Friday, January 31, 2014

Random 5 Friday

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
~ Psalm 90:14 ~

1. The sky was such a lovely color on Wednesday morning. Seeing as it was only about 19* outside, I didn't venture down beyond the old dilapidated barn to get the shot so you'll have to excuse the ugly thing in the left corner. 

2. This will probably be the only snow we see this winter. It wasn't much but it was pretty while it lasted. The chickens wouldn't come out of the coop, though. Guess they were smarter than I was :)

3. I made this Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake the other day. I'll just say that while I am a chocolate lover, this cake was just too much. My husband couldn't even believe that I would only eat a third of a piece (that was only cut 2" x 2" - I made it in a 9 x 13 pan) because it was so rich.

4. I think my cat is mental. She literally runs around like a crazy maniac at certain times of the day, then collapses in a heap and sleeps for hours. 

5. By tilting my laptop screen way back, I can see the true colors of my photos. Otherwise, if the screen is upright, they look all washed out.  

There you have my totally weird Random 5 thoughts for this week. Hop on over to a Rural Journal and see what others are sharing:

Random 5 Friday

Have a great day in the Lord!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Heart of Mercy by Sharlene MacLaren ~ FIRST Wild Card Tour

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 (January 1, 2014)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Award winning romance author, Sharlene MacLaren has released 13 novels since embarking on a writing career in 2007. After a career teaching second grade “Shar” says she asked God for a new mission “that would bring her as great a sense of purpose” as she’d felt teaching and raising her children. She tried her hand at inspirational romance, releasing Through Every Storm to critical and popular acclaim in 2007, and the rest, as they say, is history. She quickly became the top selling fiction author for Whitaker House, has accumulated multiple awards, and endeared herself to readers who can’t get enough of her long, luscious and often quirky tales – both historical and contemporary. Her novels include the contemporary romances Long Journey Home, and Tender Vow; and three historical series including Little Hickman Creek series (Loving Liza Jane; Sarah, My Beloved; and Courting Emma); The Daughters of Jacob Kane (Hannah Grace, Maggie Rose, and Abbie Ann) and River of Hope (Livvie’s Song, Ellie’s Haven, and Sofia’s Secret).

Visit the author's website.


 Mercy Evans has known a great deal of heartache and hardship in her 26 years. She lost her mother at a young age and was only 16 when her father was killed in a brawl sparked by a feud with the Connors family that spans several generations. When a house fire claims the lives of her two best friends, Mercy is devastated, but finds comfort in caring for their two sons, who survived thanks to a heroic rescue by Sam Connors, blacksmith in the small town of Paris, Tennessee. Yet the judge is determined to grant custody only if Mercy is married. Mercy loves the boys as her own, and she’ll go to any lengths to keep them—but what if that means marrying the son of the man who killed her father?  Set in the 1880’s, Heart of Mercy is the first book in MacLaren’s new Tennessee Dreams series.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Series: Tennessee Dreams (Book 1)

