Friday, September 18, 2015

Gold Earrings by Diane E. Tatum

Daughter of a bordello madame and an Italian captain of the seas, Angelina Mercy longs for a new life, free from the condemnation associated with her mother’s home in Boston. A former navy man, Jonathan Thomson has accepted God’s call and become a minister of a small congregation. Adrift from his Yankee heritage in the Missouri plains, Jonathan longs for a family of his own. Pursuing Alice, the daughter of the town’s wealthy patron, Jonathan believes he can tame her wild ways and accomplish more as a preacher once so established. When Angelina’s guardian and Jonathan’s seminary professor learns of Jonathan’s misguided intentions, he seeks out a solution to aid both individuals, providing a new home for Angelina in St. Joseph, Angelina and Jonathan are brought together with a strong initial attraction.

Can Jonathan ignore Angelina’s Gold Earrings, a constant reminder of the implications of her less than pristine parentage? And will Alice succeed in keeping Jonathan from Angelina? The resilient heroine of Diane E. Tatum’s novel will inspire you in this touching tale of love against the odds.


Chapter 1
 The Setup

            Dr. Graves sank into the leather-upholstered desk chair.
            The early spring air was brisk on his stroll home from the Harvard Divinity School campus after a long and tiring day. Arguing theology with young, adamant, closed-minded divinity students became more and more exhausting these days. Pastoring seemed easy in comparison. Though pastoring hours were longer, at least you knew what good or ill you had accomplished at the end of each day. Teaching young theologians was much riskier. Who knew what each student might do in a church setting or on the mission field? Dr. Graves prayed that he not be held accountable for their brashness and arrogance after leaving school.
            Dr. Graves pulled from his pocket the two letters the postmaster had handed him on his stroll home. He placed them side by side on the desk. One return address hailed from North Boston. The feminine hand proclaimed that the writer was his goddaughter, Angelina. He smiled at the thought of her.
            "A lovely young lady," he expounded to the flickering gas lamps on the wall.        The second return address was St. Joseph, Missouri. The big, bold hand announced regards from "The Reverend Jonathan Thomson of First Baptist, St. Joseph."
            "Jonathan was always quite formal," he chuckled to himself. Jonathan had been one of his favorite students, a serious young man who had graduated just one term ago. Another very stubborn, brilliant theology student, he recalled.
            "Which to open first?" he mused.
            Angelina won out as always. She was very special to him.  From the time Madalaine Mercy had brought her to him for consecration and asked him to be her god-father, she had held a piece of his heart. Angelina had been the daughter he had never had. This was one chance when Dr. Benjamin Graves had been able to affect one life to the good. Without a known father, raised in her mother's house of ill-repute, Angelina had turned into a butterfly. She was a beautiful, young Christian lady; a tall dark-haired angel on Earth. How he loved her despite her family tree and circumstances of birth!
            As Angelina's legal guardian, Dr. Graves also handled her growing trust funds, one set up by her mother and one set up by an Italian sea captain who claimed to be her father. It bothered him sometimes, handling the money Madalaine provided the fund from her brothel. He rationalized that the money would go to a worthwhile cause when put into Angelina's hands on her eighteenth birthday in two weeks. The sea captain at least made his money honestly.
            He turned the envelope over and broke the wax seal. The pages crackled as he opened the sheets to read.

Dear Dr. Ben:
As I'm sure you are aware, my eighteenth birthday will arrive in just over two weeks. As you also know, I am no longer living at Mama's due to the unfortunate incident of a year ago. This being the case I have decided to relocate. I hope to move to a place where no one would know of my past and could accept me as myself and not as Madalaine Mercy's daughter. Could you pray on the matter of a place where I could go?
            Mama told me yesterday of a trust fund she had set up long ago with you as the guardian. I know you have safely and wisely invested the money. I plan to come to your home on Tuesday, the 21st, to arrange the transfer of the funds to my own account at Mr. Anderson's Bank of Boston.
            Business aside I want to thank you for your love during these eighteen years. Most of all I thank you for the religious training you provided, which led to my salvation in Jesus Christ. I trust that as I venture into a new world that He will guide me and provide for me a place where I can find human love and a proper home.
            I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday. Give my love to Aunt Agatha as well.
                                                                        Love in Christ,
            Dr. Graves looked at the April calendar on the wall. He marked the dates on the calendar.  Angelina's birthday was on the 28th. Her visit would take place on the 21st. She surely knew how to handle money. The funds could be transferred easily on her birthday once the paperwork was complete. Today was the 14th. Only a week would pass before her visit. He'd have a week to pray and consider his advice to her. Perhaps New York City or Philadelphia would be good choices. She would have liked Richmond or Charleston if it hadn't been for that foolish war. Reconstruction was not much of a success in the South after all. The Lord would know the best plan. Dr. Graves knew to leave it up to Him.
            Carefully setting Angelina's letter aside for Agatha to read later, he slit open Jonathan Thomson's letter. His powerful pen strokes jumped from the pages.
Dear Dr. Graves,
I wanted to let you know what the Lord has made of me so far. First Church, St. Joseph,  has called me to their gospel ministry. I serve a faithful congregation consisting of townsfolk, ranchers, and farmers.
Unfortunately, sin abounds here on this western edge of civilization, with all those who pass through town heading west. I continue to hold the light of Christ high in this ever-growing part of the country.
            Dr. Graves frowned and shook his head. Yes, Jonathan was a brilliant theologian, but had he not grasped the perspective of the entire scripture? Could he still see the love of God for these sinners? What kind of theology saw only the responsibility of showing sinners God's purity without also showing them His love for them? Dr. Graves sighed deeply. It was just this kind of thing he feared day after day in the classroom. He continued to read:
I am anticipating the bonds of matrimony after a proper and suitable courtship. The woman in question is a Miss Alice Bardsley. She is pretty, after a fashion. She is companionable enough and persistant in her affections. Her father is influential in St. Joe, and, therefore, a marriage to her could bring some of the stragglers into the church through the family's influence. She seems to have a few vices, gossip and flirtatiousness among them. Marriage would do much to tame her in these areas.
            Dr. Graves stood bolt upright, the chair crashing to the floor.

            "What!" he bellowed. "What kind of a marriage is that?"

About Diane
While in high school in St. Louis County, Missouri, Diane E. Tatum wrote the short story that grew into this novel. After teaching middle school language arts for eleven years in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Diane retired in 2009 in order to write full time. Currently she is an adjunct English professor at Motlow State Community College. She writes for ‘Tween Girls and God emagazine and blogs for Tatum’s Thoughts for Today, Tatumlight@Wordpress, Life To the Fullest, and Boomer Bits and Bytes. Diane teaches youth Sunday school and has written Bible study materials for middle schoolers for LifeWay and David C. Cook. Diane and her husband, Ken, live in Tullahoma, Tennessee. They have two sons and daughters-in-law and three new grandsons.

To purchase Diane's book:
Barnes & Noble
Books A Million
Christian Book Distributors
Tate Publishing

Diane is giving away a copy of Gold Earrings.  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


Connie said...

I enjoyed reading the first page of Gold Earrings. Thank you for sharing!
cps1950 (at)gmail (dot) com

Connie said...

I enjoyed reading the first page of Gold Earrings. Thank you for sharing!
cps1950 (at)gmail (dot) com

Kim Amundsen said...

Enjoyed chapter one. kamundsen44(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Deanna Stevens said...

Great chapter one! I like to
dkstevensne AToutlook(D0t) com

Deanne Patterson said...

I love historical books and this one sounds great. I'd love to read more.
Deanne Patterson
Book1lovingmomma at gmail dot com

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