Monday, July 27, 2009

Revell Blog Tour of Worth A Thousand Words by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Her future was just coming into focus. But what will she do when everything becomes a blur?

Indigo Burns's life is going according to plan. She possesses the ambition and talent to be a professional photographer, and she thanks God for all the blessings that surround her. Now, all at once, Indigo's family life, love life, and hopes for success have flipped upside down. Indigo loves the Lord, but can she trust him to work his plan in her life?

Worth a Thousand Words dramatically explores the tough decisions one woman must make in the world of love, relationships, and career. Will Indigo find the courage to face her own truths--and accept those being harbored by the people she loves most? Either way, she risks losing everything she's ever wanted.

You can buy a copy at Amazon or Koorong (for Australians)

My Review:
I LOVED this book! It deals with some tough issues like birracial dating, and it can be hard to read some parts of the book because of the emotions that the characters are going through. However, Indigo is a strong woman, and that shines through. I would highly recommend it to my friends :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Sword and the Flute by Mike Hamel

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:

The Sword and the Flute (Matterhorn the Brave Series #1)

Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)


From Mike's Blog's About Me:

I am a professional writer with over a dozen books to my credit, including a trilogy of titles dealing with faith and business: The Entrepreneur’s Creed, Executive Influence and Giving Back.

My most enjoyable project to date has been an eight-volume juvenile fiction series called Matterhorn the Brave. It’s based on variegated yarns I used to spin for my four children. They are now grown and my two grandchildren will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with my bride of 35 years, Susan.

In July of 2008 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer—Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma of the Diffuse Large B-Cell kind. I started this blog to chronicle my journey toward the valley of the shadow of death. I wanted to de-mystify the disease by sharing what I was learning and experiencing.

After several rounds of chemo I was tumor free for the first few months of 2009, but the cancer has returned so the adventure continues.

As you read this blog, remember that I’m a professional. Don’t try this level of introspective writing at home. You might suffer a dangling participle or accidentally split an infinitive and the grammarians will be all over you like shoe salesmen on a centipede.

Mike's Blog, OPEN Mike, is an online diary about Wrestling with Lymphoma Cancer.

To order a signed edition of any of the 6 Matterhorn the Brave books, please email the author at

His website: Matterhorn the Brave Website is temporarily down.



Personalized Autographs

Matterhorn Readers – In addition to lowering the price on the six books in print, I am making the last two volumes available as e-books for the same low price of $7.

AMG is not going to publish books 7 and 8 but I will no longer keep my readers in suspense while I look for a new publisher.

E-books of volumes 7 and 8 are now available at

#7 – Tunguska Event

Matterhorn and his friends travel to Siberia to try and prevent the largest natural disaster in history: The Tunguska Event! But despite help from a legion of fairy folk, they fail to stop the blast, which hurtles Matterhorn and Nate into the distant past.

The Baron, Jewel, Sara, Kyl, and Elok search through the centuries for their missing friends, taking incredible risks that will leave two of them dead! Queen Bea and Rylan return to First Realm to persuade the Curia to send the elite Praetorian Guard to Earth.

The inevitable showdown comes inside the sealed tomb of the Chinese Emperor Zheng. The future of the human race will be determined by what happens inside this eight wonder of the ancient world.

#8 – The Book of Stories

The thrilling conclusion of the struggle to control Earth’s destiny between the heretics from First Realm and the human Travelers: Matterhorn, the Baron, Nate the Great, and Princess Jewel.

The year is 1983. The setting is Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois; location of the most powerful machine in the world, the Tevatron particle accelerator. The heretics plan to use the Tevatron to make Carik the unchallenged ruler of the planet! Learning of this plot, Matterhorn and his friends must save themselves before they can save the world.

The Book of Stories is full of surprises, including the most important revelation of all—the identity of the Tenth Talis!

Order copies of all eight books by emailing the author at as his website,, is temporarily down.

And spread the word!

~Mike Hamel

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0899578330
ISBN-13: 978-0899578330


Emerald Isle

Aaron the Baron hit the ground like a paratrooper, bending his knees, keeping his balance.

Matterhorn landed like a 210-pound sack of dirt.

His stomach arrived a few seconds later.

He straightened his six-foot-four frame into a sitting position. In the noonday sun he saw they were near the edge of a sloping meadow. The velvet grass was dotted with purple and yellow flowers. Azaleas bloomed in rainbows around the green expanse. The black-faced sheep mowing the far end of the field paid no attention to the new arrivals.

“Are you okay?” the Baron asked. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of a Marines’ recruiting poster. “We’ll have to work on your landing technique.”

“How about warning me when we’re going somewhere,” Matterhorn grumbled.

The Baron helped him up and checked his pack to make sure nothing was damaged. He scanned the landscape in all directions from beneath the brim of his red corduroy baseball cap. “It makes no difference which way we go,” he said at last. “The horses will find us.”

“What horses?”

“The horses that will take us to the one we came to see,” the Baron answered.

“Are you always this vague or do you just not know what you’re doing?”

“I don’t know much, but I suspect this is somebody’s field. We don’t want to be caught trespassing. Let’s go.”

They left the meadow, walking single file through the tall azaleas up a narrow valley. Thorny bushes with loud yellow blossoms crowded the trail next to a clear brook. Pushing one of the prickly plants away, Matterhorn asked, “Do you know what these are?”

“Gorse, of course,” the Baron said without turning.

“Never heard of it.”

“Then I guess you haven’t been to Ireland before.”

“Ireland,” Matterhorn repeated. “My great-grandfather came from Ireland.”

“Your great-grandfather won’t be born for centuries yet.”

Matterhorn stepped over a tangle of exposed roots and said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean we’re in medieval Ireland, not modern Ireland.”

“How can that be!” Matterhorn cried, stopping in his tracks. “How can I be alive before my great-grandfather?”

The Baron shrugged. “That’s one of the paradoxes of time travel. No one’s been able to figure them all out. You’re welcome to try, but while you’re at it, keep a lookout for the horses.”

Matterhorn soon gave up on paradoxes and became absorbed in the paradise around him. The colors were so alive they hurt his eyes. He wished for a pair of sunglasses. Above the garish gorse he saw broom bushes and pine trees growing to the ridge where spectacular golden oaks crowned the slopes. Birdsongs whistled from their massive branches into the warm air. Small animals whispered in the underbrush while larger game watched the strangers from a distance.

The country flattened out and, at times, they glimpsed stone houses over the tops of hedgerows. They steered clear of these and any other signs of civilization. In a few hours, they reached the spring that fed the brook they had been following. They stopped to rest and wash up.

That’s where the horses found them.

There were five strikingly handsome animals. The leader of the pack was from ancient and noble stock. He stood a proud seventeen hands high—five-foot-eight-inches—at the shoulders. He had a classic Roman face with a white star on his wide forehead that matched the white socks on his forelegs. His straight back, sturdy body, and broad hindquarters suggested both power and speed. A rich coppery mane and tail complemented his sleek, chestnut coat.

The Baron held out an apple to the magnificent animal, but the horse showed no interest in the fruit or the man. Neither did the second horse. The third, a dappled stallion, took the apple and let the Baron pet his nose.

“These horses are free,” the Baron said as he stroked the stallion’s neck. “They choose their riders, which is as it should be. Grab an apple and find your mount.”

While Matterhorn searched for some fruit, the leader sauntered over and tried to stick his big nose into Matterhorn’s pack. When Matterhorn produced an apple, the horse pushed it aside and kept sniffing.

