Sunday, October 28, 2012

We're Pleased to Welcome Catherine Richmond

Is there a story behind Through Rushing Water?
Is there ever! Spring for Susannah is set in the 1870s. I decided to set my second historical romance in that same fascinating time period, but closer to home. The most significant event here was the trial of Standing Bear, in which the verdict was that an Indian was a person in the eyes of the law. What led up to that court case? I found a mention of a Russian woman teaching at the Ponca Agency school. A woman with the same name taught at Vassar College during this time. Why would someone leave what must have been the most comfortable job in the U.S. to become a missionary to a poorly-supplied Indian agency on the Nebraska-Dakota border? She would have been surrounded by people with a different skin color, different culture, different language. Their enormous needs would have overwhelmed her and their enormous faith humbled her. That sounded a lot like my experience on mission trips to Jamaica. I knew I'd found my heroine

What started you on your writing journey?

I had no intentions of becoming a writer - don't you have to be male, British, and dead, like Dickens? Then I heard a song about a mail order bride meeting her husband for the first time. The story poured out from there. All I had to do -cough- was learn how to write! What distracts you from writing the easiest? Ghirardelli chocolate chips can get really noisy - so I have to eat them!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
One of the joys of this career has been meeting so many wonderful writers and reading their books. I love books that bring history to life with a dash of humor, such as those by Stephanie Whitson, Lorna Seilstad, Laura Frantz, Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman, Dorothy Love, Rosslyn Elliot, Cheryl St. John, and... oh, dear, I'm sure I'm forgetting someone!

Did you have any interesting discoveries in the research for Through Rushing Water? Yes! I connected five people from the trial of Standing Bear with one church! How amazing is that? And what a wonderful reminder that church is more than potlucks and committee meetings. God wants us to seek justice and defend the oppressed!

If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and why?
There's a painting in our local art museum, the Joslyn, Mountain Landscape by Gustave Doré. The artist captures the moment when the sun sinks behind the mountains, the stars start to come out, and the mist rises from the valley. It gives me chills. I'd like to write to evoke that strong of a reaction in readers.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Climbed a waterfall in Jamaica. I was going to excuse myself, but then a doctor who had twenty-five years on me and a fresh knee replacement went charging past. I had keep an eye on him! I got a scene and the title for Through Rushing Water from that experience, so I'd say it was worth it!

What is your strangest habit?
This is more of a quirk than a habit. I just realized I chose meals based on how easy it is to read while eating. Oh, the indulgent joys of an empty nest!

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?
Eccentricity expressed in irony with a dash of wisdom. I have a collection of these zingers on my website:

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?
I grew up in the DC area, surrounded by museums, old houses, and civil war battlefields. How influential that turned out to be!Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in? My husband taught a class in France this summer. The only French word he knows is fromage, so I had to go along since I know how to say Je ne parle pas francais. From Monet's garden to a chocolate factory in Switzerland, we had a wonderful trip!

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
My favorite verse is "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." -Colossians 3:23 Few of us are called to foreign mission fields
or Billy Graham-levels of evangelism, but we're all working for the Lord each and every day!

Tell us about this photo of you in a tiara and feather boa.
To celebrate the release of my first novel, the women from my critique group took me out to a New Orleans style tea room. I'm a blue jeans and sweatshirt girl, so it was fun to tap into my inner Barbara Cartland.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I have a number of projects romping around my head like naughty puppies. I'll let you know when I get them paper trained!

To buy her book, go here:
Barnes and Noble

Catherine is giving away a copy of Through Rushing Water. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Through Rushing Water by Cathy Richmond

Sophia has her life all planned out--but her plan didn't include being jilted or ending up in Dakota territory.

Sophia Makinoff is certain 1876 is the year that she’ll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her heartache and humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions on a whim.

With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she’s being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in Dakota Territory. She can’t even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she’ll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known—and never expected—and ignites in her a passion for the people she’s sent to serve.

