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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Swept Away Review!!!

*Swept Away by Mary Connealy



Book Description:
Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't all that upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. She prayed for a chance to get away, and then came the raging flood. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke Stone...so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is heading home to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men who killed his father are working hard to ensure Luke doesn't make it alive. He has no choice but to keep moving. Still, he can't just abandon Ruthy, so she'll have to come along.

His friends--a ragtag group of former Civil War soldiers--take a fast interest in the pretty gal. Luke thinks that's rather rude--he's the one who found her. And the more time he spends around the hard-working young woman who is a mighty good cook, the more he finds himself thinking beyond revenge and toward a different future. For the first time in a long time, Luke is tempted to turn from his destructive path and be swept away by love.



My Opinion:
Swept Away is an awesome tale!!! From the beginning to the end Mary Connealy captures your interest and won't let it go. She knows how to end a chapter and keeps you in suspense at time! :) Mary comes up with the greatest characters from a strong, hard workin', high climbin', fightin' red head; to a quiet, thoughtful, strong man with an awesome loving horse! I loved them all!!! (Especially the horse! :) ) The bad guys are REALLY bad, the good guys are great, and the actions scenes are wonderful!!! Strategy and good back stories comes into play with Mary's characters to. The first line of Mary's description in the back is all you need to define this book, "Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys." Yup that's it exactly!!! :) Filled with humor but also some very serious scenes Swept Away has a little of everything. A story that is well written and can't be missed. A must read by far! :) I can't wait for Fired Up and the continued story of these characters!!! I also want to give a shout out to Dan Pitts for a excellent cover design! The characters within reflect those of the cover and I LOVE it when they do! :)

3 songs that I think fit somewhat with Swept Away are: "Swept Away" by Piano Music, and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Shedaisy

Proverbs 18:24

~ASC

*I received this book from Book Fun.org Club Readers Only group.  This in no way affected my opinion and the above it my honest veiwe of Swept Away.  ~ASC

P.S. Thanks for reading!  If you aren't a follower of ASC Book Reviews PLEASE become one! :)  I'd love to have ya! ~ASC

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel (First Wild Card Blog Tour)

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:

B&H Books (June 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Laurel Teague for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melody Carlson has written around 200 books for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her books range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including the Rita and Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (June 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433679302
ISBN-13: 978-1433679308


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

When Daphne Ballinger graduated top of her class with her degree in journalism, in the memorable year of 2000, she had promptly moved to the city to launch her illustrious career writing for The New York Times. And why not dream big? Because really, how many grads landed such an impressive job straight out of college?

Her plan had been to work hard and quickly scale the ladder to success. By thirty she would have a corner office with a window overlooking the river as well as an apartment on the west side. By her midthirties, she would have published her first book. But similar to the plans of mice and men, Daphne’s best-laid schemes had gone awry.

She stuffed a worn pair of brown Prada pumps into her Hermès bag (splurges she’d indulged in back when she still believed you should dress for the job/life you wanted). Then she sat down to put on her comfy-yet-unfashionable white sneakers. After tying the first shoe, she sat up straight and looked around the messy apartment.

Daphne knew it was cliché but, on gloomy days like today, it truly did feel like the walls were closing in on her. Most of the time, she could overlook the crowded space. She could walk right past piles of papers and miscellaneous pieces of clothing and empty take-out boxes . . . and not even notice. But this morning, the apartment actually seemed to stink. When was the last time they’d really cleaned this place?

She shared this three-bedroom apartment with Greta and Shelby. And in previous years Greta, the lease owner, had always proclaimed April as spring-cleaning month. But it was already mid-May and no one had lifted a finger. And Greta, obsessed with a new job promotion, hadn’t complained once. Daphne’s gaze skimmed over gritty windows, dingy curtains, dust-covered surfaces, piles of clutter, sun-faded carpet. . . . How had she stayed here so long?

“I can’t promise to be here more than a year,” Daphne had informed Greta Phillips when she first moved to the city right after graduation.

A coworker at The Times had tipped off Daphne about a friend looking for a third roommate for an apartment in Brooklyn. And although the location was lackluster, it was near the subway and the rent was affordable. Besides, it would just be a temporary stop—the bottom rung on her ladder to success—or so she had naively believed.

“And after a year?” Greta had asked Daphne with a single arched brow.

Daphne simply smiled . . . perhaps a bit smugly upon reflection. “Oh, I plan to move into my own place by then.”

“Your own place?” Greta seemed humored by this declaration. “Really?”

“Oh yes. This is just the first step for me.”

“Well, I still need you to sign a one-year lease. After that, we’ll see.”

Daphne had hesitantly signed that “confining”  lease, wondering how Greta would react if she was forced to break the contract before the year was up. Although numerous other roommates had come and gone during the next thirteen years, climbing their own ladders to success, Daphne had stayed . . . and stayed . . . and stayed. Remembering the arrogant assumptions of her youth was embarrassing.

“Hey, Daphne,” Shelby called out cheerfully. Shelby was the most recent roommate, less than six months ago she’d moved here straight from her family’s Connecticut home. “I’m heading out early this morning. So you’ll have to put Oliver in the bathroom. Okay?”

Daphne looked over to see Shelby looking sparkly and stylish as she opened a golden shoe box. After tossing the lid, tissue paper, and red shoe bags aside, Shelby extracted a dark-colored shoe with a sole that flashed like a stoplight. Shelby slipped on the first high-heeled pump, pointing her toe to admire the sleek black patent leather. “Classy, huh?”

“Another pair of Louboutins?” Daphne frowned, knowing she probably sounded like somebody’s mother. But really, Shelby couldn’t afford such extravagances.

“Yes. Can you believe it?” Shelby giggled. “I think I’m going to need a twelve-step program before long.”

“Or a raise.”

Shelby waved a hand, hopping on one foot as she tugged on the other shoe. “I’d rather settle for a nice, big diamond.”  Shelby was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, and sometimes Daphne worried that the pretty young woman had seen How to Marry a Millionaire one time too many.

“So how is that working for you?” Daphne knew Shelby had been flirting with her boss’s son for the past several weeks. She also knew the boss’s son had recently divorced his second wife.

Shelby stood up straight, pushing her short, sassy blond hair back into place with a confident-looking grin. “As it turns out, John Junior is taking me to Club 21.”

“21?” Daphne was impressed. The whole time she’d been in New York, she’d only been there once. And here Shelby was going after just a few months. This girl worked fast.

“Yes. I told John Junior that I’d been dying to go there ever since I moved to the city. And we’re going there tonight. Can you believe it?”

“Can you believe it” was Shelby’s favorite expression and sometimes, after hearing it a few dozen times in the course of an evening, Daphne sometimes wanted to gag the girl. “That’s wonderful, Shelby.” She stood and smiled. “I hope you and John Junior have a lovely time.” Did Shelby really call him John Junior—to his face?

“Oh, we will.” Shelby reached for her hot pink umbrella, holding it in front of her like a scepter. “The weatherman predicted showers this morning. So don’t forget your umbrella.”

“I hope the rain doesn’t ruin your pretty new shoes.”

“No worries.” Shelby shrugged. “John Junior is picking me up in his car this morning.”

“He’s driving you into Manhattan at this time of day?”

“No, silly, that would be insane. He’s giving me a ride out to his parents’ home in the Hamptons. John Senior is working at home today, so I’ll be working there too.”

“Oh . . .” Daphne nodded. That explained the new shoes, stylish suit, perfect hair. Shelby was out to impress Mrs. John Senior. “Well, have a good day.”

“Oh, I’m sure I will.” Shelby opened the door to peek out. “There he is now—right on time. You should see his car, Daphne.” She stepped outside, then looked back in. “Don’t forget to put Oliver in the bathroom.”

Daphne went over to the front window, watching as Shelby skipped down the cement stairs in her new shoes, swinging her bright umbrella in time with each step. Sometimes it was as if Shelby were starring in her own movie. She paused midway down the steps, waving to the man who was just getting out of the silver Jaguar in front of their building. From her vantage point, Daphne could see the balding patch on the top of the man’s dark hair, and for some pathetic reason this comforted her.

Still, as she stepped away from her voyeurism, she didn’t wish ill for young Shelby. If John Junior was truly a nice guy, she hoped he would produce a diamond . . . in due time. Daphne hadn’t known Shelby long, but she knew the old-fashioned girl dreamed of a big white wedding and a houseful of kids. It was sweet, really.

“Oliver,” Daphne called out as she grabbed a yogurt carton from the fridge. “Here, kitty-kitty.” She reached into Greta’s bag of kitty treats, singing out enticingly. “Here’s a treat for you, Oliver. Here, kitty-kitty.”

She was not fond of Greta’s fat gray cat and, unfortunately, Oliver seemed to sense this. Still, she kept her voice sugary as she walked around calling for him, “Come on, Oliver, come get your yummy-yummy kitty treat.”

