Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…Do You Trust Your Favorite Authors?

Have you ever given up on an author? I know I have. I’ve even written a blog post about how I’ve stopped reading some authors because after a while it felt like all their books were the same even if the name was changed or the plot was different. But recently, I was going through some new releases and realized that I had stopped reading several of the authors….even though they are good authors. And the reason I did that was due to one thing: drama.

As a reader, I like to trust the author. I like to know that no matter how high or low the author takes me, that I can trust them to write a satisfactory story. But I have discovered that some authors, who I used to consider favorites, have lost me because of a choice or choices that they made…in one book! Is it fair that I’ve stopped reading and buying their books because I didn’t like one? No, but let me tell you…I really didn’t like what they chose to do with the book. Maybe one day I will go back and check them out, but they lost my trust as a reader and if I were to pick up a book today, I would probably be reading like:

I know as someone who writes that there is an innate desire to have your new book be different than your last. And so if you have level-headed heroines all the time, people might get tired of them. If you have main characters who wisely choose left, they might be boring. Or, people might not relate to them since it appears that your main characters always make the right choice. I don’t know. I just happen to think the risk is greater in having main characters make poor choices.

What do you think? Have you read any authors that you think are awesome…except for the tiny fact that you don’t trust them?

Posted in Uncategorized


From the decks of the ill-fated Lusitania to the smoke-filled trenches of France, Ashleigh must choose between the forgiveness of her past, life in the present, and a Savior who can rescue her from them all. When her fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. Her worst fears are confirmed – who could ever love a soiled woman? In an attempt to escape the shame and disappointment of her past, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone. Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and protection as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in his best friend’s former fiancé and his own childhood companion. As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship. When the truth of Ashleigh’s past explodes in the middle of war and Sam rejects her, Ashleigh must decide if God is enough – or if the double weight of her betrayal and past will crush her life forever.


I thought this book was very engaging. I loved that some of it took place on the Lusitania, I really liked the romantic setup between Ashleigh and Sam, and I was constantly turning pages. My only negative point with this one is that at the end, the drama felt a bit contrived and I felt like it could have ended sooner.

Two lives taken down different roads – one enduring love – one shot at starting over. If only they believed in second chances..

Julia Connelly is finally free from twelve long years in an abusive relationship. Now able to live the life she’s longed for, Julia takes her two children back home to Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. The last person she expects to see is the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation. .

When an assignment in the Middle East ends in tragedy, popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, returns to his hometown seeking answers and peace of mind. .

Confronting his past was not in the plan. .

Now he’s asking different questions. Like why the only woman he’s ever really loved still mesmerizes him. Why the haunted expression she wears reaches right into his soul. .

And why her twelve year-old son looks just like him. .

They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.


Catherine West is another fabulous storyteller who had me immersed in a novel that I did not want to put down. I will say that the premise is slightly familiar, but that didn’t matter because most of the characters were awesome and completely pulled me in. My problem with this book was Julia. Anytime you hide a man’s child your reason had better be amazing. Her reason was not. And in the end she really just kept coming off as selfish. Every decision she made was based on her feelings, her pride, her hurt and rarely did she put her kid first. But fantastic writing as usual, if you start it you won’t want to set it down.

Twelve years ago Matthew “the Rocket” Rising had it all. Married to his high school sweetheart and one of the winningest quarterbacks in the history of college football, he was the number one NFL draft pick. But on the night of the draft, he plummeted from the pinnacle of esteem. Falsely accused of a heinous crime with irrefutable evidence, it seemed in an instant all was lost–his reputation, his career, his freedom, and most devastatingly, the love of his life.

Having served his sentence and never played a down of professional football, Matthew leaves prison with one goal–to find his wife, Audrey, whom no one has seen since the trial. He returns to an unwelcoming reception from his Gardi, Georgia, hometown to learn that Audrey has taken shelter from the media with the nuns at a Catholic school. There she has discovered a young man with the talent to achieve the football career Matthew should have had. All he needs is the right coach. Although helping the boy means Matthew violates the conditions of his release and–if discovered–reincarceration for life, he’ll take the chance with hope of winning back Audrey’s love.
Oh this book. No one can pull on my heart strings quite like Charles Martin can. His writing makes me want to write. The story is sad, but it never stays that way and I promise you will become super invested in the characters. The only problem I had (ok there were two) was that there was definitely a lot of football talk and me being not particularly sports-like, I pretty much skimmed those sections and the wife. On the one hand, I understood the wife, on the other hand, if I knew someone as well as she supposedly knew Matthew, there is no way I would give up on them like that. I just felt like she should have done more. But, as always, a top notch novel and am sorry it took me so long to read it.
Posted in Uncategorized

