Monday, February 20, 2012

Heart of Gold
by Robin Lee Hatcher

The truest treasure is found deep in the heart.

Life in Grand Coeur, Idaho, is so different! Back in her beloved Virginia, Shannon Adair loved nursing injured soldiers back to health. But in this rough-and-tumble place where her father has been called to lead the church, she's not sure where she fits in. Then a critically ill woman arrives, and Shannon knows her place at last: to care for this dear woman and ease her pain.

Matthew Dubois is a stagecoach driver through and through. But his widowed sister is dying and he's about to inherit his young nephew. So he takes a job at the Wells, Fargo express office in Grand Coeur until he can find the one thing he needs to get back on the stage: a wife!

What neither of them knows is that someone is at work behind the scenes. Someone who cares for them both, and knows exactly what these two need: each other!

"Robin Lee Hatcher is one of my favorite authors, and Heart of Gold was another can't-put-it-down story. I loved it and am sure you will too."
–– Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of
Redeeming Love


May 1864

Shannon Adair leaned close to the door as the stagecoach slowed, trying to catch her first glimpse of Grand Coeur, wanting it to be more than she had any right to hope it would be. She'd said good-bye to everything and everyone she loved in order to come with her father to the Idaho Territory. She was both scared and excited now that the dirty, bone-jarring, difficult, and sometimes treacherous journey was at an end.

The coach jerked to a stop, and the driver called down, "Grand Coeur, folks."
Shannon glanced toward her father, seated across from her.

The good reverend gave her a weary smile. "We are here at last."

"So it would seem."

The door opened, and the driver offered his hand. "Let me help you down, miss."

"Thank you." Shannon placed her gloved fingers in the palm of his hand. "You are ever so kind."
The driver bent the brim of his dust-covered hat with his free hand, acknowledging her comment.
Once out of the coach, she turned a slow circle, taking in her surroundings. Her stomach plummeted. This was Grand Coeur? Merciful heavens! It was not better than she'd hoped. It was worse than she'd feared.

The street they were on was lined on both sides by unpainted wooden buildings of various shapes and sizes. The boardwalks in front of the buildings were uneven, sometimes nonexistent. And the hillsides that surrounded the valley had been stripped clean of trees, undoubtedly for the wood used to throw up this ugly, sprawling gold-mining town of more than five thousand souls.

"Oh, Father," she whispered. "Whatever shall we do here?"

"Don't look so despairing, Shannon."

She turned to find her father had disembarked from the coach and now stood nearby.

"We knew it would be different from home," he said. "And we are needed here."
More than they'd been needed in the war-torn South, where he'd ministered to his flock and she'd been able to help nurse the injured?

As if he'd heard her unspoken question, he said, "I have always tried to answer God's call, even when I don't understand it completely. Would you have me do differently now?"
"No, Father."

The lie tasted bitter on her tongue. She would have him do differently. She would have him decide to go back to Virginia, to recognize that God wanted him to be there to help rebuild when the war was over. When the South no longer had to fight for its existence, the Confederacy would need men like her father. He was a natural leader with a head for governing and a heart for the kingdom of heaven. He was strong in his faith and able to forgive and show others the grace of God.

What on earth made him believe the Lord wanted him in such a place as this?

"Reverend Adair?" a voice called.

Shannon and her father turned in unison to see a rotund man in a black suit hastening toward them.

"Are you Delaney Adair?"

"Yes, sir. I am."

The man stopped in front of them and thrust out his hand. When her father took it, the man gave it a hearty shake. "We've been watching for you on every stage for the past week. Welcome. Welcome. We're glad you've come. I'm Henry Rutherford."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Rutherford. May I introduce my daughter, Miss Shannon Adair."

"How do you do, miss?" Henry bowed in her direction.

She decided a simple smile and nod of her head would need to suffice. If she opened her mouth, she was certain she would say something disparaging about Grand Coeur.

"My wife's got the parsonage all ready for you. 'Course, it probably isn't what you're used to. Kinda small and plain. But we hope you'll be comfortable there, you and your daughter."
"I'm sure we will be," her father replied.

Shannon wasn't at all sure.

"I've got some men with me to help with your luggage." Henry turned and waved his helpers forward. The three men were a rough-looking bunch, with scruffy beards and weathered faces. Their trousers, held up by suspenders, were well worn, as were the dirt-encrusted boots on their feet. The sleeves of their loose-fitting shirts had been rolled up to their elbows, revealing dark skin on their arms. Miners, she supposed, who spent every hour of daylight panning for gold in the streams and rivers somewhere nearby. At least that's how she'd been told it was done.

