First Wildcard Tour: The Courteous Cad by Catherine Palmer

Friday, January 29, 2010

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Courteous Cad

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (December 3, 2009)

***Special thanks to Christy Wong of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Catherine Palmer lives in Atlanta with her husband, Tim, where they serve as missionaries in a refugee community. They have two grown sons. She is a graduate of Southwest Baptist University and holds a master's degree in English from Baylor University. Her first book was published in 1988. Since then, she has published more than 50 novels, many of them national best sellers. Catherine has won numerous awards for her writing, including the Christy Award—the highest honor in Christian fiction—and the Romantic Times BookClub Career Achievement Award for inspirational fiction. Total sales of her novels number more than 2 million copies.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (December 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0842375554
ISBN-13: 978-0842375559

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Otley, Yorkshire

1817

“I shall never marry,” Prudence Watson declared to her sister as they crossed a busy Yorkshire street. “Men are cads, all of them. They toy with our hearts. Then they brush us aside as if we were no more than a crumb of cake at teatime. A passing fancy. A sweet morsel enjoyed for a moment and soon forgotten.”

“Enough, Prudence,” her sister pleaded. “You make me quite hungry, and you know we are late to tea.”

“Hungry?” A glance revealed the twitch of mirth on Mary's lips. Prudence frowned. “You think me silly.”

“Dearest Pru, you are silly.” Mary raised her wool collar against the cold, misty drizzle. “One look at you announces it to all the world. You're far too curly-haired, pink-cheeked, and blue-eyed to be taken seriously.”

“I cannot help my cheeks and curls, nor have they anything to do with my resolve to remain unmarried.”

“But they have everything to do with the throng of eligible men clamoring to fill your dance card at every ball. Your suitors send flowers and ask you to walk in the gardens. On the days you take callers, they stand elbow to elbow in the foyer. It is really too much. Surely one of them must be rewarded with your hand.”

“No,” Prudence vowed. “I shall not marry. I intend to follow the example of my friend Betsy.”

“Elizabeth Fry is long wed and the mother of too many children to count.”

“But she obeys a calling far higher than matrimony.”

“Rushing in and out of prisons with blankets and porridge? Is that your friend's high calling?”

“Indeed it is, Mary. Betsy is a crusader. With God's help, she intends to better the lives of the poor women in Newgate.”

“Better the lives of soiled doves, pickpockets, and tavern maids?” Mary scoffed. “I should like to see that.”

“And so you will, for I have no doubt of Betsy's success. I shall succeed, too, when God reveals my mission. I mean to be an advocate for the downtrodden. I shall champion those less fortunate than I.”

“You are hardly fortunate yourself, Pru. You would do better to marry a rich man and redeem the world by bringing up moral, godly, well-behaved children.”

“Do not continue to press me on that issue, Mary, I beg you. My mind is set. I have loved and lost. I cannot bear another agony so great.”

“Do you refer to that man more than twice your age? the Tiverton blacksmith? Mr. . . . Mr. Walker?”

Prudence tried to ignore the disdain in Mary's voice. They were nearing the inn at which they had taken lodging in the town of Otley. Their eldest sister, Sarah, had prescribed a tour of the north country, declaring Yorkshire's wild beauty the perfect antidote to downtrodden spirits. Thus far, Prudence reflected, the journey had not achieved its aim.

Now, Mary had raised again the subject of great torment to Prudence. It was almost as though she enjoyed mocking her younger sister's passion for a man she could never wed. Whatever anyone thought of him, Prudence decided, she would defend her love with valor and tenacity.

“Mr. Walker is a gentleman,” she insisted. “A gentleman of the first order.”

“Nonsense,” Mary retorted. “He has no title, no land, no home, no education, nothing. How can you call him a gentleman?”

“Of course he has no title--he is an American!” Annoyed, Prudence lifted her skirts as she approached a large puddle in the street. “Americans have no peerage. By law, they are all equal.”

“Equally common. Equally ordinary. Equally low.” Mary rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Pru, you can do far better than Mr. Walker. Sarah and I hold the opinion that her nephew, Henry Carlyle, Lord Delacroix, would suit you very well indeed. She writes that he is returned from India much improved from their last acquaintance. Delacroix owns a fine home in London and another in the country. He is wealthy, handsome, and titled. In short, the perfect catch. Leave everything to your sisters, Pru. We shall make it all come about.”

“You will do nothing of the sort! Delacroix is a foolish, reckless cad. I would not marry him if he were the last man in England.”

Annoyed, Prudence stepped onto a narrow plank, a makeshift bridge someone had laid across the puddle. Attempting to steady herself, she did not notice a ragged boy dart from an alleyway. He splashed into the muddy water, snatched the velvet reticule at her waist, and fled.

“Oh!” she cried out.

The plank tilted. Prudence tipped. Her balance shifted.

In a pouf of white petticoats, she tottered backward until she could do nothing but unceremoniously seat herself in the center of the dirty pool. Mud splattered across her blue cape and pink skirt as she sprawled out, legs askew and one slipper floating in the muck.

“Dear lady!” A man knelt beside her. “Are you injured? Please allow me to assist you.”

She looked into eyes the color of warm treacle. A tumble of dark curls fell over his brow. Angled cheekbones were echoed in the squared jut of his jaw. It was the face of an angel. Her guardian angel.

“My bag,” she sputtered. “The boy took it.”

“My man has gone after him. Have no fear on that account. But what of you? Can you stand? May I not help you?”

He held out a hand sheathed in a brown kid glove. Prudence reached for it, but Mary intervened.

“You are mud from head to toe, Pru!” She blocked the stranger's hand. “You must try to get up on your own. We are near the inn, and we shall find you a clean gown at once.”

“Hang my gown!” Prudence retorted. “Give me your hand, sister, or allow this gentleman to aid me. My entire . . . undercarriage is wet.”

At this, the man's lips curved into a grin. “Do accept my offer of assistance, dear lady, and I shall wrap my cloak about you . . . you and your damp undercarriage.”

The motley crowd gathered on the street were laughing and elbowing one another at the sight of a fine lady seated in a puddle. Prudence had endured quite enough derision and mockery for one day. She set her muddy hand in the gentleman's palm. He slipped his free hand under her arm and helped her rise. Before she could bemoan her disheveled state, he swept the thick wool cloak from his shoulders and laid it across her own.

“My name is Sherbourne,” he said as he led her toward the inn. “William Sherbourne of Otley.”

“I am Prudence Watson. Of London.”

Utterly miserable, she realized a truth far worse than a muddy gown, a missing slipper, and a tender undercarriage. She was crying. Crying first because she had been assaulted. Second because her bag was stolen away. Third because she was covered in cold, sticky mud. Fourth and every other number because Mr. Walker had abandoned her.

He had declared he loved Prudence too much to make her his wife. He kissed her hand. He bade her farewell. And she had neither seen nor heard from him since.

“You will catch pneumonia,” Mary cried as she hastened ahead of them to open the inn's door. “Oh, Pru, you will have a fever by sunset and we shall bleed you and care for you and you will die anyway, just like my dear Mr. Heathhill, who left me a widow.”

“Upon my word, madam,” William spoke up. “I would never lay out such a fate for a woman so young and lovely. Miss Watson is hardly bound for an early grave. Do refrain from such predictions, I beg you.”

“Oh, Mary, his rose was in my reticule,” Prudence moaned. “The rose Mr. Walker gave me. I pressed it and vowed to keep it forever. And now it is lost.”

“Your husband?” William asked. He helped her ascend the stairs and escorted her into the inn. “Give me his name, and I shall alert him to your distress.”

“She has no husband,” Mary informed him. “We are both unmarried, for I am recently a widow.”

“Do accept my sincere condolences.”

“Thank you, sir. But we have not been properly introduced. I am Mrs. John Heathhill of Cranleigh Crescent in London.”

“William Sherbourne of Otley, at your service.” He made a crisp bow. “You are Miss Watson's sister?”