Paula Vince’s Best Forgotten

A young accident victim wakes up in hospital and can’t remember who he is. Why does he have nothing in common with his family? Why does he despise the person he was supposed to be? Why has his best friend disappeared without a trace? Is somebody after him? His family can offer no solutions. His girlfriend is strangely aloof and he cannot shake off a feeling that the answers will prove more unpleasant than his amnesia. Somehow he must find out as it seems time is running out. Paula Vince has woven elements of secrecy and suspense with her trademark warmth and compassion. Best Forgotten is an inspirational masterpiece you won’t forget.


I’ve discovered a recent love for fiction that showcases amnesia. And not just any case of amnesia, but the kind where only the main character can’t remember what happened but everyone around him knows bits and pieces of what happened. Believe you me, it makes for quite the suspenseful book…especially when you know someone has probably been murdered. This book did not disappoint. Here’s why:

What I liked

Intriguing. I was pulled in from the first page. Right away you get that something bad has happened and that the main character is in trouble, but he doesn’t know why.

Humor. I love, love, love that when the hero of the story went home, he was totally confused about his former self. It made for quite a few funny situations. I mean, he wakes up and he does not understand a single thing about himself. Several times he was highly disgusted with his former self’s old ways.

Suspense. The hero wakes up and knows that someone is out to get him but he can’t remember who or why or when or anything. Every person is suspect.

Reconciliation. Because the hero can’t remember the past, he begins to reconcile with people he has hurt or who has hurt him and I just loved watching him fix relationships that had been broken.

The message. I really liked the message that we are a sum of our memories and our actions. The hero discovers it’s not that he’s so different that his former self so much that his past made him who he was before his amnesia.

Spiritually, the hero is not a believer at the beginning of the novel, but it is almost the first thing on this mind. He goes searching for the truth and very slowly he begins to gain an understanding of who God is. And honestly, how much God really loves him.

What I didn’t like:

The only thing that didn’t really work for me was the romance. And that’s only because she was suspect too. By the time I figured out what was going on, it was a little late for me to care whether or not he cared for her. I will be honest, though and say that this book didn’t necessarily need the romance.

Romantic Scale: 7.5

Overall, so good and highly recommended!

**I won a copy from the author. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings….Historical Romances to Look Forward To

In the new novel by the three-time Christy Award-winning author of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, a woman’s startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England… 
One final cry…“God almighty, help us!” and suddenly her world shifted violently, until a blinding collision scattered her mind and shook her bones. Then, the pain. The freezing water. And as all sensation drifted away, a hand reached for hers, before all faded into darkness…

Now she has awakened as though from some strange, suffocating dream in a warm and welcoming room she has never seen before, and tended to by kind, unfamiliar faces. But not all has been swept away. She recalls fragments of the accident. She remembers a baby. And a ring on her finger reminds her of a lie.

But most of all, there is a secret. And in this house of strangers she can trust no one but herself to keep it.

July, 2015

The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.

September, 2015

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

November, 2015

She was a nun of noble birth. He, a heretic, a reformer…an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.

In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.

His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself.

Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different.

But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love.

Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.

October, 2015

Is there any single one that you absolutely can’t wait for? These all sound amazing to me. I’m so excited about Jody Hedlund’s but very much looking forward to Julie Klassen. Laura Frantz’s novels are usually very romantic and there’s nothing quite like a fairytale (Melanie Dickerson).

Posted in Uncategorized

Interview of Jennifer Hartz +Giveaway!

Thank you for willing to be interviewed!

1. What was your inspiration behind the Heroes of the Horde series?

You mean aside from being a huge fan of superhero stories, right? I think the real heart of Heroes of the Horde is the characters. I’ve always loved writing realistic characters who find themselves thrust into unbelievably unrealistic circumstances. My heroes are no different. I wanted to write a superhero story with characters that we can all relate to. We can all think of a classmate like Mike. We’ve all felt shy like Shelly at some point. We call can recall the cutest guy in school like Jimmy. The characters are what really inspired me. Namely Maggie. I had her in mind and new she needed a story. Slowly Heroes came to me.

2. Do you have a favorite character in the Heroes of the Horde series?

Hmmm… that’s a tough question. I think if I had to pick one, it would be Jimmy. I just love his character arch. Especially since he ended up in a place I didn’t anticipate when I set out the write the series. Plus, I’m a sucker for the “bad” boy.