She eventually found him hunkered down in Greta’s bedroom with a guilty expression, but if he was doing something he shouldn’t, Daphne did not want to know. She had learned the hard way to keep her own bedroom door closed. For some twisted reason Oliver sometimes preferred a nice soft bed to his smelly litter box in the bathroom.

“There you are, you darling little scoundrel,” she said in a saccharine tone. As he looked up, she curled her arm around his hefty midsection. “Got you.” Then she quickly packed him off to the bathroom, tossing in the treat with him behind it. “Have a good day, you spoiled fat cat.” Daphne closed the door firmly. It wasn’t that she disliked cats in general. She just didn’t care much for Oliver.

By the time Daphne locked up the apartment and was on her way to the subway, it was already starting to rain. And despite Shelby’s reminder, Daphne had set off without her umbrella and there wasn’t time to run back and get it now. Consequently, as the clouds opened up and let loose, she got thoroughly drenched in the short distance to the subway. Waiting with the other dampened commuters, she tried to shake off some of the moisture before the train arrived, then she hurried in with the crowd, finding a spot in the back of the car where the air was smelly and muggy and close.

Firmly planting her feet, Daphne held tightly to a pole and, shutting her eyes, attempted to imagine herself in a happier, cleaner, dryer place. Like the Grand Canyon where her dad had taken her as child one summer. She breathed deeply as she recalled the beautiful painted mountains changing hues of golds, reds, and russets at sunset.

This was a trick she’d taught herself years ago, her way to combat the claustrophobia that she sometimes suffered in the city. One would think she’d be over her dislike of tight spaces by now, but on days like today the anxiety seemed to lurk just below the surface. She remembered when she had been in love with New York. Some called it the Big Apple Honeymoon Phase, but it had lasted several years for her. However, like so many other things in her life, it had gotten a little tarnished and dull over the years. And as she emerged from the subway, back into the drizzling rain and noisy traffic, she didn’t much like the city.

By the time Daphne reached her cubicle at The Times and peeled off her soggy jacket and slushy sneakers and stashed them in a sodden pile in the corner, her long auburn hair, which she’d spent thirty minutes straightening this morning, now resembled Bozo the Clown. Not that anyone would particularly notice or care since most of her day was spent on her own.

Daphne was a wedding writer—one of several—and she had been doing the same thing for more than ten years. She could write one of these pieces in her sleep. In fact, sometimes she did. Oh, not for the paper, but she would lie in bed writing another piece. They ran about 250 words, five or six paragraphs, all meant to impress the bride and the groom and their family and friends.

She turned on her computer and perused her e-mail, sifting through junk and flagging some, and then on to read today’s assignments. This time of year was usually fairly busy, but to her surprise there was only one happy couple waiting for the spotlight, and she managed to spend two whole hours on making them seem larger than life. Hopefully they would appreciate her efforts.

Then with still an hour until lunch, she imagined what she’d write for Shelby’s wedding announcement, and because she was bored and didn’t like to appear idle or get caught playing Spider Solitaire, she decided to hack a phony baloney announcement for her romantic roommate.

Miss Shelby M. Monroe and John Junior Millionaire were married on Friday night in May at Club 21 in downtown Manhattan. Family friend and celebrity entrepreneur Donald Trump, who became an ordained minister for this monumental occasion, officiated the extravagant
event where no expenses were spared.

The beautiful bride, twenty-three, and the prematurely balding bridegroom, of undetermined age, met at the bride’s place of employment, which is also the bridegroom’s father’s multimillion-dollar investment corporation.

Miss Monroe, who will not be keeping her name since it’s not really her name, will give up her career, which wasn’t really a career, in order to raise a houseful of boisterous children. She is the daughter of a once-prestigious family who resided in Westport, Connecticut, until her father’s investment corporation was dissolved in a scandal involving insider trading. Now, despite some diminished wealth, the bride’s parents are enjoying an early retirement abroad.

Mr. Millionaire, who goes by John Junior, holds some mysterious position in his father’s corporation, where not much actual work is required of him. John Junior graduated from some Ivy League school,
where his family probably had some really good connections.

Following an over-the-top honeymoon, which probably involved
a beach in an exotic locale, the happy newlyweds will reside
in a penthouse apartment on the upper west side.

The bridegroom’s first two marriages ended in divorce.
Hopefully the third time will be the charm.

Feeling a bit juvenile, not to mention catty, Daphne hit the select all and delete buttons. Best not to leave something like that lying around for too long. She was about to shut down and go to lunch when her cell phone rang. She got up and grabbed her bag. After digging for her elusive phone and expecting it to be Beverly since they were meeting for lunch today, she was surprised to discover it was actually her father. He rarely called her in the middle of the day. Not unless something was wrong.

“Dad?” she said with concern. “What’s up?”

“Hello, Daphne. I’m afraid it’s bad news.”

“What?” Her throat tightened. He’d had some health issues last winter. Hopefully it wasn’t worse. She’d lost her mother as a small child. Dad was all she had left of her immediate family.

“It’s Aunt Dee . . . she passed away this morning. Her lawyer just called to inform me, and I thought you’d want to know.”

“Aunt Dee.” Daphne sank back down in her chair. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, Dad. I know how much you loved her. I loved her too. And I’d been hoping to get out there to visit you and her this summer. I can’t believe she’s gone.”

Tears filled her eyes as she suddenly recalled the summers she’d spent at Aunt Dee’s house as a child when Dad was busy with work. Aunt Dee had tried to make up for Daphne losing her mother. Daphne and Aunt Dee had always enjoyed a special connection and a shared name.

“If it’s any consolation, she died peacefully. In her sleep.”

“How old was she?” For some reason, Daphne couldn’t recall her aunt’s age. She knew she was older than Dad, but in a way Aunt Dee had seemed timeless. Maybe it was her youthful spirit.

“She would’ve been ninety-one in July.”

“Ninety-one? Wow, I had no idea she was that old.”

“Yes. She never really told anyone her real age. But she enjoyed a good, full life.” He sighed. “Even though she never married or had children, she seemed to have a good time in whatever she did. She traveled. Had lots of friends. Dee lived life on her own terms. And she always seemed happy.”

“She did—didn’t she?” Daphne let out a choked sob as she reached for a Kleenex, wiping the tears now streaming down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, honey. I hate to be the bearer of sad news. But I knew you’d want to know.”

“Yes. I appreciate that. I don’t know why I’m taking this so hard.” She blew her nose.

“Will you be able to make it out here for her memorial service?”

“Yes, of course, Dad.” She reached for another tissue.

“Oh, good. I’m in charge of everything. And I could really use your help with the arrangements. I mean, if you can come out here soon enough . . . I’ll understand if you can’t drop everything.” His voice sounded tired and weak, but maybe it was just sadness.

“How are you feeling? I mean, with your heart and cholesterol and everything. Are you okay?”

“Oh, sure, honey. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” He sighed. “When do you think you can get away?”

“I’ll find out as soon as we hang up. And I’ll get right back to you,” she promised.

“Thanks, Daph. I can’t wait to see you.”

They said good-bye, then she grabbed her purse and hurried up to her boss’s office, feeling she’d get better results if she asked in person. Hopefully Amelia wouldn’t have left for lunch yet. However, when she got up there, Daphne could tell by the darkened office that Amelia was already gone.

“Amelia left early for a lunch meeting,” her assistant told Daphne. “Want me to leave her a message for you?”

“No. I’ll come after lunch. When do you expect her back?”

Fiona shrugged. “Well, you know how those working lunches can drag on forever. I wouldn’t expect her until three or maybe even four.”

“Thanks. I’ll stop by later.” Daphne headed out to meet Beverly, calling her as she walked toward their favorite dining spot. She left a message saying she was running late. Then she called Dad and explained that her boss was out. “As soon as I know, I’ll call,” she assured him.

Fortunately, the rain had stopped and the clouds had cleared and the city, now scrubbed fresh and clean, should be shimmering in the sunshine. And yet, as Daphne hurried down the street, everything around her still felt dull and gray and dismal.



*Review to come! Stay tuned! :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Way Back in the Gardenia Rows Review!!!

Way Back in the Gardenia Rows 
by Kay Wheeler Moore


Book Description:
What are the tangible moments in life in which God has been so real to you, you can almost hear His heart beating? When has He provided such an unlikely solution to a dilemma, the answer had to be His doing and as a result of no other source? Pulitzer Prize nominee Kay Moore, author of "Way Back in the Country" and "Way Back in the Country Garden", collections of family recipes and the stories behind them, now inspires readers to preserve God-moments in their own lives and to capture recipes of the foods that were served accompanying those life-changing times. Using illustrations from her own experiences, she contends that God shows up in quiet, everyday-life lessons as well as in miracles that may not be of the Damascus Road scale but nonetheless make a permanent imprint on the human heart. As with her other Way Back books, Kay's newest is packed with recipes for tantalizing foods, all of which are accompanied by small vignettes describing the context in which they were served and which illustrate the bond of food, family, and faith.


