Monthly Archives: July 2013

Menu for the week

Wednesday: 

Quesadillas with rice, meat and cheese

Thursday:

Black beans and rice, salad

Friday:

Stir fry, rice 

Saturday:

Easy Caprese Salad, Green salad

Sunday: 

Leftovers

Monday:

Chicken Pesto Sandwiches (I am going to vary it a bit, but these look really good), salad

Tuesday:

Breakfast for dinner…Waffles, fruit and scrambled eggs

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Filed under Uncategorized

9 years ago…..

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Still pregnant here, with my two year old on my “lap”.

9 years ago, I was frustrated, hot (the house had almost no windows), scared, and really just ready to have a baby. I was sure that I was going to wake up and once again find that I was not in labor.

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About 8 months pregnant…

I was also a combo of sad and terrified as I had learned a friend of mine had lost her baby that day. This pregnancy had been one of the hardest of the four and I just had all these feelings rush to the surface.

However, I had the sense to let my midwife know that something was off that night, even though I knew I could be wrong.

Is it weird that it was my most peaceful labor? There was no reason it should have been. My husband was not beside me, so I clutched his shirt to pretend he was there and later wore it. My sister, whom I desperately wanted to be there, was 4 hours away (although she made it back in 3 something hours, I never want to know how, thank you, God for protecting her).
My midwife made it in plenty of time and was sleeping in the next room.
She was in training, but was also my mom, and completing her last births to be certified. I sacrificed privacy to help her with that as I had no money with to pay her.

One of my best friends was there to care for my children and when my sister made it, I was relaxing in the bathtub.

It was the first birth that I felt like I was in control of, even with all the out of control things going on around me, My youngest son came into the world at 8:08 am. I had my support team there, I knew that I could do this, even if I didn’t want to. I remember those last moments of pregnancy and thinking “I am going to see my baby, but I need to wait until I can’t anymore.”

He was 8 lbs. 3 oz. 21 in. long.

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My wonderful coach helping weigh the baby. She was in nursing school at the time!

n_a-8Another sister, helped wrap him up for the first time.

n_a-10He was very red! So red, it worried me for a bit!

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All four of my boys, together!

n_a-131 month old!

n_a-20In his Papa’s arms…his favorite place to be! (Well, when he was not hungry!)

n_a-24“You ready to duke it out? I am!”

Now, he is 9 year old! He loves babies himself….always ready and willing to lend a hand, play with them and usually still bright and cheerful.

The other day though, his brother was displaying a scratch he had inflicted upon him. My sister said “T, I thought you were done with that.”

He sighed and said “You know, I thought I was too.”  He shook his head sadly.

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Playing with his cousin

P1050242Even when school is not his favorite, he has a smile for us!

I like to celebrate my little guy, whom is not so little anymore. I would also love to remember the playmate he didn’t get to meet here on earth,  Tucker Dole, whom I can never pass this day by without remembering.

Happy birthday to you both!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Daily Happenings

Menu for the week

Wednesday: Meat and rice bowls…(I threw stew meat in the crock pot, leftover rice) and we ate in tortillas or bowls with cheese, tomatoes and peppers with sour cream and hot sauce.

Thursday:
Deer roast in crock pot, cooked noodles, salad

Friday:
Pizza, cucumbers
Saturday:
Broccoli soup, crusty bread
Sunday:
Potluck and bridal shower to go to…taking big pasta salad and some sort of dessert.
Monday:
Skillet Chicken with Mexican green rice, salad
Tuesday:
Enchiladas, spanish rice, salad

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Filed under Bargain Dinners

Whispers on the prairie by Vickie McDonough

My Review:
Sarah Marshall is unsure of where her life is headed. She loves working with the children at the orphanage, but really is hesitate about giving in to the many proposals her suitor is handing out very freely.

When her uncle throws another twist into it, but decided to take her invalid aunt out West, she feels she cannot allow her aunt to go alone and agrees to go with them as far as Santa Fe.

Tragedy strikes, rendering everyone’s plans useless and Sarah finds herself conflicted and confused about many things, but most of all, love.

Will she meet true love on this trip or will she settle for the practical option?

I was very busy and had to read this book over a matter of time, but the story line kept drawing me back into it. Sarah’s predicament seems so uncommon or hard to fathom for us now in the age of independence, but this book gives you eyes into the past. The frustrations a woman would feel, the many male eyes she would have to face, just being a single and available young woman were incredible.

Ms. McDonough does a job of weaving a light, somewhat romantic tale that is light on the romance, in a good way, that will pull you in and make you want to know more. This book left me looking forward to reading her next book! -Martha

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:

Whitaker House (June 17, 2013)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of twenty-six books and novellas. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she served as treasurer of the organization for three years and also was treasurer for her local chapter. Vickie lives with her husband, Robert, in Oklahoma. They have four grown sons and one daughter-in-law, and are grandparents to a precocious seven-year-old girl. When she isn’t writing, Vickie enjoys reading, shopping for antiques, watching movies, and traveling. Pioneer Promises Book Two, Call of the Prairie, is set for release in January 2014.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The last thing Sarah Marshall wanted was to leave Chicago and travel the dusty Santa Fe Trail, but when her uncle demands she help her feeble aunt, she can’t refuse. Her aunt had taken Sarah in after her parents died. She becomes stranded at the Harper Stage Stop in Kansas, one of the first stops on Santa Fe Trail, and her presence causes a stir. Ethan Harper’s well-ordered life is thrown into turmoil with his two brothers and every unmarried male in the county lining up to woo Miss Sarah whom Ethan views as an uppity city girl.  Is it because she’s the wrong woman for his brother—or the right one for himself?