“Yes,” Prudence cut in, “and if she will stop chattering for once, I shall welcome her attention. Mary, come with me, for I am shivering.”

“Heavens! That is exactly how the influenza began with my dear late husband!” Mary took her sister's arm and stepped toward the narrow staircase. “Thank you, Mr. Sherbourne. We are in your debt.”

“Think nothing of it,” he replied. “I wish you a speedy recovery and excellent health, Miss Watson. Good afternoon, ladies.”

“Such a gentleman!” Mary exclaimed as she accompanied her sister up the stairs and into their suite. “So very chivalrous. I wager he is married. Even so, I should be happy to see him again. You have his cloak still, and on that account we are compelled to call on him. What good fortune! He is well mannered indeed. And you must agree he is terribly handsome.”

Prudence was in no humor to discuss anyone's merits. “Find my blue gown, Mary. The one with roses. And ask the maids to bring hot water. Hot, mind you. I cannot bear another drop of cold water. I am quite chilled to the bone.”

While Mary gave instructions to the inn's staff, Prudence began removing her sodden gown. She shuddered at the memory of that boy snatching her reticule. Thank heaven for Mr. Sherbourne's kindness. But Mr. Walker's rose was gone now, just as the man himself had disappeared from her life.

“Did you like him?” Mary asked as she sorted through the gowns in her sister's trunk. “I thought he had nice eyes. Very brown. His smile delighted me, too. He was uncommonly tall, yet his bearing could not have been more regal. If he is yet unmarried, I think him just the sort of man to make you a good husband.”

“A husband?” Prudence could hardly believe it. “You were matchmaking while I sat in the mud? Honestly, Mary, you should wed Mr. Sherbourne yourself.”

“Now you tease me. You know my mourning is not complete. Even if it were, I am certain I shall never find another man as good to me as my dear late Mr. Heathhill.”

“If you will not marry, why must you make such valiant efforts to force me into that state? I have declared my intention never to wed. You and Sarah must respect that decision.”

“Our duty to you supersedes all your ridiculous notions, Pru. You have no home and no money. Society accepts you only because of your excellent connections.”

“You refer to yourself, of course. And Sarah. With such superior sisters to guide me, I can never go wrong.”

When the maids entered the room with pitchers of steaming water, Prudence gladly escaped her hovering sister. She loved Mary well enough, but the death of Mr. Heathhill had cast the poor woman into a misery that nothing could erase. Mary's baby daughter resided in the eager arms of doting grandparents while she was away, but she missed the child dreadfully. With both sisters mourning lost love, their holiday in the north had proven as melancholy as the misty moors, glassy lakes, and windswept dells of Yorkshire.

Not even a warm bath and clean, dry garments could stop Prudence from shivering. Mary had gone to the inn's gathering room with the hope of ordering tea. The thought of a cup of tea and a crackling blaze on the hearth sent Prudence hurrying down after her sister.

Amid clusters of chatting guests, she spotted Mary at a table near the fire. Two maids were laying out a hearty tea--a spread of currant cake, warm scones, cold meats, jams, and marmalade. A round-bellied brown teapot sent up a curl of steam.

Prudence chose a chair while Mary gloomily cut the cake and served it. “Not enough currants,” she decreed. “And very crumbly.”

“I have been thinking about your observations on my situation in life,” Prudence said. “I see you cannot help but compare my lot to that of my siblings. Thanks to our late father, Sarah has more money than she wants. You inherited your husband's estate and thus have no worry about the future. But I? I am to be pitied. You think me poor.”

“You are poor,” Mary corrected her. “Sarah is not only rich, but her place in society was secured forever by her marriage into the Delacroix family. She is terribly well connected. Surely you read Miss Pickworth's column in last week's issue of The Tattler. She reported that Sarah's new husband is likely to be awarded a title.”

“Miss Pickworth, Miss Pickworth. Do you read The Tattler day and night, Mary? One might suppose Miss Pickworth to be your dearest friend--and not some anonymous gossip whose reports keep society in a flutter.”

“Miss Pickworth keeps society abreast of important news.” Mary poured two cups of tea. “I value her advice, and I welcome her information.”

“Unfounded rumors and hints of scandal,” Prudence retorted. “Nothing but tittle-tattle.”

“Oh, stir your tea, Pru.”

For a moment, both sisters tended to their cups. But Prudence at last broached a subject she had been considering for some time.

“I am ready to go home,” she told her sister. “I want to see Sarah. I miss my friends, Betsy most of all. Anne, you know, is dearer still to me, but she is rarely at home. I do not mind, really, for the thought of Anne only reminds me of Mr. Walker.”

“Please forgive my interruption.”

A man's deep voice startled Prudence. She looked up to find William Sherbourne standing at their table. He was all she had remembered, and more. His shoulders were impossibly broad, his hair the exact color of strong tea, his hands so large they would circle a woman's waist without difficulty. She had not noticed how fine he looked in his tall black riding boots and coat. But now she did, and she sat up straighter.

“May I trouble you ladies for a moment?” he asked.

“Mr. Sherbourne, how delightful to see you again.” Mary's words dripped honey. “Do join us for tea, won't you?”

“Thank you, but I fear I cannot. Duty calls.” He turned his deep brown eyes on Prudence. “Miss Watson, my man retrieved your bag. I trust nothing is amiss.”

He held out the velvet reticule she had been carrying. So delighted she could not speak, Prudence took it and loosened the silk drawstrings. After a moment's search, she located her small leather-bound journal and opened it. From its pages, the dried blossom fluttered onto her lap.

“Sister, have you nothing to say to Mr. Sherbourne?” Mary asked. “Perhaps you would like to thank him for his kindness?”

“Yes, of course,” Prudence said, tucking the rose and notebook back into her reticule and rising from her chair. “I am grateful to you, Mr. Sherbourne. First you rescued me from the street, and now you have returned my bag. You are very gallant.”

He laughed. “Gallant, am I? I fear there are many who would disagree with you. But perhaps you would honor me with the favor of your company for a moment. There is someone I wish you to meet.”

Prudence glanced at her sister, who was pretending not to notice anything but the few currants in her tea cake.

“Do run along, Pru,” Mary said. “I am quite content to take my tea and await your return.”

William held out his arm, and Prudence slipped her hand around it. “I hope you do not think me forward in my request,” he remarked. “You know nothing of my character, yet you accompany me willingly.”

“I have called you gallant,” she replied. “Was I mistaken?”

“Greatly.” His brown eyes twinkled as he escorted her toward the door of the inn. “I am so far from gallant that you would do well never to speak to me again. But it is too late, for I have taken you captive. You are under my spell, and I may do with you as I wish.”

Uncertain, Prudence studied his face. “What is it you wish, sir?”

“Ah, but if I reveal my dark schemes, the spell will be broken. I would have you think me courteous. Noble. Kind.”

“You tease me now. Are you not a gentleman?”

“Quite the opposite. I am, in fact, a rogue. A rogue of the worst sort, and never to be trusted. I rescue ladies from puddles only on Tuesdays. The remainder of the week, I am contemptible. But look, here is my man with the scalawag who stole your bag. And with them stands a true gentleman, one who wishes to know you.”

Feeling slightly off-kilter, Prudence turned her attention to a liveried footman just inside the inn, near the door. In his right hand, he clasped the ragged collar of a young boy whose dirty face wore a sneer. Beside them stood a man so like William Sherbourne in appearance that she thought they must be twins.

“Randolph Sherbourne, eldest of three brothers,” William announced. “Randolph, may I introduce Miss Prudence Watson?”

“I am delighted to make your acquaintance, madam.” He made her a genteel bow.

She returned a somewhat wobbly curtsy. It was one thing to meet one man of stature, elegance, and wit, but quite another to find herself in the presence of two such men.

“Miss Watson, you are as lovely as my brother reported,” Randolph said. “His accounts are so often exaggerated that I give them little notice. But in your case, he perhaps did not do you justice.”

“I believe I called her an angel, Randolph. There can be no superlative more flattering. Yet I confess I did struggle to give an adequate account of Miss Watson's charms.”