My Opinion:
I don't usually read these kinds of books (Non fiction of any kind really, if I do it's rarely), but after reading the sneak peek on amazon I was hooked! Kay writes in a way that is humorous and inviting, capturing, and intriguing! It is not what I expected it to be, and I usually don't like "history", (except for the Bible I found my high school history books not very intriguing) but I think now that if Kay had been the author I would have devoured history and actually enjoyed it!!! I have found some healing through this book. As I have experienced big and stressful changes in my life and family through the time I read Way Back... I was drawn deeper to my Faith and The One that can sustain me through it all. I LOVED the recipes (and to tell you the truth that is the first and main reason I got this book. My mom devours cook books like they are crime novels! :) I thought she would enjoy the recipes within, and I really enjoyed the first chapter in the sneak peek.) Little did I know what an awesome over all book this is! I commend Kay for being honest about her past mistakes and the faith shaking moments she has experienced! I love that she realizes how God has worked throughout her life even in the (what we as humans might consider) smallest of ways. Whether you are adopted or not, a new Christian or have been a Christ soldier for many years, whether you are able to see how God works for you, loves you, and takes care of you or if you are unsure this book is for you! An absolute, cannot be missed, MUST READ in my opinion! :)

Songs that go with this book: "Here I Am To Worship" by Relaxing Piano Music, "Keeper of the Stars" by Instrumental Piano Music, "Wonderful Words Of Life" by Amy Lambert, "America the Beautiful" by Misty River, "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day" by The Ault Sisters, and "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond

Exodus 14:14

~ASC

*As a First Wild Card Tour Member I requested and received Way Back in the Gardenia Rows in exchange for an honest review and blog post.  This in no way affected my opinion and the above is just that, My Honest opinion.  Thanks for reading! ~ASC

P.S. As always I want to thank all of my followers!  I love have you guys and I am greatly blessed that you have followed my blog! :)

P.P.S. Not a follower yet?  PLEASE become one! :)  Look to the left for all you need! :) ~ASC

Way Back in the Gardenia Rows (First Wild Card Tours)

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:

Hannibal Books (April 29, 2013)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kay Wheeler Moore is a Pulitzer-Prize nominee who stirred up her heirloom cornbread from "Way Back in the Country" and her tangy orange/pecan salad from "Way Back in the Country Garden" on live TV while she promoted preserving family history through recipes. Her other previous books are "When the Heart Soars Free", a book of Christian fiction, and "Gathering the Missing Pieces in an Adopted Life", based on her newspaper series when she was a Houston Chronicle reporter. She and husband, Louis, are parents of two adult children and their spouses and grandparents of three.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

What are the tangible moments in life when God has been so real to you, you can almost hear His heart beating? When has He provided such an unlikely solution to a dilemma, the answer had to be His doing and a result of no other source?

Pulitzer Prize nominee Kay Moore, author of "Way Back in the Country" and "Way Back in the Country Garden", collections of family recipes and the stories behind them, now inspires readers to preserve God-moments in their own lives and to capture recipes of the foods that were served accompanying those life-changing times. Using illustrations from her own experiences, she contends that God shows up in quiet, everydaylife lessons as well as in miracles that may not be of the Damascus Road scale but nonetheless make a permanent imprint on the human heart.

As with her other "Way Back" books, Kay’s newest is packed with recipes for tantalizing foods, all of which are accompanied by small vignettes describing the context in which they were served and which illustrate the bond of food, family, and faith.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (April 29, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613150253
ISBN-13: 978-1613150252


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Introduction



Food and Faith:

Holy Ground



Early June mornings, while the dew still shimmered on the summer grass, I wordlessly followed my mother out back to her prized spot by the hedge.



In my shirtwaist of starched organdy with its prodigious bow I stood expectantly while she took her shears and lopped off the most showy bloom from a bush in her gardenia rows.



Fragrance from the creamy white petals invaded my nostrils as she pulled a silver safety pin from her apron pocket and fastened the flower to my dress.



Down the street, bells from the tile-roofed steeple called neighboring children to line up for Vacation Bible School. Mother wanted to be sure I wore (and smelled) my church-going best even though the morning would find me wrist-deep in finger paints.



At noon, after my class of kindergarteners had memorized our Scripture verses and heard flannelgraph Bible stories and pledged allegiance to the Christian flag, I walked the short block back home to my house.



By that point my gardenia was limp and brown-tipped; its scent was diluted by my sweatdrops from the playground.



But none of that mattered, because my mother was waiting with her welcoming lunch of tuna-salad sandwiches and chocolate-chip cookies formed into bars.



When I think about the days in which the concept of God’s love first was introduced in my life, I can’t help associating those happenings with the gardenia blossoms and tuna fish and bars of chewy chocolate.



Those summer-sweet days at Bible School helped teach me Who God was, how He created the world, how He moved in history, and how He was a personal Father Who knew and loved me.



Interlaced with all those memories, something yummy to eat always was around the corner. Food and faith—they were an everpresent duo in my life—just as I know they are in the lives of others, as well.





* * * * * * * *

This book, simply put, tells stories of ways I’ve experienced God—and the food that accompanied some of those God-moments.



Some think Christian testimonies must be linked to a pat, memorized format of Scriptures or must cover a set of key points that spring from a proper acronym.



In God’s Word, however, Bible figures simply share their testimonies by relating what God has done for them. The blind man Jesus heals proclaims through the simple statement, “I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25). The forgiven woman at the well merely narrates, “He told me everything I ever did” (John 4:39). Before Agrippa, the apostle Paul quietly recalls the Damascus Road (Acts 26).



Old Testament writers repeatedly recount God’s hand in history (for example, Ps. 18). All are simple stories, earnestly told, of golden God-moments in each of their lives.



Way Back in the Gardenia Rows represents a collection of my faith stories—certainly not every one of them, since they happen every day and every hour. Oceans of ink could not possibly describe them all.



Part of them recount my “faith genealogy”—religious influences from past generations that trickled down to merge into the river of faith that flows into my heart. They show how God was at work in my life for generations before I ever was born.



Others delineate times in which God’s hand was so apparent that I could only stop and acknowledge, as Moses did, that I stood on holy ground. Some occur during a tsunami of tragedy and challenge; others happen on spiritual mountaintops; still others take place during unremarkable, quiet moments with nothing afoot except the stirring of the Spirit.



These are family stories; God works in families in every generation. From the first biblical grouping of Adam and Eve and their offspring He picks the family as the milieu in which He accomplishes His work. He places Jesus into a family. This is what He does with me as well.



Although our paltry lives may seem inconsequential, they actually are no different from those of the Old Testament patriarchs or the New Testament martyrs. All of us, as our pastor once instructed us, are involved in an epic that surpasses the great epic films such as Braveheart or Last of the Mohicans or Gladiator. We are involved in an epic tale that is the redemption of humankind. Every single day “we get to play a part in that huge story,” he told us.1



This is simply my version of my particular bit-part in that epic. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts, says Psalm 145:4. I want to make sure that the next generations are reminded of His mighty acts in my life and theirs, too.



As with my previous two cookbooks, which featured the antics of The Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (my mother and two aunts) and the generations that surrounded them, these family stories are linked to recipes—a food that was served at the dinner after a baptism, cookies that were prepared as we celebrated the miracle of our daughter’s graduation. I consider these foods to be integral to that particular memory from my faith journey. The story of that event wouldn’t be complete without remembering what we ate, who originated the recipes, and other lore that surrounded the cooking and consuming.



Many of these cooks have left this earth and today are dining in the banquet hall of the King. Telling about their special dishes almost seems to bring these dear ones back to life again.



* * * * * * * *

These happen to be my stories, but they are undistinguished. Every reader can spin similar yarns—only the names and circumstances differ from those of mine. Again, as with my two previous recipe books, I repeat the urging: tell your own tales, preserve your own happenings. Commend God’s works in your life to the generation that follows yours. While you’re at it, throw in a good recipe or two. Lock all this in for those that live after you.



Make sure they know that throughout your life, humble and ordinary as it may seem in the scope of human history, you—as I—have been standing on holy ground.













Today’s tuna-salad versions are so soigné with upscale additions, our forebears wouldn’t recognize this basic staple that was on the table at least three or four times a week (served on white bread with crusts removed) when I was a pup. All these years later I still think my mother’s cloth-coat variety is best.





Mable’s Tuna-Fish Sandwich Spread



1 (5-ounce) can tuna, packed in water

1 hard-boiled egg, diced

1 medium apple, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise



In a medium bowl flake tuna that has been drained. Stir in egg, apple, and celery. Fold in mayonnaise. Spread on bread slices.





Chapter 1



Tippy-Toeing By



“Keep your eyes straight ahead, and whatever you do, don’t look out at the audience.”



No set of instructions could have been more of a siren song to a 5 1/2-year-old—even one about to follow Christ in baptism as she stood in slightly chilly waters on a spring morning.



After all, I had to know whether my daddy was out there among the onlookers. Daddy typically worshiped at his own church—Austin Street Church of Christ—on Sundays, while Mother and I filled the pews at First Baptist, Garland.