Did he want carrots, Matterhorn wondered? How about the peanut butter sandwich? Not until he produced a pocket-size Snickers bar did the horse whinny and nod his approval.

The Baron chuckled as Matterhorn peeled the bar and watched it disappear in a loud slurp. “That one’s got a sweet tooth,” he said.

The three other horses wandered off while the Baron and Matterhorn figured out how to secure their packs to the two that remained. “I take it we’re riding without saddles or bridles,” Matterhorn said. This made him nervous, as he had been on horseback only once before.

“Bridles aren’t necessary,” Aaron the Baron explained. “Just hold on to his mane and stay centered.” He boosted Matterhorn onto his mount. “The horses have been sent for us. They’ll make sure we get where we need to go.”

As they set off, Matterhorn grabbed two handfuls of long mane from the crest of the horse’s neck. He relaxed when he realized the horse was carrying him as carefully as if a carton of eggs was balanced on his back. Sitting upright, he patted the animal’s neck. “Hey, Baron; check out this birthmark.” He rubbed a dark knot of tufted hair on the chestnut’s right shoulder. “It looks like a piece of broccoli. I’m going to call him Broc.”

“Call him what you want,” the Baron said, “but you can’t name him. The Maker gives the animals their names. A name is like a label; it tells you what’s on the inside. Only the Maker knows that.”

Much later, and miles farther into the gentle hills, they made camp in a lea near a tangle of beech trees. “You get some wood,” Aaron the Baron said, “while I make a fire pit.” He loosened a piece of hollow tubing from the side of his pack and gave it a sharp twirl. Two flanges unrolled outward and clicked into place to form the blade of a short spade. Next, he pulled off the top section and stuck it back on at a ninety-degree angle to make a handle.

Matterhorn whistled. “Cool!”

“Cool is what we’ll be if you don’t get going.”

Matterhorn hurried into the forest. He was thankful to be alone for the first time since becoming an adult, something that happened in an instant earlier that day. Seizing a branch, he did a dozen chin-ups; then dropped and did fifty push-ups and a hundred sit-ups.

Afterward he rested against a tree trunk and encircled his right thigh with both hands. His fingertips didn’t touch. Reaching farther down, he squeezed a rock-hard calf muscle.

All this bulk was new to him, yet it didn’t feel strange. This was his body, grown up and fully developed. Flesh of his flesh; bone of his bone. Even hair of his hair, he thought, as he combed his fingers through the thick red ponytail.

He took the Sword hilt from his hip. The diamond blade extended and caught the late afternoon sun in a dazzling flash. This mysterious weapon was the reason he was looking for firewood in an Irish forest instead of sitting in the library at David R. Sanford Middle School.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Missionary - A Novel by William Carmichael and David Lambert & My Review

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 authors are:

and the book:

The Missionary- A Novel

Moody Publishers; 1 edition (March 1, 2009)


William Carmichael is an accomplished bestselling author of marriage, family, and parenting books. He and his wife, Nancie, are popular speakers across the United States and Canada. He is also the founder of Good Family Magazines, which published Virtue, Christian Parenting Today, and Parents of Teenagers magazines. The Missionary is Bill’s first novel.

David Lambert is senior fiction editor for Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. He is the author of nine books, including the Gold Medallion Award winning Jumper Fables (Zondervan), coauthored with Ken Davis, and four novels for young adult readers.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers; 1 edition (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802455697
ISBN-13: 978-0802455697


The tall man guided his new Mercedes out of Avenue Casanova traffic and pulled in behind a battered Volks -wagen at the gutter; he had just seen the Ford van several cars ahead of him pull over, its emergency flashers on. He leaned to the side, straining for a clear view around the cars and trucks honking, jockeying for position, crowding the avenue. It was late—10:34, he affirmed with a glance at his Rolex—and the glare of so many lights on the rainwashed streets made him squint. He watched the van’s driver get out, wait for a break in the traffic, and then jog across the street toward some sort of commotion. There were children running—one was on the ground, a boy. A heavyset man in a dirty white apron was yelling at the fallen boy, kicking him, and the boy curled into a ball. A girl threw herself between the fallen boy and the man; the man pushed her down. The van’s driver arrived and held up a hand, yelling at the man in the apron, who yelled back.

There was nothing unusual about the scene. It was played out scores of times on this and many other Caracas streets every night: hungry, homeless children scrabbling for a living, treated as nothing more than human refuse by the adults annoyed by them or who sought them for other purposes. One needed no more excuse to kick—or exploit, in any of dozens of unsavory ways—a street urchin than one did a stray dog.

The tall man had seen the driver of the van, a missionary, make several such stops over the past few days, usually at night, chatting with groups of these children, teasing them, making them laugh, talking to them as long as the children were willing to stay. Twice the tall man had managed to get close enough to overhear the missionary asking kids where they lived, whether they had enough to eat, whether any of them were sick or knew other children who were sick, whether there were other homeless children nearby. The name on the side of the van was Aldea Esperanza. Hope Village. The tall man knew exactly where it was; he had driven past it, slowly. It was a mission—a place that took in young homeless ones.

The missionary stepped between the angry man and the two children on the ground. The girl was talking to the fallen boy. She looked worried. The man in the apron pushed past the missionary and grabbed something from the young girl’s hand, then brandished it at the missionary —evidence, no doubt, that the children had stolen from him. The missionary pointed toward the children, spoke to the man, and then reached into his pocket and offered to pay for what the children had stolen. The man grabbed it and stalked away, still yelling back over his shoulder.

Three or four other children wandered back as the aproned man disappeared. If any of these children had a home with a bed, they would undoubtedly have been in it by this time of night.

A group of young men walked by, their clothes and voices loud, two of them taking swigs from their bottles of beer. The avenue was crowded with those seeking thrills, as well as the homeless. From across the street, a prostitute caught the tall man’s eye and waved. He ignored her. Peering around a passing truck, he watched as the missionary knelt and placed his hand on the forehead of the young boy.

This was a good thing that the missionary was doing. The tall man admired him for it. Yes, it was time to meet him face-to-face. Maybe he was the right man for the job. Maybe not.

• • • • • • •

The rain had stopped, at least for now.

“¿Hay algun familiar de este chico?” David asked. He removed his hand from the child’s forehead. The boy was burning with fever, gasping desperately; his chest rattled.


David glanced up at the girl who had tried to protect the boy; she could not have been more than ten.

“He is my little brother. He started coughing five days ago,” she said. “And after he runs, he cannot breathe.”

“What’s his name?”

”Ricardo. My name is Angela.”

David smiled and touched her arm. “Angela, where are your parents?”

Angela shrugged. David saw this response often. It meant that the girl’s parents were drug addicts, or that they were dead, or that she had no idea where they were and probably hadn’t seen them in some time.

He brushed Ricardo’s lank hair from his forehead. For five years now David had patrolled the barrios of Caracas, witnessing the misery of an endless supply of impoverished and sickly and homeless children. Was there no end to the suffering here?

Swarms of Latinos hurried by in the warm, humid night, seemingly unaware. Salsa music blared from one of the bars down the street. Honking cars, trucks, and buses jammed Avenue Casanova. The stink of urine rose from the gutter, a bitter note blending with the fragrance of fresh arepas, frying chilies, refried beans, and beer. “¡Vámanos, arriba!” someone yelled from down the street.