“Please, gentlemen,” Prudence spoke up at last. She had heard too much already. These brothers were men like all the rest, stumbling over themselves to impress and flatter. “My tea awaits, and I must hasten to thank your footman for retrieving my reticule.”

“But of course,” William agreed. “Harris, do relate to Miss Watson your adventures of the afternoon.”

The footman bowed. “I pursued this boy down an alley and over a fence, madam. In short order, I captured him and retrieved your bag.”

“Thank you, Harris.” Prudence favored him with a smile. “I am most grateful.”

“What shall we do with the vile offender?” William asked her. “I have considered the gallows, but his neck is too thin to serve that purpose. The rack might be useful, but he has already surrendered your reticule, and we need no further information from him. Gaol, do you think? Or should we feed him to wild hogs?”

Prudence pursed her lips to keep her expression stern. “I favor bears,” she declared. “They are larger than hogs and make quick work of their prey.”

The boy let out a strangled squawk. “Please, ma'am, I'm sorry for what I done. I'll never do it again, I swear.”

She bent to study his face and noted freckles beneath the dirt. “What is your name, young man? And how old are you?”

“I'm ten,” he said. “My name is Tom Smith.”

“Tom Smith,” she repeated. “Does your father own a smithy?”

“No, ma'am. My father be dead these three years together.”

“I am sorry to hear it. Tell me, Tom, do you believe your father would be pleased that you have taken to stealing?”

“He would know why I done it, for he would see Davy's sufferin' and wish to ease it--same as all of us.”

“And who is Davy?” she asked.

“My brother. We're piecers, ma'am. And all our sisters be scavengers. Davy was crippled in the mill.” Tom's large gray eyes fastened on William Sherbourne as he pointed a thin finger. “His mill.”

“Impossible,” William said. “My family built our mill, in fact, with the express purpose of providing honest and humane labor for the villagers of Otley.”

“Take this, Tom.” Prudence pressed a coin into the boy's grimy hand. “Please use it for your brother's care.”

“A shillin'?” He gaped at her.

“Yes. But you must promise to turn from crime and always be a good boy.”

“I promise, ma'am. With all my heart.”

“Run along, then.” She smiled as he pushed the shilling deep into the pocket of his trousers.

“You are an angel,” Tom said. “Truly, you are.”

With a final look back at her, he slipped out of the footman's grasp and flew through the doorway and down the street.

“Now that is an interesting approach to deterring misbehavior,” William addressed his brother. “Catch a thief, then pay him. What do you think, Randolph? Shall you recommend it to Parliament on your next appointment in the House of Lords? Perhaps it might be made a law.”

Prudence bristled. “I gave the shilling to aid Tom Smith's injured brother. Perhaps you should recommend that to Parliament. I have heard much about the abhorrent treatment of children who work in the mills.”

Randolph Sherbourne spoke up. “My family's worsted mill, Miss Watson, is nothing like those factories of ill repute.”

“I believe young Davy Smith might argue the point. His brother blames your mill for the injury.”

“Do you take the word of a pickpocket over that of a gentleman?” William asked her.

“I see you call yourself a gentleman when the situation requires one, Mr. Sherbourne. Only moments ago, you were a rogue.”

“I fear William's first account of his character was accurate,” Randolph told her. “We have done our best to redeem him, but alas, our efforts always come to naught. He is bad through and through, a villain with a black heart and no soul whatever.”

“As wicked as that, is he?” Prudence suddenly found it difficult to fan her flame of moral outrage. “Then I am glad our acquaintance will be of short duration. My sister and I soon end our tour of the north country. Perhaps as early as tomorrow morning we shall set off for London.”

“But I have hardly begun to abuse William,” Randolph protested. “My brother deserves much worse, and you must know the whole truth about him. My wife and I should enjoy the honor of your company at dinner today. You and your sister are welcome at Thorne Lodge.”

“You will never persuade Miss Watson to linger in Yorkshire,” William assured his brother. “Her heart hastens her toward a gentleman who has been so fortunate as to win the love of an angel.”

“Ah, you are engaged, Miss Watson,” Randolph said. “I should very much like to congratulate the man who prevailed over all other suitors.”

“His name is Walker,” William informed him. “With a single red rose, he secured his triumph.”

“You assume too much, sir. I am not engaged.” Prudence looked away, afraid the men might see her distress and mock it. “Marriage is not the object of my heart's desire.”

“Yet your pain upon losing Mr. Walker's rose was great indeed,” William observed. “What can have parted you from him?”

“Upon my honor, Mr. Sherbourne,” Prudence snapped, “I think you very rude to intrude on my privacy with such a question.”

“Yes, but rudeness is the hallmark of my character. I give offense wherever I go.”

“Indeed,” Randolph agreed. “William is always impolite and discourteous. I should urge you to ignore him, Miss Watson. But in this case, I am as curious as he. How dare anyone object to a gentleman of whom you approve so heartily?”

“Mr. Walker is an American,” she told the brothers. “He is a blacksmith. And poor. With so many disadvantages, society decreed a match between us unconscionable. We were parted, and I do not know where he has gone.”

“An American, did you say?” William asked. “Is he an older man? rather tall with a stocky build? black hair?”

“Mr. Walker's ancestors were native to America,” Prudence said. “Of the Osage tribe. He is more than twice my age. Sir, do you know him?”

“I hired the man three months ago. He is the blacksmith at my mill.”

Prudence gasped. “Mr. Walker is here? in Otley?”

“Perhaps she will not be leaving Yorkshire quite so soon,” Randolph commented. “I believe Miss Watson has found a reason to stay.”

“She may find reason to go when she learns that Mr. Walker is soon to be married.” William's brown eyes softened. “I am sorry to bear unhappy tidings. Dear lady, you look quite pale. May I bring you a chair?”

“No,” she said, holding up a hand. “I am unmoved by your news. It is right and proper that Mr. Walker has found a wife. I am very happy for him. And now if you will both excuse me, my sister has long been wishing for my company.”

After giving the briefest of curtsies, she turned away and made for the fire as swiftly as her feet would fly. She would not cry. She would not reveal the slightest emotion. No one must guess she felt anything but contentment and perfect ease.

“Whatever is the matter with you?” Mary asked as Prudence sank into her chair. “You look as if you might faint dead away!”

“Mr. Walker is here,” Prudence choked out. “In Yorkshire. In this very town. And he is engaged to be married.”

Mary offered her handkerchief. “Shocking,” she whispered. “Shocking and sad. But dry your eyes before you make a scene, Pru, for I have just had the most wonderful news from the lady at the next table. Do you not wish to hear it?”

Prudence could barely form words. “No, Mary. I am quite undone.”

“You must hear it anyway, for this news concerns you.” Mary leaned across the table and lowered her voice. “Mr. William Sherbourne, who rescued you from the puddle and has paid you such extraordinary attention, is a proper gentleman with excellent connections. His eldest brother is a baron and owns a great estate in Yorkshire. His second brother is a clergyman who lives in India. He himself is a most distinguished officer in the Royal Navy, and he has just returned from sea after many months fighting the Americans . . . or was it the French? I can never recall.”

“Nor can I,” Prudence murmured.

“Never mind, because he has quit the Navy and is now settled in Otley for good. He owns a large worsted mill and is worth five thousand pounds a year. Think of it--five thousand a year! And best of all--he is unmarried. Quite unattached. How wonderful for you!”

Prudence swallowed against the growing lump in her throat. “I do not care if he is worth ten thousand a year and owns five worsted mills, Mary. I do not want him. I do not want him at all.”

“Quick, dry your eyes, Pru, for here he comes. And his brother. You may win his heart yet, and what happiness awaits you then. Oh, heavens, why did I not wear my good bonnet?”

