Monday, January 31, 2011

The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

Since 1955, Sheila Franklin, a talented musician, has perfectly performed the role of devout pastor’s wife, locking away her past as Sheba Alexander and Sylvia Allen. Her carefully constructed façade crumbles with a single phone call from a young Marine named Samuel, the illegitimate son she secretly put up for adoption. Samuel begs Sheila to use her government contacts to get his fiancé, Mali, a Thai prostitute, into America. A dangerous mixture of love and guilt spurs her to help her only child even though it devastates her husband Edward and exposes her questionable past. After a quarrel with Edward, Sheila and Samuel board a C-130 for Thailand and then search Bangkok’s steamy streets for a Madonna-faced prostitute. The two whisk Mali from a brothel but are seized by a warlord who considers Mali his “number one girl.” In a teak “ghost house,” Sheila discovers God’s grace and gains the freedom she needs to find her own identity—Sheila, Sylvia, and Sheba. A framed story, this novel has roots in the bohemian 1940s New Orleans French Quarter and spans three decades, including the turbulent Vietnam era.

Patty Lacy is a Baylor graduate, taught community college humanities until God called her to span seas and secrets in her novels, An Irishwoman's Tale and What the Bayou Saw. She has two grown children and a dog named Laura. She and her husband can be seen jog-walking the streets of Normal, Illinois, an amazing place to live for a woman born in a car. For more information, visit Patti's website at, her blog at, and her Facebook daily Artbites.

Patti is having a contest:

Enter the Rhythm of Secrets NOOK eReader Giveaway:

Patti and her publisher, Kregel, are giving away a NOOK prize package worth over $150 to one lucky winner!!!!

Enter the Nook eReader Giveaway and you could win:
* A brand new Nook eReader with Wi-Fi
* $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble

Click here to enter. Winner will be announced on February 16th at Patti's Rhythm of Secrets Facebook Party.


My copy was a gift from Lit-Fuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Choice

The Choice is the first book in the Lancaster County Secrets series by Suzanne Woods Fisher.

Carrie Weaver and Sol Reihl are in love. But Sol dreams of a life as a professional baseball player - something not in keeping with the Amish way of life. Carrie loves Sol enough to leave her family and her faith and be with him.

But then tragedy strikes leaving Carrie with no choice but to stay with the Amish. Sol goes on to play baseball thinking that at some point he and Carrie will find their way back to each other. Carrie feels abandoned and moves on. But will her new life make her happy? What will happen when Sol comes back?

A simply wonderful book with interesting characters. Highly recommended.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Divine Appointments

Divine Appointments by Charlene Ann Baumbich is the second book in the Snow Globe Connections series.

Josie Brooks is not interested in disruption. Everything in her life is organized, minimal, and efficient. A successful business consultant in Chicago with a type-A personality, she ruthlessly identifies and slashes any source of economic wastefulness with complete disregard for the employees themselves. Soon, everyone at Diamond Mutual calls her "The Dragon" as she orders the termination of decent, hardworking people for the sake of profit. Josie's rigid life, however, mysteriously begins to unravel when a strangely alluring snow globe appears at her apartment. Soon afterward, Josie is forced to confront her own flaws and fears, beginning an emotional journey toward love, friendship, mourning, and new beginnings.

This book is very well written with rich characters that make you feel like you would want to know them in real life. This story is relevant to today because it works around a company that is downsizing. The common blight of joblessness, stress and depression facing the characters in the book mirror life as many Americans know right now.

The hope and encouragement lifting the characters in the book extend to the reader.

Highly recommended - and if you haven't read the first book in the series - Stray Affections - pick that one up too.


My copy of Divine Appointments was graciously provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah for my hones review.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Remember Why You Play

Remember Why You Play by David Thomas is an incredibly touching story of a high school football coach and his team who value people more than numbers on a scoreboard.

In November 2008, the Faith Christian Lions closed their regular season by playing the Gainesville State Tornados. Faith had already secured its slot in the playoffs. The Tornadoes were winless in eight games and had scored only two touchdowns all season.