Ricardo stared at David with sunken, panicked eyes, his back rising off the broken sidewalk in his effort to pull air into his lungs.

“How old is your brother?” David asked Angela.


There was no point calling an ambulance. They refused to pick up the homeless. David pulled out his cell and called his wife. “Christie, call Dr. Vargas and see if he can meet us at the clinic in forty-five minutes. Tell him I have a seven year-old boy I think is in the acute stages of pneumonia. He can barely breathe.”

There was a pause. “Is he wheezing?” she asked.


“Okay. Get him here quick.”

When David clicked off his phone and reached behind the boy to lift him, large olive-skinned hands reached down to help. David looked up to see a tall, well-dressed man.

“Can I please help you?” The stranger spoke in English.

“We can put him in my car just down the street if you need transportation to the hospital.”

“Thank you,” David said, “but my van’s right here.” He nodded toward the white nine-passenger Ford van he used as both bus and ambulance. It was double-parked, emergency flashers blinking, Aldea Esperanza painted in bright red letters on the side. “I’m taking this child to my clinic.”

Before David could object, the tall man lifted Ricardo’s thin little body into his arms and headed for the van. David grabbed Angela’s hand and, weaving through honking, halting traffic, hurried ahead to open the back doors. Inside lay a mattress neatly wrapped with clean white sheets. The man gently laid Ricardo on the mattress.

David motioned for Angela to climb into the back of the van with Ricardo. She hesitated. “What about my friends? Two of them are also coughing.”

David looked back across the street, where seven children stood watching. He glanced at the well-dressed man, who shrugged.

“We don’t have room,” David said. “I’m sorry. Right now, I can only take your brother and you. And for your brother’s sake, we must hurry.”

“Then take Maria instead of me. She has been coughing for three days,” Angela replied.

David looked at the stranger, then across the street again. “Jesus, help . . .” he whispered, then asked, “Which one is Maria?”

Angela yelled, “¡Maria, ven!” motioning Maria forward. A girl David guessed to be about the same age as Angela wove her way through traffic toward them. Without asking, Angela quickly shoved Maria up into the back of the van next to her brother.

Always choices, David thought, and most of them are bad. How can it be the will of God to simply choose among the least bad alternatives?

He put his hand on Angela’s shoulder, urging her into the van with Ricardo and Maria. As she scrambled in, she smiled. Already a skilled negotiator, David thought. David shook the stranger’s hand and hurried to the driver’s door. “Thank you for your help.” He grabbed a business

card from the dash and handed it to the man, then cranked the engine and slammed the door. “Why don’t you visit us?” he hollered through the window, over the engine noise.

“I would like to. Perhaps soon.”

David waved over his shoulder and inched out into traffic, his headlights reflecting on slick, wet streets. Ricardo hacked a loud, racking cough.

David took a sharp right, leaving the business district and entering a darker, less congested area, a faster way home. Big raindrops began again, slowly at first, then pounding hard and fast against the windshield while the wipers beat like rapid rubber drumsticks. And there was another sound. At first David thought that the windshield wipers were broken—the motor giving out, wheezing . . . and then he realized that the sound was coming from the back of the van. It stopped. David glanced in the rearview mirror.

The boy’s sister hovered over Ricardo. “Angela, how’s your brother back there?” David asked. “Everything okay?”

Angela’s little face tilted up, her eyes frightened.

“Señor!” she said. “He cannot breathe! He is choking!”

My Review:
I got onto this one a little late, and so haven't finished it yet. However, I'm most of the way through, and enjoying it very much!
It's well-written, and I can't wait to see how it ends :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

GodStories by Andrew Wilson & My Review

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:


David C. Cook; New edition edition (July 1, 2009)


Andrew Wilson holds degrees in theology from Cambridge University and London School of Theology. His passion is to communicate the extraordinary truths of God. Andrew teaches internationally and is an elder at Kings Church Eastbourne in the UK, where he leads training and development. Andrew is also the author of Incomparable: Explorations in the Character of God, and lives with his wife Rachel and their newborn baby Ezekiel in the UK.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765393
ISBN-13: 978-1434765390



Several years ago in Northern Nigeria, Emily was strung up on a tree and left for dead because she had epilepsy.1 Her tribal village had no idea what epilepsy was, let alone how to cope with it, so they tied her up and left her there, waiting for her to die from starvation or exposure. Just before she did, Daniel arrived with a small team to preach the gospel and plant a church. Horrified, he immediately cut down the young girl from the tree and put her under a doctor’s care. Then he and his team began explaining the gospel to the villagers.

Daniel has paid a price for his zeal. He, his wife, and his children have experienced pretty much every suffering you can have for preaching the good news: robbery, rape, physical beatings, death threats, the lot. But that hasn’t stopped him. In fact, from the little I have seen, his sufferings have increased his determination to establish churches and train leaders.

But as people in the village started responding to the gospel, Daniel and his team were able to plant a small church, and then build a school to educate the children. Daniel understood GodStories, you see. He had gone to the village in the first place because he knew the GodStory of world mission. He knew that he would face serious persecution for preaching the gospel, but he knew the GodStory of Christ’s suffering and was prepared to share it. When he got there, he preached GodStories about the gospel of God concerning his Son, victory over demons, and the death of death. He started bringing healthcare and education to the community because he knew GodStories about God’s kingdom, man in his image, and the renewal of creation. I’ve had the privilege of seeing the results firsthand: There is a thriving church in the village, nearly two hundred children at school every day (their English grammar is better than mine!), and Emily is still alive. Because of Daniel’s conviction that the gospel story is amazing, hope has conquered despair in that community.

And he certainly won’t stop preaching GodStories. Maybe it’s because he knows how they all end.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

The point of this book is to convince you that the gospel is amazing. It’s aimed at anyone who wants to understand the good news of what God has done: teenagers, caretakers, businesspeople, full-time mothers, artists. Knowing the gospel is the foundation for worship and mission, so the only thing we’re going to do in this book is explore the beautiful, triumphant, often-heartbreaking, and always-glorious stories that make up the gospel of God. I call them GodStories.

It’s a funny word, and you won’t find it in the dictionary. But my guess is that the idea of looking at a gospel through stories will excite lots of people. Perhaps you see theology as a rabbit warren of concepts without narratives, a series of points and principles and theories that take all the best bits (like characters and plot twists and heroism) out of the Bible, and leave behind a slightly inedible result, like eating cereal without milk or playing Scrabble without vowels. To you, the fact that this book is made up of stories—and, far more importantly, the fact that God’s gospel is made up largely of stories—should be encouraging. It will certainly increase your enjoyment of theology.

You see, just as we have one God in three persons and one church made up of many people, so in Scripture we have one gospel made up of many stories. We have one gospel, for sure: a single, unifying, big story about God and creation, man and sin, Jesus and rescue. But we also have many different ways of telling that big story because it is too large for us to grasp all at once. Even the quick summaries in the Bible itself—“your God reigns,” “the kingdom of God is near,” “God raised Jesus from the dead,” and “Christ died for our sins”—give different angles on the one big story. So seeing the many GodStories in the one gospel does not reduce that gospel in glory or splendor. Quite the opposite—it dramatically increases it.