My Review HERE

Blog Tour and Book review: The Courteous Cad (Miss Pickworth Series, Book 3) by Catherine Palmer

The Courteous Cad (Miss Pickworth Series, Book 3)
by Catherine Palmer
Copyright 2009
Tyndale Publishers
392 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8423-7555-9
Fiction/Romance

From the publisher:
On her tour of the English countryside, a chance encounter in the streets alerts Miss Prudence Watson to the inhumane working conditions at the worsted mill. She learns that the owner is William Sherbourne, a Royal Naval officer just returned from sea. Following in his wake is his reputation as a cad and a secret so ghastly he’ll do anything to protect it. Even worse, he’s handsome and charming and not at all the villain Prudence expected him to be.

My Review:
I love Catherine Palmer's work and was super excited to learn that book 3 in the Miss Pickworth series was finally being released. It was worth the wait!

The Courteous Cad, William Sherbourne is my favorite of Ms. Palmer's heroes, he's handsome, he's got chocolate brown eyes and most importantly he's a rogue! I have a thing for rogue's...but only in fiction of course. William's rather sordid past certainly made for some interesting story telling. Paired with his complete opposite in Miss Prudence Watson, you can definitely tell right from the first chapter that sparks will fly! And fly they did...I began to get frustrated with their like/dislike relationship! I wanted to shout "Come on already!" but I got used to it after a while and was satisfied with the ending.

If you don't like a "preachy" story you might not like this but it IS Christian fiction so that can be expected. This is a chaste regency romance, while it could be read on it's own I recommend reading the first 2 books, The Affectionate Advisary and The Bachelor's Bargain to help you get to know the other characters in The Courteous Cad better.

To learn more about Catherine Palmer and her books visit:
Her WEBSITE
Her BLOG

*I received this book free from the publisher to review.*

Everybody Reads!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Book Review: Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Until We Reach Home
by Lynn Austin
Copyright 2008
432 pages
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0495-1
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Life in Sweden feels like an endless winter to Elin Carlson after the deaths of her parents. When circumstances become unbearable, she determines to find a safe haven for her sisters.

So begins their journey to America...the land of dreams and second chances.

But as hardship becomes their constant companion, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia question their decision to immigrate to Chicago. Will their hopes for the future ever be realized?

My Review:
Lynn Austin has won multiple Christy awards for her historical fiction and it is certainly easy to see why, every one of her books that I have read I have really enjoyed. Until We Reach Home is no exception. We not only get to know the main character Elin Carlson but also her sisters as well.

Everything from the detail of the Swedish countryside to the English shores to the immigration offices on Ellis Island really made me feel like I was there experiencing the disappointment of love lost and the sadness that comes from separation of families. Ms. Austin also captured the relationship between sisters well, not only the love but the frustration that we all face in our relationships with family members. Even though I don't have sisters I am sure that I have bickered with my brothers just like the Carlson sisters.
The ending to this was very satisfying however I do wish the story would have went on to show what happened next in the sisters new lives. If you liked Lynn's previous books A Proper Pursuit and her latest Though Waters Roar (my review HERE) I think you will definitely enjoy this stand alone, Until We Reach Home.

For more information on Lynn Austin and her books visit:

*I received this book from a book swap site, bookmooch.com*

Blog Awards!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WOW the people I've met in the blogging world are awesome! This past week I've received 3 Awards...YEAH THREE, can you believe it???!!!!!! How cool is that. Thanks to all the bloggers who have awarded me and have become my friends.

Now I'm going to share the blog award love :-)

Award #1
I received the Prolific Blogger award from Molly @ Book Reviews by Buuklvr81! Thank you so much Molly!


A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners. (Click here for the Mr. Linky page.)

I'm passing this award on to:

Lori @ Some of My Favorite Things
Lee @ Butterfly Blessings
Carman @ A Sequence of Continuous Delights
Ashley @ After All...

Award #2
Thank you so much to Vicki @ Reading at the Beach for the One Lovely Blog Award, I already have it in my collection but that doesn't make it any less sweet!

I'm passing this one on to:

Julie @ My Own Little Corner of the World
Jen @ He Has Made Everything Beautiful...


Award #3
Julie @ My Own Little Corner of the World gave this super cute Buddie Award! Thank you Julie!

I'm passing this one on to ALL of my followers because you are all buddies and I love ya! :-)

Book Review: Fools Rush In (Weddings by Bella, Book 1) by Janice Thompson

Fools Rush In (Weddings By Bella, Book 1)
by Janice Thompson
Copyright 2009
Revell Publishers
333 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3342-1
Fiction/Contemporary/Romance

From the publisher:
Bella Rossi's life is just starting to get interesting. When her Italian-turned-Texan parents hand over the family wedding-planning business, Bella quickly books a Boot-Scootin' wedding that would make any Texan proud. There's only one catch--she doesn't know a thing about country music. Where will she find a deejay on such short notice who knows his Alan Jackson from his George Strait? And will Bella ever get to plan her own wedding?

Fun, fresh, and full of surprises, this flavorful combination of Italian and Tex-Mex highlights the hilarity that ensues when cultures clash.

My Review:
If you love Italian food, crazy relatives, and hunky cowboys you will really enjoy Fools Rush In, the first book in the Weddings by Bella series by Janice Thompson. The best part about this book in my opinion, is Guido, he's got a dirty mouth and throws out insults at everyone but by the end of the story he gets "saved." Oh, did I mention he's a parrot?! His antics had me laughing throughout the book and let me just say this, he helps at least one person find his true self or at least his true hair...or lack there of!

You will never get bored reading this one but with a wedding planning business, a jealous ex, and ties (if you can call 'em that) to the mob; that's no surprise. Janice did such a wonderful job with this one, especially the hero, DJ. I thought he was going to be an Italian turned cowboy but he wasn't. However, I wasn't disappointed in the least, I liked him sawdust covered hair and all! And poor Bella, I can sure relate to her! I don't live in the same house as my extended family but up until recently they have all lived pretty close and let me tell you there was no keeping of secrets between us!

I really look forward to Book 2, Swinging on a Star and the antics that are sure to take place when Bella and her family plan a Renaissance themed wedding.

To read more about Janice and her books visit:
Her WEBSITE

*This book was not provided for review, but given to me by my friend Lori!*

Teaser Tuesday!


MizB @ Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesday every week at her blog! This gives everyone the opportunity to share a few lines from a new book they're reading or one of their old favorites.

Here are the rules for Teaser Tuesday!
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share two teaser sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 & 12.
4. Share the title of the book that the “teaser” comes from, so people can find the book if they like the teaser.
5. PLEASE avoid spoilers!!!!!

This weeks featured book is The Hidden Flame, Book 2 in the Acts of Faith series by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke. Be sure to stop by soon to read my review!


The Hidden Flame (Book 2, Acts of Faith series)
by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
Copyright 2010
Bethany House Publishers
400 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0742-6
Historical Fiction


Teaser from page 250:

The high priest was cut short by the outer doors slamming back. A wide-eyed guard rushed between his cohorts and shouted, "They are back!"


Be sure to visit MizB to read more great teasers!

Book Review: Jenna's Cowboy (The Callahans of Texas, Book 1) by Sharon Gillenwater

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jenna's Cowboy (The Callahans of Texas, Book 1)
by Sharon Gillenwater
Copyright 2010
Revell Publishers
330 pages
ISBN: 978-0-800-7-3353-7
Fiction/Contemporary/Romance

From the publisher:
Can you ever get a second chance at your first love?

Jenna Callahan Colby thought she was content. A partner on her father's successful ranch, she is surrounded by family and friends. But she never expected to see Nate Langley back in town--the first guy she ever noticed, the one her father sent away all those years ago.

And she never thought the attraction they felt would be as strong as ever.

Jenna's cowboy has some healing of his own to do, though, after two tours of duty in the armed forces. With the help of good friends, strong faith, and a loving family, he hopes to put the horrors of the past behind him--and become the man Jenna deserves.

My Review:
So far 2010 has been a good year for contemporary fiction and the latest contemporary romance that I had the privilege to read, Jenna's Cowboy is yet another great example. This romance had a bit more of a serious side which I really enjoyed. It dealt with real life issues such as spousal abuse and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and class differences.