3. When you started the first book in the series, did you know where each character would end up by book 4?

I thought I did! But oh my lovely heroes had a mind of their own! A few of the characters did stick close to my original plan, but a few (like Jimmy as I stated above) felt the need to leave my skeletal framework and do their own thing. Those pesky teens!

4. What is one thing you want readers to take away from this series?

The entire crux of the series is that God will use whatever means necessary to reach His people. Even 200 year old demons and superpowers.

5. Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

I just finished the edits on Hunter’s Fury. This story is New Adult, Paranormal, Romance. Like Heroes of the Horde, it’s not exactly a Christian novel, but there are some Christian elements. Especially at the end of the story where I throw a major Christian curveball that will hopefully mess with people’s minds!


If this book has captured your fancy (and I hope it does!), there’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy! The author has graciously decided to giveaway three copies of the first book in the series and for the grand prize winner will win all four books in the series! All you need to do is leave a comment with your email address. The giveaway ends on July 17th! The winner will be randomly selected. If you win, you have 48 hours to respond to the notification before I will choose another winner. Happy Reading!

Posted in Uncategorized

Ronie Kendig’s Falcon

Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years ago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands. Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks. As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence


I’ve read every book in The Quiet Professionals. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The setting. It’s not often you read about military men doing “modern” day operations. Ronie Kendig always does a fabulous job of just pulling you into that arena and keeping you there. I feel like she really does her research in terms of learning the Middle East, and their customs, and what military operations must be like.

The story. This series has had individual stories, but it has also had a one big story that encompassed all the novels as well. It was almost like a chessboard the way she would move one character, take one back. I will say that I was extremely surprised when I discovered who the mole was as they had been in all the novels and I had mistakenly found them to be trustworthy.

The team. Raptor Six was a team that I could believe in, even from the start when they were first mentioned in the series A Breed Apart. No matter what happened, no matter if they got irritated with each other, they could always count on each other and in turn, I could count on them.

Spiritually, in the book, characters pray and mention God, but it’s fairly light on spiritual things.

What I didn’t like:

Too much action. I got lost. I started skimming. This works well in a movie, but I think it must be tempered a bit in a book.

Cassie. The main heroine was supposed to be this tough spy, but this girl didn’t seem to know what was going on and she was making all these decisions based on her feelings. I didn’t trust her, and Raptor 6 didn’t either.

The romance. Honestly, I love military structure, but it’s usually the romance in a book that will sell me and I wasn’t sold. Cassie and Sal have a back story, which is unusual and fascinating, but they spent 90% of the book fighting and arguing and not communicating. Like, I kid you not, it was approximately at the 90% mark that they finally reached an understanding. And so as a reader, I was a bit disappointed. Arguments does not a relationship make.

Romantic scale: 6

Overall, it was a solid conclusion to the series. It wasn’t my favorite, but Ronie Kendig is a fantastic author and so this novel is still worth checking out.

**I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion is not affected in anyway.**

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…Look What’s Out!

Eyes of the Heart 2 (2)Through the Waters 3

My new novel, Through the Waters is live! It can be bought here. Because it’s out today, I decided to make The Eyes of the Heart free for the next few days (get it today!), so if you enjoyed it, you can recommend it to your friends at no cost!

Just to tell you a bit about Through the Waters, it is a series (Tate Family Series) and book two comes out next year this time. However, each novel is a standalone and does not in anyway need the other novel. But, I still have another novel in the works for December 2015. The title is TBA, but when you read Through the Waters, you will come across the name Rudy Addison and can look forward to learning more about him soon.

Posted in Uncategorized

Just One Summer Novella: A Romance Novella Collection

Four Best Friends. Four Love Stories. Just One Summer.

Four college girls, best friends since childhood, have found one constant in their ever-changing lives–summer. Every June the girls choose a destination to reconnect, only this summer is different. This year, each one must face life’s challenges on her own, overcome fear and failure, and learn the beauty of falling in love for the first time.

A Summer Remade by Nicole Deese
Joss Sanders needs an escape, a reminder of a sweeter, simpler, and steadier time. Only her family’s cabin isn’t exactly how she remembered it as a child, and neither is the charming boy who lives next door. Change is everywhere. If Joss doesn’t stop living in the past, she just might miss the promise in her future.