This is true of all sorts of big stories, not just the gospel. Imagine that, instead of writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien decided to simplify things into a sentence: “Frodo and Sam left the Shire with the ring, faced a number of setbacks, and finally destroyed it in Mount Doom to save Middle Earth.” His summary would, in one sense, tell the same story, but it would be dramatically reduced in power and impact, and would probably not have sold millions of copies and been turned into three blockbuster films. The Lord of the Rings is about two hobbits and a ring, but it is also about the flight of the elves, the destruction of the forests, the corruption of mankind, the battles for Rohan and Gondor, the return of the king, and the influence the ring has on all of them. So when we read all those other stories, it adds to our understanding of the plot with Frodo and the ring, because it shows us the significance of the main story through its impact on all the others. The same is true of the gospel. But the process is far more important, for three reasons.

GodStories and the Glory of God

The first and biggest reason we must read these stories is because the glory of God is at stake. This is vital. If the Bible is stuffed full of GodStories but we tell only one of them, we lose much of the depth and wonder of the gospel, and that diminishes our view of God, just as it would diminish my view of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking if I ate only his steamed vegetables.

If, for example, we saw the gospel simply as a story of personal salvation, we would limit its scope enormously and rob God of the praise that is due to him. Such a view would miss out on the salvation of a corporate people and would find very little place for the history of Israel, which so much of the Bible is about. It would marginalize God’s faithfulness to his covenant and his multicolored wisdom in the church. And it would ignore the fact that Scripture speaks of the whole of creation, not just human souls, being made new. So reducing the gospel to only a story of personal salvation is like playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the recorder. The melody might be the same, but much of the music’s power is lost, and the brilliance of the composer is missed.

Yet, as with music, God’s excellence is shown not just in creating new storylines, but in fusing them together so that they enhance one another. Queen brings two melodies together to form a harmony, but Yahweh weaves dozens of GodStories—Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and many others—into one another so intricately that when Jesus finally arrives on the scene, you want to stand amazed and applaud with excitement. Composers frequently write notes that clash with one another to present an unusual sound, but God allows entire plotlines to clash for generations and then get explained with a twist you would never have predicted (a servant king, for instance). Queen leaves their final chord sequence unresolved for several seconds, but God leaves Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 unresolved for several centuries before uniting them at the cross with unimaginable power and beauty. So to grasp more of the glory of God, we need to appreciate the range and depth of the gospel, by studying as many of its component stories as possible. More than anything else, the reason for writing a book full of GodStories is to remind us how astonishing and faithful and glorious and worthy of worship is the God who wrote them.

This could not be more important. If God’s glory is infinite, and my concept of him is not, then I never stop needing an increased understanding of his greatness. Furthermore, that greatness is many-sided, like a massive mountain; there is nowhere in creation I could stand and see the whole of Mount Kilimanjaro at once, far less the glory of Yahweh. So I need there to be a whole host of pictures to reveal different angles of what he has done and how it fits together. Fortunately, by his grace, this is exactly the sort of Bible he has inspired.

Scripture contains something to inspire worship in everyone. To the philosopher, there are GodStories of riddles and revelation, inquiry and truth. To the historian, there is an array of events covering thousands of years and numerous civilizations. To the architect, there are descriptions of temples being established and cities being rebuilt. To the artist, there are GodStories of beauty triumphing over ugliness, order over chaos, new creation over stagnation. For the romantic, there is a tale of a complicated relationship with a wonderful man that ends happily ever after; for the action-film fanatic, a story of a hero rescuing the love of his life and saving the world against impossible odds.2 There are genealogies for the tribesman, visions for the mystics, and arguments for the intellectuals. And displaying his glory in every one of these GodStories is Yahweh, the I AM, the maker of heaven, and earth and the rescuer of all things. Reading all of these stories will give us a bigger and better view of him.

GodStories and the Rescue of People

The second reason that we need to know these GodStories is because people’s eternal destinies are at stake. After all, the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16), and preaching the gospel remains one of the highest callings of every Christian. Without the gospel, people cannot be saved. So it is vital that we know what the gospel actually is and how to communicate it in ways people understand.

Everyone agrees with that sentence, I’m sure. But read it again, because it is more difficult than it sounds: It is vital to know what the gospel is and how to communicate it in ways people understand. Many churches are great at half of this but neglect the other half. Some churches know the gospel inside out but put a lot of religious or cultural baggage on it, and are therefore not very effective at communicating it to a pluralist and largely pagan culture. On the other hand, there are churches who have gotten very good at using culture to communicate the gospel but have in the process lost sight of what they were supposed to be communicating. To be effective missionaries to our culture, we need to have fixed theology and flexible culture—strong on what the gospel is, but communicating it without adding religious clutter to it—or, more eloquently, “reaching out without selling out.”3

Paul is a great model. No one could accuse Paul of not knowing the gospel or of being scared to preach it. The scars on his back and welts on his face from being stoned and flogged would see to that. Yet he used a wide range of GodStories to communicate the gospel, depending on his setting.

To the Jews in Damascus, he proved that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 9:22). To the Jews in Pisidian Antioch, he preached forgiveness of sins and freedom from the law through Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 13:16–41). To the pagans in Lystra, he spoke of the creator God who showed his presence by giving them crops and good weather (Acts 14:14–17). To the pagans in Athens, he proclaimed an independent God who did not need serving and who would one day judge the world (Acts 17:22–31). To King Agrippa and Festus, he shared his personal testimony (Acts 26:1–23). So, although we know from Romans that Paul was utterly convinced of justification by faith, redemption, and being in Christ, we know from Acts that these weren’t always the GodStories he started with or stuck to when preaching to unbelievers. Others, equally true, were often more appropriate to his audience.

In none of this are we saying the gospel needs to change. That would be a terrible mistake because it puts the desires of man above the desires of God, which is idolatry. What we are saying is that there are numerous GodStories in Scripture, and it might be that the best way of saving some of God’s image-bearers is to start our preaching with a slightly different GodStory to the ones we are used to. The main planks of the gospel—a loving God, fallen humanity, rescue through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and so on—will never alter. But how we nail the planks together might.

GodStories and the Health of the Church

The third and final reason for writing GodStories is partly a product of the first two: The health of the church is on the line. At one level, this is obvious: If the church isn’t worshipping God properly or reaching the world with the gospel, then it is a waste of space and time. There is more to it than that, however. Again and again, in the pages of the New Testament, we find writers contending for the gospel because they care about the church.

To the Galatians, Paul reinforces GodStories about being justified by faith apart from the law, and about Jews and Gentiles being one in Christ.4 The Corinthians, on the other hand, seem to understand that, but need a strong reminder about Christ being crucified, their sanctification, and the bodily resurrection. First John focuses on the incarnation GodStory more than others. Hebrews tells us about the priesthood of Jesus and the superiority of Christ to the major Jewish symbols. In none of these cases is evangelism the point. Instead, a failure to understand these various GodStories leads to division and sexual immorality and false teaching and backsliding, respectively. So the health of the church depends on understanding the fullness of the gospel.

The gospel is not just for guest meetings or open airs, as you would think to hear us sometimes, but for the people of God. The outstanding explanation of the gospel in Romans, remember, was written to Christians; Paul tells Timothy to preach the word to his church until he’s blue in the face (2 Tim. 4:2); and Paul’s aim to visit the capital of the world was generated by a desire to preach the gospel amongst the church there (Rom. 1:15). If preaching the gospel to the church means simply reiterating the call to repent and be saved every week, then it is no wonder that so many preachers (and listeners) struggle. But if it means explaining to the church the full extent and scope of the GodStories in Scripture, then you could preach for a lifetime and never repeat yourself.