It’s a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When US policy decrees that they be uprooted from their land and marched hundreds of miles away in the middle of winter, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to
fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny.

To read the first chapter, click:

To buy her book, go here:

Barnes and Noble

I was busy raising a family, working as an
occupational therapist, and trying to remember where I hid the chocolate, when a song sparked a story within me. The journey to publication has been long, but full of blessings. I couldn’t have done it without ACFW, RWA, and FHL, the inspirational chapter of RWA, and Nebraska Novelists critique group.

I was born in Washington, DC, grew up in northern Virginia, attended Western Michigan University, and moved around a lot for my husband’s aviation career. Maybe our paths have crossed; shoot me an email and we’ll figure it out!

My favorite place to write is the porch. Then I reward myself with reading time in my air chair – and chocolate, of course!

Catherine is giving away a copy of Through Rushing Water. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Friday, October 26, 2012

Say Hello to Author Sharon Srock

Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s writing credits include numerous poems and short stories published in science fiction fanzines.

First of all, congratulations on The Women of Valley View series! Is there a story behind Callie?
Not in the in the writing of this story, but in what got me back to writing. I tried to write for publication 25 years ago and never really succeeded. I had a few poems and short stories published in StarTrek fanzines, but the novel I wrote never saw the light of day.  I know now that God had another direction for my writing. Three years ago a new employee stopped by my desk at work to introduce herself. In the course of that conversation, she mentioned that she was a writer. I told her that had been my dream at one time. She looked at me and spoke five words. “You gave up too soon.” It was like my wake up call from God. That night I began Callie’s story.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
I have a full time job and a part time job, a family and a home to take care of. Y life is always distracted. I’ve learned to write in short bursts, lunch time, break time, Thirty minutes before bed, in the car…

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
I’d have to say the main character, Callie. When I started writing the story I had no real clue about where I was going. I fashioned Callie after myself in some ways. It didn't take long for her to develop a personality completely opposite from me. I’m introverted, she extroverted. She’s bold and wise, I don’t see those things in myself. I often wonder just what planet she actually came from.

Sounds like you truly enjoyed the character development. Now a little about you: If you were a style of music, what style would you be?

Sappy idealistic love songs from the late 60’s early 70s.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Dress up in a Star Trek uniform and go to conventions.

What fun!! What is your favorite season of the year? 

I have a serious sweater addiction, so I only have three seasons to my year. Summer, Spring, and Sweater. Sweater is my favorite!

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

My husband decided a few years ago that he’d had all the travel he wanted. Since I still had places I wanted to see and things I wanted to do, I began taking my grandchildren, one at a time, on vacation. We've been to Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, Orlando, taken several cruises, and spent a week in Cozumel. Of all of those I love Cozumel best. The beaches, the people, the laid back attitude…I’d retire in Cozumel if I could figure out a way to take my family with me.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends? (and feel free to share a recipe with us!)

This is not a family favorite, but I have made it and loved it. It’s also mentioned in the book.

Snickers Cheesecake
24 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar 
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice 
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 regular-size Snickers bars, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup caramel sauce, optional
1/4 cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts, option


1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mist a 9-inch spring-form pan with cooking spray. Wrap bottom and sides with 2 large foil pieces. Pulse cookies in a food processor until crushed. Pulse in butter. Press into an even layer in pan. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

2. Make filling: Place a roasting pan filled with 1 inch hot water on oven's center rack. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar; beat for 1 minute. Beat in eggs. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in vanilla, lemon juice and cornstarch.

3. Sprinkle Snickers over crust. Pour batter into pan; place in water bath. Bake until cake is set around edges but still jiggles in center, about 55 minutes.

4. Remove cake from roasting pan; remove foil. Place cake on a rack to cool. Cover and chill until firm, 4 hours or up to 1 day. When ready to serve, drizzle top with caramel sauce and top with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. 