Product Details:
List Price: $8.76
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (June 17, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603748415
ISBN-13: 978-1603748414

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

March 1870
Chicago
The toddler’s whimpers rose to an ear-splitting scream as the little girl pushed against the chest of the woman holding her captive.
“Here, let me have her, Abigail.” Sarah Marshall reached for Mary, and her friend handed over the fussy child. The girl persisted in her cries, so Sarah crooned to her, swaying in time to a waltz playing in her mind as she rubbed circles on the toddler’s back.
“I don’t see how you can have such patience with her. That obstinate child cries more than all the others in this orphanage combined.” Abigail bent down and reached for a handsome three-year-old boy, who came rushing toward her with a big smile that showed his dimples. “Personally,” Abigail raised her voice over Mary’s ruckus, “I prefer the quiet ones.”
Sarah smiled. “I prefer the needy ones.” She leaned her cheek against Mary’s head. “All is well, little one. All is well.” 
After a few more minutes, the wails finally subsided, and the girl began to relax. She sniffled, her whole body shaking as she finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
“Poor little one.” Sarah’s heart nearly broke for the child, recently orphaned by the death of her mother. At least, at such a young age, she stood a chance to adapt more easily than Sarah had when her parents died. Though the accident that claimed their lives had happened over a decade ago, she still missed her father’s big smile and her mother’s comforting arms.
“You’ll make a good mother one day.” Mrs. Rayburn leaned against the door frame, looking tired. “Are you sure you don’t want to move in here?”
Sarah smiled. “If my aunt was in better health, you know I would take you up on your offer. And I do hope to be a mother someday. If I’m good, as you say, it will be only because I learned from the best.”
Mrs. Rayburn swiped her hand in the air, but Sarah could tell the comment pleased her. If not for the generous care of the well-to-do widow, the six orphaned children who resided under her roof would most likely still be out on the cold Chicago streets, begging for scraps to eat, working for some cruel taskmaster—or worse.
Abigail glided to the center of the bedroom that had been converted into a nursery, holding Tommy on her hip, and pretended to dance with him. “Sarah may take a giant step in the direction of motherhood this very night.”
“Abigail!” Heat marched across Sarah’s cheeks as she thought of Walt and how he’d hinted at proposing—again—at her birthday dinner tonight. “I don’t want that news getting out.”
“Why not?” Abigail spun the boy in a circle, eliciting a giggle. “You aren’t going to turn the poor fellow down again, are you?”
Sarah glared at her best friend, wishing she would learn when to hush. She hoisted Mary higher on her chest and carried her to the adjoining bedroom. Stopping beside Mary’s bed, she rocked the girl from side to side to make sure she was asleep. Though she would never admit it to Abigail, the toddler’s wails did grate on her nerves from time to time, especially when she hadn’t slept well the night before. Holding her breath, she lowered Mary into her bed and then pulled the small quilt over her.
Sarah kept her hand ready to pat Mary’s back, should she stir. Thankfully, she didn’t. Straightening, Sarah checked on the two napping babies. She then tiptoed across the big room to adjust the blanket covering Ian, the six-month-old whose father had deposited him on Mrs. Rayburn’s doorstep last fall. The poor man had lost his wife and couldn’t care for an infant. Sarah’s heart ached for each one of the youngsters. She knew how hard life could be without parents. Still, she counted herself among the lucky ones—she’d been taken in by family, though she hadn’t lived in a house as fine as Mrs. Rayburn’s mansion.
Bending, Sarah filled her apron skirt with rag dolls, balls, and other toys, then deposited them in the toy basket as the mantel clock in the parlor chimed two o’clock. She tiptoed out of the nursery and back into the playroom.
“Time for you girls to head home.” Mrs. Rayburn crossed the room and clapped her hands. “Tommy, would you like to hear a story?”
The three-year-old lunged into the older woman’s arms. She hugged him and then set him down. “My, but you’re getting heavy.”
“Too much porridge, I imagine.” Grinning, Sarah turned to Abigail. “Are you leaving now, too?”
“Yes, Papa is sending his driver for me. See you tomorrow, Mrs. Rayburn.” Abigail waved good-bye as she walked from the room. She stopped in the doorway and faced Sarah. “Do you want a ride to your uncle’s shop?”
“Thank you, but I’ll walk.”
Tommy ran out of the nursery, lifted his little hand, and waved. Mrs. Rayburn followed him into the upstairs parlor and took hold of his hand. “I don’t know how I’d manage without you girls and your friends who volunteer in the evenings. I fear I’m getting too old to manage so many young children.”
Mrs. Rayburn had said the same thing for the past two years, and yet she hadn’t turned Mary away when a neighbor had brought her last week. Still, Sarah couldn’t help wondering if the day would come when the kind woman would feel it necessary to close her door to the orphans. What would happen to them then?
She and Abigail donned their cloaks and left the warmth of the cozy home behind as they stepped out into the blustery chill of March. The gusty wind off Lake Michigan whipped at Sarah’s skirts, and the gloomy sky released a light drizzle. Abigail’s driver stepped out from under the shelter of a nearby tree and opened the door of her carriage.
“Are you sure you won’t let us give you a ride? It’s a miserable day to be out.”
“Thank you, but I’ll be fine. I’m headed home, anyway, and that’s the opposite direction for you.”
“So, you’re not clerking for your uncle this afternoon?” Abigail accepted her driver’s hand and climbed into the buggy. “How did you get out of doing that?” She sat, leaning toward Sarah, her eyebrows lifted.
“I’m going home to help Aunt Emma get things ready for my birthday dinner.” Sarah turned so the wind was at her back and wrapped her fist around the edges of her cloak to hold it closed. “You’re still coming tonight?”
Abigail nodded, grinning. “I wouldn’t miss seeing Walt propose again. I don’t know why you don’t just accept. Your uncle will probably throw you out one of these days, and then where will you be?” She motioned to her driver, who closed the door and scurried up to his seat.
Sarah walked quickly toward State Street. She hadn’t missed how Abigail had poked her with her barbed comment about her uncle casting her out. That very possibility had been in the back of her mind. Uncle Harvey had barely tolerated her presence all these years. He’d never wanted children and wasn’t happy when his wife’s only sister died, leaving behind a daughter. It was a miracle the stingy man had agreed to let her live with them in the first place.
She blew out a sigh of relief at the sight of the horse-drawn trolley, just a block away. Hurrying to the middle of the street, she waited until it drew near, then grabbed the rail and stepped aboard. The sides of the carriage blocked the wind, to a degree, but the chilly air still seeped inside, bringing with it the aromas of baking bread and roasting meat.
The rain picked up, and she was glad she’d decided not to walk home. She stared out the window at the Chicago city streets, teeming with horses and buggies, fancy carriages, freight wagons, and even a man pulling a handcart. Busy people bustled up and down the boardwalks. She loved this town and hoped never to have to leave it.
If she married Walt, most likely she wouldn’t. Yet she struggled with the notion of being his wife. He was a good friend, yes, and she’d hate to disappoint him. Still, shouldn’t a woman have stronger feelings than friendship for the man she married?
Her uncle would be beside himself if she turned Walt down again. Maybe she should just say yes this time. At least then she’d be assured of having a home of her own—and of freeing herself from the heavy sense of owing her uncle. One would think the hours she’d spent doing chores in his home and clerking at his watch repair shop would be sufficient to cover any debt she owed, but she could never do enough to please Uncle Harvey. Still, she was grateful to have lived in his home these last twelve years. She should be satisfied and not wish for more.
And yet she did. She longed to marry a man who made her laugh like her papa had, one whose broad shoulders were strong enough to protect her. But she hadn’t yet met that man. Maybe she never would. Maybe she needed to give up on wishing and just be satisfied with Walt.
*****
Sarah sat back and rested her hands in her lap, smiling in satisfaction with the meal. She stole a glance at the sideboard loaded with food she’d helped her aunt and the cook prepare—roast leg of mutton and currant jelly, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, fried parsnips, and glazed carrots. Just the thought of it all made her stomach ache, and they had not even served dessert yet.
Walt wagged a finger at the servant standing at attention.
The servant hurried to the table from his post in the corner of the room. “Sir?”
“Bring me some more of those parsnips.”
Sarah winced at his commanding tone, then looked to the head of the table. Uncle Harvey was seated next to a stranger—Mr. Gibbons—who’d appeared at the door just before they’d sat down to dinner. The two were having a private discussion, but Sarah had overheard enough to know it was about the benefits of living on the western frontier. She couldn’t imagine what anyone found interesting about the untamed prairie, with its wild Indians and abundance of dust.
At the other end of the table, Lizzie Monahan and Betty Phillips engaged her aunt in a lively chat about the latest styles in fashion, while Abigail sat infatuated with Howard Shibley, Walt’s best friend, who babbled on about a recent report that the population of Chicago had reached 300,000. Sarah nearly rolled her eyes.
“What was that look for?” Walt dabbed his lips with his napkin.
Sarah leaned closer to him, so not to be heard. “If Howard has any hope of winning Abigail’s heart, he should find a more interesting topic of conversation.”