The most prominent issue I felt, was Nate having to face PTSD and what the condition meant for him and the most important people in his life including, Jenna his former high school crush. For Jenna, having to overcome the emotional abuse that she faced in her previous marriage was imperative to her finding love and fulfilment in her future.

The author, Ms. Gillenwater did such a wonderful job with these characters and their story that I cannot wait to see what is in store for the rest of the Callahan family. From the little tidbits in the last few chapters I can kind of guess that we will be seeing more of Chance Callahan and a certain new member of the community, Emily Rose!

For more information on Sharon and her books visit:
Her WEBSITE

*I received my copy to review from Donna @ Revell Publishers.*

“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Book Review: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Silent Governess
by Julie Klassen
Copyright 2009
Bethany House Publishers
443 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0707-5
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

My Review:
I've been really excited to get this book and when I received it yesterday I couldn't put it down. If you are into Jane Eyre or love a good Regency mystery/romance this is a terrific book. Even if you don't normally read Christian fiction you will like The Silent Governess, it's not at all "preachy."

Olivia is a teacher at an all girls school in England but when she stumbles upon a stranger in her home she flees at the insistence of her mother. What unfolds from then on is both interesting and intriguing, reminiscent of Jane Eyre. Olivia is a smart and determined woman who is stuck in a situation not of her doing but in the process finds love and uncovers secrets that will affect her and all of those around her. It was interesting that Olivia's fondness for numbers helped her in so many situations and I thought she was very sweet and likable. Edward, Lord Bradley, on the other hand was not likable, at first, but once I got to know him I really liked him. I was never bored with this book and it flowed nicely from beginning to end. I fear however, if you are in to books with a strong romantic element you may be a bit disappointed in the romance, even though I found it to be really enjoyable.

On the back cover the author states that she is a fan of Jane Austen and Jane Eyre and since I am familiar with both of the "Janes" I could tell from reading this book. Some of the characters names are even similar but The Silent Governess is by no means a rip off of Jane Eyre. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to Ms. Klassen's next novel!

For more information on Julie Klassen and her books visit:

*I received this book from Jim @ Bethany House for review.*

Mustang of the Month: 2011 Ford Mustang 5.0!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I couldn't help myself from sharing this with you! I am a HUGE fan of the old school 5.0 Mustang ( I own one) which Ford stopped producing in 1995, so today, when I saw that Ford plans to bring back my beloved 5.0 I cried happy tears (seriously I did!) and decided to share the Mustang Love with you! Check it out!

From MSN.com
Top Production Cars at Detroit

2011 Ford Mustang

To the Mustang fan, the number 5.0 recalls the 1980s, when the 5.0-liter Mustang V8 brought power back to America and scores of parts to the aftermarket. Ford is reviving the 5.0 for 2011 with a new, more powerful V8 engine in the Mustang GT. This 32-valve dual-overhead-cam engine will boost horsepower from 315 to 412 and torque from 325 to 390 lb-ft while delivering 25 mpg highway. The convertible body style also adds bracing to improve body stiffness, and all Mustang GTs get suspension tweaks to improve the car's already-capable handling. Look for the 2011 Mustang in the second quarter of this year.



My Review: The Vampire Diaries, The Return: Nightfall (Book 1) by L.J. Smith

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The Vampire Diaries, The Return: Nightfall (Book 1)
by L.J. Smith
Copyright 2009
HarperTeen
592 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-172077-2
YA Fiction/Paranormal


From Amazon.com:
Elena Gilbert is alive—again.When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her—the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon—she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back.

Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What's more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire.

Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell's Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with. . . .

But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena's blood but her death.


My Review:
It's been a while since I've reviewed a YA book on here so I thought I would share my thoughts on the new series that continues the story introduced in the original The Vampire Diaries from the mid-90s.

Nightfall is a huge book, around 550 pages, but it's a relatively quick read. I was a little confused at first by all of the spirits that were possessing some of the characters but after I got them all figured out I really enjoyed the story. The arrival of two very ancient and very powerful beings, Shinichi and Misao, led to some very strange events in the town of Fell's Church including killer pine trees and giant snowglobes (yeah snow globes!)

If you are a fan of Stefan I'm sorry to say that after the first few chapters he's not around much but we will definitely be seeing him in Shadow Souls for sure! That said, if you're a fan of Damon you'll like this story...he's his same old bad self...except worse because of the evil forces that are affecting everyone, not just him in Fell's Church. If you're into the Vampire Diaries series you will like this book but if you haven't read the other books, The Awakening and The Struggle and The Fury and The Dark Reunion you will want to read them first or you will be totally confused.


To learn more about L.J. Smith and her books visit:
Her WEBSITE

*I purchased this book for myself from walmart.com.*





Teaser Tuesday!

MizB @ Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesday every week at her blog! This gives everyone the opportunity to share a few lines from a new book they're reading or one of their old favorites.

Here are the rules for Teaser Tuesday!
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share two teaser sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 & 12.
4. Share the title of the book that the “teaser” comes from, so people can find the book if they like the teaser.
5. PLEASE avoid spoilers!!!!!

This week I'm featuring a book that I read last week entitled, Lonestar Sanctuary by Colleen Coble. I haven't reviewed it yet but just a hint, it was really good! I have reviewed book 2 in this series, Lonestar Secrets HERE.

Lonestar Sanctuary (Book 1, Lonestar Series)
by Colleen Coble
Copyright 2007
Thomas Nelson Publishers
312 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59554-378-3
Christian Fiction

Teaser from page 218:

" 'So you're not attracted to me?' She couldn't help but remember the kiss they'd shared in the meadow, a kiss that nearly ignited a prairie fire.

'I didn't say that.' His grin widened."

To check out other great teasers be sure to visit MizB!

Book Review: The Choice (Lancaster County Secrets, Book 1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Choice (Lancaster County Secrets, Book 1)
by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Copyright 2010
Revell Publishers
308 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3385-8
Fiction/Contemporary

From the publisher:
Lancaster County has always been her home--but where does her heart belong?

One moment Carrie Weaver was looking forward to running away with Lancaster Barnstormers pitcher Solomon Riehl--plans that included leaving the Amish community where they grew up. The next moment she was staring into a future as broken as her heart. Now, Carrie is faced with a choice. But will this opportunity be all she hoped? Or will this decision, this moment in time, change her life forever?

A tender story of love, forgiveness, and looking below the surface, The Choice uncovers the sweet simplicity of the Amish world--and shows that it's never too late to find your way back to God.

My Review:
Up until recently I have been wary of picking up Amish fiction simply because they seem to be so repetitive in themes and storyline. Over the past 2 years or so there has been an influx of new authors in the "bonnet" fiction genre that are really bringing a freshness to books focused around the Amish way of life. I am excited to say that Suzanne Woods Fisher is one of those great new authors.

Her first foray into Amish fiction, The Choice, deals with a young woman facing the difficulty of choosing between family or her own love. While this in itself is not really a different theme from a lot of the Amish fiction out there the twists and turns that the story takes are unique...at least to me. The story immediately gripped me and I had tears in my eyes only a few chapters in. It moved along really quickly...almost too fast at first, since there was so much tragedy in Carrie's life within the first half of the book but as it went along it all played out nicely. The romance that develops is tender and sweet.

I also enjoyed the story of the secondary character, Mattie Zook and cheered at the end when sweet, dependable Mattie got her heart's desire! This is definitely a book too pick up if you are a fan of the Amish fiction genre and even if you just enjoy a good Christian novel. I will be looking for Book 2 in the fall entitled, The Waiting.

For more information on Suzanne Woods Fisher and her books visit:
Her Blog: http://suzannewoodsfisher.blogspot.com/

*I received my free review copy from Donna @ Revell Publishing.*


Interview with Cerella D. Sechrist, author of Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania...PLUS A Giveaway!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet another great new friend, author of the soon to be released Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Cerella D. Sechrist. Before I even got to know Cerella and read her book she volunteered to do a special interview AND offer a terrific giveaway, for you, my lucky readers!

I hope you get to know a little bit more about my new friend Cerella and her delicious debut novel, Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania!