But on this red-letter day Daddy made a special exception and joined the Baptists in worship. All the more reason why I simply must careen my head ever so slightly toward the crowd to see whether I could nab a glimpse of him.



Then, just as the service was about to start, I heard him clear his throat. Nobody made this trademark, gutteral throat-



clearing sound like my Daddy. Suddenly I had the answer I needed. He’s here! I could assure myself.



I righted myself on the platform with its few bricks added so my shrimpy little head could be seen above the baptistery rail. Bro. Cockrell then baptized me as a symbol of my pledge to live for Jesus from that time on.



How did it happen that one so young—barely a first-grader—was making the most important decision of her life?



Long before my birth, did certain foundation stones that would help me one day decide I wanted to become a Christian get cemented in place?



Granted, God has no grandchildren. We do not inherit salvation just because we had righteous forebears. Every person must make his or her own decision about trusting Christ as Savior.



Yet the milieu in which I was reared most certainly created a fertile ground for being open to the gospel. Who had plowed that ground before me?



* * * * * * * *

To answer that question, I started by looking at the faith-lives of some of the Christians on my family tree. For example, if anyone ever found God’s grace dumped smack-dab in the center of her lap, it would be my maternal great-grandmother, Frances Mitchell Harris.



I let my imagination wander back to 1873 and tried to envision 20-year-old Frances as she and her family of eight jostled along in their ox-wagon on the rutted roads between their home near Jackson, MS, and their new location in northeast Texas.



Did Frances hear, No going back. No going back, every time a loose side board on their wagon made a clomp-clomp-clack, clomp-clomp-clack sound? As the prairie road snaked by her, Frances doubtless knew she might never return to her birthplace in the Deep South. Frances was the oldest offspring of her parents, Littleton and Annie Eliza Mitchell. What would Texas be like for the Mitchells in this new state to the west? she may have pondered.



In Frances’ mind, just about any place would have been good for putting the past behind her. Like many others, her family had lost everything in the Civil War. Littleton’s plantation near Jackson was burned out in the “late conflict”, as many called it. A friend of “Lit” already had relocated to Kaufman County, TX, and had a large farm there. He asked Lit to join him in Texas and help work the blackland prairie in that area.



Frances also had another reason for needing a new locale. She had ended a brief marriage to her young husband, James Miller. They had married in Mississippi a few days before Frances’ 15th birthday but parted only about a year later when things didn’t work out. James had been 21.



Twin babies lay buried under the soil back home in the Magnolia State.1 A wedded life that began with high hopes had gone afoul. Perhaps Texas would bring happier times.



* * * * * * * *

Another Texas newcomer—Joseph Francis Harris, who farmed land nearby—already made his home in Kaufman County, where the Mitchells soon would build their log cabin with its dirt floor. Though only 23 Joe Harris already had his share of rip-snorting life experiences.



Hailing from Washington County, IL, Joe at age 18 enlisted in the War Between the States, where he fought opposite Frances Mitchell’s South. Although he is not thought to have seen much combat, Joe was injured in a fall from a bucking horse while he was on Army duty in May 1865.2 After his discharge he was badly hurt while he worked on a dredge boat on the Mississippi River. Once in Texas he became a stagecoach driver; while doing this he almost froze to death in a snow-and-sleet storm.



But by the time the Mitchell family arrived in Kaufman County in 1872 or 1873, Joe had settled into farming. Sometime soon after the Mitchells landed in Texas, Joe and Frances met and fell in love. Frances never had obtained a divorce from James Miller, although they had been separated for several years. But a few days after that divorce was granted, a JP married Frances and Joe. The newlyweds lived on a farm about 12 miles from Terrell, TX.3



Before 11 months of marriage went by, a baby boy was born to the couple. Indeed, if Frances were grieving an empty cradle from an earlier time, the arrival of Charles Cornelius Harris on December 31, 1873, helped fill the hole in her heart. Before young Charlie reached age 2, a second boy, Eddie, joined the family; another brother, Thomas, was born before Charlie was 3. Twins Jesse and Albert would appear on the scene before Charlie celebrated his 5th birthday.



God truly had granted Frances a second chance from the life she left behind in Mississippi. At the end of the clomp-clomp-clack, no-going-back of the ox-wagon, God had made sure the man who would become her life’s companion and by whom she would have 14 children was already in place, waiting for her.



* * * * * * * *

How Frances Harris’ faith shaped her life in those days is not precisely defined in the record left behind her. Her obituary states that she had been a member of the Baptist church all her life. I feel fortunate to possess her family Bible and know she must have opened it for guidance, especially during times of heartache that were to lie ahead for her and Joe.



Their second and third boys, Eddie and Thomas, each died in young childhood. Their first daughter, Mollie May, did not live to see her 2nd birthday. A later son, John Delbert, died as a teen. Jesse, one of the twins born to Joe and Frances, ultimately left his wife and their five young children and didn’t return to the family. How I wish we knew the verses Frances claimed as anchors during those hours of trial.



But Frances had to realize that God was the source of all her blessings and was the One who turned her life around from those dark days in Mississippi. A total of 57 grandchildren, including my mother, Mable Miller, and her sisters Frances and Bonnie, emerged from the 49-year union of Frances and Joe. Among Frances’ offspring are many committed Christians. My maternal grandmother, Mattie (ninth child of Joe and Frances), no doubt was put on that pathway by a godly mother.

A loving family surrounded Grandma Harris with affection and care until her life ended at 92. As I wrote in my first cookbook, Way Back in the Country, Grandma’s photographs in later years always showed her with a contented smile, even though a broken hip left her wheelchair-confined during many of those latter years.



I’m convinced that Frances Harris was a woman with peace in her heart because she knew that God was the Source of all she had received in this life and would provide for her in the next.



Frances Mitchell Harris—the first plank in the platform of faith that would shape my years.



* * * * * * * *

The second plank—the Miller clan on the paternal side—also demonstrated faith in times of severe hardship—faith that would trickle down to my mother and ultimately to me. (This Miller family was no relation to Grandma Harris’ first husband, James.)



My great-great-grandmother, Rebecca Compton Miller, remained devoted to God even after her husband, Peter White Miller Sr., was butchered4 up and died from complications of his war injuries. He had served in the Confederate Army from Tennessee.



Rebecca, like many other Civil War widows, no doubt experienced cruelties in the years just after the war. Likely her land and other property eventually were seized. At the time, she was 46. Her children included a 2-year-old son.



Ultimately she moved from Tennessee to Delta County, TX, to join several of her kin. One of them was son Alfred Compton Miller, eventually grandfather to the Miller Girls.



Family historian Garland Button conjectures that a life of Christian dignity even in the face of suffering and separation characterized stalwart Rebecca. “The life of Rebecca Compton Miller must have undoubtedly been deeply rooted in the Christian faith,”  Button writes. He says this was reflected in the lives of the 15 Miller children, all of whom lived to adulthood.



“This family is one that throughout its history has been made up of people dedicated to the Christian ethic in its fullest sense,” Button continued.



Like his father, Alfred C. Miller was not given the gift of years. At age 40 in 1892 he passed from this life and left his wife, Margaret, as a young widow with six children—a seventh one died just three weeks before Alf did.



At this point my mother and her sisters became direct eyewitnesses to the Miller family faith legacy.



Their grandmother, Margaret, as had her mother-in-law, Rebecca, lived with the families of various children after she was widowed. My mother, Mable, remembers Grandma Miller kneeling every night by her bedside while she stayed in the home of the Miller Girls’ parents, Mark and Mattie.



“We would see her praying and would tippy-toe by the door so we wouldn’t disturb her,” my mother recalled.



The bowed countenance of Margaret Miller, a grandmother who had suffered much, impressed Mable, Frances, and Bonnie Miller. In their adult lives all three sisters were Christian women devoted to prayer.



As they grew up, the Miller Girls were always in church—singing their red-haired father’s favorite hymn, “Wonderful Words of Life”, as well as other classics. As I wrote in the chapter, “Roll, Jordan, Roll”, in my first cookbook, Way Back in the Country, the three sisters never had a question about whether the family would attend services on Sunday; the question of where depended on the weather. Their own church was the New Hope Baptist Church, where Papa was ordained a deacon. But if rains had fallen on Saturday night and the roads weren’t dry, the Methodist church in Brushy Mound was closer to them and would do just fine.



All three girls trusted Christ as Savior and were baptized in the pool adjacent to the cotton gin in their community. Way Back in the Country describes frequent two-week tent revivals. At one of them Mable made her profession of faith.



History repeated itself into a third generation when the Miller Girls’ mother, Mattie, was left a widow while in the prime of her life—age 49. Three successive Miller men—Peter Miller; Peter’s son, Alfred, and Alf’s son, Marcus—all died in middle age, leaving wives and families that depended on them.