Waves of Summer by Tammy L. Gray
Sydney Andrews wants nothing more than to get away from a controlling ex-boyfriend, find some clarity and enjoy a drama-free vacation. But nothing in Sydney’s life is ever that easy. Especially when the sexy bartender she meets at her mother’s wedding wants more than just her friendship. He wants the girl she’s forgotten how to be.

A Painted Summer by Amy Matayo
Darby Sparks has lived a very sheltered life. A homeschool graduate, a small town resident, and the only child of two over-protective parents. But she’s had enough. She wants to see the world and chase her dreams, and that’s just what she does…until she runs out of money. With limited options, Darby finds herself working for dangerously hot Lennon Dixon, the owner of a downtown Los Angeles tattoo parlor. To call the job unfamiliar is the world’s biggest understatement. And to call her attraction to Lennon unexpected is a very close second.

Wild Heart Summer by Jenny B. Jones
Twenty-one year old Avery Crawford has had to fight for everything in her life, and this summer is no exception. When her culinary internship in a chic restaurant falls through at the last minute, she gets an unexpected offer to work on a dude ranch in the quaint town of Sugar Creek. While Avery’s up to her apron in cattle drives, trail rides, and kitchen duty, the cute ranch manager Owen Jackson is determined to sweep her off her feet. Just as Avery finds herself unable to resist Owen’s Southern charm, her own family secrets begin to unravel, pushing her away from the ranch–and the love of one handsome cowboy.


I thoroughly enjoyed this novella collection, just like I thought I would. And just like I thought would happen, I definitely wanted more. Some of these stories were so good that I wished for me. My thoughts:

A Summer Remade-This story was cute and literally had the boy next door. I think to a certain degree I didn’t quite connect with Joss. I did like Drew and wished I had more information about him. But overall, a very cute story and a lovely addition to the collection. I will say that the other stories in the collection didn’t quite feel over at the end, but this one did for me.

Waves of Summer-Tammy Gray! She’s my new favorite author this year and did not disappoint. I liked her hero Jacob because he was so straightlaced in contrast to the wild and exuberant Sydney. Now this is one short story that would be awesome as a full length novel. It had family secrets, big reveals, clashing personalities. Awesomeness that should continue.

A Painted Summer– This one might have been my favorite, most likely because it’s rare for me to read about tattoo artists and Lennon was just so fascinating to me that I wanted more of him. I also loved the fact that their romance was a bit forbidden in the sense that Lennon was Darby’s boss. I just wanted more of this one.

Wild Heart Summer-This story surprised me the most. I expected to like it the least, not because of Jenny B Jones (she’s amazing, frankly) but ranches, horses and cowboys are not terribly interesting to me once we enter the 20th century. But, I so enjoyed this book. There just wasn’t enough! And it was laugh-out-loud funny.

I thought the authors did a fabulous job of pulling all the stories together to make them feel cohesive. Spiritually, I wouldn’t call this a “christian” collection per se, I would call it more or less a clean romance collection. I thoroughly enjoyed them. I wish they were just prologues though so I could have kept reading. And let me just say I’m in awe at these authors story telling and if NA were more like this I would read it.

Posted in Uncategorized

Karen Witemeyer’s A Worthy Pursuit

A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is she villain or victim? 

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.


Whenever I get a novel by Karen Witemeyer I know I’m in for a treat. Here’s why:

What I liked:

Stone. I do not want to give it away, but somehow Ms. Witemeyer is able to make westerns come alive in her character of Stone (and some other men). I just loved the story surrounding Stone. It just brought the novel to an extra layer of cuteness.

Charlotte. She’s a heroine who has a hard time trusting others. Usually, this kind of heroine rushes around doing things that are not helpful, they don’t take advice, they don’t listen, they jump to conclusions. Not Charlotte. She may not trust easily, but she’s not idiotic and I loved her for it.

The romance. Stone and Charlotte are a bit older than the usual hero and heroine (think late 20s, mid 30s) and so there was a level of maturity to their relationship. But I enjoyed every minute of it.

The children. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of children in books. It’s not that I don’t like children, it’s just that they sometimes aren’t utilized well. They’re utilized well here. I loved the children and found them to be an added bonus to the story.

Spiritually, the characters pray often, asking God for wisdom. There’s a lovely theme that if God gives us a gift, we have to cultivate it; standing on the promises of God; and trusting in God and not being in fear.