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

My husband wasn't saved when we married. I prayed for 13 years before he accepted the Lord. I can tell you about every emotion described in this verse. I've applied it to my writing as well.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

The next book in the series is The Women of Valley View: Terri.
It has more of a romantic thread than Callie’s story. Here’s a single sentence to get hook your attention.

A daycare owner hungers for her own child, but can’t imagine the novelist she secretly loves starting over from scratch.

I don’t have a release date yet, but I look for it to be available by summer 2013.

Want to Meet The Women of Valley View? Sharon has a free pdf file she can send you if you contact her. It's a collection of stories that introduce you to each of the women in the series. 

Women of Valley View blog

Sharon on Facebook

Sharon on Twitter


Thanks for stopping by The Loft!

Sharon Srock is giving away a copy of The Women of Valley View: CallieTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Read wherever you wander.
The Wandering Writer,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Women of Valley View: Callie by Sharon Srock

Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s writing credits include numerous poems and short stories published in science fiction fanzines.

The Women of Valley View: Callie

Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save them all.

Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who’s befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.

Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.

Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing.  And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.

For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.


   Callie Stillman dabbed raindrops from her face with a linen napkin as Benton dodged a server with a loaded tray and took his place across from her. She smiled into her husband’s blue eyes and reached across to wipe water from his beard. “We’ll both have pneumonia if we don’t dry off soon.”
   Benton took the napkin and finished the job. “I’ve been told the food is very good. A few sniffles should be worth it.”
    Callie’s gaze roamed the room. “It’s…” Recognition slammed into her chest, forcing the air from her lungs. The man crossing the room behind her husband nodded and continued to his table. Was that the bailiff? Do you swear to tell the truth… She gulped for breath and fought the familiar darkness that crowded the edges of her vision.
    Callie ran a finger around her collar, tugging the neck of the blouse away from skin suddenly dewed with a fine film of sweat. Too hot. She took a sip of water, dismayed at the tremor in her hand as she lifted the glass to her lips. Not here, not tonight. Callie closed her eyes and practiced the breathing techniques she’d learned over the last six months. In through her nose, hold for a few seconds, and out through her mouth. Concentrate only on the current step in the process, the next breath. The tightness in her chest began to fade away. Thank you, Jesus. She raised her water again and held the cold glass to her flushed cheek.
    Callie met Benton’s eyes across the table. The concern etched on her husband’s face threatened to break her heart. Benton had been so supportive during the last few months, so protective while she tried to heal. She would beat this. For him, she would move on.
    “You OK?”
    Callie smiled. “I’m fine. It’s just a little warm in here all of a sudden.”
    Benton cocked his head to the side. “You sure? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
    A ghost? She closed her eyes, the images unbidden but ever present. Sawyer’s pale, lifeless face. Callie’s hand reaching out to stroke baby-fine hair, bruises the mortician’s makeup couldn’t hide. That tiny coffin lowered into the ground. Callie could have lived with a ghost, but her haunted memories and the never-ending what ifs that traveled with them would drive her crazy.
    Two more breaths, another swallow of cold water. Callie smiled at Benton. “This was a nice surprise. Thanks for thinking of it.”
    Benton took her hand. “Anything for the woman I love. Have you decided what you’d like for dinner?”
   “I—“ A vicious bolt of lightning lit the dark Oklahoma sky outside the windows of the restaurant. Thunder exploded across the sky. The lights flickered and went off, plunging the room into sudden darkness and silence except for the terrified cries of a frightened child.
    Callie jumped to her feet. Her chair tipped sideways onto the carpeted floor. Oh Jesus, please make the crying stop. A harsh voice cut across the child’s frantic cries. “Andy, sit down and stop that noise. It’s just thunder.”
   The lights came back up and Callie’s awareness narrowed to the cries of the child. Is that how Sawyer sounded? Frightened howls as his eighteen months of life surrendered to the beating his father dealt him. Oh Jesus, I’m so sorry. So sorry I let Janette deceive me. So sorry I didn’t ask you before I testified. I know you’ve forgiven me. Please help me forgive myself. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. Callie bolted from the restaurant.
    “Callie!” Benton called. She was letting him down. Still she ran for the door.
    When Benton found her several minutes later, she stood by the car. Rain cascaded over her, mixing with her tears. Benton pulled her into his arms, wet and all. He held her close, his bearded chin rested on her head. “Shh, baby, it’s OK. I’m sorry. This was a bad idea.”
    Callie clung to him like the lifeline between sanity and madness he was. “Benton, no. It was a great idea. I know you were trying to distract me. Trying to make me forget Sawyer’s birthday. I thought I could.” She allowed Benton to help her into the car, only to bend double in the seat as the panicked adrenalin gave way to nausea. “How could I have been so stupid?”
    Benton started the car and turned the heater up to high. “Callie, you weren’t stupid. You thought you were doing the right thing.”
    Callie shook her head. “I just wanted to help. I knew Janette wasn’t abusing her kids. She didn’t deserve to lose them. Testifying to that…being at the hearing to support her…celebrating when it was over. I just wanted to help,” she repeated.
    Her husband navigated the rain-washed streets while Callie huddled in the seat, head down, arms wrapped around her middle. The images in her mind took on a life of their own. Janette, sitting in her office, tearful over charges of alleged child abuse, frantic because her babies had been taken from her. Callie’s unhesitating agreement to appear in court as a character witness. The custody hearing, her nervous testimony, the endless waiting for the judge to make a decision, the joy of seeing those two babies reunited with their mother. And Sawyer died because of my interference. Jesus, give me strength. Give me the wisdom I need to never put myself in that situation again.

