If he'd known it was worth something, he would've asked a whole lot more than two hundred dollars. Mrs. Rolling never would have dumped ten thousand to buy the platter off Craig's List. A collector would've bought it instead, and he'd be scot-free.

Instead Edward bought his freedom. Jake still didn't know how he did it, but his grandfather paid the right people a truckload of cash—or at least, that's how much Edward said he paid—to get him out of the county jail. Edward considered it an investment, and he refused to let Jake forget that at any moment, he could put Jake in the slammer.

Edward would make Jake pay for the rest of his life. His only hope was that Edward's lifetime might not last too many more years.

Jake tromped through rusty iron gates that once guarded the gravel driveway. The expansive yard leading up to the mansion was mostly dead grass and weeds. The meadow on the east side of the hill sloped down to a forest that wrapped around the property and hid the Ashter River below. A pond lay beyond the trees along with acres and acres of fields, newly planted with corn.

On the west side of the house, across the street, was another slope. This one dotted with homes that weren't as lofty as the Bristow mansion, or as run-down.

When a tornado ripped across a field outside town a few years ago, its winds tore scads of shingles off the old mansion and delivered a branch through one of the cupola's windows. The tornado damaged many homes in town—ripping apart clapboard siding, shutters, and shingles—but unlike the Bristow mansion, their owners repaired the homes to their former Victorian glory.

There was no one left to repair this house—or at least no one who wanted the hassle of trying to patch it back together.
Maybe if they knew what was inside its walls, someone would try to keep it standing a little longer. But according to Edward, no one knew the most valuable secret of this old place except him . . . and now Jake.

He would search every inch of the house and prove he wasn't the idiot his grandfather thought he was. It didn't matter if the legend was a hoax. Edward was convinced the treasure was still there, and until someone proved him wrong, Jake would try to find it.

He bounded up six cement steps to the lofty doors of the Bristow mansion and rang the bell. No one answered the door so he strained his neck to look into the darkened window of the sitting room on his right. He could see the edge of the couch and an end table through the smudged glass, but nothing else. Eyes might be watching him from the other side of
the room, and he wouldn't know.

The thought made him shiver.

He wasn't the least bit frightened of any person—except maybe his grandfather—but the supernatural terrified him. He didn't care what anyone else said, ghosts were real and dangerous.

He rapped the knocker one last time, but no one came to the door.

Most of the town had eaten Sunday brunch or dinner at least once in this house, but Rosalie Bristow had never invited the Paxton family over for a meal. At least, not his side of the family. Edward's cousin Dotty Sherman had been a regular over at the house, but she never invited him along, even when Rosalie hosted the annual Christmas party for what seemed like half the children in town.

But now, after thirty-one years of living in this rat hole of a town, he would explore the house on his own terms. There was no one to stop him.

He put his ear to the door and listened.


He'd give it another day, to make sure all the visitors had really gone home. Then he'd find out if Edward's story was true.

More information about Melanie Dobson's books and information about the mansion that inspired this novel is available at www.melaniedobson.com. Refuge on Crescent Hill can be purchased at bookstores or online at http://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Crescent-Hill-Melanie-Dobson/dp/0825425905 and http://www.christianbook.com/refuge-on-crescent-hill/melanie-dobson/9780825425905/pd/425905.
Excerpted from Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson. Copyright 2010 by Melanie Dobson. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Seeker; Murder by Mistake



Ann H. Gabhart

"The third book in Gabhart's Shaker series is an amazing read. The characters must make decisions they never thought they would have to face. Gabhart continues to surprise and treat her fans with her vast knowledge of Shaker history." - Patsy Glans, Romantic Times Review

"A definite can't-put--it-down book!" - Suzanne Woods Fisher, bestselling author of The Choice

Charlotte Vance is a young woman who knows what she wants. But when the man she planned to marry joins the Shakers – a religious group that does not marry – she is left dumbfounded. And when her father brings home a new wife who is young enough to be Charlotte's sister, it is more than she can bear. With the country – and her own household – on the brink of civil war, Charlotte hatches a plan to avoid her new stepmother and win back her man by joining the Shaker community at Harmony Hill. Little does she know that this decision will lead her down a road toward unforeseen peace – and a very unexpected love. Ann H. Gabhart brings alive the strikingly different worlds of the Southern gentry, the simple Shakers, and the ravages of war to weave a touching story of love, freedom, and forgiveness that sticks with readers long after they have turned the last page.

Mercer County, Kentucky
April 1861


"The Shakers! Have you taken leave of your senses, Edwin? You can't seriously be considering joining the Shakers?" The words came out harsher than Charlotte Vance intended and Edwin Gilbey stepped back from her until the budding branches of the lilac bush behind him had to be poking holes in his dinner jacket.