“I doubt romance has even entered his mind.”
“Obviously.” Sarah shook her head.
Walt rested his chin in his palm and caught her gaze, his hazel eyes gleaming. His ash-blond hair had been slicked down and combed back from his forehead. “Speaking of romance, are you ever going to agree to marry me?”
She sucked in a sharp breath and glanced around the table once more. Nobody cast an odd look her way, so she assumed that no one had overheard the oh-so-unromantic proposal. She had pretty much made up her mind to say yes, but his casual manner of asking made her want to shake her head. Schooling her features and straightening her posture, she replied. “I don’t know.”
Walt blinked, obviously taken aback. Seconds later, he scowled, then glanced across the room and motioned to the servant again. The man rushed to his side. “I seem to be out of parsnips again.”
Why couldn’t Walt have just kept quiet? She liked him well enough, but his frequent proposals were producing the opposite of their intended effect; they made her more inclined to avoid him than marry him. She snuck a glance at Abigail, still trying so hard to get Howard to notice her, while the man, clearly oblivious, just kept spouting his knowledge.
Sarah peeked at Walt again. He wasn’t particularly handsome, but he wasn’t ugly, either. He would be a good provider, being the sole heir to his father’s shoe factory, but she had a feeling that life with him would be just as boring as their evenings together. She wanted to marry—to finally be free from her uncle’s overpowering presence and stern glare—but she wanted a man who thought she was the only woman in the world for him. Yes, Walt seemed to feel that way, but something held her back. Was there something wrong with her?
An hour later, she stood at the door to see Walt on his way. Everyone else had already gone.
Walt hung his head and twisted his hat in his hands. “I…uh, won’t ask you again.” He lifted his gaze to hers, pain evident in his eyes.
She’d hurt him, and that was the last thing she’d wanted to do.
“I’m twenty-nine, Sarah. I’m ready to marry and start a family. I need to know if there’s any hope that you’ll say yes one day.”
“And I just turned nineteen—today.”
He closed his eyes and exhaled a heavy sigh. “All right. I’ll give you a few more months to make up your mind.”
Sarah bristled. What if she still didn’t have an answer? “And then?”
He stared at her with a serious, no-nonsense expression she’d never seen before. “And then I’ll be forced to look elsewhere. I mean to be married before I turn thirty.” He slapped his hat on his head and stepped out into the blustery evening wind.
She watched him jog down the steps with more purpose than usual. He wanted to get away from her, and that was just fine, as far as she was concerned. She shut the door. Some birthday party that had been.
The sound of raised voices drew her to the parlor. Her aunt and uncle rarely argued, mainly because Aunt Emma’s chronic illness made her too weary to fuss over trifles.
“Harvey, please. You can’t be serious about this.”
Sarah held her breath, all manner of ideas racing through her mind.
“You might as well come in here, Sarah. I know you’re out there.”
She jumped at her uncle’s stern command and was tempted to slither away, but her curiosity forced her to do as bidden. “I was just saying good night to Walt,” she explained as she entered the room.
“Sit down. I have something to tell you.”
Aunt Emma didn’t look up from the sofa but anxiously wrung her hands.
Sarah sat next to her and laid a steadying hand over her aunt’s.
Her uncle paced in front of the fireplace, where a cozy blaze heated the front half of the room. Still, a shiver clawed its way down Sarah’s spine. Whatever news she was about to hear, it wouldn’t be good, from the looks of it.
Uncle Harvey stopped in front of the hearth, rested one hand atop the mantel, and stared into the flames. “You met Gibbons tonight.” He straightened and stared at her, an unreadable expression in his brown eyes. “He’s a wagon master. Been leading wagon trains down the Santa Fe Trail for the past twenty years.”
Sarah’s thoughts whirled. Again she wondered about her uncle’s interest in such a rugged man as Mr. Gibbons. He hadn’t even worn proper attire for a dinner party.
“Oh, dear. Oh, dear.” Aunt Emma fanned her face. “I fear I’m not feeling well.”
Sarah’s uncle narrowed his gaze at his wife. “You may be dismissed as soon as I’m done.”
Aunt Emma gave him a meek nod, keeping her head down.
Uncle Harvey cleared his throat, drawing Sarah’s gaze again. “The truth of the matter is that my brother has written me from Kansas City to inform me that he’s moving his family to the New Mexico Territory, by way of the Santa Fe Trail.”
“New Mexico?” Sarah pressed her lips closed, knowing her uncle wouldn’t appreciate her outburst. She sidled a glance at her aunt. Why was she so distraught? Turning her attention back to her uncle, she voiced the question that wouldn’t go away. “Why would your brother want to move to such an uncivilized place?”
Uncle Harvey’s nostrils flared, and Aunt Emma uttered a pitiful moan.
“Because there is great opportunity there,” her uncle insisted. “Bob says that one day, the New Mexico Territory will become a state. He has been to Santa Fe and plans to return to open a mercantile there.”
Sarah blinked as she absorbed the information. The truth finally dawned, and she gasped, staring wide-eyed at her uncle. “Surely, you don’t mean to go there, too.”
He lifted his chin, revealing his wrinkled, white neck from its hiding place beneath his beard. “I most certainly do. Chicago has dozens of watchmakers. According to Bob, Santa Fe doesn’t have a single one. I plan to set up shop next to his store. We’ll build a door between the two, so that we can assist each other when things get busy.”
Sarah could see her well-ordered life spiraling out of control. She’d already lost her parents. How could she stand to lose Aunt Emma, too? Sarah stood and started pacing the room. “You already have as much business as you can handle. And how could you expect Aunt Emma to endure such a difficult trip?”
“I’ve talked to the doctor, and he says the warmer climate will be much better for her. Lydia will be there to take care of her if she falls ill.”
Falls ill? Didn’t he realize his wife was nearly always unwell? She’d been sickly ever since she’d survived a bout of scarlet fever a year before Sarah had come to live with them. The sickness had left her frail and had robbed her of her hearing in her right ear.
Sarah doubted Aunt Emma could survive such a rugged journey. “Won’t you reconsider, Uncle?”
He shook his head. “My mind is made up.”
“And what about me?” Could she stay in this big house alone? He’d always expected her to pay her own way, and she could hardly afford a place as nice as this two-story brownstone.
He shrugged. “I expect you to marry Walt, and then you’ll be his responsibility. I’ve already sold the house, so you can’t stay here.”
Her aunt gasped and stood. “How could you do such a thing without consulting me?”
Sarah’s heart ached for her aunt. How could Uncle Harvey be so insensitive?
“Now, Emma. It’s my place to make such decisions. You’ll see once we arrive in Santa Fe that this move was for the best.”
Emma screeched a heart-wrenching sob and ran from the room, her dark green silk dress swishing loudly.
Sarah had never once stood up to her intimidating uncle before. This time, concern for her aunt stiffened her spine, and she turned on him. “How could you be so selfish? Such a trip will probably kill Aunt Emma! Is that what you want?”
His nostrils flared. “She is no concern of yours.” He walked to the dark window and stared out through the panes. “I never wanted you to come here, you know. I never wanted children. They’re nothing but a nuisance. I will concede that you’ve been good for Emma, but she needs to learn to get along without you.” He turned back to her, his eyes narrowed. “Marry Walt. He’s a decent fellow.”
She’d always known her uncle hadn’t wanted her, but hearing the words spoken out loud pained her as badly as if she’d been stabbed in the heart. Out of respect for her aunt, she didn’t lash out at him as she wanted to. “I’m not ready to marry yet.” Uncle Harvey may have housed her all these years, but that didn’t give him the right to force her to wed a man she didn’t love. “I…I can find a boardinghouse to stay in.”
He smirked. “And how do you intend to pay for it?”
A wave of panic washed over her. She had a few coins her aunt had given her—nowhere near enough to live on, even for a short time. “I’ll find another job. Since I’ve worked for you for so long, I’ve honed my office skills and have plenty of experience.”
“Hmpf. What employer would hire a female clerk when he can so easily find a man to do the task?”
Sarah dropped back onto the sofa, realizing the truth of his statement. What would she do? Where would she live? How could she manage without her aunt’s loving guidance? The last time she’d felt as empty and confused as she did now was when she’d learned that her parents had died.
Quick footsteps sounded outside the room, and Sarah and her uncle both looked to the door. Her aunt had returned, her eyes damp, her face red and splotchy. With a trembling hand, she held a handkerchief below her nose. Sarah longed to embrace her aunt, but she would wait until her uncle left them alone.
“I see it’s too late to change your mind,” she said, her voice quavering. “You’ve wounded me deeply, Harvey. I hope you know that.”
He started toward her, his expression softening, and took her hands. “Haven’t I always taken care of you, darling? Have you ever lacked for anything?”
Her aunt didn’t respond, but Sarah could tell by her expression that she didn’t share her husband’s perspective. Steeling her gaze, Emma stared up at him with rare determination in her eyes. “I won’t go without Sarah.”
“What?” Sarah and her uncle exclaimed at once.
“I won’t go unless she goes, too.” Emma hiked her chin.
Sarah didn’t know what to say. This was the first time she had seen Aunt Emma stand up to her husband, and she couldn’t bear to tell her that her efforts were wasted. But the last thing Sarah cared to do was leave Chicago and travel on a wagon train to Santa Fe.
Even marriage to Walt would be preferable to that.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance

A Most peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano

A Most Peculiar Circumstance

By Jen Turano

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

From Back of the book:

Miss Arabella Beckett, defender of the down-trodden women of America, is returning from her travels in support of the women’s suffrage movement when she makes a simple offer of assistance to a young woman in need. But things go sadly awry, and both ladies soon find themselves in dire need of rescue. Arabella, always loath to admit she needs help, is particularly reluctant to receive assistance from the arrogant, narrow-minded knight in shining armor who shows up just in time.

Private investigator extraordinaire Mr. Theodore Wilder is on an assignment that began as a favor to his good friend Hamilton Beckett, but swiftly evolved into a merry chase across the country. He is already in a less than pleasant mood, and when Hamilton’s sister turns out to have radical ideas and a fiercely independent streak, he’s at his wit’s end.

Much to their chagrin, Theodore and Arabella’s paths continue to cross when they return home to New York, but the most unusual feelings beginning to grow between them certainly can’t be anything serious. When the trouble Arabella accidentally stirred up in her travels follows her home and threatens her very life, the unlikely couple must face the possibility that they might have landed in the most peculiar circumstance of all: love.

 

My Review:

I put off reviewing this book as I wanted to like it more than I did! The author has a lot of talent for creating a fun story that grabs at you, but this one did not grab me. It may have just been the mood I was in, but I struggled through.

She finds herself thrown together with someone she dislikes after being chased across the country by him, which he only did for a favor. It just seemed a little too far fetched to me and contrived.

I did like the historical aspect of the time period, the show of how women’s rights activist would have likely behaved in the time period.

I was given this book for review from Bethany House and the opinions contained therein are my own.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance

Body image…

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Come and join me for tea on this sunshiny day while I muse about body image. It is a topic that many people discuss in not only casual conversation, but also in the media, books and other places.

I read the book Invisible by Ginny Yttrup earlier this year. It got me thinking about the struggle that many of us have with accepting the way we look, no matter our size.

Is it a struggle for you? It is a struggle for me. Everyday I battle with it, wishing that things were different in one way or another, when it comes to my body.