Want to Meet The Women of Valley View? Sharon has a free pdf file she can send you if you contact her. It's a collection of stories that introduce you to each of the women in the series. 

Women of Valley View blog

Sharon on Facebook

Sharon on Twitter


Sharon Srock is giving away a copy of The Women of Valley View: CallieTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Read wherever you wander.
The Wandering Writer,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Winner's Wednesday!!


The Last Bequest by Lisa J. Lickel - Winner is Delia Latham
The Road to Mercy by Kathy Harris - Winner is Becky
A Lady in the Making by Susan Page Davis - Winner is Pat Hines
Winners, it's your responsibility to contact me (CarolAnn.Erhardt {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you the book.

Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss the winners list. ;-)

Monday, October 22, 2012

God Saw This Coming

This month hasn't exactly been awesome in any way, according to my limited way of thinking. Still, after much groaning, cursing (I confess...teehee), muttering, screaming, and finally some quiet moments with God, I have my reminder. 

God saw this coming, and the same God who pays enough attention to number hairs and give us unique fingerprints must have a plan. 

For me, that plan included lying flat on my sister's bed in the dark and allowing water to squeeze past my eyelids. (Quite the aversion to crying here.) It included getting some much-needed rest and going back to the beginning--Him. In all the busyness and insanity of the past two or so weeks, I've barely had my quiet time with God. I'm not one of those people who can function otherwise. I need Jesus time to be patient and not roll my eyes ... I'm just not that nice all by myself.

I don't know what works for you, but maybe we need to step back for a moment and refocus. Maybe we need to deliberately call to mind the mercies and faithfulness of God. Maybe, before we can take the stories we're writing any further, we need to look back on the stories of our lives and see how God has brought us through worse conflicts than we can ever pen. Maybe we just need to remember. To remember God. To remember the arms that hold us in every season. 

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:24, 25)

Blessings and love, 


Guest Blogger Bio: 

Lori-Ann Whyte, is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers

The youngest of six girls from a Jamaican home with parents who bought books instead of toys, Lori prefers reading to all other forms of entertainment. 