"Please, Charlotte. Calm yourself. You know I can't abide a scene." He sounded alarmed as he shifted his eyes away from her face to look longingly over her shoulder toward the veranda door.

Charlotte's irritation grew as she stared at Edwin in the light of the nearly full moon. He didn't even like social gatherings. Behind her the door opened and laughter mixed with the music of the string ensemble she'd hired from Lexington flowed out into the garden. The party seemed to be proceeding well in spite of the charged emotions in the air.

When her father first sent word from Frankfort that he wanted her to arrange a grand gala for his return home to Grayson Manor after completing his business in the capital city, she'd doubted his sanity. Surely as a senator in the State Legislature he was more than aware the country was teetering on the brink of destruction after Mr. Lincoln had taken the Oath of Office and moved into the White House last month. Half a dozen southern states had already followed South Carolina out of the Union. That's all anybody was talking about. Whether they could do that. Whether the government should allow them to do that. Whether there would be armed conflict to preserve the Union.

How in the world did her father expect them to have a civil party with half the guests waving the Union flag and the other half shouting State's rights and favoring secession? She'd sent a message back to him saying they might as well lay the dueling pistols on the table in the front hall and let the men take turns out on Grayson's front lawn. But he had made light of her worries and on return post had insisted he had news to announce that required the finest party she'd ever arranged. Astounding news.

Charlotte had surmised he was bringing word back to Grayson that the Constitutional Union Party had pegged him as their next candidate for governor. Certainly reason enough to dare entertaining in spite of the political climate. But no, that hadn't been his news. Instead he had handed a woman dressed to the nines in silk and jewels down out of the carriage and introduced her as his wife.

Not wife to be. Wife. A woman from the North. Selena Harley Black. A widow with a young son somewhere still in the north or so Betty Jamison had whispered in Charlotte's ear while her father escorted his bride from group to group to introduce her. Of course, after the death of Charlotte's mother, Betty had entertained the improbable notion that she might eventually catch Charlotte's father's eye.

When the veranda door closed again and muffled the sound of the party, Charlotte was relieved. She couldn't think about her father and that woman right now. Not with Edwin talking this ridiculous Shaker talk. One problem at a time. She turned her attention back to the man pinned against her mother's favorite lilac bush in front of her. He shifted uneasily on his feet and glanced over his shoulder as though considering an escape under the lilac's branches even if it did mean spoiling the knees of his trousers.

"But Edwin," she said as sweetly as she could under the circumstances. "Unless I am greatly mistaken, the Shakers have a ban on matrimony."

Edwin straightened his shoulders and almost looked at her face again before he let his eyes slide down to the ground at their feet. "You are not mistaken. It is one of their strongest tenets. The avoidance of such unions allows them to live in peace and harmony. Hence the name of their village, Harmony Hill."

"I am well aware of the name of their village." The irritation in her voice sounded a bit strident even to Charlotte's ears. Not the way to win arguments. She attempted to pull in a deep steadying breath, but with the tight lacings of her corset constricting her breathing, she simply ended up feeling light-headed. She fought the feeling. She refused to have the vapors. She could control this. She could control Edwin. Hadn't she done so ever since they were toddlers playing together in the nursery?

He threw up his hand to ward off her anger as he hurried out his words. "Yes, yes, of course you are. At any rate, I have become well acquainted with an Elder Logan in their village. He has found great peace among the Believers there. A peace I envy." Edwin peeked up at her and went on in a tremulous voice. "You know yourself how unsettled I've felt ever since my dear grandmother departed this world last spring."

"I do understand how difficult the loss has been for you. For all of us. She was a fine lady." It took effort, but she managed to sound sympathetic as she spoke the oft repeated words. What she actually wanted to tell Edwin was that Faustine Hastings had been well along in years and that no one could live forever. Or grieve forever. Charlotte had resigned herself to a year of mourning before their marriage even though that would make her nearly twenty when they spoke their vows in May. A mere month from now.

The Seeker is available at most bookstores and book retailers. Online purchase a copy at http://www.christianbook.com,/ http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.bn.com/ .

Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village in Kentucky, Ann H. Gabhart has walked the same paths that her characters might have walked in generations past. Gabhart is the author of several books, including the bestselling The Outsider, a finalist for Christian Fiction Book of 2009.

Visit Ann's website - http://www.annhgabhart.com/
Visit Ann's Blog - http://www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com/

Copyright ©2010 by Ann H. Gabhart
Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3363-6
All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

* * *


Ellie Quicke, once a tearful widow, is now comfortably remarried to her best friend Thomas. However, having been on her own for so long, she is inclined to act hastily, not always consulting him on matters which affect them both. When she took in a young rape victim, she guessed that the commitment might become a burden, but she didn't expect it to be an invitation to murder.
Publishers Weekly: `Intrepid Ellie injects this high-octane cozy with endearing humor and enduring style.'