RC: Hi Cerella could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

CS: Here's the dating ad version: I'm thirty years old, single, I love pug puppies and the rain… (LOL!)

Additionally, I live in southern Pennsylvania - I'm only an hour's drive from Hershey, where my book takes place. I work for my dad's small construction business, as his office manager, and I'm currently taking classes in holistic health. Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania is my debut novel.


RC: How long did it take you to get your first book published?

CS: Thirteen years. (Apparently, it IS a lucky number!) I wrote my first book at the age of 16 and started submitting at age 17. I'm now 30 years old, so it was quite the long haul. The first words out of my brother's mouth when I told him I was being published were, “Congratulations. I know it's been a really long time coming.” I started crying when he said that. =)


RC: How would you describe your writing in 3 words?

CS: Chocolate Covered Fiction. Sandie Bricker was the one who suggested this tag line to me, and I think it fits so well - not just because my book takes place in Hershey, but because I strive for my writing to be an indulgent treat along with a bit of healthy goodness in it, too. After all, with all those antioxidants, chocolate is good for you. Right?


RC: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

CS: I was ten years old when it hit me. I adored books from an early age - I ate them up like candy. But it wasn't until I was ten, when I saw a movie in which the main character was a novelist, that I realized people did this as a job - WRITING BOOKS. Something clicked, and I went to my mom and told her that THIS was what I wanted to be when I grew up - a WRITER.

She smiled with benevolence but chalked it up to a 'phase'. As the years went by, though, and I tenaciously held onto this dream, she was forced to admit it was more than a fleeting interest, especially once I started submitting to publishers in my late teens. Throughout the remainder of my childhood, my teens and my twenties I did a lot of reading, writing and researching on books, the publishing industry, method and technique, etc. Eventually, it paid off, but it was a long road.

It was a pretty special moment, though, to be able to announce to my mom I had finally done it.


RC: Who was your favorite character to write in Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania?

CS: Oh, this is a good question but so tough! It's like asking a mother to choose her favorite child! After considerable deliberation, I have to narrow it down to Kylie (Sadie's daughter) or Dmitri (her mysterious competitor.)

Kylie is just a bundle of precocious sweetness to me - she's such a pistol! If I were her mother, she'd have me worn ragged with all her antics. But I find her hilarious, and I adore her commentary. I'd have loved to write the entire book from her point of view, just to get her additional thoughts on her mom's obsessive nature, Jasper as her playmate/babysitter, Mac's return, Dmitri's secrets, etc. I'm sure she'd have a lot to say on all those subjects.

As for Dmitri, I'm just a sucker for a guy with a Russian accent. =) He tugs at my heartstrings - I think he has a lot of inner pain, and things weigh more heavily on him than he admits. He's got a bit of innocence which is completely at odds with what he knows about life. Jasper is definitely a sweetie, but I think Dmitri is someone I'd love to just sit down and talk with over coffee.
(RC: I think Dmitri needs his own book ;-))


RC: What is your current work in progress?

CS: I have the first book in a contemporary women's series completed, and my agent is currently shopping it around. I'd love to have a go at another Love Finds You title as well - I think Summerside is onto something with this series! =)


RC: Where do you hope to be in 10 years as far as your writing career goes?

CS: With many more books under my belt! LOL! And I'd like to see the diversity of my stories - I'd love to go back to writing some historicals (where I started) and perhaps a young adult story or two. I think variety, in life and literature, is the spice of life.


RC: What are you reading right now?

CS: Currently, I'm reading Rumors, the second book in Anna Godbersen's The Luxe series. I'm really liking this series because it's exactly how I've heard it described: Edith Wharton meets Gossip Girl. I love Edith Wharton's classical novels, and even though I don't watch Gossip Girl, I get the general idea! It's a fun series so far…

I also have Extras by Scott Westerfeld sitting on the TBR shelf, and I'm dying to get my hands on the most recent Sophie Kinsella novel: Twenties Girl. I recently picked up Nancy Moser's Just Jane as well. Girl's gotta have her Jane Austen fix. =)

RC: Living so close to Hershey, is it safe to say that you are a candy addict? I would be LOL!

CS: A little bit! I'm a sucker for anything chocolate paired with peanut butter (like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) or with mint (like York Peppermint Patties or Dove's Peppermint Bark.) But when it comes to candy, I'm usually more of a Smarties or Skittles girl. I love the town of Hershey, though, for more than the treats. It's beautiful there - it feels small town, and yet it has all these tourist offerings and museums, cultural entertainment, etc. It's really is a sweet place.


RC: What is the best thing about being a PA girl?

CS: The autumn. I live in the woods, and my family has some land in the mountains, so when fall weather hits, there's nothing better than being surrounded by forest. To me, God's artistic side is most evident in the fall. I absolutely love trees and the mountains when they're awash with vivid colors - having grown up surrounded by woods, autumn in Pennsylvania just feels like home more than any other time or place.


RC: What is one thing that you can't leave the house without?

CS: A book. You just never know when you might be waiting somewhere or stuck with nothing to do, so I ALWAYS stick a book in my bag. It means my purse is always heavier than it should be. LOL!


RC: Since you're a Twilight fan, I have to ask, Team Edward or Team Jacob?

CS: Ooooh. Well, you know, starting off with the books, I was Team Edward. But I think Jacob really got the shaft - you sort of fall in love with Edward in book one and by the time you're into book two and getting to know Jacob, you're like, “Oh! Oh! Where did YOU come from, all sweet and charming?!? Can I betray Edward, who has done so much, for Jacob, who could be even more?!?” LOL

My friend, Samantha, summed it up perfectly. She said when she first met Edward in Twilight, it was like, “Oh, Mr. Perfect!” And then, when she read more of Jacob in New Moon, she thought, “OMG! Mr. Even Better!”

On my second read-through of the books, in anticipation of the films, I have to say I firmly joined Team Jacob. (With momentary lapses of judgment when Edward turns on the charm!)


RC: Finally (I warned you) what is your dream car?

CS: I love this question! For years, I only wrote historical fiction (pre-1900 stories), so vehicles never came into play in my writing. Since I've been writing more contemporary tales, I have all these options on what my characters can drive! Of course, we all like to live vicariously through characters, so I love getting to research and think about what vehicle I'd own if I was such-and-such a character. I had a lot of fun setting up Jasper with the Chevy Nova he drives in Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Right now, I think my dream car would be a 1976 Pontiac Firebird in Goldenrod Yellow. It's the car I chose for one of the heroines in the series my agent is currently pitching. It's the perfect car for her and for the story, so I'm really partial to it at the moment. Personally, I really have a thing for Ford Mustangs as well.
(RC: Girrrrrl hahaha don't get me started on Mustangs...LOVE 'em!)


RC: If you have any parting words about you and your book please add whatever you like! :-)

CS: If you want to find out more about Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania, please visit my author website at http://www.cerelladsechrist.com/ I try to keep lots of interesting goodies on there like soundtrack recommendations, recipes, a blog by my main character (Sadie), a photo gallery of Hershey, etc.

And if you want to know more about me personally, in addition to my writing, you can always visit me at http://www.thecerellalife.com/ , which includes my blog, my recent reading list, music, a Twitter feed, etc.

This has been a great interview! Thanks so much for having me


RC: Thank YOU Cerella for the wonderful interview...and even though your Team Jacob, I still like you ;-)

Be sure to stop by Cerella's wonderful website and check out all the great info...including a link to Sadie's (main character in LFY in Hershey, PA) blog. Don't forget to preorder Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania while you're there!



As an extra special treat, Cerella has generously offered a wonderful prize package for one lucky commentor on this blog!