She has finally worked her way around to calling herself a writer, and has developed a deep passion for the art form. A proud weirdo, with a four-year-old for a best friend, Lori hopes to grow up one day. 

God seems to be leading the conspiracy to accomplish just that.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Legacy of Deer Run by Elaine Marie Cooper

Back Page Blurb:

The Year is 1800.


A young man makes weapons for the defense of America, still a fledgling nation. He also protects his heart from the allure of a young woman who seems so far above his station in life that he cannot win her.


The lady fights her own war against loneliness and grief. Despite her finery and airs, she is drawn to the young armory worker, who is distant yet disarming.


Love is the not the only entanglement. The nation's enemies are afoot. They creep within the very walls where America’s defenses are being forged. Who are they? When will they strike? Who will survive their terrorism?


Intrigue of the heart and intrigue of the times are only part of this compelling story—Book 3 of the Deer Run Saga. This series finale is a gripping mix of romance and deception, faith and forgiveness, transgression and trial.

Book Trailer:



Chapter 3

Church Raising


The wind near the river disrupted Susannah’s carefully coifed curls. The voluminous brown tresses often vexed her on such blustery days, but today in particular.

Why did Father insist I help feed the workers? She inwardly groaned at the task and wished she were at home, consumed in her reading. Enmeshed in one of her favorite novels, Susannah could pretend she was elsewhere. Anywhere but here.

Standing near the loading ramp, she impatiently awaited the arrival of the ferry. Modesty’s incessant chatter began to irritate her. The new maid was not shy in the least, and often lacked discretion.

Would she ever stop talking?

“Such a lovely day, is it not, Miss Susannah? Why, a finer April I’ve never seen. Even the river is fair peaceful. The ferry should be smooth as French silk—not that you’d want to be seen wearing French silk, mind you. Not with those frogs giving our fine sailors such grief on the high seas. My cousin in our fine Navy must be near beside himself with those seafaring Frenchy ruffians.”

She paused for a moment and Susannah grabbed her opportunity.

“Perhaps, Modesty, we can put aside such political meanderings. After all, this church raising should draw our minds toward our work for God, should it not?”

Modesty’s face turned a bright red, emphasizing the Irish auburn color of her hair even further.

“Aye, miss, you do speak God’s truth.” She looked at the ground as the ferry drew closer to the landing.

“Well, Modesty, here it is. Do watch your skirts on the damp wood.” Susannah hiked up her gown a mere inch or two. Looking back at Modesty, Susannah inwardly groaned as she observed the maid draw hers upwards several inches, exposing a sufficient amount of her stocking-covered legs to draw the obvious attention of three men stepping onto the ferry behind them.

Susannah blushed with humiliation when she heard them whispering and chuckling in a manner that one hears from workmen with their minds in the gutter.


She glared at the three, which promptly arrested any further laughter from the working class fellows.

Hill people. She huffed.

Standing next to the railing, Susannah glanced at her maid.

“You can let your gown down now, Modesty.” She kept her voice low.

The maid quickly opened her chubby fingers and released the material, apparently oblivious to the stares she was getting. She was too busy taking in the surroundings, grinning from ear to ear.

“It’s been many a day since I’ve ridden this ferry, miss. I so love an adventure.”

Susannah rolled her eyes. “It’s just across the river, Modesty. Not much of a journey.”

“Aye, but it’s such a delight.” Her gaze wandered incessantly from the scenery to the faces of those on board. Suddenly her eyes seemed to lock on something. Or someone.

“Well, looka there, miss.” Her lips slowly curved upward into a wide grin. “Now a finer face on a man I ne’er did see. Look.”

Much to Susannah’s horror Modesty pointed right at the last passenger boarding and spun Susannah to face him. After he boarded, he leaned over the ferry rail next to a friend, looking for all the world as if he would lose his breakfast into the swirling water of the river.

Susannah swung away, seething. “Do not do that again, Modesty. You have embarrassed me beyond words.”

