Tuesday, September 2, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Heartsong: Sisterhood of Shepherds by Nicola Furlong



BE PREPARED FOR HAPPY TEARS


This is a story about Faith, Hope, and Charly, three adult daughters of Barry and Eileen Shepherd. Eileen died shortly before the story begins, but her presence is felt. Charly, the sister who tells the story, was almost named Charity, but when her father first looked at her at the hospital, he thought she looked more like Charly.

I found myself tearing up throughout, but this is not a sad book. The emotions I felt were related to family love, something we don't read about as much as we used to. The author is quite good at writing about family in a powerful, but subtle way.

Besides the father and his three daughters, Charly, who is divorced and living with her father, has two children, nine and twelve, who play important parts in the story. There is also Faith's husband, Michael, a retired policeman, who adds to the happenings without taking over.

Charly and her father have a nursery in Silver Shores, Oregon, where they grow plants to sell to gardeners. The book begins with a hail storm and the destruction of the crop. To make things worse, the insurance check wasn't sent. I thought the book would be how they survived this disaster. And, I might say, I may not have finished the book if that was all there was to it. However, I soon learned the real problem and I was hooked.

I can't tell you much more without taking away some of the enjoyment you'll have reading the book. I can say that you'll think about cookies from time to time and you'll be pleased to know there is a recipe in the back of the book. I can also tell you that the three sisters work well together as detectives and I wouldn't be surprised if the trio shows up in a sequel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The author knows a little something about gardening and cookies. Nicola Furlong lives in a small seaside town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. When she is not writing or teaching writing, she grows blossoms and bakes cookies. She writes mystery and inspirational novels, and teaches electronic publishing.


For more information, visit:

IN CANADA, BUY THE BOOK HERE
Heartsong: Sisterhood of Shepherds


Monday, September 1, 2014

COTT: July New Releases Clash



At Clash of the Titles, the end of another month calls for the beginning of another Clash.
We present to you five brand new novels for your perusing pleasure. Which would you pick up first? Let us know by casting your vote below! 


Big secrets never stay hidden, and it’s the darkest ones that threaten us the most. Michael and May Lynn will try to continue helping slaves on the underground railroad while bounty hunters track them for a murder they didn't commit. 

***


The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. 

***


A 17-year-old stage performer (elocutionist and singer) runs away from her abusive uncle, but she is caught in a perilous web. Could the peddler who constantly appears be a venomous spider in her life, or the one to help her untangle her problems? 

***


Not all prisons have bars; Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in one for years. Trying to free her daughter from their prison of abuse, Charlotte runs to the stranger her dying mother believed would help her and finds a family she longs to call her own, but if the truth of Charlotte’s past catches up with her, will the protection of a gentle man and a Father’s love be enough to set her free? 

***


With a will that reads like a piece of far-fetched fiction, the return of an estranged brother, and a long-kept family secret, Micah Cooper's life is thrown into a tailspin. Throw in an in-name-only marriage, and an ex girlfriend who wants him back, and crashing and burning doesn't appear to be far behind.


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

September is for Sequels Blog Hop and Giveaway


SeptemberSequels Giveaway

Another special blog posting for all who 
climb aboard the Christian Bookmobile.

It's a GIVEAWAY!

Not only do we have GREAT prizes here, 
we have a link to MANY more!

PRIZES

Your choice of
LOVE LIVES ON 
(sequel of WHERE LOVE ONCE LIVED)
or 
THE VENGEANCE SQUAD GOES TO ENGLAND 
(sequel of THE VENGEANCE SQUAD)

THREE WINNERS WILL BE SELECTED

Winners may choose Kindle, paperback, 
or a $5.00 gift certificate instead of a book

It's easy to participate.

Just click on the Rafflecopter below, enter, 
then click on a link to another participating blog 
and enter the contest there.
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SL

EL

Monday, August 11, 2014

COTT: "A Place in His Heart," a New World Romance!

Today's featured novel,
A PLACE IN HIS HEART
 is a historical romance authored by Rebecca DeMarino. 
It's her debut novel and book one of 
The Southold Chronicles.

"I hope my readers find pure entertainment! I hope they enjoy the love story, with all of the ups and downs of Mary and Barnabas. I hope they get lost in a time period that was so far different than ours, and yet so filled with the same emotions – heartache and joy, a sense of belonging and adventure. The takeaway I had in writing this story is that God is with us – He will hold our hand – in all of our journeys, if we ask Him!"
 --Author Rebecca DeMarino


About the book:
Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Left at the altar and disgraced in her small hamlet, she is being pressured to marry the eligible son of the London milliner. Puritan Barnabas Horton, the town baker, still grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but he knows his two young sons need a mother.