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603749632

ISBN-13: 978-1603749633


Paris, Tennessee
The single word had the power to force a body to drop
his knees and call out to his Maker for leniency. But most took time for
neither, instead racing to the scene of terror with the bucket they kept stored
close to the door, and joining the contingent of citizens determined to battle
the flames of death and destruction. Such was the case tonight when, washing
the dinner dishes in the kitchen sink, Mercy Evans heard the dreaded screams
coming from all directions, even began to smell the sickening fumes of blazing
timber seeping through her open windows. She ran through her house and burst
through the screen door onto the front porch.
“Where’s the fire?” she shouted at the people running
up Wood Street carrying buckets of water.
Without so much as a glance at her, one man hollered
on the run, “Looks to be the Watson place over on Caldwell.”
Her heart thudded to a shattering halt. God, no! “Surely, you don’t mean Herb
and Millie Watson!”
Mercy Evans and Millie Watson, formerly Gifford, had
been fast friends at school and had stuck together like glue in the dimmest of
circumstances, as well as the sweetest. Millie had walked with Mercy through
the loss of both her parents, and Mercy had watched Millie fall wildly in love
with Herb Watson in the twelfth grade. She’d been the maid of honor in their
wedding the following summer.
But her voice was lost to the footsteps thundering
past. Whirling on her heel, she ran back inside, hurried to extinguish all but
one kerosene lamp, snatched her wrap from its hook by the door, and darted back
outside and up the rutted street toward her best friends’ home, dodging horses
and a stampede of citizens. “Lord, please don’t let it be,” she pleaded aloud.
“Oh, God, keep them safe. Jesus, Jesus….” But her cries vanished in the
scramble of bodies crowding her off the street as several made the turn onto
Caldwell in their quest to reach the flaming house, which already looked beyond
Tongues of fire shot like dragons’ breath out windows
and up through a hole in the roof. Like hungry serpents, flames lapped up the
sides of the house, eating walls and shattering panes, while men heaved their
pathetic little buckets of water at the volcanic monster.
“Back off, everybody. Step back!” ordered Sheriff
Phil Marshall. He and a couple of deputies on horseback spread their arms wide
at the crowd, trying to push them to safety.
Ignoring his orders, Mercy pressed through the
gathering mob until the heat so overwhelmed her that she had no choice but to
stop. Besides, a giant arm reached out and stopped her progress. She shook it
off. “Where are they?” she gasped, breathless. “Where’s the family?”
The sheriff moved his bald head from side to side,
his sad, defeated eyes telling the story. “Don’t know, Miss Evans. No one’s
seen ’em yet. We been scourin’ the crowd”—he gave another shake of the
head—“and it don’t appear anybody got out of that inferno.”
“That can’t be.” A sob caught at the back of her
throat and choked her next words. “They were at my place earlier. I made
“Sorry, miss.”
“Someone’s comin’ out!” A man’s ear-splitting shout
rose above the crowd.
Dense smoke enveloped a large figure
emerging—staggering rather like a drunkard—from the open door and onto the
porch, his arms full with two wriggling bundles wrapped in blankets and
screaming in terror. Mercy sucked in a cavernous breath and held it till
weakness overtook her and she forced herself to let it out. Could it be? Had
little John Roy and Joseph survived the fire thanks to this man?
“Who is it?” someone asked.
All stood in rapt silence as he passed through the
cloud of smoke. “Looks to be Sam Connors, the blacksmith,” said the sheriff,
scratching his head and stepping forward.
“Sure ’nough is,” someone confirmed.
Mercy stared in wonder as the man, looking dazed and
almost ethereal, strode down the steps, then wavered and stumbled before
falling flat on his face in a heap of dust and bringing the howling bundles
with him.
Excited chatter erupted as Mercy and several others
ran to their aid. Mercy yanked the blankets off the boys and heaved a sigh of
relief to find them both alert and apparently unharmed, albeit still screeching
louder than a couple of banshees. Through their avalanche of tears, they
recognized her, and they hurled themselves into her arms, knocking her
backward, so that she wound up on her back perpendicular to Mr. Connors, with
both of the boys lying prone across her body. In all the chaos, she felt a hand
grasp her arm and help her up to a sitting position.
“Come on, Miz. You bes’ git yo’self an’ them
chillin’s out of the way o’ them flames fo’ you all gets burned.” She had the
presence of mind to look up at Solomon Turner, a former slave now in the employ
of Mrs. Iris Brockwell, a prominent Paris citizen who’d donated a good deal of
money to the hospital fund.
Mercy took the man’s callused hand and allowed him to
help her to a standing state. By the lines etched in his face from years of
hard work in the sweltering sun, Mercy figured he had to be in his seventies,
yet he lifted her with no apparent effort. “Thank you, Mr. Turner.”
Five-year-old John Roy stretched his arms upward,
pleading with wet eyes to be held, while Joseph, six, took a fistful of her
skirt and clung with all his might. “Come,” she said, hoisting John Roy up into
her arms. “We best do as Mr. Turner says, honey. Follow me.”
“But…Mama and Papa….” Joseph turned and gave his
perishing house a long perusal, tears still spilling down his face. John Roy
buried his wrenching sobs in Mercy’s shoulder, and it was all she could do to
keep from bolting into the house herself to search for Herb and Millie, even
though she knew she’d never come out alive. If the fire and smoke didn’t kill
her, the heat would. Besides, before her eyes, the flames had devoured the very
sides of the house, leaving a skeletal frame with a staircase only somewhat
intact and a freestanding brick fireplace looking like a graveyard monument.