Why is it such struggle? Why do we as a society place so much emphasis on our size?

We, as a family, have been working on overall health focus rather than body size focus and it has been better. It helps when you can focus on exercising not to lose those pesky 5-10 pounds or more, but rather improving your overall health.

Exercise is good for you. It can even be fun if you have company! It can also take over your life and become your primary focus. Food is a need. It is something we need to survive, to nourish our bodies. It can also become an obsession. Some people obsess about all organic food, gluten free, dairy free and other “free” lifestyles, while others focus on gourmet, fancy and appearance in their diet as well.

I find that we often can focus too much on things like this. It doesn’t mean it is wrong to lose weight, gain weight etc. But it is wrong to make it our primary focus, where it establishes our self worth, our value in this life.

Our value does not lie in  what people think of us if we bear the stripes of motherhood, are not the size we wish we were. When the time comes to face death, what will it matter?

I watched my aunt pass away the past few weeks. I watched how her weight went to very low numbers that models would envy and I thought of how ironic it could be that the numbers that become to important, were suddenly not the focus.

We let numbers on a scale rule our lives, instead of living them. If our friends or family cannot love us with our quirks and struggles, sometimes they may not be the healthiest people to spend time around.

We also need to think before we say an idle comment about someone’s appearance. When was the last time you complimented a friend without them losing weight?  Are we only encouraging when others are dieting? What about when we see someone eating well…are we encouraging of that too?

I have been hurt by many ignorant comments in the past about body size, diet, image, exercise and other things. It hurts when people ignorantly and flippantly say a comment that cuts to the quick.

I read this book that was one of the best I have ever read on the topic…http://www.amazon.com/Life-Beyond-Eating-Disorder-ebook/dp/B003ZK5LJW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374255176&sr=1-1&keywords=life+beyond+your+eating+disorder

She spoke some words in there about using an ignorant stamp when people make those comments. It applies to many areas of my life, and I need to use it more often. When someone makes a comment and they don’t realize what they are doing, stamp them on their forehead with an invisible stamp. You can tell yourself, “They are just ignorant. They don’t know what they are saying.” It can often help ease the hurt.

To all you women and men out there that struggle with body image, Remember that you are beautiful. You might struggle with all the shortcomings of your body and don’t let accepting yourself stop you on your journey to be healthier, but remember that you need to believe you are beautiful or handsome. You are made in the image of God and accepting that is a first step.

Work at your health, but don’t get obsessed. Love your family. Remember that this body is just a shell. Enjoy the relationships you have, with healthy people that love you for you, not your body.

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Does your past have to determine your future?

We all have a past, some of us a painful one, full of experiences that we wish we could have avoided. Some of them may have been from our own choices we made, some of them from choices we had made for us. 

Either way, we all have a past, some traumas, large or small to deal with. How we approach them, deal with them and ultimately face them can determine our future.  Are we going to be a victim or an overcomer? 

I believe we can accept our past, deal with it, sometimes multiple times, but still come out of it and achieve our goals and dreams in spite of our pasts. 

We all have choices to make. Often I hear people explaining the actions of another person by giving the reason that they had a really hard childhood, or someone hurt them very badly in the past. I am sure that is true. There are some really awful, awful things that happen to people in this life. 

However, when we use that for a reason as to why we are making our own poor choices, that is just an excuse. 

If Allan chooses to hit a man on the street in the face, because when he was a child that was how his dad dealt with his anger and he never quite got over it, that is horrific, but not an excuse for Allan to use that method of dealing with his anger. His anger is his own responsibility, not his father’s. His father has his own actions to account for, but we are accountable for our actions and choices. 

We can make the choice today to not repeat the past and we can let our past, determine our future in the way that we will let us propel us to better goals. 

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Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Barefoot Summer

By Denise Hunter

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.

To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.

Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.

Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

My Review:

Madison and Beckett both have secrets. Secret fears, guilt and nightmares that stem from similar events. This book is a tangle of guilt, fear and unforgiveness. As the tale weaves through, you see relief from many of it’s entanglements. Some of the issues are never quite resolved. It is difficult to figure out why Jade abandoned her family in the way she did. Also, the secrets their parents kept never made sense.

I am not a fan of secrets, so while this book was well written and has a good storyline, it irritated me that a family could avoid simple communication with one another and end up causing long term issues.

But, it is fiction! This book made me interested and kept me interested enough so that I kept coming back to it, even though it took me longer to finish! In the end, they were able to overcome their fears, and release them.

Martha

I received this book for review from Book Sneeze. The opinions contained therein are my own.

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Homeschooling for the faint of heart

When you read the title you either thought…”That’s not me!!” and went on to continue organizing your pencils, pens in neat rows and alphabetize your schoolbooks. Or, you may have read it and thought..”There are other people like me, that don’t always love homeschooling and are afraid?”

This is my 10th year of homeschooling coming up, counting kindergarten. It is daunting. I have at least another 9-10 years ahead of me. There are so many books, curriculums, co-ops, classes etc. available, that I find the task of deciding what to do, exhausting.

I sit here, staring at catalogs, shelves of books and often the tears feel like coming. For one, it feels like often, money is an obstacle in the way of achieving the “best” education. If you work twice as hard, extend yourself beyond what you believe you can do, you may be able to reach just an okay level of education, but you might fail.

What is homeschooling? Do you feel you are inadequate in many ways? Why do we have all the methods available now, that were not there before?

I am sitting here, contemplating buying a $400 curriculum, only for history and literature. Those are two of my favorite subjects, which I love and can teach with my hands tied behind my back. Why am I afraid that if I do not have this expensive curriculum, I will be unable to teach it?

The fear of not being good enough, not doing enough, not living up the standards placed on us has overwhelmed many homeschool moms. We believe ourselves to be failures if our child is not above and beyond the social norm.

Enter the child with learning disabilities. I learned last year when an experience left me with a bitter taste in my mouth that reminded me of a public school experience. It left the student discouraged and myself, as a teacher, wondering if I was inadequate.

I realized that a child that doesn’t struggle in school getting an A in a class is the norm. A child that struggles with multiple roadblocks, a C is similar to an A. The teacher that acts like they just are not trying hard enough to pay attention is one of the reasons I homeschool.

Enter, me, the faint of heart homeschooler. I don’t believe I am good enough. That comes across to my children when I am teaching them, that I don’t believe they are good enough to go anywhere in this world academically. This can discourage a child and break them from trying.