Thank God that there are so many to go round. If you’re in an introverted community of mature Christians, you can study the mission of God. If you love seeing people saved but you aren’t quite sure what to do with them when they are, you can look at freedom from sin. Frustrated artists can look at God’s beauty; frustrated activists, his justice. If you don’t get the Old Testament, then you can look under every verse and every rock until you find Christ. If you get only the Old Testament, then see how all of God’s promises are now yes and amen. Whoever you are, wherever you’re reading this, you can find a GodStory that will expand your view of God and revel in it. Then you can experience the joy of sharing it, in a culturally appropriate way, with someone who doesn’t know it yet. The world has nothing in comparison.

So we need to know and preach and live the gospel. The good news that shines through every GodStory will bring us closer into worship, push us further into mission, and draw us closer into community—face down, flat out, all in. This book is just an introduction to a few of them. But they might change your life all the same.

GodStories usually do.


1. The names of the people in this story have been changed.

2. Adapted from David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church (Nashville, TN: Nelson, 2005), 15.

3. This phrase is the subtitle of Mark Driscoll’s excellent book on the subject, Radical Reformission (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).

4. If, that is, we recognize that Galatians might tell more than one GodStory at once, rather than (as sometimes happens) playing them off against each other. For an excellent explanation of how we can and should embrace both these GodStories together, see Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004).

My Review:
I really like the concept of this book. It's written to convince us (the people reading) that the gospel is amazing. It's written in short chapters and stories, and in the prologue it explains in further detail what the book is all about.
I think it's a great book :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Refuge: A True Story of Faith & Civil War & My Review

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:

Refuge: A True Story of Faith and Civil War

Bruce Beakley (March 1, 2009) (WinePress Publishing)


Bruce Beakley is not your typical author. As an engineer by trade, the possibility of writing a book wasn’t even on his radar. “Truthfully, I’ve never even been what you would call an avid reader. An engineer that reads; that’s an oxymoron,” he laughs. “To me, reading a book is making a serious commitment. What if you get to the end and find out the book wasn’t all that good?” A divine encounter in an airport terminal changed everything. Beakley and his wife, Debra, have been married for 32 years. The couple has one grown son and resides in Houston, Texas. Beakley’s penchant for adventure is expressed in his love of international prison missions in Central and South America. He enjoys tennis, hiking mountains and volcanoes, and trying out his Belgian-imported hip on the ski slopes.

The Gonlehs currently reside in Montgomery, Alabama, where the membership of First Baptist Church has embraced them and helped to meet their needs. Bessie works at the church daycare, while John, an ordained Baptist minister, is a groundskeeper at Tuskegee University. After several years of waiting, John Jr. and Miracle were recently able to join their parents in the United States.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Bruce Beakley (March 1, 2009) (WinePress Publishing)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1579219306
ISBN-13: 978-1579219307


Chapter 1

#72 Soldiers’ Barrack

July 11, 1990
Putrid aromas from sweat, urine, blood, and infected sores mingled to rouse me from a fitful night. Moans and curses in the dimly lit room let me know the others were awake.

“You should pray with me, because only God can save us now.” I spoke softly but deliberately to the group of eleven men huddled into the cramped, muggy cell. So, as the early-morning sun peeked through the palm trees, I prayed one last time. Our captors had told us today was the final investigation.

“Father, here we are, committing ourselves into your hands. We have no one else but you. Save our lives from these wicked people. And let these men know you are God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

I didn’t actually lead the men in prayer. It was just that no one raised any objection. No one had any energy left for theological arguments. Mine was a prayer of unyielding stubbornness. After all God had done for me, I refused to give up on him, like the others.

Our cell was one of ten. Several weeks earlier these had been the living quarters for Liberian army soldiers. The rebels had turned them into a makeshift prison.

About a hundred men were being held in the ten cells. Some were wealthy—government officials or prominent businessmen. I had been Assistant Prayer Leader with a volunteer group at the executive mansion chapel. That was my crime. I was a collaborator with the Liberian government of President Samuel Doe.

After the war began six months ago, I spent many mornings at the chapel with my group. We prayed for soldiers and government employees. Sometimes I delivered the message at the midday service. In the afternoons, I worked at my construction block business. I never saw President Doe.

Years before, I met President Doe once, though I doubt he would remember me. I wasn’t one of his wealthy friends, his generals, or his political enemies. I was merely a volunteer Christian. Inconsequential.

I don’t think the rebels expected to get much information from me. I was a collaborator and my wife was one-half Krahn. These crimes justified the beatings and torture. I could only hope justice would prevail during the final investigation today. Perhaps, afterward, I would finally be free from the terrible mistake that had brought me here.

We were being held in the #72 Soldiers’ Barrack outside Paynesville, an upscale suburb on the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. My house was close by. It was so near, and yet I struggled to remember details I’d never paid attention to before. I had carelessly placed my house and neighborhood in the background scenery. Now I longed to remember the color of the flowers Bessie planted in our yard. After a brief failed effort, I gave up.

My mind kept going over the events of the past week, the moment when the rebels came for me. I tried to logically process what had happened, but nothing fit together.

Where are you, God? Why are you allowing this to happen?

I alternated between faith and doubt.

Of course he was in control and could save me. But that didn’t mean that I, Bessie, or the children would survive.

The rebels had entered Paynesville nine days ago. We heard automatic gunfire in nearby neighborhoods. Three weeks before, we had heard their long-range artillery shells hitting the city center. Everyone knew the rebels were coming, slowly but steadily advancing.

The first two days, we escaped the bullets coming straight down through our roof. Victorious over the government troops, the rebels celebrated by firing their weapons into the air. Bullets fell from the sky like tiny meteors. Our family was lucky. A neighbor’s child three doors down was struck and wounded by one of these projectiles.

Bessie and I took the precaution of packing all our important papers into one of the children’s book satchels. We included our marriage certificate, the children’s birth certificates, school report cards, our deeds, and cash. That was all. There wasn’t room for anything else.

Then, on the morning of the third day of the attack, I happened to be looking out my living room window when an army jeep drove right onto our front lawn. Rebels started piling out.

Wide-eyed, I screamed, “Bessie, get the children and hide.” A frantic commotion ensued for a few seconds. Small bodies ran past me as Bessie yelled her orders. In just seconds, it was quiet again. I stood alone, watching.

Four rebels stood on our lawn. Each carried an automatic rifle, a Kalashnikov. They fired their weapons into the sky. They looked crazed and terrifying.

The AK-47 was the favorite among revolutionaries. Firing up to thirty bullets per trigger pull, and outfitted with a wicked-looking and effective bayonet, it was simple and cheap. At only twenty dollars each, it was light enough for a small child to handle.

A month earlier, I had nearly been killed by an AK-47.

I had taken a taxi to the open market to purchase a hundred-pound bag of rice. Food had gotten scarce as the rebel offensive drew near the city, so the rice cost triple its normal price. I placed the heavy bag of rice in a little wagon and turned to pay the merchant. When I turned back, I saw a man walking away, pulling the wagon and taking my rice. I yelled for him to stop and ran toward him. He abruptly halted and slowly turned around.

His face was streaked with white clay, his long hair matted in clumps, and his clothes were filthy. A rebel! Fear suddenly gripped me. Bessie and I had heard from neighbors that rebel excursions into the city were becoming common as their army approached. He had come to the market to get food by any means he could.