This game should have meant nothing. It turned out to mean everything.

Those two short paragraphs are enough to spark just about any football enthusiast to pick up this book. Reading the first few pages will hook you and draw you in as you read about kids with values that are not, unfortunately, common any more in our world. This is a story about doing what you can to make a difference for your fellow man.

A story for all ages. A lesson to be learned for all ages.


My copy of Remember Why You Play was graciously given to me by Tyndale House for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Caroline's Choice

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:

Caroline’s Choice

Realms (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Martha Rogers is a former schoolteacher and English instructor whose first book in the Winds Across the Prairie series, Becoming Lucy, became an immediate best seller. Morning for Dove (May 2010) is the second book in this series, with Finding Becky (book 3) releasing Fall 2010. Rogers lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381930
ISBN-13: 978-1616381936


Oklahoma Territory, September 1907

Caroline Frankston’s hands clinched into fists, her breath coming in short spurts. Through the parlor window, she watched life go on in a normal, orderly fashion, but here in

this room her world lay fragmented like shards of broken glass. Each piece cut into her soul, causing pain that she no longer wanted to bear. The bleeding had to stop. “If I don’t leave this town, I’ll never get married.” Caroline Frankston spun around to face her mother. “Barton Creek has no men who interest me, so I would like to move to Oklahoma

City and start a new life there.”

Her mother’s blue eyes flashed with anger. “You’ll do no such thing. You haveresponsibilities here.”

Caroline’s jaw tightened. Mother’s demands only caused more determination. “What responsibilities? Going to luncheons and meetings with you and sitting around listening to you decide what people should do?”

The rigid set of Mother’s mouth warned Caroline to be careful with her next words. Now was the time to stand firm and not back down. “I know you want what’s best for me, and

right now a move seems to be it.”

Mother remained silent, a vein in her neck throbbing in response to the tension in her jaw. A mixture of anger and disbelief sparked from her eyes. She stood tall, with her back

ramrod straight. Mother wouldn’t back down.

Envy for her brother’s freedom gnawed at Caroline. Being male, Rob could pick and choose what he wanted to do, and he’d proved it with his law office and his marriage to Becky last year despite Mother’s disapproval.

Without waiting for a response, Caroline headed for the door, but not without one last comment. “I’m sorry. I’ll be twenty-seven soon, and if I don’t do something now, I never

will. I don’t want to be stuck here as spinster with time on her hands and no purpose in life.”

She darted from the room and up the stairs before her mother could react and spew forth a torrent of words to thwart Caroline’s plan. Recently a college friend had written to her of the job openings at the new Carnegie library in Oklahoma City and invited her to come live with her in her town house with another roommate. Caroline had just told her mother she wanted to apply for the job and move to the city. This evening she would break the news to her father.

Standing in front of the mirror on her bureau, Caroline picked up a stylish blue hat and pinned it on her upswept hair. Although she did love the hat, it had been chosen by her mother, as had most of the clothes in Caroline’s wardrobe. In Oklahoma City she could set her own standards and not be dictated to by her mother.

Some of Mother’s ideas and beliefs about fashions and social protocol left Caroline with the feeling that no one could measure up to what the mayor’s wife expected, not even her

own daughter. Being the daughter of the mayor had its advantages, but now they hindered her and kept her from pursuing other avenues of interest.

She gathered up her reticule. Time had come for a visit with her sister-in-law to seek her advice. After all, Becky had once pursued a newspaper career without thought of marriage. She could tell Caroline what it was like to be a single, working-woman on her own.

But deep in her heart the real reason she wanted to see Becky lay hidden. Maybe Becky would have some insight into why her brother, Matt, had been so distant the past year. Of course Mother was delighted with that turn of events, but Caroline was deeply hurt and at a loss as to how to reach out to her old friend.