I didn’t plan on homeschooling. I didn’t believe I could do it. I was disorganized, hate schedules and lack patience to teach. When I ended up needing to homeschool, I struggled for a few years. I have slowly come to the point where I can believe that I am going to do this.

This year, I am taking some more steps outside of my comfort zone. I am not sure how it is going to work, but I hope that my children will measure up to the measuring stick I know that they can do.

I refuse to tell myself anymore that I can’t do it. I won’t tell them they can’t do it. I will look outside the box for help and support.

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Threads of Hope by Andrea Boeshaar

My Review:

Emily Sunberg has triumphed over rumor, made friends and lived in spite of feeling betrayed by Jake Edgerton so many years previously. When he appears in her life with a thud and knocks her literally to the ground, she finds the old familiar anger welling up within her.

This tale of Emily and Jake in the old west is a fun, romantic story. Her feisty friend Iris can keep you guessing throughout the book as Jake and Emily battle with their friendship throughout the story.

There were a few confusing elements in the book for me, that I was confused about, and wondering if I missed something, but they did not detract from the overall book.

This author is one that I seek out her historical fiction. She provides a good read for a rainy or hot summer day!
-Martha

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:
Realms (May 7, 2013)
***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach and speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at such conferences as Write-to-Publish, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Oregon Christian Writers Conference, Mount Hermon Writers Conference, and many local writers conferences. Another of Andrea’s accomplishments is cofounder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on both its advisory board and as its CEO.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Emily Sundberg has her life all laid out. She has a respectable job as a teacher and an idea of whom she should marry.  But does God have a better plan?

Emily Sundberg considers herself a proper young lady of the twentieth century. But a decade ago she behaved more like a tomboy. So when the neighbor’s grandson came to visit one summer when she was thirteen, they became fast friends. Emily even got her first kiss—quite by accident.

Unfortunately Jake Edgerton told all the boys something else. Rumors circulated, and Emily caved from embarrassment and guilt. Meanwhile Jake returned home to Fallon, Montana and she never saw or heard from him again.

Over the years Emily has worked hard to prove to her peers and the people of Manitowoc, Wisconsin that, despite past mistakes, she is an upstanding young woman, one worthy of being a schoolteacher—and possibly Andy Anderson’s wife. But even with the passing of time, Emily has never forgotten Jake and how he nearly ruined her life…

And now he’s a US deputy marshal and he’s back in town!

Product Details:

List Price: $11.28

PublisherRealms (May 7, 2013)

LanguageEnglish

ISBN-101621362396

ISBN-13978-1621362395

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

May 1902

Manitowoc, WisconsinAn explosion of shattering glass sounded from directly behind Emily Sundberg, and a thunderous weight crashed into her. The world spun, and then she fell hard and facedown on the dirty Franklin Street plank walk.

Breathe! Breathe! She struggled to inhale.

“Are you all right, ma’am?” A male voice spoke close to her ear. “I’m terribly sorry about knocking you over.”

He helped her sit, and a moment later a rush of sweet, springtime air filled Emily’s lungs. She let out a breath of relief.

“Are you hurt?”

“I . . . I don’t know.” Emily spit dirt from her mouth. Her left cheek began to throb. Her vision swam.

He steadied her, his arm around her shoulders. “Easy there.”

She took several deep breaths.

“Allow me to help you up and over to the bench. Like I said, I’m sorry ’bout knocking you over the way I did.”

Emily wiggled her toes inside her ivory-colored boots. Nothing broken. She moved her jaw. Despite the pain around her cheekbone, she seemed all right. Her hand moved to the back of her head. Her fat braid had come out of its pinning and her hat—her hat!

She pointed to the paved street seconds before a set of buggy wheels rolled over it, grinding the lovely creation into the paved road. Not once. But twice!

Emily moaned.

“Careful, now.” The man helped her to stand. “There’re shards of glass everywhere.”

Emily thanked God she hadn’t slammed her head into the nearby hitching post.

“Hooligans!” A woman’s voice rang out amidst the strangely silent street. It sounded like Mrs. Hopper’s. “Hooligans, ever’ one of ’em!”

Definitely Mrs. Hopper’s.

The man held Emily securely by her upper arms, and Emily’s gaze fell on his walnut-colored waistcoat. “You sure you’re not hurt?

“I–I don’t think so.”

“Well, I hope you can forgive me, ma’am.”

Emily’s gaze finally reached the man’s tanned and goldenwhiskered face. Shaggy blond hair framed his face and blood stained the corner of his mouth. In his canvas duster and matching trousers, the stranger looked out of place for Manitowoc, Wisconsin. But odd costumes weren’t totally uncommon, given the city’s lively port.

And yet, he seemed a bit familiar too . . .

“Unhand that girl, you hooligan!” Mrs. Hopper rushed forward and whacked the man on the shoulder with her cane.

He winced and released Emily. “I meant her no harm.” As Emily staggered backward slightly, the man caught her elbow. His velvety-brown gaze bore into hers as if to ask yet again if she’d been injured.

Funny how she guessed at his thoughts.

“I’m just shaken.” Emily glimpsed the remorse in his eyes before he bent and picked up the dark blue capelet that her grandmother, Bestamor, had knit for her. He gave it a shake before handing it over.

“And what about my hat?” Sadly she pointed again to the street.

The man collected its colorful but irreparably flattened remains.

“A travesty!” Mrs. Hopper’s age-lined face contorted in rage. “A travesty, I say!”

Travesty indeed! It had taken months for Emily to save for that fine bit of millinery with its silk ribbons, Chantilly lace, and pink roses on a velvet bandeau. Now Andy Anderson would never see it. She took the mangled remnants from the stranger’s hand. “I certainly hope you plan to reimburse me for this. I paid one dollar and fifty cents for it.”

“A dollar and a half? For a hat? I could buy a shoulder holster, cartridge belt, and ammunition for that sum.”

Unimpressed, Emily extended one hand of her torn netted glove. Another casualty.

Resignation softened his gaze before the man reached into his inside pocket and then placed two dollar bills into Emily’s outstretched palm. “This should more than cover it. Again, I apologize.”

“Thank you.” Emily smiled. “Apology accepted.” She folded the money and put it in her reticule, still attached to her wrist.

Mrs. Sylvia Hopper sniffed indignantly, but Emily caught the approving light in the older woman’s eyes. She’d known the elderly woman for a long while, as she had been Bestamor’s best friend back in Norway. She’d come to America just before Poppa was born, and now her granddaughter, Iris, was Emily’s best friend.

A small crowd pressed in on the boardwalk to gawk. Emily’s gaze moved to the man who lay sprawled out and unmoving several feet away.