Once again a grieving Miller woman turned to—and found—help in the Heavenly Father. Mattie easily could have given God a real flaying and demanded to know why her beloved was abruptly taken from her. Instead she leaned on Him in her needy hour. Just as the Miller Girls had observed their grandmother in prayer, I often saw my Nanny with bowed head as she sat in her rocker with her Bible open. I always felt confident that some of those prayers were for me. Almost until she died, she gave enthusiastically to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Her means were few, but out of them she contributed to spread the gospel.



Christian role-modeling from this second plank of my faith legacy—the Millers. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them (Ps. 22:4).



* * * * * * * *

Matters of faith in the Wheeler family—the third plank in my platform—are detailed in chapter 2, “The Runaway”.  But a visual that I observed when I once visited my grandfather Wheeler’s place of origin—Borden Springs, AL—summed up the story for me.



There, in a graveyard adjacent to the Church of Christ, were Wheeler markers as far as the eye could see. Towering over them was the headstone for the grave of Calvin Marshall Wheeler, my granddad’s grandfather—the progenitor.



Churches of Christ had a heavy concentration in Alabama as the movement grew in the middle of the 19th century. It traces its origins to the Restoration Movement (also called the Stone-Campbell movement) of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as Barton Stone-Alexander Campbell followers from Kentucky and Tennessee migrated into northern Alabama.



Cathryn Killian, my late cousin on the Wheeler side, told me that the Wheeler family had been aligned with Churches of Christ for many generations, which probably explains why my dad never quite was willing to sprint over and join my Baptist mom in her church membership. My granddad, James Devastus Wheeler (I nicknamed him “Bandad”), became a lay Church of Christ preacher, as the next chapter explains. His spiritual impact on my life was immeasurable.



My grandfather was a boy of 3 when his father, James Washington Wheeler (more on him in the next chapter) pulled up stakes from this idyllic setting in the Blue Ridge foothills and began his Texas migration. Whether my grandfather’s branch ever made return trips to Alabama to see those left behind is a matter of mystery.



But in their new state they decidedly brought their Church of Christ heritage. Once settled into Antioch, TX, in Delta County, they joined the Church of Christ. James Devastus grew up in that setting and at age 13 was baptized at nearby Rattan.6 As an adult, when he and Zella moved to Cooper in 1910, he found no Church of Christ congregation existed and drew together a few disciples to begin a local body.7 My Bandad, in my estimation, was one of the truest Christians that ever walked on the earth.



* * * * * * * *

The spiritual roots of the W.H. Wright family–my dad’s maternal side—are obtuse because of the situation that makes most Wright information cloudy. Chapter 10, “In Search of Mollie V.”,  describes the early passing of my grandmother’s mother, Mollie V. Wright, when Mammaw was 6. Mammaw—Zella Mae Wright—then died when I was 10, so I was physically around her less and “caught” less information from her (except one rare jewel of a fact described later) than I did from any of my other living grandparents.



I do know that her family also evacuated from northern Mississippi in the wake of the Civil War aftermath—no doubt for some of the same atrocities that caused the Mitchells and Millers to flee the Deep South.



Regardless of the W.H. Wrights’ faith tradition, soon after Zella married my Bandad, J.D. Wheeler, she joined the Church of Christ and became a part of his family faith practices. She was baptized by C.E. Holt at Rattan, TX.



Here is what my grandfather, her life’s companion of 57 years, wrote on the one-year anniversary of Zella’s passing: “She spent much time in the study of the Bible and was a good Bible student. She spent much time in prayer. Zella was a devoted Christian and a true helper in life, in joy and in sorrow. I believe she is safe in the arms of Jesus.”



Little else needs to be said from this one who knew her best. As with my Nanny, the prayers of my devoted Mammaw, Zella Wright, may just have been some of her greatest spiritual contributions to my life.





* * * * * * * *

What were those prayers by my Nanny and Mammaw? I have no doubt that in part, they pled with God to send a child to their infertile children—Mable and J.D. (Doyce).



And does God answer prayers retroactively? Since prayer transcends time and space, did He know of the urgent petitions my Nanny and my Mammaw one day would utter and start answering them . . . before either of those godly women was even born?



Consider the following story, which concludes my first chapter. The name in this amazing tale—W.F. Kimmell—won’t appear on any of the family trees at the end of the book. But this Civil War narrative about W.F. is as vital to my family faith heritage as are any of these already told.



* * * * * * * *

Eager to do his part for his country, Albion, IN, native William Francis Kimmell enlisted in the 8th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry in April 1861. Enthusiastically he wrote regular and highly detailed letters home to his lady friend, Leah Crispell, back in Albion.8



Initially W.F.’s letters are cheery and buoyant. “I am here a United States soldier enlisted for three years and hoping to do something for my country before I come home again,” he wrote in June 1861.



As days wore on, the realities of the War Between the States set in for this Union frontline infantryman—who fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. Many times the enemy troops that faced the 8th Ohio were led by none other than the brilliant strategist, Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who knew nothing if not how to annihilate troops. “I helped bury fifteen rebels today,” William’s letter in October 1861 said. “A person never thinks of the dead and wounded during a battle. But it is a horrible sight after it’s all over.”



After the Battle of Blue’s Gap (WV), Kimmell wrote Leah on January 15, 1862, “There was a bullet went through my coat.” After the battle of Winchester, VA, in April 1862, he penned, “I had four bullet ho(l)e in my overcoat, one of them give me a little scratch on the arm.”



At the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the war, Kimmell wrote of his group, “Four killed and sixteen wounded out of the thirty-two engaged. How I ever escaped unharmed is a mystery to me . . ..”



After the Battle of Gettysburg, Kimmell wrote Leah, “There is but eleven of us left out of the ninety-eight that came into Virginia two years ago. My chances are growing smaller all the time.”



In December 1863 Kimmell described continued carnage: “I am now the last one of the six men left in the company (six men who shared a tent as they first came into Virginia two years beforehand). . .. Why should they all go before me? I was always considered the smallest and the weakest one of the lot.”



But W.F. continued to survive fray after fray and returned safely home to Albion in late July 1864. William and Leah, to whom he mailed the letters considered to be a unique, firsthand glimpse of frontline Civil War military life, married shortly afterward.



* * * * * * * *

A pensive W.F. once posed the question, “Why should they all go before me?” Earlier he had written, “How I ever escaped unharmed is a mystery to me.” W.F. pondered how he was allowed to live when bullets whirred all around him and death claimed comrade after comrade.



To God, however, the answer to W.F.’s questions was anything but a mystery. God saw beyond those bloody fields of battle and down through the generations to those Delta County prayers that one day Mattie and Zella would pray. The two women’s children—Mable and J.D.—were so, so, so meant to be parents but could not produce them genetically. Mattie and Zella surely begged heaven for a child to occupy this deserving home.



I believe God preserved W.F. because He knew that through his bloodline would spring the child God—from before the foundation of the world—already had picked out to fill those empty arms. He knew that in W.F.’s bloodline one day would be an infant who would need an adoptive mom and dad.



On a November day in 1948, a husband and wife from the combined merger of the Millers, the Harrises, the Mitchells, the Wrights, the Wheelers—all the families mentioned previously in this chapter—would show up at Florence Nightingale Maternity Hospital in Dallas and would present themselves to be just the adoptive parents that this child would need.



On the Civil War’s bloodiest days, God took me into account. It was an example of God’s prevenient grace—the grace that works ahead of time for a specific event in the future. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” Jeremiah 1:5 tells us.

I believe He kept W.F. alive so that His perfect will might be enacted.







My mother’s Golden Fried Okra was an after-church staple we could count on. Although I can’t guarantee it was on the table the Sunday after I was raised out of the baptismal waters, I know my mother missed very few Sundays preparing this dish, which has been called the “pâté  of the South”.





Golden Fried Okra



20 okra pods, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1-inch cooking oil



Stir cut-up okra into beaten eggs; then dredge in mixture of flour, cornmeal, salt, and paprika. In large skillet fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Makes 4 servings.



*Review goes live at 1:00 p.m. today!!! Stay Tuned!!! :) ~ASC

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mail Order Man Review!!!

Mail Order Man by Heather Gray



Book Description:
Some people get a mail order bride. She got a mail order man. A well-meaning friend places an ad to find a mail order husband for Sarah, the proprietress of Larkspur's stage and mail office. Sarah, who is generally quiet and reserved, doesn't know about the ad and has no idea what to do with all the people that are showing up in her community. Before long, the town is overrun with men and mail alike. Sarah is trying to avoid some men who have accosted her on the street when she stumbles into Samuel. Through long days spent together at the stage office, some very adventurous pots of coffee and a shared faith, the two become friends. Sarah knows that Samuel is hiding something from her, something important, but that does''t stop her heart from leaping wildly into love. Lacking the confidence to trust her heart, Sarah wars with herself over the feelings she can no longer deny. When some of the men who have come to town show their true intentions, a shootout follows. Sarah finally gets answers to many of the questions circling through her mind. One question remains, though. Where will her mail order man go when the dust settles?