He was big, almost a foot taller than I and heavier by thirty pounds. His AK-47 was slung over his right shoulder. Ignoring my fear, I ran up to him and told him the rice belonged to me—as though he didn’t already know. He didn’t speak but calmly reached into his flak-jacket pocket with his right hand and started to unsling his rifle with his left.

Blinking and dumbfounded, I realized the bullet clip wasn’t in the rifle, and he was retrieving it. I didn’t know what to do. Should I run? Try to reason with him?

Just then, the clip snapped into the rifle.

Inside my head I heard, Are you just going to stand there and let him kill you? Startled by the unexpected voice, I snapped out of my stupor. I mouthed, “Help me, Lord!” Before I knew it, I had grabbed hold of the rifle with both hands.

Now, the rebel was the startled one. We both gripped the gun tightly. We wrestled back and forth, each trying to gain control without success. As large as he was, he couldn’t shake me or twist the gun free. After a few moments, a Monrovia policeman saw our struggle and rushed in. He yelled for the crowd of gaping merchants and customers to grab us and pull us apart.

Once we were apart, the policeman quickly ascertained the situation. He yelled at me, “Get your rice and go. Just go!” The merchants released me on his command. I ran, snatched my bag of rice out of the wagon, jumped in a taxi, and sped off. All the way home I trembled.

Whereas that incident had been a chance encounter, the rebels on my front lawn now were not there by accident. After shooting their guns into the sky, they walked across my yard toward the front door. I saw bandoliers of ammunition draped over their shoulders and around their waists.

I’ve never owned a gun and never handled one other than in the market. I did know, however, those weapons in the hands of the teenagers standing in my front yard had defeated Liberia’s national army. The sight of the rebels paralyzed me with fear.

At least when I first saw them, I had the presence of mind to yell to Bessie to get in the back bedroom with the kids.

“Thank you, Lord, for letting me see them,” I prayed.

I breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled, trying to control my emotions and thinking of what else I could do.

“Nothing. There is nothing I can do,” I told myself.

So, alone in my living room, I sat down in my favorite comfortable armchair. I waited. I watched the rebels through the large front window as they walked toward the door. One wore a uniform. His face and arms were streaked with white clay. I recognized the clay as Juju, witchcraft, designed to make its wearer impervious to bullets. Another wore a crimson church choir robe with an ammunition belt cinched around his waist.

What an odd spoil of war, I thought, looting a choir robe.

Choirboy’s hair was wild, almost like spikes coming out of his head. It wasn’t clear if this was his hairstyle or just happenstance from living months in the bush. Strange, the details we notice in a crisis.

With each step the rebels took toward my house, I grew more frightened. I couldn’t move, still paralyzed by fear. At that moment, it wasn’t an expression or figure of speech. I was truly paralyzed. My muscles were so constricted, it seemed as if each possessed its own little mind and instinctively knew what to do in a moment such as this. I was a fawn hiding in the Liberian savannah grass and being stalked by a leopard.

There was no chance of escaping. All I felt was stark terror, not breathing, everything shutting down. I couldn’t even form a prayer. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” was all I whispered. Did those words reach my lips or were they just in my mind? I couldn’t tell.

The rebels were at the front door. Suddenly one called out, “Come out and bring your Krahn wife. Bring out the bank money and tell us where President Doe is. Otherwise, we’re going to kill you and burn your house down.”

I didn’t move or speak. I couldn’t. I was paralyzed. The rebels didn’t ask twice. With a swift boot to the front door, the door jamb splintered and the door swung open. With bloodshot eyes from drugs or sleep deprivation, their eyes locked on mine as they approached. Oddly, my eyes apparently were the only part of my body not frozen. As time slowed down, they followed each movement as the two converged on the helpless creature staring back at them.

It was as if my body floated. I was weightless. They jerked me hard up and out of the armchair. The force must have torn my shirt because I heard a rip. I felt my feet bouncing across the floor, through the front door, across the porch, and down the steps.

My short weightless journey abruptly ended. Once in the front yard, they dropped me. I tried to use my arms to break the fall, but they wouldn’t respond. I remembered the saying about dropping something like a sack of potatoes. Now I knew what that meant.

I fell face forward straight down onto my chest and tasted grass as my head bounced. My eyes saw the bottom half of a small figure approaching. The two larger rebels who dragged me were walking away. The approaching figure had small skinny legs and mismatched oversized boots.

I guessed the child to be about twelve years old. As I started to lift my head, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sudden blur. The concussion from the butt end of the assault rifle snapped my head back to the ground. My right temple started to throb.

Taking aim a second time, the child struck once more with the ease of someone possessing supreme confidence in his ability to perform this most basic of warfare skills: Stand over your subject. Hold the barrel in the left hand near the muzzle, the right hand holding the stock just above the trigger guard. Now while keeping a firm grip arc downward like you’re planting a flagpole in the ground. You should hear a good solid crack as you make contact. That’s correct. Now try it again.

At once, their leader demanded again, “Where is your Krahn wife? Where is the bank money? Tell us where President Doe is.”

Jarred to my senses, my head now reeling and throbbing from pain, but shocked out of my frozen, paralyzing fear, I once again was able to think.

“I…I’m alone in the house. We have no bank money. It stays at the bank. I don’t have anything to do with President Doe. I have no idea where he is.” The pain loosened my frozen arms and they now hurried to protect my head, but the damage had already been done.

These particular rebels were so ignorant they thought Bessie, a bank teller, brought the bank’s money home at night and took it back the next day. While they certainly needed it, they weren’t asking for a lesson on the Liberian banking system. They just wanted the money.

I blurted out these answers as fast as I could. If I thought immediate compliance to their demands would preserve me from another head blow, I was wrong. The efficient and skillful assistant found an open spot and replicated his technique. Once a skill is perfected, it is only a natural human tendency to want to show off to your superiors. The child was rewarded by their grinning approval. Rising weightless once more, I was dragged to the jeep and thrown in the back.

The teenage leader was the passenger, of course, as was befitting his rank. He should naturally be chauffeured during these roundup excursions. In the back with me were the skillful assistant and the cherub choirboy. They had successfully bagged their prey, and now it was time to take it home, victorious once more.

Knots were already forming, slowly rising off my skull, and I felt blood trickle down one cheek. The warm liquid mingled in my mouth with dirt and the grass I’d planted when we first built our house. Silently through the pain, I breathed a sigh of relief. As odd as it seems, I also shared in their victory.

Driving away from the house, my prayer and those of Bessie and the children were answered. The rebel soldiers forgot all about searching the house. Bessie and the kids weren’t discovered. They certainly would have been found if the search had taken place. In a closet and under the bed aren’t exactly unique hiding places. My basic house just wasn’t constructed for such a clandestine purpose. It was such a simple mistake really and yet one that would affect everything to follow.

“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord,” I silently prayed as we drove away. I glanced up and noticed the sky. The sun was just starting its climb. It would be another typical summer day in Liberia, hot and humid.

My Review:
This was really good. I found it hard to get into because I found it pretty depressing, and it was very graphic at times, but it was amazing to see how God works all things together for good!
I really liked it :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus & My Review

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:

Ransome’s Honor

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)


Kaye Dacus has a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in history, and a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction. Her love of the Regency era started with Jane Austen. Her passion for literature and for history come together to shape her creative, well-researched, and engaging writing.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927530
ISBN-13: 978-0736927536


Portsmouth, England
July 18, 1814

William Ransome pulled the collar of his oilskin higher, trying to stop the rain from dribbling down the back of his neck. He checked the address once more and then tucked the slip of paper safely into his pocket.