Her heart throbbed in her chest and thundered in her ears, and she wanted to
scream, but the ever-thickening smoke and acrid fumes burned to the bottom of
her lungs.
With her free hand, she hugged Joseph close to her.
“I know, sweetheart, and I’m so, so sorry.” Her words drowned in her own sobs as
the truth slammed against her. Millie and Herb, her most loyal friends. Gone.
Sheriff Marshall and his deputies ordered the crowd
to move away from the blazing house, so she forced herself to obey, dragging a
reluctant Joseph with her. At the same time, she observed three men carrying a
yet unconscious Sam Connors across the street to a grassy patch of ground.
Several others gathered around, trying to decide what sort of care he needed.
Of course, he required medical attention, but Mercy felt too weak and dizzy to
tend to him. Best to let the men put him on a cart and drive him over to Doc
Trumble’s. Besides, she highly doubted he’d welcome her help. He was a Connors,
after all, and she an Evans—two families who had been fighting since as far
back as anyone could remember.
She’d heard only bits and pieces of how the feud had
started, with a dispute between Cornelius Evans, Mercy’s grandfather, and
Eustace Connors over property lines and livestock grazing in the early 1830s.
There had been numerous thefts of horses and cattle, and incidents of barn
burnings, committed by both families, until a judge had stepped in and defined
the property lines—in favor of Eustace Connors. Mercy’s grandfather had gotten
so agitated over the matter that his heart had given out. Mercy’s grandmother,
Margaret, had blamed the Connors family, fueling the feud by passing her hatred
for the entire clan on to her own children, and so the next generation had
carried the grudge, mostly forgetting its origins but not the bad blood. The animosity
had reached a peak six years ago, when Ernest Connors had killed Oscar
Evans—Mercy’s father.
“That man’s a angel,” Joseph mumbled into her skirts.
“What, honey?”
“John Roy was wailin’ real loud, ’cause he saw
somethin’ orange comin’ from upstairs, so he got in bed with me, and after a
while that angel man comed in and took us out of ar’ bed.”
She set John Roy on the ground, then got down on her
knees to meet Joseph’s eyes straight on. His were still red, his cheeks
blotchy. She thought very carefully about her next words. “Where were your
Joseph sniffed. “They tucked us in and went upstairs
to their bedroom. John Roy an’ me talked a long time about scary monsters an’
stuff, but then, after a while, he went to sleep, but I couldn’t, so I got up
t’ get a drink o’ water, and that’s when I heard a noise upstairs. I looked
around the corner, and I seed a big round ball o’ orange up there, and smoke
comin’ out of it, and I thought it was a dragon come to eat us up. I runned
back and jumped in bed with Joseph and tol’ him a mean monster was comin’ t’
get us, and I started cryin’ real loud.”
John Roy picked up the story from there. “And so we
waited and waited for the monster to come after us, but instead the angel saved
us. I think Mama and Papa is prolly still sleepin’. Do you think they waked up
Mercy’s throat burned as powerfully as if she’d
swallowed a tablespoonful of acid. Her own eyes begged to cut loose a river of
tears, but she warded them off with a shake of her head while gathering both
boys tightly to her. “No, darlings, I don’t believe they woke up in bed. I
believe with all my heart they awoke in heaven and are right now asking Jesus
to keep you safe.”
“And so Jesus tol’ that angel to come in the house
and get us?” Joseph pointed a shaky finger at Sam Connors. The big fellow lay
motionless on his back, with several men bent over him, calling his name and
fanning his face.
Mercy smiled. “He’s not an angel, my sweet, but
that’s not to say that God didn’t have something to do with sending him in to
rescue you.”
“Is he gonna die, like Mama and Papa?” John Roy asked
between frantic sobs.
“Oh, honey, I don’t know.”
She overheard Lyle Phelps suggest they take him over
to Doc Trumble’s house, but then Harold Crew said he’d spotted the doctor about
an hour ago, driving out to the DeLass farm to deliver baby number seven.
A few sets of eyes glanced around until they landed
on Mercy. She knew what folks were thinking. She worked for Doc Trumble, she
had more medical training and experience than the average person, and her house
was closest to the scene. But their gazes also indicated they understood the
awkwardness of the situation, considering the ongoing feud between the two
families. Although the idea of caring for him didn’t appeal, she’d taken an
oath to always do her best to preserve life. Besides, the Lord commanded her to
love her neighbor as herself, making it a sin to walk away from someone in
need, regardless of his family name.
She dropped her shoulders, even as the boys snuggled
close. “Put him on a cart and take him to my place,” she stated.
As if relieved that his care would fall to someone
other than themselves, several men hurried to pick him up and carried him to
Harold Crew’s nearby buggy.
“What about us?” Joseph asked.
The sheriff stepped forward and made a quick study of
each boy. “You can stay out at my sister’s farm. She won’t mind adding a couple
o’ more young’uns to her brood.”
Joseph burst into loud howls upon the sheriff’s
announcement. Mercy hugged him and John Roy possessively. “Their parents were
my closest friends, Sheriff Marshall. I’d like to assume their care.”
He frowned and scratched the back of his head. “Don’t
know as that’s the best solution, you bein’ unwed an’ all.”
“That should have no bearing whatever on where they
go. Their parents were my closest friends. They’re coming home with me.” She
took both boys by the hands, turned, and led them back down Caldwell Street,
away from the still-smoldering house and the sheriff’s disapproving gaze.
Overhead, black smoke filled the skies, obliterating any hope of the night’s
first stars or the crescent moon making an appearance.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bruce Feiler’s “The Secrets of Happy Families” Kindle HDX Giveaway!

