Thursday, January 30, 2014

Casting the First Stone by Lisa Lawmaster Hess

Book Blurb:
Marita Mercer has no intention of losing custody of her daughter to Jim and his perfect little wife. So what if Charli’s father is successful, established and respected? Does that trump the fact that he never wanted their daughter in the first place?  But in the battle of Marita the single mother vs. Jim and his perfect little church-going wife, Marita is almost certain she will lose.

Angel Alessio’s life with Jim is missing only one thing – the very thing Marita has already given him. And although Angel loves Charli, that love does nothing to ease her longing for a baby of her own. Both women are determined to keep their families together…but at what cost?

Read an Excerpt:


Marita Mercer adjusted the icicle-thin strap of her leopard print camisole, and then tugged once, twice, three times. Perfect. Enough cleavage to look casually sexy, but not so much that Jim could brand her a wanton woman unworthy of her own daughter.

“Mom, do you have to wear that?” Twelve-year-old Charli flopped onto Marita’s bed. “Isn’t it bad enough that Dad’s dragging us through this mediation? Are you trying to make it easy for him to win?”

“Of course not. Besides, you’ll barely see it.” Marita slipped a black jacket on over the camisole. “See? A sensible black suit. Sober and appropriate for all proceedings.”

“Didn’t you wear that to work yesterday?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. But yesterday, this suit was a uniform for a court reporter. Today, it’s outward proof that I can be boring and follow the rules.”

Charli sighed. “Maybe we should just take Grandma and Grandpa up on their offer. If I transfer to Holy Redeemer, maybe Dad and Angel will lay off.”

Marita sat down beside her daughter. “Do you really want to go to Christian school?”

“No. But I don’t want to live with Dad and Angel either.”

“Honey, your father and Angel won’t necessarily back off just because I send you to Holy Redeemer. They want full custody. Anyway, your father could easily argue that Holy Redeemer didn’t do much for me.”

Charli laughed. “I still can’t believe you went there for twelve years.”

Eleven, Marita refused to voice aloud, remembering how everyone—the teachers, the principal, her parents—had insisted that she “find a more appropriate educational placement” when they’d found out she was pregnant. Get thee to a nunnery indeed.

“Yeah, I’m hardly the poster child for Christian education. And it’s a good thing, too. Somebody has to let you have some fun.” She stood and selected a pair of thin, gold hoops from the jewelry box on her dresser, then turned back to her daughter. “Why don’t you go ahead downstairs? I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Okay. But hurry. We don’t want to be late.” Charli slid off the bed and bounded out of the bedroom, her brown ponytail bobbing up and down.

Running a hand through her own thick, dark hair, Marita turned back to the mirror mounted above her dresser. Nearly thirteen years had passed since she’d met Jim Alessio at that Chi Phi party. Her hair had been the same color as Charli’s then, with no need for purchased highlights to hide the grey that had begun encroaching even before her thirtieth birthday.

At nineteen, Jim had been older, charming, and just what Marita needed to show her parents that there was more to life than youth group and Sunday services. She’d planned to sneak out, have some fun, rebel a little. She hadn’t planned on Charli.

“Mom!” Charli called. “Are you coming?”

Marita slipped a thin gold bangle on her right wrist and pulled her watch onto her left. “Be right there!”

Jim hadn’t wanted Charli when she was born. There was no way Marita was letting him have her now.


Angel Alessio pulled her feet out of the stirrups and sat up, her paper gown rustling. “Is everything okay?” she asked.

“Perfectly fine,” Dr. Harrison said, rinsing the speculum and setting it on a paper towel. “I can’t see any reason why you and your husband would have trouble conceiving. How long have you been trying?”

“Six months.” Angel bit her lip as tears welled in her eyes.

“I know this is difficult,” Dr. Harrison said. “But you’re young and healthy, and even though six months feels like a long time, it’s not uncommon for couples to take twice as long as that to conceive, particularly if the woman has been on the Pill.”

“But I’ve never been on the Pill,” Angel said. “I don’t believe in contraception.”

“Then it’s probably just a matter of time.” Dr. Harrison made a note in Angel’s chart. “In the meantime, try to relax. Stress can inhibit conception.”


“Should I plan on seeing an infertility specialist?”

Dr. Harrison flipped her chart closed. “We don’t have any reason to believe you’re infertile, Mrs. Alessio.”

“Well, I mean, isn’t it difficult to get an appointment? If I call now—”

“It’s too soon. You haven’t been trying long enough to be classified as infertile.” Dr. Harrison smiled.

“This is supposed to be fun, remember?” “That’s what my husband keeps saying. I just never imagined it would be this difficult.”

Dr. Harrison patted Angel’s hand. “I know. But we have every reason to believe that the next time I see you, you’ll be pregnant. Take care.”