With tender hearts, Mary and Barnabas take a leap of faith and wed. But when Barnabas’s secret plans to move his family to the New World to escape persecution come to light, Mary’s world is upended. How could she possibly leave her Papa and her dear sister? And will she ever reach the secret places of her husband’s broken heart?

About the author:
Rebecca DeMarino lives in the Pacific Northwest, and inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother, a love of horses, reading and writing from her dad, and a wanderlust gene from both parents. No one knows where she got her passion for jogging and hiking! A Place in His Heart, is a historical romance inspired by her ninth great-grandparents, Barnabas and Mary Horton, and is book one of The Southold Chronicles.
How the book came about:
"I grew up listening to my mom’s stories about Barnabas Horton, my ninth great-grandfather and how he
came across the pond from England on a ship called The Swallow, in the 1600’s. When my brother became interested in genealogy, we discovered there was a lighthouse named after Barnabas, located on Long Island. I asked my mom if she’d like to go there, and off we went.

"There was a lot of interesting information about Barnabas. He was a baker and a very recent widower with two young sons when he met my ninth great-grandmother, Mary, in Mowsley, England. But I could find very little about her, and I began to wonder about what dreams and motivations she had, and the courage she must have possessed, when she married and then left her family behind for the wilds of Long Island. 

"A few years later, I began writing my first novel in hope that I could give her and the other courageous women who followed their men across the pond a voice." --Rebecca DeMarino

Find more great new inspirational novels at Clash of the Titles.com!

Monday, August 4, 2014

COTT: June's Hot New Releases Clash of the Titles Champion


Thank you, voters and encouragers, for a great Clash of the Titles, June 2014 Release Battle.

We'll begin our champion announcement with the kindness of the voters....

Comments of Encouragement for this Month’s CLASH Authors:

They are all stunning... I love though how Tamara writes in the medieval time... Hard to find clean fiction in that time period :)

Heather Day Gilbert's previous novel convinced me to put any other fiction she writes in the top level of my "to read" list, so this month's choice was easy--even though there are some other books here that are also on my list.

Anytime a book weaves a tale that crosses generations is always a draw for me.  Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert offers that and a peak into WV life with a great mystery.  Love it!

Oh my goodness -- too many wanna-reads in this list, not the least of which are Blind Trust, A Place in His Heart, and Lady of Eve. No fair we only get to vote for one!! ;)

A Place in His Heart is a beautiful story! So amazing that it's based on the author's ancestry.

Jolina Petersheim, I read "The Outcast" and I'm looking forward to reading your new book "The Midwife." I enjoy Amish fiction. Keep up the great work!

Best of luck Heather Gray Jackal is one of my all time favourite books!!

Rebecca DeMarino is off to a good start in her first of "The Southold Chronicles." I am looking forward to the second novel.



And Now, on to our Champion, with a sweet kudos to another clasher:

Sandra, Blind Trust looks intriguing, so I ordered a copy. I've already read Moon over Maalaea Bay at least 30 times. :)

Love Sandra's romantic suspense!

Sandra Orchard, I am looking forward to reading all the book in this series. Love the characters!  Blind Trust looks great!

Sandra Orchard is the best.  I enjoy her books and can't wait till the next one.  Blind Trust is a great book.

Sandra Orchard -- Your cover is fabulous -- I can't wait to read the story.   


And the winner is – Sandra Orchard, and Blind Trust!

Congratulations!

About the book:



Blind Trust
June 2014
Revell, paperback, 325 pp.
$14.99
9780800722234
Revell, e-book, $14.99
9781441245069 
Buy on Amazon 

Caught passing counterfeit bills, Kate Adams races to expose the true counterfeiter before unwitting suspects pay with their lives, but the truth could endanger her most of all.

Book 2 in the Port Aster Secrets series
Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can’t believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation–and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world–and her budding romance with Tom–begin to crumble. To Kate, it’s clear that she won’t be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster’s secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?


N.B. Each book in this series is a stand-alone mystery featuring Kate Adams, a herbal medicine researcher turned amateur sleuth, and Tom Parker, Port Aster’s newest detective. Together the three-book series reads as a romantic suspense, with Kate and Tom’s romance and an underlying suspense plot arcing the series. For that reason, and because book two is a spoiler for book one, we recommend the series be read in order.

A review from Booklist:

The second of Christian romantic-suspense author Orchard’s Port Aster Secrets novels, Blind Trust finds Kate Adams still reeling from her friend’s murder as she attempts to get her life back in order. However, what begins as a seemingly small-time counterfeit operation soon spirals into something much bigger, with Kate at the center. Detective Tom Parker has his eye on Kate, and not because she’s a suspect. His feelings for her continue to grow, as does his desire to protect her, but Kate’s determination to get to the truth on her own means that Tom is often getting her out of trouble, rather than keeping her from it. When the action shifts from mere counterfeiting to poisoning, theft, and decades-old secrets, Kate insists on researching her way to the facts. Orchard infuses romance with suspense and keeps the excitement coming page after page. Readers will love the ever-deepening mystery as Kate extends her investigation and finds herself and her long-dead father tangled up in an international corporate conspiracy. Will Kate be able to clear her father’s name, and stay safe?    — Carolyn Richard

About the Author:

Sandra Orchard is an award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense/mysteries with Love Inspired Suspense and Revell Publishing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  You can learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Drones Are In!