He took the four steps up to the front door of the townhouse in two strides and knocked. The rain intensified, the afternoon sky growing prematurely dark. After a minute or two, William raised his hand to knock again, but the door swung open to reveal a warm light.

A wizened man in standard black livery eyed William, bushy white brows rising in interest at William’s hat, bearing the gold braid and black cockade of his rank. “Good evening, Captain. How may I assist you?”

“Good evening. Is this the home of Captain Collin Yates?”

The butler smiled but then frowned. “Yes, sir, it is. However, I’m sorry to say Captain Yates is at sea, sir.”

“Is Mrs. Yates home?”

“Yes, sir. Please come in.”

“Thank you.” William stepped into the black-and-white tiled entry, water forming a puddle under him as it ran from his outer garments.

“May I tell Mrs. Yates who is calling?” The butler reached for William’s soaked hat and coat.

“Captain William Ransome.”

A glimmer of recognition sparkled in the butler’s hazy blue eyes. In the dim light of the hall, he appeared even older than William originally thought. “The Captain William Ransome who is the master’s oldest and closest friend?”

William nodded. “You must be Fawkes. Collin always said he would have you with him one day.”

“The earl put up quite a fight, sir, but the lad needed me more.” Fawkes shuffled toward the stairs and waved for William to join him. “Mrs. Yates is in the sitting room. I’m certain she will be pleased to see you.”

William turned his attention to his uniform—checking it for lint, straightening the jacket with a swift tug at the waist—and followed the butler up the stairs.

Fawkes knocked on the double doors leading to a room at the back of the house. A soft, muffled voice invited entry. The butler motioned toward the door. It took a moment for William to understand the man was not going to announce him, but rather allow him to surprise Susan. He turned the knob and slowly pushed the door open.

Susan Yates sat on a settee with her back to him. “What is it, Fawkes—?” She turned to look over her shoulder and let out a strangled cry. “William!”

He met her halfway around the sofa and accepted her hands in greeting. “Susan. You’re looking well.”

Her reddish-blonde curls bounced as she looked him over. “I did not expect you until tomorrow!” She pulled him farther into the room. “So—tell me everything. When did you arrive? Why has it been two months since your last proper letter?” Susan sounded more like the girl of fifteen he’d met a dozen years ago than the long-married wife of his best friend. “Can you stay for dinner?”

“We docked late yesterday. I spent the whole of today at the port Admiralty, else I would have been here earlier. And I am sorry to disappoint you, but I cannot stay long.” He sat in an overstuffed chair and started to relax for the first time in weeks. “Where is Collin? Last I heard, he returned home more than a month ago.”

Susan retrieved an extra cup and saucer from the sideboard and poured steaming black coffee into it. “The admiral asked for men to sail south to ferry troops home, and naturally my dear Collin volunteered—anything to be at sea. He is supposed to be back within the week.” She handed him the cup. “Now, on to your news.”

“No news, in all honesty. I’ve been doing the same thing Collin has—returning soldiers and sailors home. I only received orders to Portsmouth a week ago—thus the reason I sent the note express, rather than a full letter.”

“But you’re here now. For how long?”

“Five weeks. I’ve received a new assignment for Alexandra.”

“What will you do until your new duty begins?”

“My crew and I are on leave for three weeks.” And it could not have come at a better time. After two years away from home, his crew needed some time apart from each other.

“Are you going to travel north to see your family?”

“At the same time I sent the express to you announcing my return to Portsmouth, I sent word to my mother telling her of my sojourn here. When I arrived ashore earlier today, I received a letter that she and Charlotte will arrive next Tuesday.”

“How lovely. Of course, you will all stay with us. No—I will brook no opposition. We have three empty bedchambers. I could not abide the thought of your staying at an inn when you could be with us.”

“I thank you, and on behalf of my mother and sister.”

“Think nothing of it. But you were telling me of your assignment. Your crew is not to be decommissioned?” Susan asked.

“No. I believe Admiral Witherington understands my desire to keep my crew together. They have been with me for two years and need no training.”

“Understands?” Susan let out a soft laugh. “Was it not he who taught you the importance of an experienced crew?”

William sipped the coffee—not nearly as strong as his steward made it, but it served to rid him of the remaining chill from the rain. “Yes, I suppose Collin and I did learn that from him…along with everything else we know about commanding a ship.”

Susan sighed. “I wish you could stay so that I could get out of my engagement for the evening. Card parties have become all the fashion lately, but I have no skill for any of the games. If it weren’t for Julia, I would probably decline every invitation.”

“Julia—not Julia Witherington?” William set his cup down on the reading table beside him. He’d heard she had returned to Portsmouth following her mother’s death, but he’d hoped to avoid her.

“Yes. She returned to England about eight months ago and has become the darling of Portsmouth society, even if they do whisper about her being a ‘right old maid’ behind her back. Although recently, Julia’s presence always means Lady Pembroke—her aunt—is also in attendance.” The tone of Susan’s voice and wrinkling of her small nose left no doubt as to her feelings toward the aunt.

“Does Admiral Witherington attend many functions?”

“About half those his daughter does. Julia says she would attend fewer if she thought her aunt would allow. I have told her many times she should exert her position as a woman of independent means; after all, she is almost thir—of course it is not proper to reveal a woman’s age.” Susan blushed. “But Julia refuses to cross the old dragon.”

“So you have renewed your acquaintance with Miss Witherington, then?” The thought of Miss Julia Witherington captured William’s curiosity. He had not seen her since the Peace of Amiens twelve years ago…and the memory of his behavior toward her flooded him with guilt. His own flattered pride was to blame for leading her, and the rest of Portsmouth, to believe he would propose marriage. And for leading him to go so far as to speak to Sir Edward of the possibility.

“Julia and I have kept up a steady correspondence since she returned to Jamaica.” The slight narrowing of Susan’s blue eyes proved she remembered his actions of a dozen years ago all too well. “She was very hurt, William. She believes the attentions you paid her then were because you wished nothing more than to draw closer to her father.”

William rose, clasped his hands behind his back, and crossed to the floor-to-ceiling window beside the crackling fireplace. His reflection wavered against the darkness outside as the rain ran in rivulets down the paned glass. “I did not mean to mislead her. I thought she understood why I, a poor lieutenant with seeming no potential for future fortune, could not make her an offer.”

“Oh, William, she would have accepted your proposal despite your situation. And her father would have supported the marriage. You are his favorite—or so my dear Collin complains all the time.” Silence fell and Susan’s teasing smile faltered a bit. “She tells the most fascinating tales of life in Jamaica—she runs her father’s sugar plantation there. Collin cannot keep up with her in discussions of politics. She knows everything about the Royal Navy—but of course she would, as the daughter of an admiral.”

A high-pitched voice reciting ships’ ratings rang in William’s memory, and he couldn’t suppress a slight smile. Julia Witherington had known more about the navy at age ten than most lifelong sailors.


“My apologies, Susan.” He snapped out of his reverie and returned to his seat. “Did Collin ever tell you how competitive we were? Always trying to out-do the other in our studies or in our duty assignments.” He recalled a few incidents for his best friend’s wife, much safer mooring than thinking about the young beauty with the cascade of coppery hair he hadn’t been able to forget since the first time he met her, almost twenty years ago.

Julia Witherington lifted her head and rubbed the back of her neck. The columns of numbers in the ledgers weren’t adding properly, which made no sense.