She glanced around the room that had been hers since her family’s arrival in Barton Creek seventeen years ago. She’d miss it, but the idea of being on her own filled her with excitement. She raced down the stairs and headed for the front door to avoid another confrontation with her mother. When her voice called out from the parlor, Caroline pretended not to hear and closed the door behind her.

She walked toward town, her feet disturbing the fallen leaves and making them swirl about her feet. Late September should bring cooler air to match the changing of the colors in the trees, but not this year. Caroline wished she’d worn a lighter weight shirtwaist and a less heavy skirt, but Mother had insisted on storing all summer clothes away for the fall season. At the next corner she turned onto Main Street, thankful she lived such a short distance from town.

A few more motorcars dotted the streets, which were now completely bricked. As mayor, her father planned to replace the boardwalks where people now strolled in front of business establishments with real sidewalks. She walked past the post office, the jail, and several other stores and shops before reaching the newspaper offices.

The odor of printer’s ink greeted her nose as Caroline stepped through the doorway of the Barton Creek newspaper building. The bell over the door jangled and caused everyone but Becky to look up to see who had come in. The staff on the paper had certainly grown since Mr. Lansdowne made the paper available seven days a week. Becky sat at her desk behind the railing separating the office space from the entryway, staring at whatever was in the typewriter before her.

One of the young men jumped up from his chair. “How can I help you, Miss Frankston?” Caroline smiled and nodded toward Becky. “I’m here to see Mrs. Frankston.”

Becky glanced up then. “Oh, my, I was so engrossed in my story that I didn’t hear the bell.” She strode over to the gate in the railing. “What brings you here today?”

“I wanted to talk with you if you have time, but I can see you’re busy, so I’ll come back later.”

Becky pushed through the gate. “No, no, it’s fine. I think I’m in need of a break about now.” She turned to the young woman across the room. “Amy, would you tell Mr. Lansdowne I’m taking a break and will be back shortly? I’ll stop at the bakery and bring back pastries. He’ll like that.”

“Of course, Rebecca. Have a nice visit.” The young clerk returned to the business on her desk.

Caroline admired Becky’s attire. She wore the plainest of skirts and shirtwaists but made them come alive with fashion even though the signs of her coming motherhood were evident. Caroline would have been called a “Plain Jane” if she wore the same. Something about her sister-in-law gave life to whatever she touched or wore, one trait Caroline sorely envied.

Becky linked arms with Caroline. “Now, let’s head to Peterson’s for tea and cookies.”

When they stepped out onto the boardwalk, Becky breathed deeply. “Isn’t it a beautiful day? Although it’s too warm for me, I love this time of year.”

“I like it too,” Caroline responded, although at the moment all she could sense was the stench of horse droppings and the fine layer of dust and dirt over everything. She glanced at the woman beside her. “So, you’re still going by Rebecca at the office?”

“Yes. That’s my byline on all my articles, so they all call me Rebecca.” Besides reporting on town events, Becky wrote a column for women in the Barton Creek Chronicle each week to inform them of the opportunities and advantages of voting for their government leaders.

Caroline laughed. “But you’ll always be Becky to the rest of us.”

Becky returned the laugh, but hers had a musical quality that had earned the friendship of most of the people here in her hometown. “I don’t mind it at all now. Rob convinced me I could be both, and he was right.” She glanced up toward the windows of her husband’s law offices.

At least Becky and Rob had rediscovered the love they’d had for each other as youths, and now they were as happy as any married couple Caroline had seen. Mother hadn’t been too pleased with her son marrying a Haynes, and even now that Ben Haynes headed one of the wealthiest ranches in the area, her attitude hadn’t changed, especially since Becky chose to continue her job at the newspaper after learning a child was on the way. To Mother, Becky would always be a cowgirl.

When they had entered the bakery and ordered their tea and pastry, Caroline chose a table away from the window so they would have more privacy.

“So what is it that you want to talk with me about?” Becky unwrapped her pastry and pinched off a small piece.