She quickly turned away. “Is he dead?”

“Probably not.” The stranger bent and grabbed his hat that lay nearby and gave it a whack against his thigh. “My compliments. You took that tumble a far sight better than he did.”

“Who is he?”

“Name’s Wilcox. He’s wanted in five counties.”

Emily glanced at the motionless figure again. He didn’t look familiar.

“It’s actually amazing that you’re not out cold yourself. For a moment I feared I’d killed you.”

“And you could have killed her, you low-life hooligan!”

“Please, Mrs. Hopper . . . ” She glanced around, hating to be the subject of such a scene. “I’m fine. No need to worry.”

Muttering, the elderly woman walked to where several women stood a ways down on the boardwalk, holding parasols and whispering behind gloved fingers.

Emily felt suddenly unnerved. “I guess I’m sturdy for a woman. Even so, I haven’t taken a hit like that since my brothers jumped me and I fell off my horse. Those rascals pretended they were US marshals and I was one of the James Gang.” Emily moistened her lips, her gaze fixed on the handsome stranger. “They flung themselves at me from a tree limb. It’s a miracle we didn’t all break our necks. ”

A moment passed, and Emily wondered why this moment seemed sealed in time.

The man narrowed his gaze.

“Forgive my prattling.” She hadn’t meant to go on like that. “The fall must have shaken my tongue loose.”

Despite the injury to his mouth he grinned, and Emily could swear she’d seen that smile before.

“Both you fellas are paying for this damage to my front window!” Mr. Fransmuller stomped out of his restaurant and saloon. Emily knew him and his family, as young Hans had been in her class just the year before. “Look at what your brawl has done!”

Emily took note of the gaping hole where the two men had crashed through the window.

Mrs. Hopper limped over to the tavern owner. “There ought to be a law against such barbaric behavior in our town. Someone’s going to get killed. Why, Mr. Fransmuller, you should be ashamed, serving strong drink on a Thursday afternoon. Women aren’t safe to do their shopping in broad daylight anymore!”

“Just for the record, I wasn’t drinking,” said the familiar stranger. “Just playing cards is all.”

“And gambling, most likely.” Mrs. Hopper hurled another angry glare at him. “Gambling is a dirty sin.”

Fransmuller frowned and wiped his beefy hands on the black apron tied around his rounded belly. “Now, Mrs. Hopper, don’t start in on one of your holier-than-thou rants.”

“I beg your pardon?” Mrs. Hopper brought herself up to her full height of four feet nine inches. “How dare you speak to me in such a way, Mr. Fransmuller!”

“I’ve got a business to run, and I pay my taxes.” He threw a thumb over his shoulder. “But just look at my front window!” He gave a wag of his nearly bald head. “And you should see the saloon! One big mess!” Mr. Fransmuller marched up and stood toe to toe with the man beside Emily. “Who are you? I want your name. You’re paying for half the damages to my business!”

“Yes, sir.”

Emily watched as the stranger moved his duster to one side. She glimpsed the gun, discreetly haltered across his chest, before he produced his billfold and a silver badge. “Deputy Marshal John Alexander Kirk Edgerton at your service.” After a courteous dip forward, he counted out several large-sum bills. “Will this cover my portion of the damages?”

Emily gasped. Jake? Could it be?

Mr. Fransmuller stared at the money. “Yes. This will do.” He gave a nod of appeasement before walking away.

Mrs. Hopper moved down the boardwalk and continued her conversation with the other ladies.

“Jake?” Emily eked out his nickname, scarcely believing it was him. He was several inches taller, filled out some, and had grown whiskers since she last saw him ten years ago. “Jake Edgerton?”

His gaze slid to her and he smiled. “Well, well . . . Emily Sundberg.” He didn’t look surprised. Obviously he’d recognized her before she’d figured out his identity. “Look at you, all grown up—you even turned out pretty.”

“Hmph! Well, I see you haven’t changed!”

“It was a compliment.”

She bristled. It didn’t sound like a compliment. What’s more, she suddenly recalled that Jake was part of that US marshal stunt her brothers pulled.

Jake Edgerton was trouble. Trouble from the time they were thirteen and fifteen.

“So what are you doing in Manitowoc?”

“Attending my granddad’s funeral.”

Emily felt a sting of rebuke. “Oh, I–I’m sorry. I didn’t know he’d passed. I mean, I knew Mr. Ollie had been ill for a long while, but . . . ”

“Happened just last night.” Jake eyed her speculatively.

“I’m so sorry.”

“Me too.” He glanced away for a moment. “So what about you?” His gaze returned. “Married? Working at your family’s shipping business?”

“Neither. I’m a schoolteacher here in town. I only get home on Sundays.”

“A schoolteacher, eh?”

She nodded as the realization of Mr. Ollie’s death sunk in. A sweeping sadness prevailed. “Again, I’m sorry for your loss. Your grandfather was a good neighbor to our family.” She eyed the rugged man standing before her. Mr. Ollie spoke of him often, and Jake had been especially close to the old man. Oliver Stout, fondly called Mr. Ollie by Emily and her brothers, had been a respected attorney, one who’d boasted many times over the years that his only grandson would one day take over his law practice.

But it didn’t look that way. Not if Jake was a deputy marshal.

“I appreciate the condolences, Em.”

Such familiarity galled her. “So you’re a gambler as well as a lawman?” Emily could only imagine Mr. Ollie, weeping in heaven.

“I partake in a game of cards on occasion.”

“Family funerals being one of them?” She couldn’t squelch the quip.

Jake inhaled, but then seemed to think better of a reply. Instead, he guided her the rest of the way to the bench.

Emily tugged her capelet around her shoulders and sat. She eyed the crowd, praying no one would recognize her as Maple Street School’s third grade teacher or Agnes Sundberg’s niece or Jacob Dunbar’s cousin . . . or Captain Daniel Sundberg’s daughter. With so much family surrounding her in this town, Emily knew the odds were against her anonymity.

“Once again, I am terribly sorry you got in the middle of this whole mess.”

He couldn’t be sorrier than she!

Mr. Fransmuller began sweeping up glass and shooing people away from the scene when shrieks from across the street pierced the air.

Iris. She turned in time to see her best friend making an unladylike sprint from the department store.

“Emily! Emily Sundberg!”

Standing, she cringed. So much for hiding her identity.

Emily lifted a hand in a tiny wave. Iris spotted her and crossed the street. She held her hat in place on her head with one of her slender hands. In the other she clutched her wrapped purchases.