As soon as Dr. Harrison shut the door, Angel took a deep breath and slid off the table. She crossed to the dressing area in three long strides, fighting back tears. She was relieved that everything was normal, of course—just as Jim had said it would be—but if that were true, then why wasn’t she pregnant? She knew women who had gotten pregnant on their honeymoons, others who’d conceived second children while still nursing the first, and yet six months of trying had gotten her nothing but disappointment and a sense of utter failure.

And then there was Marita. She and Jim had been together only once, and that was all it had taken for Marita to get what she hadn’t wanted— what Angel now wanted more than anything else in the world.

Angel slipped her flowery pink dress on over her head and tightened the matching belt to the fourth notch, wondering again if she should have worn something more businesslike instead. But Jim had told her to be herself, so she had worn her favorite spring dress, hoping it would bring her good news, or at least some semblance of comfort. So far, it had brought her neither.

At the front desk, Angel made small talk with the receptionist and signed her check with a flourish, making sure to put the little heart over the “i” in Alessio. Sliding her checkbook into the appropriate compartment in her purse, she sailed through the waiting area and out the front doors, burying her disappointment beneath a practiced veneer of sunshine. No need to let everyone in the waiting room know that she was upset.

Once in the car, Angel checked the dashboard clock. Just enough time to make it to the courthouse. It was a good thing she and Jim had taken separate cars. To go with their separate ideas.

Angel shook her head, trying to shake off the unwanted thought. She was Jim’s wife. It was her job to support him. And Charli was Jim’s daughter. It was natural for a father to want to play an active role in his child’s life. His desire to pursue full custody had nothing to do with the fact that she couldn’t seem to get pregnant. Did it?

Angel bit her lip. She had no time for tears. It took thirteen minutes to get to the courthouse, and she had only fifteen. Maybe she should call Jim. She pulled her cell phone out of her bag and tapped the screen.

Jim picked up on the first ring. “Where are you?”

Angel took a quick breath, pushing back the ubiquitous tears. “Just leaving the doctor’s office.”

“Cutting it kind of close, aren’t you?”

Angel checked her rearview mirror and put the car in reverse. “Sorry. Dr. Harrison was running a little behind.”

“Well, let’s just hope the mediator is, too. Park in the garage on Main— no sense wasting time circling the courthouse, looking for a spot.”

Angel pulled out of the parking lot and onto the street. “Okay.” Don’t you even want to know how my appointment went?"

“See you soon.”

Angel took another deep breath, set her cell phone in its holder on the dashboard, and stopped at a red light. The engine hummed quietly but did little to drown out the echo of the thoughts she wanted so desperately to set aside. She turned on the radio. Maybe it was better that Jim hadn’t asked about her appointment with Dr. Harrison. Rehashing it would just intensify the pain. Steeling herself for what was to come, she turned left on Market, praying that the mediator wouldn’t ask her to speak.

To buy Lisa's book, go here:

Casting the First Stone:  Amazon

About Lisa:

Lisa is a transplanted Jersey girl who has lived in Pennsylvania most of her adult life. A graduate of Bucknell University, Lisa worked as an elementary school counselor for 27 years before deciding to plan her work life around her family life. Now, she works as a writer, community education instructor and adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania.

Lisa is the author of two books inspired by her interactions with her students, Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce, along with numerous blogs and articles. Her latest book, Casting the First Stone is her first novel.

Connect with Lisa here:


LISA is giving away a copy of Casting the First Stone. 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 may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


cjajsmommy said...

Hi Lisa! I know someone who is in the DNP program at York.

I loved the excerpt here. One of my issues with Christian school when my kids attended was the way they treated the girls who got pregnant (and totally ignored the responsibility of the father, who usually was also a student).

Please enter my name to win a copy of your book. Thank you! cjajsmommy (at) gmail (dot) com

Jackie McNutt said...

Lisa, Interesting title you have given your book Casting The First Stone. After reading the blurb I would like to see how this story unfolds. Sometimes we as Christians are the most judgmental and unforgiving (to our shame) in loving and accepting of unwed mothers, I hope one day we get better at this. Your characters and story line looks interesting especially the custody matter.
Thank you

Library Lady said...

I enjoyed reading the blurb about Lisa's book and also learning more about her.
Thanks for entering me in your giveaway.
Janet E.

Linda Kish said...

The story sounds good. I'd like to see how it turns out.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

beckie said...

I wish I had read this when I was getting divorced. Sounds soooo familiar.

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

Thank you all for your comments! I'm so sorry I didn't check sooner -- time sort of got away from me! It is so heartening to hear that there are people who are interested in reading about Christians who are less than perfect.

Congratulations to Linda, who won the book drawing. I'll be happy to mail out signed bookmarks/post cards to everyone who commented if you'll just share your contact info with Sharon.

Happy reading! Hope you are all warm wherever you are...I am in PA, where they are predicting a foot of snow for tomorrow! Good writing day :-)

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