My Opinion:
I was a little conflicted, but over all I REALLY enjoyed reading Mail Order Man. When I started out it immediately changed from what I thought it would be about and how it would be written.  I did however immediately LOVE the humor and good hearted teasing woven throughout; as well as the unique concept and idea of a mail ordered man. For me I felt there where some slow parts with some dips in the story that I had to get through in the begging, but then I started feeling a connection to Sarah and found some GREAT messages about Faith and our relationship with our Savior. I always love a book even more when I find connections with the characters as far as personality and events in their story. Then Heather COMPLETELY BLEW me out of the water with a turn of events!!! LOL! There are GREAT scenes in Mail Order Man with things I didn't see coming and events that I felt where completely out of the blue I LOVED IT!!! With enough lovable heartwarming characters, mystery, and finally a great conclusion Mail Order Man is a GREAT read! :)  The only other thing I wanted, but wasn't in Mail Order Bride, was some loose ends with characters tied up. Some of them where left unfinished in my opinion.

Songs straight from the book and my choices: "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" by Amy Grant, "Just As I Am" by Holly Dunn, and "Hurry Up and Save Me" by Tiffany Giardina I think this last song has a lot to do with the book and the relationship Samuel and Sarah have, but also with how God uses Samuel in Sarah's life. :) Only Jesus can truly save and it's amazing to see the instruments He uses to do so. :)

*As a member of First Wild Car Tours I requested and received this book for the purpose of reviewing it.  This in now way affected my opinion and the above is my honest review. ~ASC

P.S. I WOULD LOVE for you to become a follower of ASC Book Reviews! :) Please look to the left for all you'll need to become one! :)

P.P.S.  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH to all of you that already follow my blog! :)  I'm SO Blessed to have you! :) ~ASC

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Letters to Katie (First Wild Card Tours)


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:

Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)

***Special thanks to Kathleen Fuller for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Kathleen Fuller is the author of over twenty books, including the best-selling Hearts of Middlefield series. She lives with her husband of twenty years, James, and their three teenagers in Geneva, OH. Visit her website at www.kathleenfuller.com.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Everything changed between them the first time he called her Katie.

Katherine Yoder has loved Johnny Mullet since they were children, but he never actively returned her affections. Like so many things in their world, he assumes Katherine will always be there. Once his horse farm is a success, then he will court her in earnest.

For several weeks, Katherine has been plagued by severe headaches and dizziness. While resting at home, Johnny unexpectedly visits, but when dizziness strikes, she loses consciousness. She awakens hours later in a hospital bed, unable to remember how she got there.

Seeing Katherine injured and vulnerable stirs something in Johnny, and his guilt compels him to spend time with her while she heals. Soon his heart begins to stir with questions: Does she even remember why he'd come to her house that day?

As Katherine struggles to recall recent memories of Johnny, a surprise visitor arrives in her already unsteady world—a man named Isaac who claims they had been writing letters to each other, even considering marriage, before her illness.

With two men vying for her attention and her memory still elusive, Katherine has never felt so divided. The answer may lie behind a door she never considered opening.


Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547770
ISBN-13: 978-1595547774


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Oh, Katherine. This is so schee.”

Katherine Yoder smiled at her best friend, Mary Beth. She’d spent hours working on the baby quilt, making sure the tiny stitches were as perfect as possible for Mary Beth’s new baby.  “I’m glad you like it.”

“Of course I do.” Mary Beth touched the soft flannel quilt, running her fingers over the pale yellow, blue, and peach blocks. Each block had a ragged edge, a new pattern she hadn’t attempted before. The simple style was well suited for a baby, and Mary Beth’s was due within a few weeks.

“I love it.” Mary Beth folded the quilt and placed it on her knees, her expanded belly barely allowing the space. “Danki for such a beautiful gift.  Although I don’t see how you have the time, working so many hours at the restaurant.”

All I have is time, Katherine thought. She pushed the self-pity aside and managed a smile. She didn’t want to ruin the moment between them with jealousy. Unlike Mary Beth Shetler, Katherine didn’t have a husband—and soon a child—to take care of. Outside of working at Mary Yoder’s and helping her parents at home, her only other pursuits were her sewing and needlework.  She was always busy, yet longed for something different. Something more.

Apparently God had other plans.

Mary Beth managed to rise from the chair in her tiny kitchen. Her husband Chris had built the four-room home behind Mary Beth’s parents’  property. The dwelling resembled a dawdi haus, and likely would be used as such once the rest of Mary Beth’s siblings—Johnny, Caleb, Micah, and Eli—married and left home. But for now, the tidy, cozy home was enough.

And more than Katherine had.

Mary Beth placed the quilt on the table. “I’m glad you came over. Since I’ve gotten so big, I haven’t gotten out much.” Her light blue dress draped over her bulging belly.

Katherine’s eyes widened. “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”

“Nee.” Her friend laughed. “But I look like I am.” With a waddling gait she moved to the cabinet. “Do you want anything to drink?”

Katherine shook her head. “I can’t stay too long. I wanted to make sure you got the quilt before the boppli arrived. I have to work later today.”

“Maybe just a few minutes?” Mary Beth went back to the table and sat down. She reached for Katherine’s hand. “It’s been so long since we talked. ”

“We’ve both been busy.” She squeezed her friend’s hand. “And you’ll be even busier in a few weeks.”

“Ya.” A radiant glow appeared on Mary Beth’s cheeks. “But I don’t want us to drift apart. You’re mei best friend.”

Katherine released her hand. “And I promise I’ll be the best aenti to your boppli.”

“The baby has plenty of onkels, that’s for sure.” Her smile dimmed a little.

Katherine frowned. “What’s wrong? It’s not the boppli, is it?”

“Nee.”

“Chris?”

“Chris is fine too. We’re happier than we’ve ever been. “

“Then what is it?”
 Mary Beth sighed, but she didn’t reply.

“You know you can tell me anything. If something’s troubling you, I want to help.”

Her friend looked at Katherine. “It’s Johnny.”

Katherine’s heart twisted itself into a knot. She glanced away before steeling her emotions. “What about Johnny?”
 “Are you sure you want to talk about him?”

“I’ve accepted that there’s no future for us. What I felt for Johnny was a childhood crush.”

A crush. The truth was, Katherine had loved Mary Beth’s twin brother Johnny for as long as she could remember. For years she held out hope for a chance, however small, however remote. She had clung to that dream as if she were drowning and it was her only lifeline.

But not anymore.

She sat straight in the chair, brightened her smile, and said, “What’s going on with him?”
 “He’s been acting. . .different.”

“What do you mean?”

“Distant. Partly because he’s been working so many hours at the buggy shop.  Mamm said she barely sees him except for church service. He leaves early in the morning and comes home late. But when he is around, he’s quiet.”

“That doesn’t sound like him,” Katherine said. “Do you think he’s keeping something from your familye?”

Something. . .or someone?

Despite Katherine’s vow not to care, her heart constricted again at the thought.

“I don’t know.” Mary Beth’s brown eyes had lost the warmth they’d held moments ago. “He’s becoming like a stranger to me. To all of us. We’ve drifted apart.” Her smile faded. “Like you and I have.”

Katherine shook her head in protest.  “You know I’m always here for you.”

Tears welled in Mary Beth’s eyes.

Katherine drew back. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“I’m always crying.” Mary Beth wiped her eyes. “It makes Chris ab im kopp. Hormones, I’m sure.” She sniffed, wiping her eyes. “I’m glad we’re still best friends.”

Katherine hugged Mary Beth. “We always will be.”



*****



Johnny Mullet put his hands on his hips and surveyed his new property. Four acres, a small house and an even smaller barn. All his.

The sad little farm didn’t look like much. But by the time he finished fixing everything up, no one would recognize it. He glanced at the empty pasture on the left side of the house. Tall grass, green and dense, swayed against a southerly breeze. He planned to purchase that acreage, too. Expand, and make his horse farm something he could be proud of.

If only Daed could see. . .

At the thought of his father, the grin faded from his face.

Hochmut, his father would say. Pride.

The worst character flaw any Amish could have.

But was there something wrong with feeling satisfied after hard work? After a job well done?

This wasn’t about pride. It was about independence. Making a good living. He’d seen his family struggle. He didn’t want that for his future. A future that, God willing, wouldn’t include only him.

With the hazy orange sun dipping below the horizon, Johnny hopped into his buggy and headed home. Ten minutes later he pulled up to his parents’  house. He was late for supper. Again. He quickly put up his horse and hurried into the house, sliding into his seat just as his father closed his eyes for grace.

After prayer, his mother passed his father a platter of ham. He speared a slice with his fork, peering at Johnny as he did. “Late day at work again?”

Johnny picked up a roll from the basket on the table. He drew in a deep breath. “Nee.”

“Then why are you late?”

“I bought a farm.”

Silence. Johnny glanced around the table. Caleb’s mouth dropped open, and Micah’s fork was poised in mid-air. Even six-year-old Eli gave him a funny look.  “You what?” His mother’s eyes went wide with shock.

“You know that house down the road a piece? The one with the barn in the back?”

“You mean that shack?” Caleb shook his head.