“What’s happened? Oh, my stars!” A pale blue dress hugged Iris’s wispy frame as she hurried toward Emily, while her wire-rim glasses slipped down her long nose. “I heard there was some barroom fight and you got trampled half to death. What would I do if I’d lost my very best frie—”

Iris’s gaze lit on Jake, and she slowed her steps. Giving him a timid smile, she let go of her hat and pushed up her glasses.

He touched the brim of his hat. “Ma’am.”

Iris leaned toward Emily. “Is he the one who ran you over?”

“That about sums it up. But I’m fine, so let’s finish our shopping, shall we?”

Iris didn’t budge. “Aren’t you going to introduce us?” She nudged Emily, who felt a new soreness in her rib cage.

Jake spoke up before she could. “US Deputy Marshal Jake Edgerton, ma’am.”

“Deputy marshal? How impressive.” Iris’s smile grew. “I’m Miss Iris Hopper and Emily’s best friend, going on eight years now. Right, Em?”

“Right.”

“My parents were killed in a horrible mud slide in South America where we were missionaries. I’ve lived with my grandmother ever since.” She pointed to where Mrs. Hopper still stood, recounting the event to an accumulating cluster of women.

“Sorry to hear of your loss.” Jake’s gaze, the color of the brandy he denied drinking, shifted to Emily. “As for Em and me, we go way back too.” A slow grin spread across his mouth. “Ain’t that right? And I must admit it’s been a pleasure, um, running into you today.”

Shut up, Jake. She looked down the block, wondering if he had any idea how much heartache he’d caused her over the years. Because of him and his big mouth, she’d spent half her life repairing her blemished reputation in this town. Worse, Jake never wrote back to her when she’d attempted to apologize for her part in the wrongdoing.

“How’re your brothers?” He gave a nostalgic wag of his head. “That summer I visited Granddad and met all of you Sundbergs was the best in all my life.”

“Eden and Zeb are fine. Just fine.” She couldn’t get herself to say any more. “We’re all fine.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“Emily’s never mentioned you.” Iris’s pointed features soured with her deep frown. She leaned closer to Emily. “I thought we told each other everything.”

“No? You never mentioned me, Em?” Jake’s dark eyes glinted with mischief.

Tried half my life to forget you! She clenched her jaw to keep back the retort and realized that it hurt too.

His expression changed. “Maybe you ought to see a doctor, Emily.”

She wished he hadn’t picked up on her wince. “No, I’m fine.”

“She always says that,” Iris tattled. “She’s always ‘fine.’”

“How far’s the doctor’s office from here?”

“I don’t need a doctor, Jake. But thanks, anyway.”

“Well, goodness, Em, you certainly did take the worst of it.” Iris brushed off the back of Emily’s capelet. “And, oh, my stars! Just look at your hat. It’s ruined.”

“Yes, I know. But Jake reimbursed me.”

“How thoughtful.” After a smile his way, Iris examined Emily’s face like she was one of her fourth graders. “I’m not mistaken a bruise is already forming on your left cheek.” Iris clucked her tongue. “You’ll be a sight at the Memorial Day Dance tomorrow night. But if you need to stay home now, I will too.”

“No. We’re still going.” Emily knew her friend looked forward to this community event that honored war veterans as much as she did. In addition, Andy Anderson would be there. Maybe if he saw her in the new dress Momma and Bestamor had sewn especially for the occasion, he’d finally notice her, and not just as Eden’s sister either.

“Andy won’t give you the time of day if you’re all banged up. You might as well stay home.”

Iris had spoken her thoughts. Sadness descended like a fog rolling in from off Lake Michigan. Emily fingered her sore cheek. She’d decided months ago that Andy would make a perfectly suitable husband. Would this ruin her chances of finally catching his eye?

“Might help if you go home and put a cold compress on it,” Jake suggested. “I’ll bet no one will be the wiser by tomorrow night.”

“Sure, that’s right,” Iris’s gaze softened. “Perhaps Andy won’t see any bruising. And we can cake on some of Granny’s concealing cream wherever necessary.”

Glimpsing Jake’s amused grin, Emily blushed. How could Iris speak about such personal things in front of him?

“Excuse me, but are you speaking of Andy Anderson by any chance?” Jake hiked his hat farther back on his head.

“Yes.” Again, Iris seemed happy to provide all the information.

However, the last thing Emily wanted was Jake Edgerton to get involved in her life. “We should be on our way, Iris. Let’s catch up with your granny.”

“Well, I’ll be . . . ” Jake leaned against a hitching post. “Andy Anderson . . . what’s that rascal doing these days?”

“Andy works over at the aluminum factory.” Iris pointed just beyond Jake’s left shoulder and toward where the large, thriving business was located. “He’s quite the lady’s man, but Em hopes to change all that.”

“Iris, really!” Emily gave her friend a stern look.

“Interesting.” Jake gazed off into the distance, his lips pursed as he kneaded his jaw. He seemed to mull over the information before looking back at Emily. “I wondered if I’d see Andy while I was in town.” His gaze focused on Iris. “Andy and I go way back too.”

Every muscle in Emily’s body tensed. If only Mr. Ollie could have waited just a week longer to pass from this world to the next. Her hopes ran high for the Memorial Day Dance tomorrow night, and it vexed her that Jake might have the power to destroy her welllaid plans.

“Emily is counting on Andy to ask her for a dance tomorrow night, but—”

“Iris!” Aghast, she gave her friend’s arm a jerk. “I’m sure Deputy Edgerton doesn’t care about such things.”

“Sure I do.” He straightened, still grinning. “And I’ll tell you what, Em, if Andy doesn’t dance with you, I’d be happy to.”

“Thank you, but I can’t possibly accept.” She tamped down the urge to scowl.

“It’s the least I can do.” After another charming smirk, he arched a brow. “What time’s the grand affair?”

“Aren’t you in mourning?” He just couldn’t show up.

“Of course I am.” Jake rolled one of his broad shoulders. “But I know Granddad fought in the Civil War, and I think he’d want me to attend.”

Iris happily divulged the details, and Emily wanted to scream.

“I’ll be there,” Jake said.

“How grand!” Iris adjusted her colorfully decorative hat. “Then, of course, you must save a dance for me.”

“Iris!” How could her friend be so bold?

Jake didn’t seem offended. “It’d be my honor, ma’am.” He smiled rather sheepishly.

Enough! Emily turned on her heel and strode down the walk, passing Mrs. Hopper and the other women. Her heels clicked hard on the weathered planks. While she walked faster than a lady should, if she didn’t hurry, she’d lose her composure here and now— and right in front of the man who’d nearly ruined her life!

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