Intense heat flooded both cheeks as she stared down at the water, trying to appear aloof. Her bonnet flapped slightly in the wind and she grabbed the crown to be sure it would not lift from her head. Retying the ribbons holding the striped linen bonnet in place, she was startled by a slight commotion.

“Blast! There goes my cap.” The dark-haired man who had caught Modesty’s attention reached toward the water as if his hands could will the head covering back into his desperate grip. But the woolen hat sailed downstream, seemingly intent upon its own adventure.

Looks like someone in Hartford will be wearing that now. Susannah smirked.

“Poor lad. That’ll cost him a half dollar at least.” Modesty shook her head.

“It’s only a hat. I’m certain he can replace it quite easily at my father’s store.”

“True enough, miss. But I wager that fifty cents will cost him dear.” Modesty revealed a sly grin. “Perhaps I might comfort the man with some sympathy.”

Susannah recognized that glint in her servant’s eyes and she pulled back on Modesty’s arm.

“We shall not approach that man. That is most unladylike.”

Modesty snorted. “No one’s ever accused me of being a lady, miss.”

Not surprising.

“Even so, we shall not approach him. We have work to do today. Let us concentrate on how we may serve the workers raising the new church building.”

Although Modesty appeared to disengage from the man and his friend, Susannah knew she had best keep an eye on her. It had been only two weeks since Susannah’s arrival in Springfield, but Modesty’s ways were easily recognized.

The ferry slowly made its way across the Connecticut with a lulling sound.

Modesty is right about one thing. This lovely day is a balm to my soul.

Inhaling the fresh spring air, Susannah’s gaze slowly wandered toward the back of the ferry and, against her better judgment, came to rest on the now-hatless passenger.

        With his cap gone, his dark brown hair gleamed in the bright sunlight. Masses of curls stopped just past the nape of his neck, encompassing a face that was astonishingly handsome. He did not seem to notice her staring at him as he surveyed the water. His fine nose was straight, his jaw firm, and—what she could see of his lips in profile—were so full that they appeared to pout.

Susannah did not know how long she lingered on his visage, but when he turned her way, her stare was met by the greenest pair of deep-set eyes she had ever seen. His eyebrows furrowed and she snapped out of her trance, turning her face toward the far shore.

“So you noticed him too, miss.” Modesty smirked playfully.

Susannah pretended to focus on something of interest on the far shore. “I’ve no idea what you mean.”

Modesty snorted, but remained mercifully quiet.

It seemed like an hour had passed, but it took a mere fifteen minutes for the wooden ferry to reach West Springfield. As the ferry workers unfolded the ramp, it landed with a thud on the shore. The passengers disembarked. Susannah refused to look at the man who had monopolized her attention and followed the others on the pathway leading up the hill toward the building site. A group of men were being served breakfast on long tables set up for the gathering.

A middle-aged woman with cherubic cheeks and an impish smile approached Susannah.

“Good day, my dear. We have not been formally introduced but I have met your kind father and I do so see your resemblance to him. I am Missus John Ashley, consort of Deacon Ashley who is behind this inspiring project. Thank you for agreeing to help serve our workers on this noble construction of First Church.”

The woman’s smile was so engaging, Susannah could not help but feel her heart warmed.

“Good day, Missus Ashley. I am most anxious to be of service in this fine project. This is my maid, Modesty.”

“Welcome to you, as well. And such a lovely day we are blessed with!” The woman fairly oozed enthusiasm. “My dear husband says it is not just a fine project but a most necessary one. Why, the last meetinghouse was worse in the rain than if we’d been standing underneath an open cloud! But come, let me show you where you’ll be helping.”

Missus Ashley gently drew the taller young woman to the huge kettles of simmering stews.

“Here is an apron, my dear. No sense in soiling your fine dimity.”

Susannah left her bonnet on to protect her skin from the sunlight, but removed her pelisse and laid it carefully on an empty chair. Tying the linen apron around her slender waist, she smoothed the crisp material and looked around, wondering where to start.