An unmistakable sound clattered below; Julia crossed to the windows. A figure in a dark cloak and high-domed hat edged in gold stepped out of the carriage at the gate and into the rain-drenched front garden. Her mood brightened; she smoothed her gray muslin gown and stretched away the stiffness of inactivity.

She did not hear any movement across the hall. Slipping into her father’s dressing room, she found the valet asleep on the stool beside the wardrobe. She rapped on the mahogany paneled door of the tall cabinet.

The young man rubbed his eyes and then leapt to his feet. “Miss Witherington?”

She adopted a soft but authoritative tone. “The admiral’s home, Jim.”

He rushed to see to his duty, just as Julia had seen sailors do at the least word from her father. Admiral Sir Edward Witherington’s position demanded obedience, but his character earned his men’s respect. The valet grabbed his master’s housecoat and dry shoes. He tripped twice in his haste before tossing the hem of the dressing gown over his shoulder.

She smothered a smile and followed him down the marble staircase at a more sedate pace. The young man had yet to learn her father’s gentle nature.

Admiral Sir Edward Witherington submitted himself to his valet’s ministrations, a scowl etching his still-handsome face, broken only by the wink he gave Julia. She returned the gesture with a smile, though with some effort to stifle the yawn that wanted to escape.

He reached toward her. “You look tired. Did you rest at all today?”

She placed her hand in his. “The plantation’s books arrived from Jamaica in this morning’s post. I’ve spent most of the day trying to keep my head above the flotsam of numbers.”

Sir Edward’s chuckle rumbled in his chest as he kissed her forehead. He turned to the butler, who hovered nearby. “Creighton, inform cook we will be one more for dinner tonight.”

“Aye, sir,” the former sailor answered, a furrow between his dark brows.

That her father had invited one of his friends from the port Admiralty came as no surprise. Julia started toward the study, ready for the best time of the day—when she had her father to herself.

“Is that in addition to the extra place Lady Pembroke asked to have set?” Creighton asked.

Julia stopped and turned. “My aunt asked…?” She bit off the rest of the question. The butler did not need to be drawn into the discord between Julia and her aunt.

The admiral looked equally consternated. “I quite imagine she has somebody else entirely in mind, as I have not communicated my invitation with my sister-in-law. So I suppose we will have two guests for dinner this evening. Come, Julia.”

Once in her father’s study, Julia settled into her favorite winged armchair. A cheery fire danced on the hearth, fighting off the rainy day’s chill. Flickering light trickled across the volumes lining the walls, books primarily about history and naval warfare. She alone knew where he hid the novels.

He dropped a packet of correspondence on his desk, drawing her attention. She wondered if she should share her concern over the seeming inaccuracy of the plantation’s ledgers with her father. But a relaxed haziness started to settle over her mind, and the stiffness of hours spent hunched over the plantation’s books began to ease. Perhaps the new steward’s accounting methods were different from her own. No need to raise an alarm until she looked at them again with a clearer mind.

She loved this time alone with her father in the evenings, hearing of his duties, of the officers, politicians, and government officials he dealt with on a daily basis while deciding which ships to decommission and which to keep in service.

The sound of a door and footsteps in the hallway roused her. “Papa, how long will Lady Pembroke stay?”

Sir Edward crossed to the fireplace and stoked it with the poker. “You wish your aunt to leave? I do not like the thought of you without a female companion. You spend so much time on your own as it is.”

“I do not mean to sound ungrateful. I appreciate the fact that Aunt Augusta has offered her services to me, that she wants to…help me secure my status in Portsmouth society.” Julia stared at her twined fingers in her lap.

“It seems to have worked. Every day when I come home, there are more calling cards and invitations on the receiving table than I can count.” Going around behind his desk, he opened one of the cabinets and withdrew a small, ironbound chest. With an ornate brass key, he unlocked it, placed his coin purse inside, secured it again, and put it away.

“Yes. I have met so many people since she came to stay three months ago. And I am grateful to her for that. But she is so…” Julia struggled for words that would not cast aspersions.

The admiral’s forehead creased deeply when he raised his brows. “She is what?”

“She is…so different from Mama.”

“As she was your mother’s sister by marriage only, that is to be expected.”

Julia nodded. To say anything more would be to sound plaintive, and she did not want to spoil whatever time her father could spare for her with complaints about his sister-in-law, who had been kind enough to come stay.

Sir Edward sat at his desk, slipped on a pair of spectacles, and fingered through the stack of correspondence from the day’s post. He grunted and tossed the letters back on the desk.

“What is it, Papa?”

He rubbed his chin. “It has been nearly a year…yet every night, I look through the post hoping to see something addressed in your mother’s hand.”

Sorrow wrapped its cold fingers around Julia’s throat. “I started writing a letter to her today, forgetting she is not just back home in Jamaica.”

“Are you sorry I asked you to return to England?”

“No…” And yes. She did not want her father to think her ungrateful for all he had done for her. “I miss home, but I am happy to have had this time with you—to see you and be able to talk with you daily.” Memories slipped in with the warmth of the Jamaica sun. “On Tuesdays and Fridays, when Jeremiah would leave Tierra Dulce and go into town for the post, as soon as I saw the wagon return, I would run down the road to meet him—praying for a letter from you.”

His worried expression eased. “You looked forward to my missives filled with nothing more than life aboard ship and the accomplishments of those under my command?”

“Yes. I loved feeling as if I were there with you, walking Indomitable’s decks once again.”

His sea-green eyes faded into nostalgia. “Ah, the good old Indy.” His gaze refocused and snapped to Julia. “That reminds me. An old friend made berth in Spithead yesterday. Captain William Ransome.”

Julia bit back sharp words. William Ransome—the man she’d sworn she’d never forgive. The man whose name she’d grown to despise from its frequent mention in her father’s letters. He had always reported on William Ransome’s triumphs and promotions, even after William disappointed all Julia’s hopes twelve years ago. He wrote of William as if William had been born to him, seeming to forget his own son, lost at sea.

Her stomach clenched at the idea of seeing William Ransome again. “He’s here, in Portsmouth?”

“Aye. But not for long. He came back at my request to receive new orders.”

“And where are you sending him, now that we’re at peace with France?” Please, Lord, let it be some distant port.

Sir Edward smiled. “His ship is to be in drydock several weeks. Once repairs are finished, he will make sail for Jamaica.”

Julia’s heart surged and then dropped. “Jamaica?” Home. She was ready to go back, to sink her bare toes into the hot sand on the beach, to see all her friends.

“Ransome will escort a supply convoy to Kingston. Then he will take on his new assignment: to hunt for pirates and privateers—and if the American war continues much longer, possibly for blockade-
runners trying to escape through the Gulf of Mexico. He’ll weigh anchor in five weeks, barring foul weather.”

Five weeks was no time at all. Julia relaxed a bit—but she started at the thump of a knock on the front door below.

“Ah, that must be him now.” Sir Edward glanced at his pocket watch. “Though he is half an hour early.”


“Aye. Did not I tell you? Captain Ransome is joining us for dinner.”

My Review:
I loved it! I love period-style books, and this did NOT disappoint! Julia is wonderful, and it was lots of fun to see her defying convention in her own little ways.
I love the book cover because it shows you a beautiful and strong woman, and that's exactly who Julia is.
I extremely disliked her relatives, and I was really glad to see that she stood up to them.
It's a really good book, and I think that a lot of people would really enjoy it.