Here's what one lucky commentor will receive:
A copy of her novel, Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania; a chocolate-covered Oreo treat; a scented votive candle and glass votive cup; and a handmade beaded bookmark featuring a quote from the novel on its reverse. (The bookmarks are just one of the many items that can be purchased through Cerella's merchandise shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/chocolatefiction - you can also find the shop by linking through the Merchandise page on her website: http://www.cerelladsechrist.com/)

If you would like to be entered to win all you need to do is leave a comment!
~You MUST leave an email address in your comment so I can contact you for your mailing address if you win!
~U.S. residents only please!
~Contest open until February 1, 2010 at 11:59PM EST.
~One winner will be chosen, their name posted on this blog, and they will be notified by email on February 2, 2010 and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.

~For 2 extra entries visit Cerella's website and tell me what part of her site you liked the best!

BEST OF LUCK!



Winner!!!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Photobucket


Since my designated name drawer was already asleep I used random.org to choose the winner from the 11 of you who commented. The lucky person whose name the randomizer listed first was Katy!!!

Katy has been emailed and has 48 hours to get back to me with her address information or I will choose another winner.

Thank you to all who entered and continue to stop back! I don't think I will be holding anymore DVD giveaways in the future but I will DEFINITELY be giving away more books!

Dog ate my homework...a thing of the past!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

FIRST Wildcard Tour: Becoming Lucy (Winds Across the Prairie, Book 1) by Martha Rogers

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Becoming Lucy

Realms (January 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to LeAnn Hamby Publicity Coordinator Strang Book Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Martha Rogers is a former schoolteacher and English instructor. She served as a newsletter editor for the writer’s organization, Inspirational Writers Alive! for six years and is the state president. She is also the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer’s Conference and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel, Not on the Menu (May 2007), is a part of Sugar and Grits, a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. Rogers has a Master’s Degree in Education, worked for twenty-eight years as a secondary teacher, and has worked as a supervisory teacher at University of Houston Clear Lake and as an instructor of English Composition at Houston Community College. Martha and her husband live in Houston, Texas and have worked with teenagers at First Baptist Church for twenty-four years.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 297 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159979912X
ISBN-13: 978-1599799124

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Oklahoma Territory 1896

Jake Starnes hunkered down in his jacket. He smelled
frost in the air, but the cold in his bones came from fear, not
the temperature. A gust of wind threatened to take his hat. He shoved it down tighter to secure it.

He peered ahead at the barren landscape and the outline of the town of Barton Creek. Naked trees stretched forth to the skies against a backdrop of prairie grass that spread as far as the eye could see toward distant mountains. It bore no resemblance to the beautiful hills of Texas where he grew up. He missed them, but he'd probably never get the chance to see them again. He sighed in resignation to the life that lay ahead. A life he hadn't chosen. It had chosen him the day he chose to wear a gun.

Mrs. Haynes sat beside him and nudged his arm. "How much longer will we be? Dear little Lucinda. I pray she doesn't have to wait too long for us. I thought Ben would be done with the stock, but since he wasn't, I'm thankful you were available."

"Happy to oblige, ma'am. Won't be long now." Mrs. Haynes had talked about her sister's "poor orphan child" for the past two months. He could sympathize with the child because he lost both his parents just after he turned fifteen. She must be grieving terribly.

The pressure of Mrs. Haynes's hand on his arm brought him to the present. "Jake Starnes, you're not paying one bit of attention to me. If your mind is on the work you left at the ranch, don't worry about it. Ben and the others can take care of your chores."

"I know they will." Gray clouds covered the late October sky. "It's getting darker. Hope we get back home 'fore night sets in. That wind's coming straight down across the prairie with nothing to stop it."

"Dear me, I do pray Lucinda is dressed warmly." Mrs. Haynes pulled her shawl more tightly about her shoulders.

"You said she's coming from Boston, so she knows about cold weather." He peered at the horizon. The few buildings of Barton Creek drew closer. Another ten minutes and they'd be in town.

Jake's stomach began churning like those blue-black clouds rolling across the sky. Were it not for the little girl waiting for them, he'd have turned back home now. If the sheriff in Barton Creek recognized him or had questions about him being a stranger in these parts, he'd be in a heap of trouble.

He'd avoided going into the settlement ever since he came to Oklahoma six months ago. His wanderings ended at the Haynes's spread, where he'd stopped to ask for work. His first intention to stay only a month or so then move on changed when the Haynes showed him a kindness and love he sorely missed. They had become the family he had lost years ago.

Now the thought of entering the town caused fear to rise like bile. What would happen if the lawman in town recognized him and Ben Haynes learned about Jake's past, a past he wanted to forget?



Lucinda stared down at the dusty ground beneath the worn wooden bench of the Wells Fargo depot and twisted her black-gloved hands in her lap. She searched the area for a familiar face. Where were Aunt Amelia and Uncle Ben? Her escort had fallen ill in the last town, but Lucinda had been determined to come on alone despite protests, and now she sat here with no one to meet her. Doubt clouded her mind over the decisions of the past month.

With no one else to call family, she'd had no choice but to come west. Aunt Mellie and Uncle Ben could never replace Mama and Papa, but being a part of the Haynes family would help take away the loneliness haunting her days.

She swiped at something as it brushed her cheek. An insect of some kind flew away, and she shuddered. What other strange things would she see this day? Her gaze swept across the scene before her. Several buildings across from the depot included a general store. She stood and made her way across the uneven ruts crisscrossing the street, if the hard-packed ground could be considered a street. A sign advertising Anderson's General Store squeaked on its chains. Welcome warmth greeted her when she pushed her way through the double doors.

A woman behind the counter peered at her. "May I help you, dear?"

The aroma of lamp oil and peppermint mingled in the air. "I stepped in to get out of the wind. I'm waiting for my Uncle Ben and Aunt Amelia to pick me up."

The gray-haired woman wiped her hands on her white apron. "Are you talking about Amelia Haynes?"

"Yes, ma'am. I've come to live with them."

The lady beamed. "Welcome to Barton Creek. I'm Bea Anderson, and that's my husband Carl over there." A slightly bald man helping a customer grinned and nodded in her direction.

Mrs. Anderson pulled up a stool beside the wood stove. "Sit a spell and get warm. Ben and Amelia should be here soon."

A young man by the shelf of canned goods turned and smiled. Lucinda offered a small one in return. Heat rose in her cheeks as he continued to stare.

She broke her gaze and pointed to glass jars filled with a rainbow of colors. "Thank you, but I must go back over to the depot. I'll take a few of those peppermints if you don't mind."

Mrs. Anderson filled a small bag with the candy. "It's a mite colder out now. Sure you don't want to stay here until they arrive?"

Lucinda handed the woman a few coins and grasped the bag. "Thank you for your concern, but I don't want them to have to hunt for me. Maybe I'll see you again."

"If you come to church on Sunday, you surely will." The bell over the door jingled, and another customer entered. Mrs. Anderson turned her attention to the new patron. The young man smiled and nodded as Lucinda turned from the counter. She didn't smile in return. Mrs. Anderson should have introduced him. Were proper manners of no importance here on the frontier?

Lucinda crossed back to the depot that was down from the town's answer for a hotel. The only fully brick building in sight, it had grand windows, and cut glass adorned the wooden doors, but it couldn't compare to the ones in Boston. Of course, nothing in these buildings resembled the beauty of the masonry of her hometown.

She returned to the bench and popped a peppermint into her mouth. The sharp sweetness teased her taste buds as she savored her favorite candy. It brought back memories of Papa bringing a bag of treats home to her every week.

She'd be eighteen in less than six months and old enough to take care of her own affairs. Until then, however, she had to comply with the lawyer's recommendations. At least her aunt and uncle were family, and she longed to be a part of a family once again. She missed having someone concerned about her welfare. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson had been kind, but they had their own affairs to tend to. Her only fear now lay in losing her own identity so far away from everything she knew and loved.

With no idea what lay ahead, one thing was sure: she would have to learn to do without the amenities enjoyed as the only child of a wealthy family. But if Aunt Amelia could come out here and live and be entirely happy, Lucinda had to at least give it a try.

A gust of wind whipped open her dark blue cloak and stirred a small whirlwind of dirt. She coughed from the dust and wrapped the thick wool tighter around her body to ward off the cold. If Aunt Amelia and Uncle Ben didn't arrive soon, she'd have to go back inside to escape the weather.