Caroline stirred her tea and grinned. “I’m moving to Oklahoma City. My roommate at college, Madeline Barrows, has invited me to come live with her, and I have a good chance at a job at a library there.”

Becky dropped her pastry, spreading crumbs in its wake. She grabbed a napkin and wiped the bits off the table. “You’re doing what? Leaving Barton Creek? But what does your family say?”

“Mother is completely against it, and by now she’s probably let Father know, and I don’t know what he’ll say. It really doesn’t matter because my mind is made up.”

“But what about Matt? Have you told him?”

Caroline dipped her head and concentrated on stirring her tea. “You know how much I care about Matt, but over the last few years his interest in me has dimmed. He’s barely spoken to me since we ate together at the July Fourth celebration. I don’t know what else to do.”

Becky leaned forward. “I can’t tell you much since I don’t see him very often anymore. He’s been quiet and withdrawn the Sundays we go out to the ranch for the family dinner. When we were younger, we enjoyed doing lots of things together, but that changed when I came home from college. And since I’ve married Rob, he’s been much less open with me.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Caroline’s heart ached with the image of Matt sitting astride his great stallion and riding across the range. She bit her lip and leaned toward Becky. “I–I can’t bear the thought of being a spinster, and there’s no one here in Barton Creek except Matt I would consider as a husband. More opportunities to meet young men are available in the city. Many of my college friends stayed in the city, and I’ve been writing to several of them, and with Madeline’s invita tion, the time seems right. Although I care for Matt, I can’t wait for him forever.”

Becky blinked and shook her head. “I used to think my brother was working hard to establish himself before he took on the responsibilities of a wife and a family. But now that the ranch is doing so well, I don’t understand is why he hasn’t been more willing to call on you. I remember how you two were always together for every social event that came along before you went off to school. I guess I always thought you’d be his wife when he finally made up his mind it was time to marry.”

“That’s just it. I did too, but I’ve waited a long time for him to make up his mind.” And they had been the longest years of her life. Now the time had come to look to the future and her life ahead before it passed her by completely. She turned to Becky and sat up straighter. “Now, tell me everything you know about going out on your own as a working woman!”

Matt removed his hat and wiped sweat from his brow with a bandanna. Fall may have been the season, but the air definitely spoke of summer. Late September usually brought cooler temperatures, but not this year. He stuffed the kerchief in his pocket and jammed the hat back on his head. Time to round up a few more strays.

He waved to Hank and headed toward the west pasture. The ranch hand rode up to join him. “You think some of the herd made their way out to Dawson land?”

“Yeah, they’ve done it before. Good thing those fences are around the oil rigs.” Ever since the wells started producing, the noise of the pumps attracted whatever livestock meandered that way. He usually found around half a dozen or so head lined up at the fence staring at the work going on.

Hank tilted his hat back on his head. “I know that parcel of land wasn’t any good for farming and such, but rigs sure are ugly despite the oil they’re pumping.”

“That’s what worried Pa the most, but since it’s away from everything and can’t be seen from the house, he decided it was better to go ahead with Geoff’s recommendations. So far that’s been a good decision.” Geoff Kensington had kept his word, and Barstow’s Oil did everything Pa had requested. The first money from the oil deposits had surprised even Pa and Sam Morris. The two had put the money into a trust for the future after sending the original landowner his share.

“Your pa is a good businessman. I’ve admired him for many years. Remember how he took me in along with Jake and treated us like part of the family?”

“Yes, that’s the way Pa was and still is.” Matt loved his father even more for his treatment of other folks. If he hadn’t believed in Jake, the young man would never have become a Christian and found out that the killing he’d been involved with in Texas was ruled self-defense. That cowboy might still be running from the law instead marrying Lucy and owning his own ranch.

Hank slowed his horse. “You know, I’ve been thinking. I’m not getting any younger, and the idea of settling down with a wife has its appeal. That young woman, Amy, who works with Becky agreed to let me be her escort for the church singing next week. You ought to ask Miss Caroline to it.”