What I didn’t like:

There is nothing that I didn’t like about this novel. But if I compare it to my favorite novel by Karen Witemeyer (To Win Her Heart), it does not come out on top. I think the problem is that it’s cute, it’s light, it’s fluffy and it’s fun. Nothing wrong with that, but it just doesn’t stick with me as much.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, so cute. Read it!

**I received a copy from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…Excerpt from Through the Waters

If all goes according to plan, Through the Waters will go live this weekend! Yay! And so I decided to provide an excerpt of the prologue and part of the first chapter. I hope you like it!

Through the Waters 3



“I gotta tell you somethin’, Sissy,” Carlotta confided to me in a childlike voice. Her eyes shone as she stood next to me in the kitchen of her mama’s house, drying the dinner dishes after I finished washing them.

I turned toward her.

“I told him yes,” she said.

I just about dropped the dish I’d been holding in my hand. “What?” I shrieked. I lowered my voice. “Carlotta, you can’t marry him,” I insisted. “You don’t even know him, really.” I looked out the window and saw Truitt Tate standing there, looking smug.

Carlotta stood next to me in the kitchen, drying as I washed the dishes in her mama’s house. “Well, I reckon I know him well enough,” she huffed.

I was silent for a minute, trying to find the right words. “Carlotta, you’re my cousin,” I told her. “I’ve known ya as long as I can remember… I guess my main concern is, he ain’t saved.” Then I picked up a little steam. “And what does he do for a livin’, exactly? The man’s always got money, but never seems able to explain where it came from.”

With a hurt look in her eyes, she turned away from me. “Sissy, just stop yer worryin’ for a moment. I’m in love, and that’s all that matters.” She paused. “I thought you, at least, would be happy for me,” she said in a bitter tone.

I stopped looking out the window and turned toward Carlotta. She was so hopeful. Beautiful and petite, she could have chosen any man she wanted. But clearly she had started sleeping with Truitt, and that complicated things somethin’ major. I sighed.

“I’ll be right back. I need to take some water to Pop-Pop,” Carlotta announced. She plopped two ice cubes into a glass, filled it with water, and left me alone in the kitchen.

The back door creaked open and Truitt Tate entered the kitchen slowly, as though I might attack him at any second. He gave me a big smile, then scanned my body up and down with appreciation as if he were trying to figure out if I was real.

“Can I help you?” I asked him coldly, when I’d had enough of his smirk.

He shook his head. “No, Ma’am, Miss Little,” he responded with a twinkle in his eye.

“Carlotta’s that way,” I said, pointing. He started to move toward the dining room, but I raised a hand in the air, stopping him. I grabbed a dishtowel to stop the droplets of water from traveling down my arm. “Just what are you doin’ with her, anyway?” I demanded.

“Ma’am?” he replied with raised eyebrows.

“With Carlotta? You really love her, or you just playin’ games?” Once again his eyes scanned my face as though memorizing it.

“I’m not playing games,” he said finally.

“So do you love her?” I asked. He looked away.

“Now, Truitt…” I began.

“Tate. Call me Tate.” He took a few steps toward me. The expression on his face was serious, but his eyes danced.

“Tate,” I hissed, “marriage ain’t a joke. I wish you would take this serious.”

He cocked his head for a second. “I’m beginning to see that it is very serious, Miss Little.” He paused. “And I thank you for your concern for me and Carlotta, but you don’t have to worry about us,” he said, getting closer and closer to me. He was a handsome one, I had to admit. But I wasn’t one to be taken in by a pretty face.

Nervously, I turned back to the dishes. There was no talking sense into him. I would just have to continue praying this situation through.

I felt his eyes burning through my back. Finally I whipped around to face him. “And stop starin’ at me like that!” I told him.

“Like what?”

I turned back around.

“I must say, you’re a rare kinda lady, Miss Little. Never met anyone like you before.”

“Because I’m the only woman in this world not fallin’ head over heels for you?”

He placed his hand on the counter. “Maybe,” he said nonchalantly. “But there’s something else about you that’s different, too. Can’t quite place it, though.” He met my gaze, searching as though the answer were written in my brown eyes.

We both heard Carlotta talking, headed our way. I thought Tate would move away from me, but he didn’t. Carlotta walked into the room and stopped short when she noticed Tate standing so close to me. Then she smiled real big, walked over and kissed him on the lips. I stepped back. He pulled her off of him and headed for the back door. “Love you, Tate!” Carlotta called after him.

He turned and nodded at her, then at me. “See you, Carlotta. See you around, Miss Little,” he said, slipping out the door.