Mellie Haynes shivered in the frigid air. In a few minutes she'd be with her young niece. Dear Lucinda. How would she fare in this country? Amelia missed her sister and the wonderful letters they exchanged, but that couldn't begin to compare to the grief Lucinda must bear.

The Haynes ranch house may not be as elegant as Lucinda's home in Boston, but it was warm, comfortable, and large enough to accommodate her own son and daughter as well as Lucinda.

She pictured her young niece and Becky together. Surely Lucinda's upbringing would have a positive effect on her
daughter's hoydenish behavior. Of course, Becky was only twelve, but the time had come for her to learn more ladylike ways.

Mellie considered the young man beside her. Jake couldn't be much more than a few years older than Lucinda. Such a handsome face, but so full of sadness, it had drawn her to him like a moth to light when he arrived at the ranch all those months ago. He'd become more like a second son. She wanted to erase that haunted look in his eye and believed she'd succeeded until today.

When they reached the main street, her heart beat a little faster. Her precious niece huddled on the bench, staring at the ground. She would offer Lucinda plenty of comfort and love to help her adjust to all the changes in the days ahead.



Lucinda sat with head bowed against the wind as it blasted around the corner. She yanked on her bonnet to keep it from flying off into the street. She hadn't felt this lonely since the day after the funeral.

Wagon wheels creaked and broke the silence. Her name echoed across the street, and she glanced up. Aunt Amelia waved and called to her again. Relief flooded Lucinda's soul. She bolted from the bench and ran into her aunt's welcoming arms.

Aunt Amelia hugged her tightly. "Oh, my dear, I'm so sorry we're late. Your uncle Ben couldn't leave the ranch, so I had Jake bring me."

A young man in dusty boots and a brown hat stood waiting by the wagon. Hair the color of the wheat fields she'd passed in Kansas escaped from under his hat and brushed his shoulders. He tipped the brim back with a forefinger, and his eyebrows arched as though surprised to see her.

Aunt Amelia hugged her again before stepping back. "Oh, let me look at you. You've grown even more beautiful since we saw you at the funeral." She turned to the cowboy. "Jake, come and meet Lucinda."

The young man sauntered across the unpaved street and removed his hat. Steel blue eyes met Lucinda's gaze and sliced through her with razor sharpness. She gulped. No one had ever looked at her like that.

Aunt Amelia introduced him as Jake Starnes. A muscle twitched in his well-tanned jaw, and a gust of wind blew a few strands of hair across his face. Still, he stared. Curiosity swelled from within, but she averted her eyes. The handsome young man in dirty boots and a blue jacket was like no other young man Lucinda had ever met.

She lifted her chin into the air and turned her gaze toward the station. "My bags are over there."

He stepped behind Lucinda to survey two trunks and a mound of other pieces. He emitted a low whistle. "All that stuff yours?"

At Lucinda's nod, he shook his head, then hefted the smaller trunk onto his shoulder. With his free hand he grasped the handle of her largest bag. "I reckon it'll fit, but we'll all three have to ride on the bench." He strode across the way to a wagon hitched to a pair of horses.

Lucinda scurried to keep up. Dismay swelled in her chest as she surveyed the wooden contraption. No carriage? How far would she have to ride up on that narrow seat? "How far is it?" she asked.

"It's about an hour's drive out to the ranch. Mrs. Haynes, maybe we should have brought the bigger buckboard."

Aunt Amelia covered her mouth with her hand. "I'm sorry. I should have thought of that, but this will have to do for today."

Jake pushed his load into the back of the wagon. He turned to Aunt Amelia and offered his assistance to lift her onto the wooden plank bench. After she settled herself, he nodded toward a step on the side and reached for Lucinda's elbow.

Lucinda tensed at his touch but accepted his help. She perched next to her aunt. Not even a cushion on the boards to soften the impact, but the thickness of her petticoats and coat would ease the bumps a bit.

As soon as she was situated, Jake turned back to the station. "I'll get the rest of your things."

Jake's dark jacket strained across his broad shoulders as he lifted the final two boxes and almost staggered under their weight.

Aunt Amelia leaned against her arm. "Jake's a strong young man and a big help on the ranch."

Lucinda's cheeks again filled with heat. Ashamed to think her aunt caught her observing the cowboy, she let her gaze wander back to the street and the buildings. How different from what she expected, but then she had no way of knowing what awaited her in Barton Creek.

Before she could take time for further inspection, Jake returned to heave the last small trunk onto the wagon.

Jake frowned up at her. "'Tain't Boston, but it's growing."

His words echoed her thoughts and unnerved her even more. She clasped her hands to keep them from shaking.

He unhitched the horses and climbed up beside her aunt, then reached behind him for a heavy wool coat. Jake pushed his long arms into the sleeves and buttoned it around his chest. A flick of the reins and the team moved forward.

Wide-open range and grasslands spread across the scene with distant hills giving character to an otherwise dull landscape with its brown and pale greens. Leafless trees sent crooked fingers into the overcast sky. The land looked as though God had created it and then forgotten it. Lucinda shivered as the wind sent chilling gusts through her cloak.

Aunt Amelia grasped Lucinda's hand. "Our house isn't a big one by any means, but we have plenty of room for you, and Becky is excited to have another girl around the ranch. You'll share a room with her."

Share a room? Lucinda hadn't counted on that either. What other surprises lay waiting for her? The view of bleak land sowed more seeds of doubt in her mind. She should have insisted on staying in Boston. How would she ever fit into life on a ranch in such a lonely place?

If only Mama and Papa hadn't been so protective, she might not be as ill at ease as she was now. The sound of her name broke into her reverie. "What was that, Aunt Amelia?"

"I said Lucinda is rather a formal name for the west. How about Lucy? It's short and easy to say."

Change her name? What next? She rolled the name on her tongue but didn't care for the feel of it. If she changed her name, then she'd be giving up one more part of herself. Manners restrained her tongue from a sharp answer. "I'll have to think about the name for a while if you don't mind, Aunt Amelia."

Her aunt pursed her lips. "Of course, dear, but you can call me Aunt Mellie. Everyone at the ranch and in town does except for this young'un here." She nudged Jake in the arm. "Don't you think she looks like a Lucy?"

Jake shot her a quick look. "Sounds fine to me, ma'am," he said politely.

"Yes, Lucy is a good name." Mrs. Haynes grinned at Jake but spoke to Lucinda. "His name is Jacob, but we all call him Jake. Even your cousins have shortened names."

Love emanated from her aunt, but Lucinda would wait awhile before agreeing to change her name. She leaned forward a bit to observe Jake just as he cut his gaze to hers. A strange feeling of excitement engulfed her, but the unknown sent an icicle of fear through her heart.



Jake matched Lucinda's stare until she turned her head. Was that fear he saw in her eyes? What had he said or done to frighten her?

He observed Lucinda's ramrod straight back, her hands clutching a dark blue cloak around her. Raven black hair peeked from beneath a bonnet. He didn't know her age, but she had to still be in her teen years. What had led him to think Lucinda was a child? Of course Mrs. Haynes always referred to her as a little girl. Nothing prepared him for the young lady seated on the other end of the wagon bench.

Mrs. Haynes eyed Lucinda's traveling clothes. "We'll have to get you some more comfortable things for life on the ranch."

Jake swallowed a chuckle as Lucinda protested. "No need for that. Mr. Sutton thought I needed a proper traveling gown, but most of the things his wife helped me with are much more practical." More practical? Jake doubted it. A refined lady from Boston like her wouldn't know the first thing about what to wear at a ranch. A twinge of sympathy ran through him. She looked as out of place as a pig at a cattle auction.

"Here we are," said Mrs. Haynes. "Welcome to your new home, dear."

Before them the Rocking H ranch spread out across the horizon. The roof outlines of the house, bunkhouse, and barns drew near. Jake urged the horses forward, eager to deliver his unusual charge and return to his work. Lucinda's troubles were none of his business. Besides, he had enough troubles of his own to carry.



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