Matt cast a sideways glance at his partner. “You’re a lucky man. Amy Garson is a pretty young woman.”

Hank laughed and shook his head. “Matt Haynes, you’re stalling me. What about Miss Caroline?”

Matt didn’t respond, but his mind filled with the image of Caroline Frankston. He did love her at one time, but she had chosen a life far different from his. Just as he was about to ask her to be his wife, she’d announced she was going off to college. He remembered the day like it was yesterday. She’d been so excited when she showed him the brochures with all the information. She planned to major in fine arts and languages. Those were two things he knew nothing about.

“Matt, you hafta talk to her and let her know how you feel. I seen your eyes when we’re in town and she’s around. You can’t look nowhere else.”

“She’s busy with her own life. Attending luncheons and meetings with her ma and doing all those things on committees and such. She has no time for me or for life on a ranch.” Besides, the more he thought about it, the more he realized one Haynes married to a Frankston was almost one too many. Becky could handle the mayor’s wife, but the idea of Charlotte Frankston as a mother-in-law didn’t appeal to him at all. And if Caroline

really cared, she wouldn’t have run off to college when she did.

As though reading his mind, Hank offered his opinion. “It’s that Mrs. Frankston, isn’t it? She is rather formidable, but if you married Caroline and brought her out here to the ranch, you wouldn’t have to deal with her mother that much.”

Matt narrowed his eyes and worked his mouth. It wasn’t anybody’s business what he thought of Mrs. Frankston. He may be considered a coward for not facing up to her, but it was his decision to make.

“Matt, I think you’re missing out on what life has for you if you let one woman ruin your feelings for another. If you really love Caroline, her mother wouldn’t make any difference.”

“That’s easy for you to say. Have you forgotten how Mrs. Frankston treated Ma and Aunt Clara when everyone thought Jake was a murderer? Then look at how she hurt Emily Morris and Dove. That woman is rude and has no respect for anyone not of her own standing, but she’s not the only reason, and it’s best to keep your opinion to yourself.”

“I understand, and I do remember those days, but I also remember Mrs. Anderson and how her heart changed. She was as mean as Mrs. Frankston toward Mrs. Morris and Dove until that prairie fire almost destroyed us all.”

“True, but I don’t see anything like that in the future to change Mrs. Frankston.” Matt flicked his reins and spurred his horse. “Let’s go hunt for strays. That’s why we’re out here.”

His love life was nobody else’s business but his. And as much as he was attracted to Caroline, he didn’t care to saddle himself for the rest of his life with a cantankerous mother-in-law like Charlotte Frankston.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unexpected Love

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:

Unexpected Love

Realms (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


In addition to writing, Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at conferences such as: Write-To-Publish American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Oregon Christian Writers Conference, Mount Hermon Writers Conference, and many other writers’ conferences. Andrea is also co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on the advisory board and was also CEO of the ACFW.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381922
ISBN-13: 978-1616381929


Chicago, Illinois, September 4, 1866

Do you think he’ll live, Dr. Hamilton?” The gray-haired man with bushy whiskers pondered the question for several moments, chewing on his thick lips as he weighed his reply. “Yes, I think he will,” he finally said. “Of course, he’s not out of the woods yet, but it seems he’s coming around.”

Lorenna Fields breathed a sigh of relief. It had been two whole days with nary a sign of life from this half-drowned man, but finally—finally—he showed signs of improvement.

“You’ve done a good job with this patient, Nurse Fields.” The physician drew himself up to his full height, which barely met Renna’s five feet six inches. “I don’t think he’d be alive today if you hadn’t given him such extraordinary care.”

“Thank you, Dr. Hamilton, but it was the Lord who spared this man and the Lord who gave me the strength and skill to nurse him.” The old physician snorted in disgust. “Yes, well, it might have had something to do with the fact that you’ve got a brain in your

head, Nurse Fields, and the fact that you used it too, I might add!”