Micah scooped up a forkful of green beans. “Calling it a shack is a stretch.”

Their father cleared his throat. The boys ducked their heads and kept eating. He turned to Johnny. “When did you do this?”

“Signed the paperwork yesterday.”

“Where did you get the money?”

He was already tired of the third degree, but he had expected no less. “Savings. From my job at Gideon Bender’s.”

“You must have gotten it for a song,” Caleb added. “Or less than a song. Maybe just a note.” He chuckled.

“Caleb.” His father shot him a silencing look before turning to Johnny again.  “I wish you had consulted me first.”

“I’m an adult, Daed. I didn’t think I had to.” Seeing the flash of hurt in his father’s eyes, he added, “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

“I hope so.”

“Maybe you two could discuss this after supper?” Mamm’s lips pinched into a thin line. “The food is getting cold.”

Daed nodded, and dug into his food. No one said anything for the rest of the meal. But all Johnny could think about was the disappointed look on his father’s face.



****



Cora Easely gripped the smart phone in her hand. “The doctor wants me to do what?”

“He’d like to see you again,” the nurse repeated in a crisp, emotionless tone. “As soon as possible.”

“Why?”

“He’d like to run a few more tests.”

“How many more tests does he need?” Cora looked down at the bruise on her arm from the blood draw she’d received a few days ago. For months she’d been poked, prodded, scanned, and questioned.  The dehumanizing madness had to stop. Her weary body couldn’t take it anymore.

“You tell Dr. Clemens I’m through with his tests. If he doesn’t have a treatment plan by now, clearly I need to see a more competent doctor.”

Silence on the other line. The nurse cleared her throat. “Mrs. Easley, Dr. Clemens is just being thorough.”

“Too thorough, if you ask me.”

“Are you refusing more testing?”

“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

A pause. “I’ll mark that in your chart. You’ll still need to meet with Dr. Clemens at your earliest convenience. He will want to talk to you.”

“And I want to talk to him.” This nonsense had gone on long enough. She already had a diagnosis—Parkinson’s. What she didn’t have was a cure.

After making her appointment, Cora clicked off her phone and laid it on the glass coffee table. She walked to the large window in her penthouse and looked at the landscape in front of her.  New York. The city of her birth, the place she’d lived all her life. But everything had changed in the past few months, changes she never expected.

Her hands trembled. The shaking had worsened over the past two weeks. Dr. Clemens had said to expect it. She hated that he was right.

Parkinson's. The diagnosis terrified her. She’d briefly glanced at the literature about the disease, only to promptly dispose of the pamphlets after reading about some of the symptoms. Loss of memory.  Loss of motor function. Loss of control.

Cora Easely had never been out of control. She'd dictated and orchestrated every aspect of her life except for one. And now she was facing the possibility that within the next couple of years, she wouldn't even be in control of her bodily functions. What kind of life was that? Not one she wanted to live.

“Señora?”

Cora turned to look at her maid, a faithful servant for the past several years. If it hadn't been for Manuela, her grandson, Sawyer, wouldn’t have found out the truth about his parents and the reason his mother ran off with his father. Or the story behind the estranged relationship she had with her daughter Kerry, and how Kerry had tried to mend the rift between them. Cora’s stubbornness had thwarted that. And now her grandson didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with her.

When he left to find Laura Stutzman two months ago, he swore he’d return. But he hadn’t. She wasn’t sure he ever would.

“Señora?” Manuela repeated. “Por favor. Did you hear me?”

“Sorry. Lost in my thoughts, I suppose.”

“Is everything all right?”

“Everything is fine.” But it couldn’t be further from the truth. She walked away from the window. “I need a glass of sparkling water.”

“Sí. Anything else?”

“No, just the water. Bring it to my bedroom.”

Manuela nodded and disappeared from the room. Cora made her way to her spacious bedroom. She sat on the edge of her bed, the silk comforter rustling from the movement. She picked up the landline phone on the mahogany end table. Dialed a familiar number. Tensed when she heard the voicemail.

“This is Sawyer. Leave a message.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but words failed. She couldn’t tell her grandson about her diagnosis. Not like this. She’d have to find another way. But she had no idea how.




*Review coming!  Stay tuned!!! :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Wild Card Tours (Lights, Cowboy, Action)

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:

Love Inspired (June 4, 2013)

***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, animals, and musical theatre.

Born in Missoula, Montana, she was one of the original Dwarfs in the Missoula Children’s Theatre’s inaugural production of “Snow White”, which is still touring the world.

While earning a degree in acting at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God’s guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of romance and young adult fiction.

Between working as a homeschooling mom and as a professional theatre costumer, Lesley has completed several novels. She would have done more by now if she didn’t also occasionally stop to clean the house and fold the laundry. Fortunately she loves to cook, so no one in her family has starved yet.

She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area with her husband, two daughters, three cats and a big loud dog. In her spare time (ha!) she chips away at her goal of reading every book ever written.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Will COURTNEY JACOBS do whatever it takes to keep her job as personal assistant to an A-list movie actress? While filming in Thornton Springs, Montana, Courtney’s demanding boss insists she set her up with ranch owner ADAM GREENE as a romantic “diversion”. The only problem? Courtney’s fallen for him herself. Now she’s forced to merge the resurrection of her lost faith, her growing love for this town, and her attraction to Adam with her Hollywood career ambitions. What’s a girl to do?




Product Details:
List Price: $4.99
Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (June 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373486634
ISBN-13: 978-0373486632


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Courtney Jacobs doubted there could be enough coffee in all of Thornton Springs, Montana to see her through this movie shoot.

After filling her paper cup with the morale-boosting brew, she headed back toward the set. All around her, sleep-deprived crew members hustled to transform this charming burg into an old western town. She checked her watch. Seven AM. Within an hour, Keith Kingsley, the temperamental director of North to Montana—N2M to insiders— would be ready to call ‘action’, and he wasn’t exactly known for his patience.

 “Move it or bleed!” A rigger bellowed as he charged past, swinging an aluminum grip stand just over her head.

She danced around a coil of electrical cables then sidestepped a set painter as he examined the distressing he’d given a storefront. Wincing as the gaffer shouted out coarse instructions to his crew of lighting techs, she ducked to avoid a swooping boom pole.

A contented sigh slipped through her lips. With just four independent films on her résumé— two a year since graduating from college—she felt lucky to have booked a major studio-backed project so early in her career.

She’d been hired as personal assistant to the star, Angela Bijou—an A-list actress with a reputation for supreme diva behavior and for taking up with her leading men. Angela had made it clear from day one that Jeffrey Mark Caulfield (sizzling from the recent success of The Pharaoh’s Tomb), would be no exception.

The bleep of Courtney’s cell phone drew her from her wandering thoughts. Balancing her still-full cup on the edge of her clipboard, she opened a text from the key costumer.

‘Ms. Bju s neded 4 a finl fttng of hr Act 3 pRT gwn 2moro @ 2. B sur sh’s thr.’

Courtney gnawed at her lower lip. If Ms. Bijou didn’t know about the fttng, it would be one more thing for her to take out on Courtney.

Hurrying down the center of the newly dirt-encrusted street, she clenched her cup between her teeth and shoved her clipboard under her arm. She flicked open the phone keyboard and tapped out a response while dodging a gaggle of grips positioning an old wooden wagon by the edge of the just-built boardwalk.

‘2moro @ 2. No woriez.’

Nearing the area where the first scene of the day would be shot, Courtney hit ‘send’ and scanned the street. Several cast members milled about in costume but—no surprise—Angela wasn’t among them. Giving a cursory glance to the pink berry Swatch she’d been given as a ‘thank you’ from her actress on her last movie, she headed toward the make-up trailer in the hope that Angela had made it to her call on time.

Striding across the set, she drank in the liveliness of her surroundings. It was great being a part of something this vital. So what if her job at the moment was keeping the leading lady on-schedule? She was an indispensable cog in the machine.

“Court-neeey!”

Stopping in her tracks, Courtney spun around to face the familiar angry command. From the first day of rehearsals, Angela Bijou had demonstrated an annoying articulation of Courtney’s name that made the word itself sound like an outright accusation.

“You had better explain what’s going on here!” The woman stormed toward Courtney with a heated, resolute gait and fire in her famous jade green eyes. Her flimsy peach silk cover-up and matching turban signified that she hadn’t yet made it to hair or wardrobe, and screamed look at me—I’m a star.

Courtney opened her mouth to respond, but Angela cut her off with a tirade that rivaled Hurricane Katrina.

“Are you completely incompetent?” Angela screeched as she planted her lithe form two feet from where Courtney stood.

As the blood rose to her face, Courtney became painfully aware that the entire cast and crew had turned to gawk. “What’s the matter, Ms. Bijou?” She fought to keep her tone level.

 “What’s the matter?” Angela tossed her platinum pin-curled head back with such force her tiny neck made a faint cracking sound. “The ‘matter’ is that I have no water in my trailer.”

Courtney let that register. All this fuss over a plumbing problem?