Shannon's father identified their trunks and one small crate, then he took hold of her arm at the elbow and the two of them followed Henry Rutherford down a narrow side street.
She saw the church first. Built on the hillside, its steeple piercing the blue sky, the house of worship had white clapboard siding, giving it an air of elegance in comparison to the mostly unpainted buildings in the town. There was even a round stained-glass window over the entrance.
Perhaps Grand Coeur was not completely uncivilized if the citizens had taken the time to build such a church.

Her moment of hope crumbled the instant Mr. Rutherford pointed out the parsonage. It was little more than a shack. Crude, cramped, and completely unsuitable.

Oh, Father. You cannot mean for us to live here.


For more information about Robin and her books, please visit or join her on Facebook at Heart of Gold can be purchased at Christian Book (, Amazon (, and fine bookstores everywhere.

Copyright 2012 RobinSong, Inc. Do not reproduce without permission.

Robin Lee Hatcher
Faith. Courage. Love.

"Robin Lee Hatcher is one of my favorite authors, and Heart of Gold was another can't-put-it-down story. I loved it and am sure you will too."
–– Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love

* * *

Blue Moon Promise
By Colleen Coble


Lucy Marsh's worldly resources are running out, but she's fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father's recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for. Blue Moon Promise is a story of hope, romance, and suspense . . . immersing the reader in a rich historical tale set under Texas stars.

Lucy Marsh pulled her threadbare coat around her neck and hurried down the snow-clogged street. Glancing behind her, she saw only the snow drifting down onto run-down houses. The rapid thump of her pulse began to calm, and she managed to breathe through her tight lungs.

 Maybe it was her imagination. For the past week, she'd caught a glimpse of the same man every evening after work, and until today, she told herself he must live in the same general area. But she'd left early today and he had still been there. This time he seemed to watch her. A black coat covered him and he wore a hat pulled low over his face, so only the twitch of his smooth-shaven chin appeared. When she stopped and stared at him, he darted around the corner of the building.

She took the opportunity and dashed across the street, skirting the horse and carriage blocking her path to the house. The roof leaked and wind blew through the boards and under the windowsills, but it had been home for ten years. Glancing behind her again, she saw no sign of the man so she hurried up the steps.

Pressing her hand to her stomach, she paused and wished she didn't have to go inside. What was she going to do now? Mrs. Hanson had been apologetic about letting her go. It was hard times and not her work that necessitated firing her. But the hard facts didn't feed them. 1877 had been a bad year so far, and Indiana had been particularly hard hit, but she would find a way. She always managed.

Fingering her locket, she straightened her shoulders and pushed open the door.

Her three-year-old sister launched herself against Lucy's legs. "Lucy, you was late." Eileen stuck out her lower lip. "We has company."

Lucy looked toward the single chair in the tiny parlor. A man with gray hair and penetrating charcoal eyes sat regarding her calmly before he stood.

"Uh, Lucy, this is—" Jed said.

"I'll introduce myself," the gentleman interrupted. He stepped toward her and stared into her eyes. "Henry Stanton of Larson, Texas." He shifted his gray Stetson in his hands. "Your father was my boyhood friend. I came as soon as I heard of his death."

Henry Stanton. Lucy struggled to remember if her father had ever mentioned him. She knew her parents had grown up in Texas. Her Uncle Drew was still there. "I'm delighted to meet you, Mr. Stanton. How did you hear of our father's death?"

"His wife wrote me asking for help, so I decided to make a stop here on my way back from Chicago. Is she here?"

Lucy shook her head. "Catherine left right after Father died."

The man frowned. "Left? I don't understand."

She didn't like to speak ill of anyone, but he had to know why Catherine wasn't here. "Her, uh, friend showed up and she left with him."

"She abandoned her children?" His voice rose.

Lucy looked to where Eileen was playing with her doll. The child didn't seem to be paying attention. "I cared for them anyway," she whispered. "Catherine wasn't good with children."

"Tell me, Miss Marsh, are you a Christian woman?"

She straightened her shoulders and exhaled. "Why, yes sir, I am."

He smiled. "I thought as much. God has led me here for a purpose." He pointed the gold head of his cane at her. "I have a proposition for you."

 Her pulse quickened. Perhaps there would be a way out of these dreadful circumstances yet. "What would that be, Mr. Stanton?"

"Have you read in the Bible how Abraham sent a servant out to find a wife for Isaac?"

"Of course." Lucy's heart sank before beginning a rapid beat against her chest. Surely, he wasn't offering for her hand. He was old. Older than her father.

"That was my main purpose for this trip, though my son has no idea of my mission. Now that I've met you, I believe you will do nicely. Nate needs a wife like you."

His son. Lucy's limbs went weak. The room spun, and she sat on the edge of the bed.

"I can see I've shocked you."

Lucy eyed the man. "Is—is your son a Christian?"