Chapter One

Monday afternoon

They weren't expecting trouble. The interview at the solicitor's office was the only thing on their minds as they walked along the pavement. They took no notice of the passing traffic until . . .
Woosh! A roar from a powerful car engine, a squeal from mistreated tyres. A woman's scream. A man's hoarse shout.

Ellie staggered, cannoned into from behind. She fell. A heavy weight pressed her down,

squeezing all the breath out of her.

Someone screamed.

The weight upon her was removed and she managed to lift herself enough to
see a car speed off and turn left into the traffic on the main road ahead.
Mia! Where was the girl? Was she all right? Ellie looked around, pushing herself up onto hands and knees with an effort.

Oh, thank the Lord. Mia was all right. At first glance, anyway. The girl had been thrown against the wall, was crouched there. Bewildered. Frightened.

Ellie tested her arms and legs. Everything seemed to work, after a fashion. She tried to stand and didn't make it. Went down on her knees again, with both hands on the pavement. Her pretty blue dress was no longer pretty. She'd scraped the skin down both forearms. A pity it had been a hot day, because she hadn't worn a coat. If she had, she might have saved herself grazed arms. She was trembling, but she was all right. She told herself.

Someone was screaming. Well, it wasn't her, and no, it wasn't Mia, who'd been walking on the inside of Ellie, nearer the wall. `Mia, are you all right?'

Mia nodded, over and over. Like a puppet. Speechless. In shock. Someone was still screaming. A

child was crying, thinly, hopelessly.

A big black man towered over Ellie, offering a helping hand to get her to her feet. She made it, somehow. Gave him a reassuring smile. He had blood on his T-shirt and jeans.

A youngish woman clad in Lycra cycled up. She got off her bike and looked beyond Ellie and the

man to where a woman lay sprawled . . . the buggy beside her, wheels spinning . . . Don't look,

Ellie. Don't even think about it for the moment. Concentrate on getting yourself to stand unaided.

A car came by, slowly. Drew to a halt. Another car came up behind the first car, tooted its horn. Why the hold-up?

The man who'd saved Ellie from being run over asked, `Are you hurt?' A deep voice, reassuring. Rough clothes, torn jeans. A workman? Big hands.

`Did you get their number?' The cyclist had a high, thin voice. She hauled her bike off the road and onto the pavement.

A man, a businessman, got out of his car. `What . . .? Are you all right, missus?'

Ellie nodded. She was, sort of. More or less. Blood was dripping off her chin onto her dress. She checked that she still had her handbag – which she'd worn across her body to deter muggers - and scrabbled inside for some paper tissues. Used them.

The child was crying, hopelessly. Ellie wished it would stop.

The businessman got his mobile phone out. The car behind him tooted again, then swung out into the road and went round him. The driver of the second car then saw what had happened and slowed right down. Traffic began to pile up behind him.

The cyclist leant her bike against the wall and bent over, retching. Ellie didn't want to look. Mia had her eyes closed. Just as well.

Two large women in their forties panted up. Dyed blonde hair strained back into unbecoming pony tails. Both were overweight, bursting out of tight sleeveless tops and even tighter jeans. `OhmiGawd!'

That was a prayer, not an obscenity. Please God, don't take it the wrong way. The women might or might not go to church, but they knew when God was needed in the aftermath of a tragedy.
Veronica Heley

Murder by Mistake, Severn House.
From http://www.amazon.com/ , and good bookstores everywhere.
Please do not reproduce without permission.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Back Cover Blurb

Back Cover Blurb:

And Puppy Makes Three

Perfectionist Martin Davis's life is in turmoil. The lonely businessman's search for companionship led him to adopt a dog--a rather rambunctious terrier. And now Martin's at his wits' end. When dog trainer, Emily Ireland offers to help, Martin is grateful--and intrigued.But he's wary of getting too close to the sweet, pretty Emily, especially when he learns of her scandalous past. Can Martin ever open his heart to the possibility that Emily just may be his perfect bride?Bride In Training received 4 stars in the Romantic Times Book Reviews, and I was thrilled. So if you enjoy dogs, their antics and romance, I think you'll enjoy this series.

Award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin writes for Steeple Hill and Barbour with 44 published novels and over 3 million books in print . She writes women's fiction, romance and romantic suspense and is the author of Writing the Christian Romance, released by Writers Digest Books She is a cofounder of American Christian Gail was recently named Author of the Year by Barbour Publisher's Heartsong Presents readership. Gail is a popular speaker at churches and women's events and teaches writing at conferences across the U.S.Review of