“D’eau Douce.” Angela crossed her willowy arms. “Imported from France. Does that ring a bell? I’m supposed to have four sixteen ounce bottles chilling in my trailer every morning when I arrive.”

“Oh….” Courtney skimmed her memory. “For…drinking?”

“Yes, for drinking.” Angela gave her a scowl that implied she should audition for the next season of American Idiot. “I wash my face in pure Norwegian spring water, which by the way I didn’t see in there either.”

Courtney heard herself utter something about making a few phone calls to Norway as she took a giant step backward.
             “Look,” Angela apparently wasn’t done yelling. “I need sixty-four ounces a day. How else am I supposed to keep my skin so youthful and clear?” She drew her fingertips across her youthful, clear cheek for emphasis. “Every. Single. Day.”

“Uh… okay, Ms. Bijou.” Courtney scribbled out a note on the top page of her clipboard as she took a half-step in what she hoped was the direction of water of all desirable nationalities. A thought stopped her cold. “Was that sixty-four ounces of the drinking water or the washing kind?”

Angela’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t play dumb. Obviously, you knew about this.”

Gripping her half-cup of tepid coffee between her thumb and her index finger, Courtney flipped through the papers on her clipboard as if to exonerate herself from this allegation. She knew nothing about her actress’ water preference and made a mental note to be sure always to ask in the future.

With what she hoped would read as a competent smile, she turned to go, smacking into a carpenter as he flew past with an armload of railroad ties. Coffee flew from her cup, splashing across her papers and down the front of her sea green t-shirt. She winced.

Angela’s shrieky voice rang out from behind. “Check my contract! I need my water every day I’m on the set. I’m supposed to have it!”

Courtney clutched her clipboard to her stained front and darted toward what appeared to be a grocery store in the next block. If the last five minutes were any indication of things to come, this shoot was going to be a nightmare.

***

“Yessir, this is just about the biggest thing that’s ever happened in this town.” Cal wiped his hands on his apron and stretched a long gaze out the front window of his general store.

Casting a dubious glance at Cal from under the brim of his Stetson, Adam Greene drew in a long breath. It was great that the movie people were boosting the town’s flagging economy, but apart from that he really didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “Say Cal, you got any of those red lentils left? Janessa made a killer stew last week and I’d like her to surprise us with a repeat performance.”

Cal wrested his attention away from the window. “That sister ‘a yours is gettin’ to be more like your mama every day. A regular Mary Stewart.”
 Adam grinned. “I think you mean Martha. Martha Stewart. Don’t tell Janessa that, though. She’s dead set against the idea of making some lucky man a great wife someday.”

Cal’s head bobbed as he grabbed a jar of beans off a shelf. “Still determined to get outta Dodge now that she’s graduated high school, eh?”

“She’s got plans.” Adam studied a barrel of apples. “Nothing wrong with that.”

“Not a thing. I just know you and your mama will miss her is all.”

“True.” Grabbing the brown bag of lentils Cal had filled for him, Adam raised an earnest smile. He had a full seven years on his baby sister and had been the man of the house since their father’s death when Adam was fifteen. It was strange to think of her leaving the nest. “Far be it from me to stand in the way of an ambitious female—”

Abruptly, the front door burst open and in flew a young woman gripping a clipboard and a paper cup. She pushed a strand of sandy blonde hair from her forehead with the rim of the cup as she scanned the store, urgency fairly sparking from her hazel eyes. Adam’s gaze dawdled a little longer than he liked to consider gentlemanly.

As she surged purposefully toward the counter, his eyes followed. She looked young and pretty in a fresh-faced, no make-up sort of way. Judging from the walkie-talkie clipped to her belt, she must be some sort of behind-the-scenes worker, not an actress. A corner of his mouth lifted. Maybe having the movie people in town wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

Cal lit up. “What can I do for you, young lady?”

She spoke with a resolute clip. “Please tell me you carry D’eau Douce.”

The smile slid from Cal’s face. “Doe Do…what?”

“It’s French.” She tapped the clipboard with the cup and scouted around some more.

Sensing that Cal could use a hand on this one, Adam stepped up to the counter. “Excuse me, ma’am. Maybe I can help…uh…translate?”

“Sure.” Avoiding his gaze, she continued to search the shelves. “Do you speak ‘actress’?”

“I’m sorry, no.” While he felt for her obvious United Nations dilemma, he couldn’t help but dwell on how pretty she was. “What exactly is this thing you’re looking for?”

“Water.” She moved a few feet to peruse the refrigerator case where Cal kept the milk and juice. “What kind of mineral water do you carry?”

Adam cast an amused glance at Cal, whose expression had grown even more befuddled.

“I don’t…I mean….” Cal stammered.

Seeing where this was going, Adam chimed in. “You’ll be hard pressed to find any of those fancy bottled waters here, ma’am.”

As her head snapped toward him, their eyes met for the first time. “No water? But what do people here drink?”

Adam tipped a shrug. “We drink well water, mostly. We’ve got the best mountain spring water you’ve ever tasted. I’d be happy to—”

“No. I mean…thank you.” Shifting the cup to the hand that held the clipboard, she pulled a cell phone out of a pouch on her waistband, and started punching in numbers as she moved toward the door. Looking back, her eyes rested briefly on Adam. “Thanks anyway.” With a slight smile, she yanked open the door and bolted out.

Leaning against the counter, Adam pushed his hat back a touch and folded his arms.

Cal gave him a good-natured cuff to the bicep. “Shouldn’t you be finishing that shopping?”

“Shopping?” Adam nodded slowly. “Oh. Right.”

***

Courtney surveyed the street as she darted toward the set, her hope of finding a specialty food store growing dimmer by the second. Her mind whirred. The only thing she could think of was to call the safe, actress-free office of her BFF back in L.A.

“Sheila Macintosh here.”

Courtney breathed out relief at the familiar greeting. “Thank goodness you’re there.”

“Hey, Court.” Sheila let out a little titter. “Don’t tell me you’re homesick already.”

“Not unless by ‘homesick’ you mean ‘desperately missing the Von’s delivery boy’.” Courtney firmed her resolve. “Sheil, I need you to do me a huge favor.”

“Is it a favor for you or for Angela Bijou, ’cause you know I don’t cater to queen bees.”

“Consider it a favor to your best friend who wants to stay employed. I need you to source some bottled water for me. I’ll give you all my info so you can order it and have it billed to the movie.”

“They don’t have water in Montana?” Sheila quipped. “How do they get the mountains so green?”

“Funny. Of course they have water, just not the right kind.” Courtney stopped walking, not wanting anyone of importance to overhear her plight. “Will you do it?”

“I’m ready to write.” Sheila’s tone warmed. “Just remember, you owe me a dinner at Mr. Chow when you get back.”

“On my salary? Better make it Del Taco.” Courtney rattled off the details of Angela’s demand, hoping this wouldn’t be the first of many. “Tell them I need it ASAP. Hire a private jet if you need to.”

Sheila grunted. “Movie people are weird.”

“You said it.” She started walking again.

“Before you go,” Sheila’s voice grew coy. “You have to tell me. Is Jeffrey Mark Caulfield as hot in a cowboy hat as he is in a pith helmet?”

“I haven’t seen him in costume yet.” Courtney’s mind wandered back to the store she’d left a few minutes before—to that tall, handsome hottie in the dusty blue jeans and well-worn boots. “He’s got nothing on the real cowboys out here, though.”

“Oh really?” Sheila crooned. “Any one in particular?”

“Well…” Courtney’s face flushed. What was she doing? She had far too much to deal with to let herself get distracted by an admittedly attractive guy. Especially one she most likely wouldn’t even run into again. Still, she couldn’t lie, especially to Sheila. “Okay, yes. One that I just met was…movie star handsome. And nice too. Really nice.”

“Uh huh. So they grow ’em handsome out there. Must be in the water.”

Courtney smiled. “Yeah, the mountain spring water.”

“So, you will be coming home when this movie is finished shooting, right? Or will you be changing your name to Mrs. Handsome Cowboy and learning to rope cattle?”

Courtney sneered at the phone. “Oh, you are so very funny. Just get my water ordered and pray I still have my job by the time it gets here.”

“Sure thing. Oh, and that’s not the only thing I’ll be praying for, Mrs. Handsome Cowboy.”

Clicking her cell phone shut, Courtney took a deep breath. Sure that guy seemed really great but this was the last thing she needed. She was here to do a job, not fall for some guy who lived a world away from everything important to her. Letting herself get caught up in thinking about him would just be irresponsible.

Her pace slowed as she neared the set. Why did Angela’s personal drought suddenly not feel quite so urgent? Thinking about the cowboy seemed to have a mysterious calming effect on her. She shook it off. With a major problem to solve, she had too much on her mind to leave her head in the clouds.



*I have not read Lights, Cowboy, Action.  Therefore I can not give my honest opinion of the book.  I am posting this on my blog for those of my readers that might be interested in it, and would enjoy a closer look at it :) ~ASC

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