Renna smiled inwardly. Dr. Hamilton always disliked it when she gave God the credit for any medical advancement, especially the miracles. Yet Renna’s intelligence and experience weren’t typical of women her age, and she determined to use them to God’s glory.

The patient moaned, his head moving from side to side.

“Easy now, Mr. Blackeyes.” Renna placed a hand on the man’s muscular shoulder. “It’s all right.” She picked up the fever rag from out of the cold water, wrung it once, and set it on the patient’s burning brow.

Dr. Hamilton snorted again, only this time in amusement. “Mr. Blackeyes? How in the world did you come by that name, Nurse Fields?”

She blushed but replied in all honesty. “It’s his eyes, Doctor. They’re as black as pitch and as shiny as polished stones. And since we don’t know his true identity, I’ve named him Mr. Blackeyes.”

“I see.” Dr. Hamilton could barely contain his laughter.

“Well, I had to call him something now, didn’t I?” She wrung the fever cloth more tightly.

“Ah, yes, I suppose you did.” Dr. Hamilton gathered his instruments and put them into his black leather medical bag. “Well, carry on, Nurse Fields.” He sounded tired. “If your patient’s fever doesn’t break by morning, send for me at once. However, I think

it will, especially since we got some medicine and chicken broth into him tonight.”

Renna nodded while the old man waved over his shoulder as he left the hospital ward.

Returning her attention to her patient, Renna saw that he slept for the moment. His blue-black hair, which had just a slight wave to it, shone beneath the dampness of the fever. The stifling late summer heat of the room threatened to bring his temperature even higher.

Wiping a sleeve across her own beaded brow, Renna continued to sponge down her patient. Poor Mr. Blackeyes had been found floating in Lake Michigan after a terrible storm the past Sunday. The crew of the passing ship that found him had thought he was dead at first. But they pulled him aboard anyway. The ship’s doctor immediately examined him and detected a heartbeat, so he cared for him until the ship docked in Chicago’s harbor. As soon as the sailors could manage it, Mr. Blackeyes was deposited at Mercy Hospital and admitted to the second floor and into Renna’s care. Now, two days later, he finally showed some improvement.

Pulling the fever rag from the round porcelain bowl filled with cool water, Renna replaced it carefully across Mr. Blackeyes’s forehead. She could tell this man was different from the usual “unknowns” that the hospital acquired. His dark features somehow implied sophistication, even through several days’ growth of beard. And his powerful broad shoulders and muscular arms indicated the strength of a man accustomed to lifting or hoisting. And he was handsome, all right. A lady’s man, no doubt.

“But who are you, Mr. Blackeyes?” Renna murmured, gazing down at him.

As if in reply, the man groaned.

Renna settled him once more and then slowly stood. She forced her mind to dwell on her other patients as she made her rounds through the sick ward, a large room with whitewashed walls and a polished marble floor. Eight beds, four on each side, were neatly lined in rows, leaving a wide area in the center of the ward.

Moving from bed to bed, Renna checked each patient, thankful that this ward wasn’t full: only Mr. Anderson, suffering from a farming accident in which he lost his left arm; Mr. Taylor, who had had pneumonia but had recovered and would soon be released;

and, finally, young John Webster, who had been accidentally shot in the chest by his brother. It appeared the wounded young man wouldn’t live through the night, and his family had gathered around him, his mother weeping.

Taking pity on the Webster family, Renna set up several wooden screens to allow them some privacy. Then she checked on John. She could see death settling in. She was somewhat accustomed to the sight, as she’d trained in a Union military hospital in Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. Still, watching a life slip away never got easier. But in this case Renna took heart that the Websters were people with a strong faith. Young John would soon go home to be with his Savior.

“Can I get anything for you, Mrs. Webster?” Renna asked the boy’s mother now.

A tall, very capable-looking woman, she shook her head. Several brunette curls tumbled from their bun.

Renna asked the same thing of the boy’s brother and father, but both declined.

“I didn’t mean ter shoot ’im, Ma!” the brother declared. He suddenly began to sob.