Carlotta beamed at me and squealed, “Isn’t he amazing? And he is SO handsome… Oh, Sissy, I’m so happy. I just couldn’t give him up! Not for anybody.”

I just snorted, grabbed a plate from the sinkful of soapy dishes, and started scrubbing.

Chapter 1

The day I found out John Bateman was dead, I can honestly say, to my everloving shame, that I didn’t really care one way or the other. But I pretended like I did.

“They found him where?” I asked. I was standing in the small room that passed as the teacher’s lounge with the third-grade teacher, Miss Rose Hanson. She was four years younger than me, a real sweet and pretty girl, and sometimes I could scarcely believe we were co-workers. I reached around her for the coffee pot and poured me a big cup of the stuff. I didn’t care too much for it, but it kept me awake.

“In his grandma’s old barn, hangin’ from a rope,” she stated. “I can’t believe it… Who coulda done such a thing?” she said and drank from her cup. I looked down at her and noticed her tawny skin and beautiful greenish-brown eyes. Had I ever been that young?

“I doubt anyone killed him. Sounds like he mighta killed himself, Miss Hanson.”

“But he had a fiancé, and they were always so happy together.”

“How would you be knowin’ that? Did they invite you to their engagement party or something?” I asked sarcastically. We both knew she hadn’t been invited to no white man’s party.

“Growin’ up, I knew his fiancée. Laura Tillman was her name. In fact, I just ran into her the other day and she was goin’ on and on about the weddin’.”

“Alright now, Sherlock Holmes,” I teased her.

Miss Hanson just shook her head at me slowly. “I just don’t know. My mama seen him the night before at the McKinneys’ party, and she knew somethin’ wasn’t right.”

I ignored that tidbit. Louise Hanson always thought things weren’t right, and it was easy to say so after the fact. “Well, who killed ‘im then?”

Miss Hanson shrugged. “Don’t know. You know how people are in this town. Ain’t no fair court system. Just martial law. He may have stepped on some toes. He wasn’t from around here, either.”

“Well, all I know is that the man is dead, and his death doesn’t have a thing to do with us.” A bell rang outside. “Excuse me, Miss Hanson, I have to go get my class from outside,” I told her.

I brought my class inside and ran them through a bunch of math drills. Since spring break was about to start, I wanted to be sure they had math facts coming out their nostrils so they wouldn’t forget it all by the following week.

My two boys, Moses and Willie, waited outside for me, chasing each other around and around the big Spanish moss in front of the schoolhouse. I didn’t bother telling them it was time to go. When they was done playing, they’d run and catch up with me on the road. But the sight of that big tree reminded me of my conversation with Rose Hanson. As I walked, I lifted up a quick prayer for the Bateman family before setting my mind on what I would do this evening.

I’d only taken a few steps when a familiar voice called out, “Sissy!”

It was Carlotta. I was happy to walk with my cousin, but I couldn’t help noticing how the past couple of years had aged her. I stopped and let her catch up to me. She had two big shopping bags in her hands.

“Been shoppin’?” I asked her.

“Yeah, I had to pick up somethin’ for my trip to Georgia. I’m leavin’ Friday and won’t be back for two whole weeks.” We resumed walking toward the house. “Did you hear about that man that done hanged himself?” she asked. I nodded, and let my mind wander as Carlotta droned on and on.

“Think you can help me?” she asked hopefully.

Embarrassed, I snapped out of my daydream. “Um…I’m sorry, Carlotta. Help you with what?”

“Help me apply for school, Sissy?”

I blinked.

“You ain’t been listenin’,” she said in a hurt tone.

“Sorry. I’ve just gotta lot on my mind.”

In a hesitant voice, she said, “I’m thinkin’ about becomin’ a nurse. What do you think?”

I didn’t say anything at first. To be honest, I thought it was a terrible idea. I’d seen Carlotta when her brother Earl had been real sick, and she had been a disaster. Unsure how to respond, I said, “Well, Carlotta, I think you can do whatever you put your mind to.”

“You really think so? I don’t know, Sissy… I ain’t sure I’m smart enough to make it through.”

“Don’t you tear yourself down, honey. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Only His opinion matters,” I told her firmly.

As we continued on our way, I thought about Truitt Tate. Evidently he’d been nothing but a player. He’d left Carlotta two years ago, during the time she was expecting his baby, and she was still trying to pick up the pieces.

Carlotta and I kept talking ‘bout schools until we reached a fork in the road. I hugged her goodbye, and she went one way and I went the other.

Want more? Look for it this weekend!