The book that revolutionized our view of what makes families happy . . .
Determined to find the smartest solutions and the most cutting-edge research about families, bestselling author and New York Times family columnist Bruce Feiler gathered team-building exercises and problem-solving techniques from the most creative minds—from Silicon Valley to the Green Berets—and tested these ideas with his wife and kids. The result is a lively, original look at how we can create stronger parent/child relationships, manage the chaos of our lives, teach our kids values and grit, and have more fun together.
The Secrets of Happy Families includes more than two hundred unique practices that will help your family draw closer and make everyone in your home happier. It has already changed the lives of millions of families, and it can do the same for yours.
Purchase a copy, download the Happy Families Toolkit, and learn more at Bruce’s website.

About the Author

Bruce Feiler writes a column in contemporary families for the New York Times and is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including "The Council of Dads." He is the host of several series on PBS, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters. Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter. 

Learn more about Bruce at:

In The Secrets of Happy Families, New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler has drawn up a blueprint for modern families — a new approach to family dynamics, inspired by cutting-edge techniques gathered from experts in the disciplines of science, business, sports, and the military. Written in a charming, accessible style, The Secrets of Happy Families is smart, funny, and fresh, and will forever change how your family lives every day.

Bruce is celebrating the release of his book with a family fun "Happy Family" Kindle HDX giveaway.


One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 15th. Winner will be announced February 17th on the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by the Litfuse blog on the 17th to see if you won.

My Review

We all want a happy family, right? If your family is struggling with time management issues, communication, or any number of things, then you might want to have a look at this book. There are some good and practical ideas in here, including job charts for the children, how to carve out family meal time, family meetings, etc., which are all good things. The author gives examples of various business models and how to modify them to work in the home.  If you would like to try something similar, then this book is one you should read.

For me personally, I don't feel like they are some kind of secret on how to have a happy family, though. There seemed to be a lot of emphasis put on ‘doing it right’, too. After 30 years of parenting, I’m not sure there’s any right way or wrong way for a family to do some of the things mentioned in this book.

Overall, there are helpful tips to be gained from reading the book but as in any how-to manual, you take what you can personally use and discard the rest.

I appreciate Litfuse & Thomas Nelson for providing me an ebook for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, just my opinion of the book, which I have done. The blog tour schedule can be found here 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Journal52 Week 3: You Make Me Smile

Can I just say that I am LOVING watercolors?!
I'm so enthralled with all the combinations and textures you can get mixing the colors. I've been watching some Youtube tutorials this past week and WOW...there are gazillions of them out there! 

I found one that was right up my alley. The artist's name is Samie Harding. She blogs at Journal Girl. What I liked most about her video series is that they are short, and she gets her hands messy! I mean messy!!! I loved it! And after watching, this is what I came up with for this week's prompt:

This is a closeup of the right hand corner. I'll list the colors I used but I can't remember the exact order, other than I know I started with a base layer of Prussian Blue and Crimson Red, adding Orange Yellow and Lemon Yellow with a tad bit of Yellow Ochre for some subtle 'sunny' highlights. I used some White along with the Crimson Red to get the pink tones at the top. 

BUT FIRST!!! I applied an all over coat of Gesso with a plastic card, then took another sheet of card stock and laid it on top, smoothing it with my hand. Then I carefully and slowly peeled it off to reveal those fantastic ripples!!! Leave to dry for 24 hours or use a heat gun, being careful not to burn the paper!

To make my faux flower design, I used a journal card from Making Memories and carefully outlined the shape. Tracing over it with a Prismacolor Premier marker in black really helped make it pop! I snagged that marker from my son's art supplies but don't tell him. Maybe he won't notice ;)

I drew the flower stalk and leaves (I don't draw well but it was fun trying). The paper flowers are some I had in my stash from Making Memories. I added some rhinestone bling so they would sparkle because you can never have too much sparkle. Right, ladies?

(The page really has more green tones than showing in this photo. You can see them better in the one above.)

Following along with the theme of someone who makes me smile, I immediately thought of my husband. He is the one person guaranteed to coax a smile or a laugh from just about anyone! He truly has a phenomenal sense of humor and quick wit. He is my SUNSHINE! I drew the sun on a separate piece of card stock after water coloring it with the yellows. Plus I spritzed it with some Sheer Shimmer Spritz in Frost. I glued it down with Tombow Mono (my favorite adhesive) and outlined it with the Prismacolor marker. After contemplating the emptiness of the sun, I then chose to journal some in the rays, which I think is kind of cute. I will journal more about him in the flower area that I left blank but that will be private :)

A few things I decided this week:
Use watercolor paper and not card stock. Maybe then it won't curl.
Start early. I get jittery when the end of the week gets close and I haven't even started.
Clean up my craft area while I go along, otherwise I can't find a thing.
Shop with a coupon at the craft store.
Be me and don't compare myself to others.
Thank the Lord daily for the ability to create!

So there you have it! 

I sincerely hope each of you have a blessed week in the Lord!

Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Who makes you smile?!

Review ~ Unspoken by Dee Henderson

Book Blurb

Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.

The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact she was found less than three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them. She’s changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.

She’s never said a word—to the cops, to her doctors, to family—about those four years.

