Friday, February 13, 2015

When Dawn Breaks by Jennifer Slattery

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution propel her north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

This book is a great resource for a book club, discussion group in women’s Bible studies, or as a ministry resource to spark conversation about practical ministry needs.

Book Excerpt

Jacqueline Dunn stared at her television, reading for the fourth time the alert scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Hurricane warning for Southeast Texas: Mandatory evacuation in effect for the following areas. Six zones followed, including hers. Was everyone overreacting?
She crossed the room and peered out the window. The sandy beach stretched before her, frothy waves tumbling in. Dark clouds hovered near the horizon. Not unusual. Except that Hurricane Gita had grown to a category four storm and was headed straight for the Gulf Coast
            She glanced back at the television. The news shifted from the radar map to Lowes Highway. Loaded vehicles inched forward at what looked to be a five-mile-per-hour crawl. Which meant, if she left now, she might make it out of Crystal Shores before the storm hit.
There was no sense delaying the inevitable. Sucking in a deep breath, she gripped a packed suitcase in one hand and her computer case in the other. Stepping around partially packed boxes, she headed toward the front door. A stack of mail lay on the entryway table. She shoved it into the side pocket of her computer case then marched into the garage.
            Lord, please stay this storm. I can’t afford to start over. Not at my age.
With a sigh, Jacqueline loaded hastily packed boxes in the back of her car and cranked her engine. She started to set the GPS then stopped. Gripping the steering wheel, she stared at the white cement wall in front of her. Where to? Staying in a hotel, for only God knew how long, would eat her savings. But what else could she do? Her parents lived too far away, and her daughter... The muscles in her neck tensed as she thought about their last conversation.  No. A hotel was her best option, expensive or not.
            She glanced at the clock on the dash. Eight thirty AM. According to the National Weather Service, the storm would hit in five, maybe six hours. That didn’t leave much time for debating. Right now she needed to focus on one thing—leaving town.
            Two hours later, stuck in a major traffic jam, her phone chimed. Her car’s blue tooth picked up the call.
“Hi, Elaine.” A hot flash ignited Jacqueline’s pulse and triggered sweat glands. She cranked up the air and turned the vents toward herself.
            “Don’t tell me you’re still at home thinking this thing will pass.”
            “No, I’m taking the slow-mo-scenic route.” She leaned forward, stretching her chin to allow optimum ventilation down her itchy neck. It didn’t help. “What about you?”
            “Just entered Kentucky.”
            “Where you going, Canada?” Keeping one eye on the road, Jacqueline angled her face toward the dash. Cold, dry air pelted her eyes, making them water, no doubt sending rivulets of mascara down her cheeks.
            “Indiana. What about you?”
            “Great question. I’m actually hoping to make it to a hotel before everything within a day’s drive of the coast gets booked.”
            “Have you thought about—?”
“Delana’s? Briefly.” Hovering near spontaneous combustion, she searched for something able to double as a fan. She settled on a plastic map and flapped it in front of her face at sound-barrier speed.
“She’s so close. Willow Valley is five hours north, right? An hour from Texarkana?”
“Six…but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to leave one storm to head into another.” Tossing the useless fan, she gave her shirt a tug then glanced toward the window, ready to thrust her head outside.
A man in bifocals stared back at her from the car idling in the next lane. She straightened and focused on the long line of vehicles in front of her, certain her face resembled a bad case of measles.
“I thought you two were doing better,” Elaine said.
“If by better you mean forced niceties and two-sentence conversations, then yeah, we’re great.”
“Maybe this is what you both need. Some time together. To reconnect.”
“Maybe. Do you have a bucket list?”
“A what?”
“You know, a list of things you want to do before you die.”
Elaine laughed. “It’s a hurricane, not the next world war. And now that you’ve decided to listen to me, the mayor, and the weather officials, you’re going to be fine.”
“Define fine. Does it include a depleting bank account and no retirement plan?  With nothing to show for the past five decades of my but a long list of debts and chamber meetings? If that’s fine, I want the upgrade. Do you ever wonder if there’s more to life than commission checks and designer hand bags?”
“More than purses? Says the girl who once joked about opening a boutique.”
It wasn’t a joke. An impossibility, perhaps, but if she had it to do over... Although right now she’d be happy to salvage a portion of the assets she left in Crystal Shores, soon to inundated with massive amounts of water. “I’m just taking stock, you know?”
“Sounds like you need to lay off the Melatonin. I’ve heard it can make people depressed.”
“I’m sharing my mid-life cheer is all.”
“Honey, you passed mid-life eons ago.” Elaine paused. “So, you going to your daughter’s or what?”
“I’ll contact her.” What was the worst that could happen? Stupid question. The better one: How long could two headstrong women co-exist before strangling one another?
With a heavy sigh, Jacqueline searched through her contacts for her daughter’s number.
Maybe she should wait. Until when? She showed up at Delana’s doorstep with suitcase in hand? No. Her daughter needed time to process and maybe even throw a fit or two.
She hit call then wiggled against the seat back to relieve a sweaty itch. Her nerves fired with each ring.
Jacqueline exhaled. “Hey, sweetie. How are you?”
“I’m good. I meant to call you. You okay? I saw the news.”
Was that genuine concern? A good sign. “I’m fine, sweetie. On the highway with all the hurricane evacuees. In fact, that’s why I’m calling.”
“Uh, huh?”
A hint of tension. Not good. “I haven’t seen you in…Wow, almost two years?”
“I miss you.”

Dead air. 

(Read more here:

About Jennifer
Jennifer Slattery is an inspiring contemporary novelist whose stories of hope, love, and grace resonate with real people. Having helped with Hurricane Katrina efforts, she can write about storm refugees with credibility and authority. She also writes Christian living articles for and devotions for her personal blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud; Internet Cafe Devotions; and Takin' It to the Streets, a ministry serving Omaha Metro's working poor and homeless. When not writing, she enjoys hanging out with her teenage daughter and real-life hero husband, as well as serving in her church. She is the author of Beyond I Do and When Dawn Breaks.

To purchase Jennifer's book:

Jennifer Slattery is giving away a copy of When Dawn Breaks. 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. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Marianne Barkman said...

I have been reading about this book. It sounds great. Thanks for the chance to win.

Patricia Bradley said...

What a place to leave me! Great excerpt. Can't wait to read it.

Jennifer Slattery said...

Hi, Marianne! Thanks so much for stopping by and saying hi. :) Best of luck in the drawing!

Jennifer Slattery said...

Hi, Patricia! Thank you so much for the encouragement! Best of luck in the drawing. :)

Deanna Stevens said...

The more I read about this book the more I want to read it :)
dkstevensneAToutlookDo TCoM
dee from NEBR

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