Mr. Stanton smiled. "That just confirms the Lord's leading me here. As soon as I clapped eyes on you, something reared up inside me and I knew you were the right one for my Nate. Yes, my boy is a Christian." He put a hand on her shoulder. "I have my son's signature to act as his agent in all business matters for this trip, so if you agree, I will arrange a proxy marriage. Right after the ceremony, we'll leave for Texas. A train leaves at one o'clock tomorrow afternoon."

"Why would we not return to your ranch and see if your son and I would suit?"

"You don't know my boy. He is apt to send you packing rather than listen to reason." He shook his head. "No, this is the only way."

It felt wrong to surprise this unknown Nate. Lucy held up her hand. "I'd rather know we suit before I pledge my life to a man. And give him a chance to get to know me as well."

He thrust out his chin. "This is my offer, Miss Lucy. It's the only one I'm making." He nodded at her siblings. "Think of your brother and sister. They will have warm beds and plenty of food to eat. Fresh Texas air and plenty of room to grow up."

Her main consideration was the children. While the thought of marrying someone she didn't know was most unappealing, Lucy had to consider the offer. They were about to be evicted, and she'd lost her job. How could she possibly support the children? "I'd like time to pray about it."

Blue Moon Promise is available online at, or and other on-line booksellers or at bookstores everywhere.

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at

Copyright ©2012 by Colleen Coble
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN:  1595549153
All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sheltering Love
by Elizabeth Goddard

A scientist reveals his discoveries. . .unless his survival depends on hiding them.

Graeme has existed in a state of dread for far too long. Conducting research high in the crowns of ancient redwoods, he's almost convinced that he's not hiding like a coward from the demons of his past. That is, until the stunning Alexa discovers him and tips his world in the tree tops over. Then he's torn between showing the world what he's found. . . and disappearing altogether.
This is Alexa's last chance to prove she's capable of producing an award-winning documentary. But she never expected she'd have to return to the place she fled years ago. A place that still holds nightmares for her. When Graeme stands in the way of completing the documentary, Alexa wants to know why.

When their greatest fears collide in the heart of the wilderness, Alexa and Graeme both must learn to trust in the sovereignty of God's plan, not only for the moment, but for the rest of their lives. Can they each bury the past long enough to nurture love?

Chapter 1

Siberia couldn't be worse.

Or at least Alexa Westover felt like she'd been exiled. Traveling from New York to the west coast to work on a documentary, she was returning to the place where she'd spent her childhood. Northern California and the redwoods would ignite memories and most of them she wouldn't welcome.

She jiggled the key in the lock of the pinkish, paint-chipped door to her room at the Redwood Motor Inn. Swinging it open, she threw her luggage on the double bed covered with a floral spread and breathed in the heavy scent of cheap lavender air freshener.

Barry Seymour, her cameraman, handed off her forgotten toiletry bag and her briefcase holding her laptop.

"Is that everything?" she asked.

He grunted and took one step over to the door to his room.

She slammed hers. A few seconds later, she heard his door slam as well. Barry hadn't said a word on the hour and a half drive up the coast to the state park. She plopped on the bed and kicked off her heels. A prima donna couldn't have been more ungrateful than Alexa at the moment.

Shame hovered near her conscience, threatening to temper her exasperation. Landing a job shortly after getting her degree at Columbia University had been really, really lucky, even for her. A million people dreamed of creating a successful documentary, but only one percent were actually given the chance to see their ideas produced in a professional and lucrative manner. Alexa was one of the few, thanks to a keen-eyed professor at Columbia who'd seen something in her worth recommending to his friend at Simon Productions.

Clive Gates quickly assessed her talents and hired her. But soon Alexa found herself in deep with this powerful man in the film making industry. She'd been his special project—someone he planned to groom in the business, and now, she was not only heartbroken, but exiled because she'd dared to speak her mind, challenging him in front of others.

Who was she kidding? He'd lost interest in her months ago, personally and professionally, and the respect she'd initially garnered from her peers was nowhere to be found. All her ideas and suggestions were continually shot down, placing her business acumen and creativity into question by everyone at Simon.

She exhaled, long and slow.

I don't even know who I am anymore.

Nor did she care at the moment. The only thing she wanted was a hot shower. She stumbled from the bed and into the small, sixties-styled bathroom and flipped on the shower to get things steaming while she put a call into Clive. She'd spent the awkward drive up the coast formulating her words.

Looking at her Smartphone, realization dawned. No signal. What? She'd forgotten that little detail—but then again, she would have thought by now more cell towers would be installed.

Her chance to write, direct, and produce her first documentary and make a favorable impression in this close-knit film community were quickly fading, taking her hopes and dreams with it. Funny that should happen in the very place where she'd grown up.