“Aw, I know ya didn’t mean it, son,” Mrs. Webster replied through her own tears. “It was an accident. That anyone can see!”

“Tell it to Jesus, boy.” His father’s eyes were red, his jaw grizzled. “Give the matter to Christ, just like we done gave John over to Him.”

Renna’s heart was with the family, but she suddenly felt like an intruder. The Websters needed their privacy. Stepping back, she gave them each a sympathetic smile before moving away.

Walking to the other side of the room now, Renna sat down on the edge of Mr. Blackeyes’s bed and sponged him down again. Afterward, she checked his head wound—nearly a three-inch gash above his left ear. It had needed to be sutured, and Dr. Hamilton

had seen to that when Mr. Blackeyes was first admitted. “Unknown Male” was the name on his chart. Most “unknowns” didn’t survive, so Renna was heartened that Mr. Blackeyes’s prognosis seemed promising.

Now if only his fever would break. If only he’d regain consciousness and pneumonia wouldn’t set in.

Momentarily closing her eyes, Renna prayed for God’s healing of this man. She had been praying earnestly for the last week. Why she felt so burdened for him, she couldn’t say, but she was.

Suddenly an abrupt command broke her thoughts. “Nurse Fields? Nurse Fields, you may go. I’m on duty now.”

Renna glanced at the doorway where Nurse Rutledge, the night nurse who was also her supervisor, stood. A large woman with beady, dark eyes, she had a no-nonsense way about her. That same stern disposition kept her lips in a perpetual frown.

“As usual, your charts are in order.”

Was that a hint of a smile? Renna guessed not.

“You’re excused.”

Renna replied with a nod. She didn’t dislike the night supervisor, although she wasn’t fond of the woman’s overbearing manner. Still, Nurse Rutledge was in charge. “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll just finish up here, and then I’ll be on my way.”

The older woman came up alongside her. “The first rule in nursing is, do not get emotionally attached to your patients. You know that.”

Renna rinsed the fever rag once more and draped it across Mr. Blackeyes’s forehead. “I’m not getting emotionally attached.” Renna felt her conscience prick. “I’m just . . . well, I’m burdened for this man. In the spiritual sense.”

“Humph! Call it what you will, Nurse Fields, but I happen to think you’re much too emotional and far too sensitive. It’s a wonder you’ve lasted in nursing this long. Why, I heard from the other nurses on duty today that you were crying with the Webster

family over their boy.” She sniffed in what seemed like disgust. “A nurse must never let her emotions get in the way of her duty, Nurse Fields.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Renna endured the rebuke. She’d heard it many times before.

Nurse Rutledge squared her wide shoulders. “Now, may I suggest that you leave your burden right here in this hospital bed and go home and get some rest? You’re due back here at six a.m., and I’ll expect you promptly!”

Renna nodded. Then, with a backward glance at Mr. Blackeyes, she left the sick ward. She gathered her things and made her way to the hospital’s main entrance. Outside, she paused and breathed deeply. The air was thick and humid, but it was free from the chloroform and antiseptics that she’d smelled all day.

She spied a hired hackney, and within minutes, Renna rode the mile to the home she shared with her parents. She was the oldest child in the family, but at the age of thirty, Renna was what society termed “a spinster.” Her two younger sisters were married and

producing children galore, and her one younger brother and his wife were now expecting their first baby.

Renna loved all her nieces and nephews. They filled her empty arms when she wasn’t nursing, and Jesus filled her heart. Time and time again, however, Renna was asked by a young niece or nephew, “Why didn’t you ever get married, Auntie Renna?” And

her reply was always, “I never fell in love.”

But the truth of the matter was no man would have her—even if she had fallen in love. The large purplish birthmark on the left side of her face deterred every eligible bachelor. The unsightly thing came down her otherwise flawless cheek to the side of her

nose and then around down to her jaw, like an ugly purple horseshoe branded into her face. One would think she’d be accustomed to the gawks, stares, and pitying glances sent her way at social functions, but they unnerved her. All dressed up and looking her

prettiest, Renna still felt marred and uncomely under the scrutiny of her peers—especially when she was in the company of eligible men to whom she was supposed to be attractive and charming. Renna never felt she was either of those.

