Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Echoes of Titanic, Sarai


by Mindy Starns Clark
and John Campbell Clark

This thrilling new mystery combines a fascinating tale of modern day corporate intrigue with the deeply moving story of Titanic's fateful voyage.

Kelsey Tate's great-grandmother Adele endured the sinking of Titanic and made it safely to America, where she not only survived but thrived. Several generations later, Kelsey is a rising star at Brennan & Tate, the firm Adele helped to establish 100 years ago. Now facing a hostile takeover, the firm's origins are challenged when new facts emerge about Adele's actions on Titanic's tragic last night. Kelsey must defend the company and the great-grandmother she has long admired, but the stakes are raised when someone close to her is found dead. Kelsey pursues mysteries both past and present to defend her family legacy, her livelihood, and ultimately her life.


From the Prologue:

Lower Manhattan, New York

April 15, 1913

A lone figure stood near the bulkhead, a young woman looking out at the Hudson River. The day had grown windier, not to mention cooler, and her silk hat and spring coat did little to keep out the chill. She made no move to warm herself, however, nor to join the others. Instead, she continued to stare out at the water, allowing the wind to whip at her face and body.

To her, nothing compared to the coldness she'd suffered that fateful night one year before, waiting for the help that wouldn't come till sunrise. As her lifeboat had bobbed in the ocean for hours, the bitter chill had permeated to her bones. Even colder, however, had been the frigid waters themselves, which her two beloved family members had been forced to endure. Given the torment they had likely suffered before their bodies finally went still, she had no right to complain of cold—then or now.

More than fifteen hundred people had been left without lifeboats that night and had been plunged into the icy North Atlantic when the ship went down. Would the cacophony of their screams ever fade from her memory? Had her two loved ones joined in with that chorus, their own cries a part of what she'd heard? How long had their misery gone on before they found relief in blessed unconsciousness?

Those were but a few of the many questions that tormented her days and haunted her nights—and had since the great Titanic sunk, exactly one year ago today.

By the time the searches had ended, most of those bodies had not been recovered. They had either drifted off with the currents or been pulled down with the ship. Her two family members were among those that had never been found; thus, they had not been given a final resting place in any cemetery. Instead, a small memorial had been erected in Battery Park, in the shade of a gnarled old elm tree. The carved stone was tasteful and elegant, yes, but altogether insufficient as far as she was concerned. No bodies, no headstones, no graves.

No peace in the heart of this survivor.

Foolishly, she had agreed to come here today to this memorial service. She'd thought she could endure a brief ceremony, but just the sight of the two names etched in bronze on the memorial stone had been far too much to bear. Let others tend to their ritual.

She needed air. She needed to breathe.

Oh, how she missed them…

…The dear man, father to one and uncle to the other, yet father figure to both. He'd been a loving and calming presence to the end.

…The young woman, precious cousin, so beautiful inside and out. Raised in the same home, just two months' apart in age, they had always been inseparable.

Now she'd be separated from the two of them for the rest of her life.

Standing there, facing the water, she felt the wind whipping at her hat, threatening to whisk it from her head. As she placed a hand atop the stiff fabric surface to hold it in place, her fingers grazed the cold metal of a hat pin.

The hat pin.

She pulled it loose to study it. Never mind that the wind made short work of both head covering and hairdo after that. Soon, the hat was skittering briskly across the grounds of the park, and her long brown locks had fallen loose and were fluttering wildly about her head. She didn't care. She merely grasped the pin in her hand, the tiny gold harp at the end sparkling in the morning sun. She brought it to her lips, pressing the cold roughness of the pin's decorative surface against her skin. Originally, there had been two hat pins, designed to wear separately or as a set. The cousins, as close as sisters, had chosen them together in London the day before they set sail for America. While on the ship, they had taken turns wearing each one, both girls trying to decide which pin they would call their own once their journey was complete. That question had been answered, of course, as soon as she'd climbed into the lifeboat. Simply by default, the one she'd been wearing at that moment had become hers forever—just as the one her cousin had been wearing now lay at the bottom of the ocean, probably still affixed to the hat she'd had on when the unsinkable ship went down.

Again running a finger over the pin's unique design, she closed her eyes. In the past year, the nightmares had grown less frequent, less intense, but her daytime torments had not ceased. She still found herself crying for no reason, still spent far too many of her waking hours trying not to think about all that had happened.

She still ached with guilt and shame for what she'd done.

Only she knew the full reason that she had lived and her cousin had died. She knew because she'd had a part in it herself—a fact that would haunt her for the rest of her days. She rarely spoke of the tragedy, and those close to her had learned not to ask. It was a grief she could only bear alone, a pain that could be understood only by those who had lived through it.

Yet, perhaps even her fellow survivors could not fully comprehend her pain. Certainly, they all felt the grief, the loss, the sorrow. But she also felt guilt, a guilt that wrapped around her chest and threatened to choke the air from her lungs and the very life from her heart. Was there any justification for her actions? Any chance of forgiveness? Only time would tell.