“Several new workers have just arrived, Miss Dobbins. Why don’t you carry these plates to them?” The older woman handed her two plates and then two more to Modesty.

Walking toward the long cloth-covered tableboard, Susannah slowed her walking pace as her heart quickened. The man with the green eyes.

Modesty saw him at the same instant.

“Oooo, miss, there he is.” She giggled, far too loudly.

“Hush, Modesty.” Susannah whispered harshly, her cheeks flaming.

Taking a deep breath, she approached the hatless man and his friend.

“May I serve you, gentlemen?”

Why I am calling these workers “gentlemen”?

Susannah was all too aware that these men were not of her class.

So why am I so nervous?

“Thank you, miss.” The blond-haired worker who still had his woolen cap intact grinned awkwardly. “Not exactly used to such service from a fine lady.”

Susannah noticed Green Eyes furrowing his eyebrows sternly at his friend. Then those eyes met hers.

“Thank you, miss.” He took the plate carefully and stared up at her before setting it down. Picking up his pewter fork, he gingerly moved the food around, as if afraid it might be poison.

She tried to smother her rising irritation. “Is the food not to your liking, sir?”

He looked up at her again and stared for a moment.

“’Tis fine, miss.”

Where have I seen that face?

She started to move away, but the blond-haired friend gave an embarrassed grin.

“He’s not quite himself today. Had too late a night with the boys. Didn’t ya?” He poked his hatless friend in the side and laughed. The man turned a deep shade of red but did not look up at Susannah.

So that’s where I’ve seen that face. The drunk in the street! Wretched man. And now here to help in the Lord’s work? Outrageous.

She stalked away, followed closely by Modesty. The servant girl turned toward Susannah as soon as they were out of earshot.

“Did you see those fine green eyes? Wouldn’t you like to look at those every morning?” Her enthusiastic giggles threatened to turn the conversation downright bawdy.

“Modesty! If you please! We will not indulge our salacious natures in our thoughts or our speech. Is that clear?”

The servant’s countenance fell. “Yes, miss.” Her voice lowered almost to a whisper.

Susannah turned back toward the kettles to collect more serving plates.

Why did Father ask me to come here. I just want to go home.

At the thought of home, Susannah nearly burst into tears.

I cannot cry here. Certainly not in view of complete strangers.

She turned away from the kettles, widened her eyes and sniffed sharply. Refusing to give in to her grieving heart, she refocused on the task at hand.

The satiated workers began to vacate the tables one-by-one. Susannah watched most of the men stretch their limbs and pat their leather work belts before heading toward the wood frame of the new church building. But Green Eyes remained at his table, eating slowly.

Clearing away the dirty plates, Susannah felt someone’s hands gently grab her arms from behind. Missus Ashley was at her side, her sparkling smile brimming with mischief.

“Miss Dobbins, why don’t you sit for awhile? You’ve been working so hard and you are still recovering from your long journey to Springfield. Come sit here, my dear.”

Much to Susannah’s horror, Missus Ashley navigated Susannah over to the table where Green Eyes sat. He was obviously laboring to finish his first plate when Missus Ashley plopped Susannah down on the bench next to him, much too close.

She quickly inched away.

“Miss Dobbins, I would like you to meet Mr. Daniel Lowe. He is one of our fine workers at the armory as well as a regular congregant of First Church. A fine Christian man.”

Susannah narrowed her gaze.

She wanted to say, “Is that so?” Only her mother’s training in manners rescued her from inflicting insult.

She cleared her throat.

“So pleased to meet you, Mr. Lowe.”


“There. Now you are acquainted, I shall return to my tasks.” Missus Ashley gave a positively mischievous grin to the two before heading back to the kettles.

An awkward silence followed the departure of Missus Ashley, though Susannah could hear the woman giggling in the distance with another cook.