Nursing, however, was different. In the hospital Renna felt confident of her abilities. Moreover, her patients were usually too sick or in too much pain to be concerned with her ugly birthmark.

Rather, they just wanted her care and sensitivity, and that’s what Renna thought she did best . . . in spite of what Nurse Rutledge said about her being too emotional and too sensitive. God in all His grace had given Renna a wondrous work in nursing, and it pleased her to be used in that way. What more could she want? And yet lately—lately Renna desired something more. Was it a sin to feel discontented after so many happy years of nursing?

The carriage stopped in front of Renna’s house. She climbed out, paid the driver, and then turned to open the little white gate of the matching picket fence around the front yard. A slight breeze blew, and Renna thought it felt marvelous after her sweltering day on the second floor of the hospital.

“Well, there you are, dear.” Her mother, Johanna Fields, stood with a pair of shears in her hand. She had obviously been pruning the flowers that graced the edge of the wide front porch. “You’re late tonight, Renna.” She studied her daughter. “Mr. Blackeyes? Is he . . . ?”

“He’s still alive.” She stepped toward her mother. “Dr. Hamilton thinks he may even live, except he has an awful fever now. We’re hoping it breaks by morning and thatpneumonia doesn’t set in.”

“Oh, dear . . . ” Mum shook her head sadly. “Well, we’ll keep praying, won’t we?”

Renna gave a nod before Mum hooked arms and led her into the house.

“I’ve made a light dinner tonight, Renna. Help yourself.”

“I appreciate it, but I’m too tired to eat.”

“But you need some nourishment.” Mum fixed a plate of cold beef, sliced tomatoes, and a crusty roll. “Here, sit down at the table.”

Renna allowed her mother to help her into the chair. After one bite she realized how ravenous she was and cleaned the plate. Minutes later her sister Elizabeth walked in with her twin daughters, Mary and Helena. Delight spread through Renna as the girls toddled into the kitchen.

“Hello, darlings.” She gave each a hug before smiling up at her younger sister.

“Renna, you look exhausted.” Elizabeth shook her head vehemently, causing strands of her light brown hair to escape their pinning. “You’ll be old before your time.”

“And what would you have me do? Sit around the house all day, twiddling my thumbs?” Seeing her sister’s injured expression, she softened her voice. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m more tired than I thought.”

Elizabeth smiled. “All’s forgiven.”

Renna struggled to her feet. Her entire body ached from her long shift. “I’ll have to visit another time. I’m going up to bed.”

After bidding everyone a good night, Renna climbed the steps leading to the second floor. In her small bedroom she poured water from the large pitcher on her bureau into the chamber basin and then washed away the day’s heat. She pulled her cool, cotton nightgown over her head then took her Bible off the nightstand and continued her reading in John chapter 9. Renna realized as she read that physical ailments allowed God to show His glory, and she marveled as she read about the blind man who by simple faith and obedience regained his sight.

She bowed her head. Oh, Lord, that You might heal Mr. Black-eyes. That You might show Your power to those who don’t believe by healing him. Renna paused to remember her other patients then. And please rain down Your peace that passeth all understanding on the Websters tonight.

Despite the fact her eyelids threatened to close, Renna finished her Bible reading. She turned down the lamp as a breeze ruffled the curtains. Somehow Renna knew that John Webster would not be in her sick ward tomorrow morning. Nor would his family be there. Somehow Renna knew that John was with the Savior already.

But Mr. Blackeyes . . . why, he might not be a believer. It pained Renna to think of him spending an eternity apart from God.

Please heal him, Lord, she prayed as she crawled into bed. She allowed her eyes to finally shut, and the darkly handsome stranger who lay fighting for his life was the last person on Renna’s thoughts as she drifted off to sleep.