She ran her finger along the empty slot in the side of the harp, where the other pin had been designed to fit. Just as this pin set would never be complete without its other half, she would never be complete again, at least not in this lifetime. The best she could do was to live in a way that would honor her cousin's memory and keep her dreams alive. That would start, she decided, by rejoining the others at the memorial stone now, no matter how difficult it was for her.

As she neared the group gathered in remembrance, she spotted him among the mourners, his black overcoat blowing in the wind, and a chill went through to her very bones. The narrow brim of his hat cast a shadow across his eyes, but she realized he must have been watching her because he quickly turned his face away.

Her heart pounded. She knew his secrets from that night, and he knew hers. Would they both remain silent to the end?

Or would one of them end up breaking their uneasy truce, driven by the cries they had both endured, cries that still echoed across the blackest waters of a deep and unforgiving sea?

From Chapter Three:

Lower Manhattan, New York

April 3, 2012

Kelsey gripped each side of the podium, her mind racing. Someone needed to shut this man up—though a part of her very much wanted to hear what he had to say. He was lying, of course, but he must have some reason for making such a crazy claim.

Suddenly, the back door of the auditorium swung open and two security guards came marching in, followed by Walter. At that moment, as if sensing that the most interesting person at this event was about to be carted away, the media people hopped up from their seats and began moving toward the man, throwing questions at him.

"How do you know this?"

"Why have you come here?"

"What was the imposter's real identity?"

The nature of their questions sent a chill down Kelsey's spine. Were they really going to give this man's words credence? The very notion that the woman who called herself Adele Brennan had been an imposter was absurd!

The room quickly dissolved into pandemonium after that, with the guards grabbing the man's arms and trying to drag him out, the reporters continuing to shout questions, a woman Kelsey didn't know—a tall redhead with shortly cropped hair—begging the man to "Stop it! Stop it!" and the man himself still shouting even as he slumped down in the guards' grip. A heavyset man, he used his dead weight to his advantage.

"I came here to tell the world," he yelled as loudly as he could, "that I have proof that the woman who called herself Adele Brennan was actually Jocelyn Brennan, Adele's first cousin! Jocelyn assumed Adele's identity after Titanic sank and came here to America pretending to be Adele so she could steal her inheritance!"


Once the truth about Kelsey's ancestor has been challenged, the novel flows back and forth in time between each woman's story, culminating in the discoveries that will challenge Adele's legacy and either save or destroy Kelsey's livelihood, relationships, and ultimately her life.


Mindy Starns Clark is the #1 bestselling author of 19 books, including The Amish Midwife, Whispers of the Bayou, and more. Visit her website at www.mindystarnsclark.com.

John Campbell Clark is an attorney and CPA and works in the faith-based non-profit field. He has been a brainstorming partner, researcher and first reader for Mindy for many years. As a lifelong Titanic buff, he was thrilled to coauthor this novel with her.

Echoes of Titanic is available wherever books are sold, including christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, and amazon.com.

Copyright © 2012 by Mindy Starns Clark and John Campbell Clark

ISBN 978-0-7369-2946-2

Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

* * *


by Jill Eileen Smith


¡°Smith is at her best in handling the triangulated relationship between Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar¡­Smith breathes new imaginative life into a well-known sacred story.¡± --Publishers Weekly

He promised her his heart. She promised him a son. But how long must they wait?

Sarai, the last child of her aged father, is beautiful, spoiled, and used to getting her own way. Even as a young girl, she is aware of the way men look at her, including her half brother Abram. When Abram finally requests Sarai¡¯s hand, she asks one thing¨Cthat he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even her father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if Sarai makes a promise in return¨to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees.


Ur, 2051 BC

Sarai glanced across the courtyard, catching Abram's gaze. His half smile and the twinkle in his eye warmed her more than the wine she had tasted at the start of the ceremony. Music drifted around them as the bridal couple, their nephew Lot and his new wife, Melah, took their seats on the bench beneath the canopy and accepted rich foods from the hands of the servants.

"This whole wedding is a disgrace, you know," Sarai's sister-in-law Milcah stood at her elbow and leaned close to her ear. "Why her father agreed to the marriage after Lot had already humbled the girl . . . Though I suppose he didn't have much choice. Who else would want her after she'd already given in to Lot's charms?" Milcah batted at a fly, sending it away. "I can't imagine why Lot couldn't wait with such a one. It's not as though she's a beauty or a temptress. It seems like he could have done better." The last words came out in a whisper as Milcah moved in close again.

Sarai turned from watching the bridal couple to meet Milcah's pinched gaze. "If it is true that a babe is already on the way, it is better they marry." She had wearied of the heated debate and shame Lot had brought down on her household, particularly on Abram.

"Abi Terah seems pleased with the arrangement." Milcah touched Sarai's shoulder and pointed toward their father. "Though his conditions did seem a little harsh toward Lot, while Melah came away already with child and married to a man who can never put her aside or take another. I might have given in to Nahor before our betrothal for such a promise." She laughed at that, then shifted her ample bulk, bursting with child herself, to face Sarai once more.