441 pages from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Purchase links:
Amazon - $12.28
CBD - $11.99

My Review


When Unspoken came out, I hoped it was going to be suspenseful, gripping, thought provoking, emotionally charged, and keep me on the edge of my seat. Sadly, none of those were there for me. I was sorely disappointed and bored out of my gourd with the endless rare coin information. Not to mention that the heroine, Charlotte Graham, who survived being held captive by kidnappers for four years as a teenager, has been bequeathed an eight billion dollar inheritance (yes, you heard that right) by her grandfather that includes several hundred millions of dollars in rare coins (perhaps billions even), and no one knows about them. I think if there were that many rare coins in the possession of one man someone would know it. It just seemed too far-fetched for me to even believe a little bit of the story. The kicker is she has to marry in a certain amount of time to inherit the full estate. Uh, yeah right. That sounds like something that should be in historical fiction, not contemporary.

Even the hero, Bryce Bishop, was kind of unbelievable. He’s a wealthy coin dealer (of course) who is a Christian. He consistently shows kindness, patience, perseverance, gentleness, humility -- all fruits of the Spirit in his daily dealings with others, especially Charlotte. Not that we shouldn't be this way but he was just too perfect. He has all the right moves, all the right answers, all the right everything. By the end, he is in love with Charlotte and willing to marry her so she can fully inherit.

The best part of the book was seeing Ann and Paul Falcon from Full Disclosure. Honestly, the mystery they were solving in this book was much more thrilling than anything else. The scenes with them were excellently written and captivating!

I appreciate Bethany House providing a copy for review purposes. I wasn't required to write a positive review, just my opinion of the book, which I have done. 

Have you read this book yet? If so, what did you think?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Random 5 Friday {Vintage} & Tea Cup Tuesday

for Tea Cup Tuesday because I am HOPING someone will recognize the pattern on the tea cup below! If so, please tell me in the comment section. THANKS!!!

I found this vintage 1950s Atomic Retro Ironstone dinnerware vegetable bowl in the "Blue Heaven" pattern made by The Royal China Company, Sebring, Ohio. Made in the USA. Of course I doctored it up a little in Picmonkey so it doesn't really have the writing on it. Isn't it adorable, though? I ♥ vintage!

1. Every day I make at least two meals from scratch. I love to cook but what makes it worthwhile is the love I have for my family. I get all warm and fuzzy knowing they are eating something they enjoy that I made especially for them. 

2. I collect vintage tea cups whether they have a saucer with them or not. But I do prefer a saucer. There's something ladylike about using one. Or maybe I have been watching too much Downton Abbey ;)

3. This little beauty was found at the Habitat Re-store where I bought my vintage plate. At the time, I thought the tea cup and saucer matched but I wasn't really inspecting it too thoroughly. I just loved the little pink and lavender flowers with the wispy spray of sage green adorning the cup. Once I started washing it, I realized they aren't the same pattern. Close but different. I have been searching for the pattern name of the tea cup to no avail. I did find the saucer though. It's Apple Blossom by Haviland. I'm still searching for the tea cup pattern. 

4. Speaking of tea, I bought some Extra Sleepy Time Tea the other day because I have had a slight bit of insomnia. I've drank regular Sleepy Time Tea in the past with good results. Well, let me tell you that if you want to stay awake all night, this is the tea for you! Honestly, I could not go to sleep. It was awful!!!

5. The pictures aren't great. Sorry about that! My son has been using my nice camera for his Digital Photography class so I am back to my point n' shoot. It was acting weird and constantly trying to focus. It was a miracle I managed these two without them being blurry like the other 20 photos I took!  

How's your week been? Have you found any treasures to add to your collection? 

Sharing with 
Random 5 Friday

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

FIRST Wild Card Tour & Review ~ Call of the Prairie by Vickie McDonough

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:

Vickie McDonough

and the book:

Call of the Prairie (Book 2, Pioneer Promises)
Whitaker House (January 2014)

*** Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


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.The final book in her Pioneer Promises series, Song of the Prairie, releases the summer of 2014. 

Visit the author's website


When Sophie's aunt, a resident of Windmill, falls ill and requires help, Sophie volunteers. Despite his hesitation, her father finally relents and lets her go, as there is no other option. Her new role brings her into contact with the children boarding at her aunt's home–and with the handsome uncle of two of them. Is there a larger purpose in her coming to Windmill? Or will Josh Harper reject her, if not for her frail health, then for the rocky nature of their relationship?

Product Details:
Price: $ 12.99 
Paperback: 259 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January, 2014)
ISBN-13: 9781603749626 

My Thoughts

Vickie McDonough has the ability to paint such realistic word pictures that I was sure I felt the prairie breezes blowing and could see the majestic windmill standing front and center in the town square.

Sophia Davenport has journeyed to Windmill in order to care for her ailing aunt. Upon arrival, things are not as she thought they would be and her abilities are challenged, as well as her health. But Sophie, as her friends call her, rises to the occasion and grows as a woman on her own for the first time.