Side-by-side, they both looked down at the table. Susannah fidgeted with her thumbs and Mr. Lowe nervously rubbed his hand through one side of his hair. Just when Susannah thought she could not take the tension any further, the workman spoke up.

“Miss Dobbins, it is quite obvious how…uncomfortable…you are in my presence. Please do not feel obliged to remain here and entertain me.” His voice was surprisingly smooth and well spoken. Not at all what she imagined.

She glanced up at his eyes, which were fixed upon her. She cleared her throat.

“Mr. Lowe, it is not that I am uncomfortable…” She closed her mouth when he began to shake his head and gave a low, dismissive grunt.

“Please, Miss Dobbins. There is no need to explain. Tis quite obvious that I am not…shall we say…well-suited to your station in life.” His face grew sober and he rubbed his head as though it were in pain.

“It is not just your station, sir…”

“Ah, see, I was right.”

She flustered and sat up straighter. “That you are a workman notwithstanding, your behavior of last night was appalling. I find it quite shocking that you would carry on with your drunkenness and then make a mockery of helping to build a church. The Lord’s meetinghouse!”

Mr. Lowe glared back. He kept his voice low but his words were pointed.

“Is it your custom, Miss Dobbins, to display yourself at your window for all to see?”

Susannah gasped and threw her hands across her bodice.

“How dare you accuse me of such behavior! I…I…was merely preparing to retire for the night when I was disturbed by you and your drunken friends.”

His gaze penetrating her to the core, Mr. Lowe leaned closer.

I wish his eyes were not so disarming. He was leaning so close she could feel his breath.

“You seem to so easily pass judgment on me, Miss Dobbins.”

She thought she saw pain glaze across his expression. He continued. “You know naught of me. And perhaps it is better that way…for both of us.”

He grabbed his cloth napkin and wiped it fiercely across his mouth. Throwing it on the table, he stood up and lifted his long legs one at a time over the bench. Grabbing his hammer from his work belt, he stormed toward the construction site.

She sat there for a moment, heart pounding and temples throbbing.

Insufferable man!

Within moments, Missus Ashley appeared.

“I see you two were getting to know one another.” There was that impish smile lighting up her soft face.

“Yes. We certainly were.”

Susannah’s throat felt parched, making it difficult to swallow. She grabbed a tankard of cider and took a long, unladylike swig.

Still shaking from the encounter, she barely concentrated on listening to Missus Ashley.

“…such a shame about his family…”

Susannah was suddenly alert. “Shame? What shame?”

She noted the older woman’s sad expression.

“Why, his brother’s wife—his twin brother, no less. The wife died giving birth, poor lass. Dan has not been himself since he got the news. Rode twenty miles to and from the burial just yesterday, I hear.”

Deep regret swarmed over Susannah’s heart.

Looking down at her lap, she stammered. “No. No…I did not know.”

“Dan is very close to his family. But work was not to be found in his village of Deer Run so he had to leave and find work at the armory. And a right fine worker he is, says Mr. Ames. He’s the superintendent, you know.”

Missus Ashley paused briefly.

“Are you alright, my dear? You seem rather pale. Perhaps you should sit under the chestnut tree and rest.”

“Yes, perhaps I should.”

She rose with difficulty and managed to make her way to the shade of the overhanging limbs, despite her tremulous limbs. She sat on a blanket that Missus Ashley laid on the ground. Leaning back on the trunk, she exhaled slowly.

So he grieves as well. What have I done?

About the Author:

Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run (Finalist in Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Religious Fiction, Honorable Mention in Romance at 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival) and The Promise of Deer Run (Romance Winner for 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival, Finalist in Religious Fiction for ForeWord Review Book of the Year). Cooper is also a contributing writer for Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson. She is a wife, mom, Grammie to triplets, and a registered nurse.

Purchase her books online at:
More Info at Deer Run Books

Elaine is giving away a copy of The Legacy of Deer Run. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

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