Sarai stifled her hurt at the critical words, remembering her own wedding promises, hers and Abram's. She smoothed imaginary wrinkles from her skirts and avoided Milcah's perusing gaze.

"I see I have upset you." Milcah patted Sarai's arm. "Your time will come, Sarai. At least you can rest in knowing Abram loves you. If he didn't, he might have broken his vow to you long ago." She placed a protective hand over her middle and shook her head, her gaze pitying, though Sarai sensed, as she always did, a hint of arrogance in Milcah's tone. The beautiful Sarai was barren. She'd become a fool. A laughingstock.

She clenched her jaw and held herself erect, lifting a jeweled hand to her throat. "Thank you, Milcah." She forced a smile. "If you will excuse me, I must check on the food." She glided away from the bench along the courtyard wall, skirted the crowds, and hurried into the house, the vows at her own wedding feast suddenly sharp in her ear.

"I promise never to take another wife," Abram had said, his gaze full of love for only her.

"I promise to give you a child." Sarai had gazed into his hand- some face, her heart doing a little dance at having finally convinced her father to let them marry.

"I hold you, my son Abram and my daughter Sarai, to your promises this day. If you, Sarai, do not fulfill your vow to my son, his vow to you is null." Her father's unwavering gaze had held her fast.

How easy such a promise had seemed then.

But after thirty-two years of marriage, she had yet to conceive. And here Melah was already with child even before her wedding day. She blinked back stinging tears. Conversations and laughter filtered through the open windows while a harpist played quiet music in the background. After the meal, there would be singing and dancing, and guests would remain until well past nightfall, only to return again on the morrow for several more days of feasting.

She rested her head against the cool limestone wall aligning the comfortable sitting room, unobserved by the servants as they rushed down the halls from the cooking rooms with platters piled high with food. She had no reason to be jealous. She was mistress of a wealthy estate, wife to one of Ur's finest nobles, whose father had long held the king's ear. A princess of Ur, if ever there was one.

But she could not stop the pain Milcah's presence always evoked. Milcah already had one son who had weaned only three months before. She did not deserve another so soon.

"I thought I might find you here." At Abram's voice and his touch on her shoulder, she turned into his comforting embrace. "What's wrong, dear one?"

Sarai released a troubled sigh and leaned back to better see his face. "Milcah."

He nodded, but at his quizzical look, she knew he did not understand. "She is flaunting her swollen belly, and I have no patience for her criticisms."

"Ah," he said, pulling her close again. "Milcah is jealous of your beauty, dear wife. She has nothing else to flaunt." He patted her back, but the action did not soothe.

"I would rather have a child than beauty." The words were a mere breath against his chest, but when his hands stilled, she knew he'd heard.

"And I would rather have you just as you are." He held her at arm,s length, his gaze searching. "Do not trouble yourself or deny joy to others, dear one. You have nothing to fear."

She looked into his handsome face and cupped his bearded cheek with her hand. He still carried the vigor of one much younger, and she rested in his strength as he held her. "But I do fear, dear husband. I fear I have failed to give you what you most deserve. Perhaps if I had been as Melah, you would already have a son."

"I deserve nothing, Sarai. What I possess is only a gift. Adonai will give what He will." He lifted her chin to look into her face. "Lot will have to live with his errors the rest of his days. Trust me in this, Sarai. A man who takes a woman before the proper time lives with long regrets, whether he realizes it or not."

"Do you think Lot regrets marrying Melah?" she whispered. Abram often had Lot's ear, and Abram had given the younger man a scathing lecture after the truth had come out.

"Lot is too brash and too charming, though he did repent of his act and agree to the marriage. But then, Father gave him no choice. He would have lost any inheritance if he had refused. Father has his honor."

"Lot should have had his own." Sarai looked into her husband's loving gaze, grateful all over again for such a man. A man whose character surpassed most men in the city, even those in her own family. A man who had earned her devotion and her respect.

Abram bent to give her a gentle kiss. "Come, sit with me at the feast. You need not endure Milcah's pity on such a day."

Tears rose again at his kindness, at how astute he could be to her emotions. He brushed the tears from her cheeks and slipped her hand in his. "Do not fear, Sarai. In His time, Adonai will give us a son. And if He does not, we will discuss what to do about it then."

She nodded, following his lead as he guided her back through the house to the courtyard. But as the music played around her and the well-wishers shouted blessings of fertility to the bride and groom as they entered the sparkling bridal tent, Sarai could not stop the worry or the fear.

How flippantly she had promised her husband a child in order to convince her father to give her to Abram.

She did not know how much that vow would cost her then. And how impossible it all was now.

Jill Eileen Smith¡¯s website: http://www.jilleileensmith.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jilleileensmith

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JillEileenSmith

For links to purchase the book online visit: http://www.jilleileensmith.com or go to www.amazon.com, www.christianbook.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com, or your favorite bookstore, wherever fine books are sold.

Do Not Reproduce without permission of Baker Publishing.

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