Josh Harper grew up on a ranch and loves working with wood but his book smarts has taken him to the town of Windmill, where he is now a banker. During the week he cares for his niece and nephew while they attend school in town. For the most part, he is content but thoughts of settling down and having a family of his own are never far. Now if he could just find a girl.

When I sit down to read one of Vickie’s books, I find myself completely enveloped in the story.  You know that feeling you get when you come inside from the cold and the warmth surrounds you, and you take a deep breath and let it out with satisfaction? That’s how this book made me feel. The faith and humor intertwine making this a genteel and pleasing romance of how a young woman and young man face obstacles, overcome them, and feel the Call of the Prairie tugging their hearts to become one.

Many thanks to Whitaker House for providing me an ARC. No compensation has been received. I was not required to write a positive review, just my honest opinion of the book.

Purchase a copy:
Amazon - $11.69
CBD -  $9.99


Louis, Missouri
Davenport held back the curtain and peered out the front window, her heart
jolting as a handsome man exited the carriage. He paid the driver, then turned
and studied her house. He was taller and nicer looking than she’d expected. She
dropped the curtain and stepped back, hoping he hadn’t seen her spying. She
pressed her hands together and tapped her index fingers against her lips,
unable to hold back her grin. Blake had finally arrived!
knock of confidence, not apprehension, sounded at the main entrance. Sophie
hurried to her bedroom door, which opened onto the main entryway, then held her
breath and listened. Blake stood on her porch, introducing himself to the
butler. Sophie could barely hold back her giddiness. She bounced on her toes as
Blake told the butler he had an appointment with her. His voice, deeper than
she’d imagined, floated through the open transom window above her like a
beautiful cello solo at the symphony.
patted her hair, hoping the humidity of the warm day hadn’t sent it spiraling
in rebellious curls. The swish of silk accompanied her as she hurried across
the room to the full-length oval mirror that stood in one corner. Pressing a
hand over her chest to calm her pounding heart, she surveyed her deep purple
gown. Was the fabric too dark? She’d chosen the violet silk taffeta because her
brightly colored day dresses made her appear younger, but today, she wanted to
look the twenty-two-year-old woman she was. Turning sideways, she checked her
bustle and bow, making sure they were straight. Everything was as orderly as it
could be. Would Blake like what he saw? Would he think her too short? Her light
brown hair too nondescript?
a piece of lint off her bodice, she turned and faced the door. She would know
soon enough. After more than a year of correspondence, Blake knew everything
about her, and he had adamantly insisted that none of it mattered. He’d fallen
in love with her through her enchanting missives, and he wanted her for his
vicious knock rattled the glass in the transom, and Sophie jumped. The
apprehension racing through her was less about meeting Blake and more about the
fact that she hadn’t told her parents about him. They would have cut off her
correspondence faster than their gardener could lop off the head of a snake.
But it was too late now. She attempted to swallow the lump lodged in her
throat, but it refused to move.
mother walked in, her whole face pinched like a prune, and quickly closed the
door. She stood there facing it for a long moment, her head down, then heaved a
loud, exaggerated sigh.
a good sign.
her mother turned. “You have a guest, Sophia—a male guest.” One eyebrow lifted.
“Would you care to explain to me how you are acquainted with this man,
especially since neither your father nor I have ever met him?”
pressed a hand to her throat. She knew this wouldn’t be easy. “His name is
Blake Sheppard. He and I have been corresponding for over a year.”
mother’s brown eyes widened. “A year? But how? I’ve never seen a letter from
him in the mail.”
her head, Sophie stilled her hands and held them in front of her. “Ruthie sent
and received them for me. Blake is her cousin—and a gentleman.”
gentleman doesn’t go behind the backs of a young woman’s parents to contact
her.” Maintaining her stiff stance, her mother puckered her lips. “So, you’ve
been deceiving your father and me?”
Sophie turned toward the front window. “Would you have allowed me to correspond
with Blake if I’d told you about him?”
ladies don’t exchange letters with men they’ve never been introduced to, and
certainly not without parental approval.”
a steadying breath, Sophie turned to face her mother. She’d known this would be
a battle. “Mother, please. Blake is a good man. Ask me anything about him.”
no need. We will go out to the parlor, share a cup of tea, and then you’ll make
excuses that will send him on his way. Is that clear?”
gasped. “But he’s traveled so far, and I’ve waited so long to meet him.” She
despised the pleading in her voice. Why couldn’t her parents let her grow up
like her sister? A wheeze squeaked out of her throat. She had to stay calm. The
last thing she wanted was to have an attack in front of Blake.
mother moved closer, her expression softening. She took Sophie’s hand. “You
know how things are, dear. You had no business getting that young man’s hopes
young man is my fiancé, Mother.”
that’s absurd! You know you can’t lead a normal life.”