Alexa stomped into the bathroom. No steam clouded the mirror. No hot water. No cell signal. What about Internet?

And in the end, there would probably be no interview with Graeme Hawthorne either. Where had she gone wrong? Alexa replayed this morning's events in her mind.

Heels clicking and armed with nothing but an outline of her script, Alexa strode down the university halls of Humboldt University in Northern California, mentally preparing herself to interview the leading expert in redwood forest biology for her documentary. Changing World, Changing Forests—a film about the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems—hadn't been her first choice, but she told herself she'd make it shine.

Professor Peter Bryant had readily agreed to the interview, and she'd sent him the questions a week ago to help him prepare.

Barry strolled next to her, taking one step to her every two. Stocky and dressed like a lumberjack, he preferred to wear casual attire and didn't look like he belonged at the university. But he'd definitely fit in with their final destination. As they neared the end of the hall, monarchs took flight in her stomach. Alexa thumbed through various release forms and looked over her notes as she walked. "Don't forget to catch the light in his eyes, okay Barry? And let's make sure his office is quiet enough for good sound—"

"I know what I'm doing." Barry's cold tone left no doubt to his thoughts.

He had years of experience as a cameraman, and Alexa would do good to use that to her advantage rather than alienating the guy. She knew he'd not wanted to accompany her. Somehow, she'd have to fire up his enthusiasm for the project as well as her own if she had any hope of creating an award-winning documentary—something she would need if she was going to take charge of her career again.

The door to Professor Bryant's office stood open, allowing Alexa entrance into a small award-certificate and diploma-decorated reception area accented in soft earth tones. A woman with short, graying hair smiled up at her from a neat document-laden desk. A nameplate rested next to a bonsai tree, engraved Trish Thompson.

Her best professional smile in place, Alexa thrust her hand forward. "Alexa Westover with Simon Productions. We have an appointment with Professor Bryant."

Trish slowly stood as her jaw slid open. "Oh, I'm terribly sorry." She came around the desk. "Didn't you get my message?"

The monarchs in Alexa's stomach dive-bombed. "Message?" she asked and waited—her hopes tied up in the receptionist's answer.

"Professor Bryant was in a car accident this morning and is in the hospital. I hoped to catch you before you left, but I must have missed you. Still, your office should have informed you at some point. I'm sorry for your trouble."

Distress battled with compassion. "I'm sorry to hear that. I hope he's going to be all right."

Alexa waited for Trish's response, counting on a hopeful outcome.

"Thank you for your sympathies. I'll be sure to let him know."

"Could we see him and let him know in person?" Alexa cringed at the way her question sounded. Was she overstepping?

"I'm afraid that wouldn't be possible." Trish eased forward and edged her hand under Alexa's elbow, slowly escorting her to the door. "He won't be available for quite some time."

With quick efficiency, Alexa removed her elbow from Trish's grip. "Isn't there anyone else we can see while we're here? This documentary is time-sensitive and very important."

Trish seemed to consider her request but said nothing.

"Please, we've come a long way."

"There is someone who might be able to help." Trish scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it to Alexa. "But, I'll give you fair warning. He won't be easy to find, nor will it be easy to garner his cooperation."

Alexa glanced at the paper. Graeme Hawthorne. "No phone number?"

"I don't have his number, and if I did, I'm sure it wouldn't do you any good."

What did she mean by that? "Then how do I find him?"

"He's conducting his research in the coastal redwoods near Jedediah Smith State Park. Find a place to hang out with the locals. He'll turn up sooner or later."

"That's very. . ." Strange.

Trish merely shrugged and mouthed a voiceless `I know' as though she'd heard Alexa's thoughts.


Graeme Hawthorne took aim with his high powered compound bow and shot the fishing-line-threaded arrow. The projectile soared toward the canopy and lobbed over one of the lower branches almost twenty-five feet high.

The call from a local naturalist came early this morning, informing Graeme there might be a tree taller than Hyperion, the redwood tree believed to be the world's tallest living thing at just over three hundred seventy-nine feet.

Seventy feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.

Climbing the towering evergreen and dropping a tape measure was the only way to be sure. After a five mile hike in search of the tree while wearing his pack heavy with climbing equipment, Graeme refocused his energy. He still had an hour and a half or more of ascending the trunk to reach the crown, or the top of the tree. He tied a nylon cord to the fishing line and dragged it over the branch, then did the same thing with the main rope he would use to climb.

In becoming a forest canopy scientist, he'd learned his tree-climbing skills from the best climbers at Humboldt University. More than three hundred feet of rope hanging in a u-shape over the branch, Graeme assembled his gear, which included a safety harness, a helmet, and soft-soled boots, and hoisted himself up the tree using a complex assembly of rope and carabiners.

Sequoia sempervirens. Latin for forever living.

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