her eyes, Sophie fought back tears. Why did her parents seek to limit her?
Given the chance, she was certain she could be a proper wife and mother, but
her parents just wanted to coddle her and keep her close. “You have to face the
fact that I’m grown up. I want to live a normal life.” She hurried past her
mother and reached for the door handle.
you are not normal, dear. Your father and I only want to protect you. We
couldn’t bear to lose you, and you know we’ve come close to doing that very
thing on several occasions.”
shuddered at the declaration. Her mother’s words rang in her ears: You are not normal. Yes, she had a
breathing problem; but, as she’d gotten older, the spells had happened less
often. Maybe in time, they’d go away altogether. Her parents were afraid to let
her live as her sister did. If she didn’t get away from them, she’d become a
spinster—if she wasn’t one already. She stiffened her back and pasted on a
smile, trying to ignore the pain of her mother’s chastisement. Blake was
opened the door and stepped into the entryway, her gaze searching for the man
she’d dreamed about so many times. Blake stood in front of the parlor sofa,
speaking with her father. He hadn’t noticed her yet.
sorry you’ve wasted your time traveling all this way, Mr. Sheppard,” her father
said. “But, as I’ve already stated, my daughter is not in the habit of
receiving male visitors.”
eyebrows drew together, his shoulders slumping, as he looked down at the
carpet. Sophie blew out several breaths and tried to calm herself, then hurried
through the entryway into the parlor, avoiding her father’s glare. Her gaze
latched onto Blake’s, and she saw the confusion in his hazel eyes. He offered a
tentative smile. “Miss Davenport, a pleasure to finally meet you.”
smiled, her cheeks warming, as she curtsied. “I’ve looked forward to this
moment for a very long time.” She waved a hand toward her father, and noticed
that her mother had followed her into the room. “I apologize, but I failed to
tell my parents about your arrival.” Because
I knew just how they would respond
. “I fear they are both a bit surprised.”
An understatement of mammoth proportions, if ever there was one.
gathered her courage and turned to her father. “I see you’ve met Blake,
Father.” Her throat tightened at his stern stare. Another wheeze squeaked out.
“B-Blake is my fiancé.”
father’s eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open. A pomegranate color climbed
up his neck, turning his ears red. He turned his fiery gaze on Blake. “You
presume a lot, young man. Did Sophie not inform you that she is not fully well?
She is not in a position to accept an offer of marriage.”
cleared his throat and straightened, as if he wasn’t ready to give up the
battle. “Yes, sir, she told me, but I thought—” His gaze captured Sophie’s, and
then he glanced at the floor again. He shuffled his feet, as if he were trying
to figure out a new dance step. “I thought Sophie—uh, Miss Davenport—was free
to make her own decisions, sir. I’m sorry that she failed to inform you of my
interest in her.”
me?” Her father puffed up like a tom turkey whose hens were in danger. “A
daughter doesn’t ‘inform’ a father that she is planning to marry a stranger. A
decent fellow seeks permission before
approaching a man’s daughter.”
swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “I’m sorry, sir.”
if an angry fist clutched Sophie’s throat, she felt it closing. She expelled a
wheeze, and Blake shot a glance in her direction. Her father’s tirade blended
with the words her mother had uttered, causing an ache within her so painful,
she didn’t know if she could bear it. She was losing Blake, and they’d only
just met. Was she doomed to live with her overprotective parents the rest of
her life?
fight for Blake. He was worth it.
opened her mouth to defend her fiancé, but the sound that came out more resembled
the bleat of an ailing goat than her own voice. Humiliation blistered her
took a step backward, away from her, his handsome face drawn in a scowl.
see, Mr. Sheppard, the slightest excitement can set off one of my daughter’s
attacks.” Father turned to Sophie’s mother. “Ring for some coffee, if you will.
It seems to help our Sophie’s spells.”
Spells. Attacks. What would Blake think?
held out her hand to him. Instead of taking it, he cast another worried glanced
at her father. She sucked in another wheezy breath, struggling to stay clam in
the midst of such turmoil. The room tilted. Sophie closed her eyes until the
spinning stopped. All was silent for several long moments, except for her
screeching breaths.
her eyelids fluttered open, Blake met her gaze with an apology in his eyes. She
knew in that moment she’d lost him.
sighed. “Perhaps I have been too hasty. I sincerely apologize, Miss Davenport,
but I must withdraw my offer of marriage. I hope you and your parents can forgive
me for troubling you so.”
stung Sophie’s eyes. She held out her hand again, hoping—praying—he’d take hold
of it. “No, please—”
skirted around her as if she were a leper, nodded to her mother, then snatched
his hat off the hall tree and rushed out the door.
collapsed in the nearest chair and watched her dreams march down the sidewalk
and out of sight. Tears blurred her vision as all hope of a future with Blake
died. How could her parents be so cruel as to not even allow Blake to express
his interest in her? How could they embarrass her so?
father walked to her and leaned over. “Try to calm down, Sophia.”
jumped up so fast, her head almost rammed his chin. He stumbled backward. The
room swerved as she struggled for a decent breath. “How c-could you, Father?”
wave of guilt washed over his face. “It’s for your own good, you know.”
clutched the end table for support for a moment, then stumbled past him.
took her arm. “Here, let me help you, precious.”
Please.” She yanked away. “I can…take care of…myself. I’m a grown woman, and
you both need to f-face that fact.” She inhaled a decent breath and then
charged on, by pure willpower. “I’m twenty-two and not your little girl
anymore. Stop sheltering me…let me live my life. It’s mine to live, not yours
to stifle.”
flash of pain in her father’s eyes only made her feel worse. Her shoes tapped
across the entryway as she hurried back to her room—the former library, where
her parents had relegated her, as if she were a pariah. She shut the door and
collapsed on her bed, wanting to cry but knowing that doing so would only make
breathing harder. She slammed her fist against her pillow. “Why, God? Why can’t
my parents let me grow up?”
had such hopes. Thought that when her parents met Blake, they’d see what a
quality man he was. But they hadn’t even given him a chance. Could she have
been mistaken about him? She smacked the bed, a futile outlet for her
frustrations and disappointments. Blake hadn’t bothered to fight for her one
bit; he’d fled out the door the first chance he’d gotten. She’d tried to
prepare him—to warn him about her episodes—but she must have failed.
barked a cough that sounded like a seal she’d once seen at the menagerie in New
York City’s Central Park. Sophie pushed up into a sitting position, in order to
breathe better. Blinking, she attempted to force away her tears, but new ones
came like the spring rains that flooded the banks of the Mississippi River. Why
had God cursed her with this hateful condition?
door opened, and her mother entered, carrying a tray. Coffee. She despised the
foul-tasting stuff, but it was thought to be helpful to people with asthma, as
were garlic, whiskey, and a number of other nasty-tasting concoctions.
are you, dear?”
slid back down on the bed and turned to face the wall. She didn’t want to
talk—couldn’t talk.
be that way. You need to drink this coffee.”
shook her head.
over, Sophia.” Her mother’s tone left no room for refusal.
obeyed but didn’t look at her mother. Instead, she started counting the thin,
blue lines in the wallpaper—all nine hundred sixteen of them—as she’d done a
thousand other times. Focusing on the task would keep her from weeping and from
lashing out in anger.
mother blew out a loud breath, then held out the coffee cup. “Drink this.”
shook her head. “Doesn’t help.” She sucked in a breath, thankful that this
episode was a mild one and already beginning to pass, in spite of the day’s
traumatic events.
mother set the cup back on the tray with a loud clatter and stared across the
room. “Whatever made you do such a thing? Don’t you know that young man must
have spent hard-earned money to come here? Taken time away from his job,
assuming he has one? You gave him false hopes, Sophia, and now he’s wasted a
year of his life pursuing a woman he can never have.”
clenched her eyes shut, losing count of the lines. Did her mother not care that
her heart was breaking?
nibbled its way into her mind like a mouse in a sack of grain. She hadn’t
thought how things would affect Blake if they turned sour. She’d been so
certain everything would work out in their favor. So certain that she could
persuade her parents to let them marry, that she hadn’t considered the negative
side. But her mother was right about one thing. Blake had taken leave from his
job as bookkeeper for a shoe factory in Chicago so that he could travel to St.
Louis to meet her. He had wasted his time and money to come here.
it was all her fault.
sucked in a sob.
mother patted her shoulder. “There, there. Things will work out.”
her father would go back to running his company. Her mother would attend her
social clubs and church functions. Her sister would continue as a happily married
wife and soon-to-be mother, while Sophie would continue her boring existence as
a lonely spinster living in her parents’ home.
bed lifted on one side as her mother stood and quietly left the room. After the
door closed, Sophie sat up and stared out the window, at the very place she’d
first seen Blake. She hated feeling sorry for herself, and she normally didn’t,
but today, her emotions were raw.
rose from the bed and crossed the room to her desk, where her Bible lay. She
picked it up and hugged it to her chest as she gazed out at the garden. Bright
yellow butterflies flitted from flower to flower. A big bumblebee disappeared
in a clump of pink azaleas. The beauty of God’s creation never failed to cheer
her, even on the saddest of days.
blew out a loud sigh. “Forgive me, Lord, if I’ve been selfish.” She hugged the
Bible tighter. “But please, Father, make a way for me to break free from my
parents. To prove to them—and to myself—that I can stand on my own. That I can
take care of myself. And please, Lord, if it be Your will, send me a man
someday who will love me for the woman I am and overlook my…flaws.”
pooled in her eyes, and her throat tightened. “But if it is Your will for me to
remain in my parents’ home and to never marry, help me to accept that and to be
that was the Lord’s will, He certainly had a monumental task ahead.

Here's a link to my Review ~Whispers on the Prairie, Book One in the Pioneer Promises series. It is an excellent story! 

Have a blessed day in the Lord!