TV thrillers such as 24: Live Another Day and others are including drones more now than ever before. CBS's 60 Minutes did a story of the increase in drone use for fun and commercial endeavors.

Just look at some of the recent books on Amazon with "drone" in the title:

·         Drones (An International Romantic Thriller) (The Maliviziati Series) by Johnny Ray (Nov 17, 2013)
·         Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them. by Jonathan Rupprecht (Apr 17, 2014)
·         Drone Entrepreneurship by Jerry LeMieux and James Poss (Dec 4, 2013)
·         DRONES: The Truth About Unmanned Ariel Vehicles by Brenda Foster (Jul 23, 2014)
·         Drones: The Real Truth: What You Need to Know About Unmanned Aerial Vehicles & How They Might Affect Your Life... by Sam Cossman (Jul 13, 2014)
·         DRONE by David James Sullivan (Jun 22, 2014)
·         DRONES (SPECTRAL FUTURES) by Olsen J. Nelson (Apr 16, 2013)
·         DJI Phantom 2: How to Fly Drones, Quad Copters, and The Phantom 2 by David Oneal (Apr 10, 2014)
·         Drone: Test Run (A Superhero Short Story) by Jay Stone (May 8, 2013)
·         UAV Pilot - How to Be Ready for the Coming Drone Pilot Job Boom by J.J. Best (Nov 12, 2013)
·         Drones Over Seattle: Wade's People by R.W. Clark and Elliot Whiting (May 8, 2014)
·         The Amazing Potential of Friendly Drones by James Barton and Jonathan Todd (Jun 4, 2014)

The Vengeance Squad Goes to England
My latest novel, The Vengeance Squad Goes to England, includes a drone. The vengeance squad's Chris McCowan put his drone together on the cheap with a toy helicopter and some creative use of webcams. He laughed when he used the word "drone" in talking about the contraption. But it worked.

Here's an excerpt:

I revved up the helicopter's engine with the remote control then realized I didn't have a plan for entering the house. When the woman closed the door, I rushed back to the van so fast I forgot to check the window. I knew Jane had broken it and Virgil had opened it. But was it open wide enough for the drone? Was the curtain out of the way?
I had to go back.
I turned off the motor and grabbed my phone in case Tex said anything. I ran back to the house and stood outside the window listening for a few seconds. Since I didn't hear anything, I opened each side of the window covering as far as possible. I reached in and slid the curtain to the side. The helicopter could probably make its way through the flimsy drapery, but as long as I was here, I might as well make it easier to fly in. I just hoped the woman wasn't in the room where the window was. Knowing Virgil, I didn't think the woman would call the police, but she may have a weapon.
"Look out!"
I jumped while searching for danger around me before I realized it was Tex on the phone in my jacket pocket.
I retrieved the phone. "What happened?" My heart pumped harder now, even though I knew the danger was there, not here. I checked my surroundings again before I moved quickly back to the van with the phone held tightly against my ear.
"We're okay now," he said. "Liz sort of ran off the road."
"What? What do you mean? Are you still moving? How close is Virgil?"
"Whoa. We're okay. We're in the park. The road is narrow and there are no obstructions along the sides. Liz took a shortcut by going straight where the road curved. That's all. Scared me, but we're okay. Sorry you heard me."
"What about Virgil?" I asked.
"He's gaining on us. I hope you can finish your job at the house so we can call the police to help us with Virgil or at least scare him off. How's it going there?"
"Okay. I have the windows open and I'm ready to fly the drone into the house." I didn't want to worry the others with the fact that there was a woman in the house. He had all he could handle there. I could tell him later, after I got the bank information.
"Good," Tex said. "We're counting on you, Doc. Liz, you're on the grass again. Do you see those cows?"
"What is she doing now?" I asked.
"I'm not sure. She's completely off the road and we're heading toward the edge of the cliff. Right where you told us not to go." His voice rose. "Watch the edge, Liz. There are no barriers there. What?"
"What'd she say?" I asked.
"She saw some people there and thought Virgil might act differently with a few witnesses around."
"Okay. That's a good idea. Be careful. I better get this helicopter going. Keep this line open."
"You're too close, Liz. Turn, turn, turn. No, not that way!" Tex was yelling. "Hit the brakes! Stop!"
I couldn't quit listening to their venture long enough to do my job. But, I had to. I needed to get to work finding the bank information. After all, that was the reason my friends had put themselves in danger. I started the helicopter engine, wondering if the fuel tank was full.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
He didn't answer.
"Tex! Are you there?"
There was a long pause.
"We're okay. For now. The front two wheels are hanging over the cliff. Liz has it in reverse but I think we're stuck here. Virgil has parked and is walking toward us."
"What about the people Liz saw there?" I asked.
"They're still a hundred yards away. They're walking toward us now. Some are running."
"Any chance the bookmobile will fall over the cliff?"
"I don't think so, but we moved to the back to weight it down."
"What's Virgil doing now?"
"He's pushing on the back of the bookmobile."
"With his body?"
"Yes."
"Is it moving?" I asked.
"No. Not at all. With two wheels off the ground, it'll take more power than that to move this monster."
"Good. Ask Jane to use her phone to call the police so you can keep this line open. I've got to get this helicopter into the house before it runs out of fuel."
"Uh-oh," Tex said.
"What's happening?"
"Virgil is in his car and he's trying to use it to push us off the cliff. He'd actually kill all of us if he could. Don't worry, it's not working."
"Chris, Jane here. How do I call the police?"
"The emergency number in the United Kingdom is 999," I said, wondering how I knew. Having an over-achieving memory was sometimes fun and sometimes a benefit, but often unnerving.
I heard Liz hollering in the background, but couldn't make out what she said.
"What's Liz saying?" I asked.
"She says there are three of us and we should go grab him and arrest him until the police get here." It was Tex back on the phone.
"Tell her to wait," I said.
"Liz," Tex said. "Take your suitcase. Knock him down like you did in Stratford."
I heard the sound of a gunshot through the phone.
"Everybody get down!" Tex said.
"What's happening?" I asked.
"Just a minute," Tex said.
I waited, but he was silent. The helicopter was ready. I couldn't wait any longer. "Tex! Is everyone okay?"
"No one's hurt. We're just hiding. Liz had just stepped out when Virgil pulled a gun and fired at her. The bullet hit her suitcase. Probably went through it. She dropped it and fell back into the bookmobile. She's okay. Looks scared, but that's all."
"What about the people who were heading toward you?" I asked.
"I'm not sure where Virgil is now and I'm already up pretty high because of this chair. Jane, can you see where the people are now?"
There was another pause and I could hear Jane's voice faintly.
"They've turned away," Tex said. Probably heard the gunshot. I suspect they'll call for help. There's not much on the hill in the way of cover."
I heard the sirens from where I stood, not sounds over the phone. "Someone called for help or Jane's call got through. I hear sirens."
"Good," Tex said. "I hope they get here soon. To scare Virgil off."
More gunshots.
"What happened?" I asked.
"Several gunshots came through our back window." It was a stage whisper.
"Is everyone okay?" I asked.
There was no response. I stared at the phone to see if I still had a connection, but there was none. Tex may have dropped his phone in the excitement of being shot at. Or perhaps, it was worse. I wanted to call back, but I had to finish my mission. Every fiber of my body said I should jump in the van and go to them. Help them. But I couldn't. They were counting on me. They were in harm's way so I could do my part of the job.
I heard sirens, hoping it was help for my friends. I stared at the phone one more time and looked in the direction of where I thought they were. I had no other choice. I grabbed the remote controls, guided the homemade drone into the air and turned it toward the open window at Virgil's house.

Want to read more? Order it here: http://www.amazon.com/author/sidneyfrost.




Friday, August 1, 2014

$229 Kindle Giveaway

It's time for August's $229 Kindle Giveaway Hosted by I Am A Reader
Enter to win 1 of 2 great prizes both valued at $229. 
Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HDX or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 Paypal Cash! The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to those share this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter.

  August Kindle 2014  
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)

  Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)

  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)

Sponsor List I Am A Reader Feed Your Reader Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton Author Inger Iversen Candace's Book Blog I Love to Read and Review Books :) {A Leisure Moment} A Casual Conversation about Our Love for Literature J.L. Weil Kelly Walker Talia Jager, Author Jessabella Reads Laurie Treacy, Author Claudia Burgoa When I Grow Up I Wanna Write A Kids Book Kimber's Life More Than a Review Lori's Reading Corner Author Ann Swann Dana Masting Bonnie Blythe Pure Romance Bella Street Weird Romance Morgan K Wyatt Njkinny's World of Books & Stuff Reviews from a Bookworm BookBunnyPR Jenn's Book Reviews and Giveaways Me and Reading Words Wit and Wisdom Marie D. Jones Good Choice Reading A & E Kirk, Author Margo Bond Collins Christian Bookmobile Biscuit & Books BOOKTUBE Illusio & Baqer Bound 4 Escape Helen Smith (author) Gin's Book Notes Author FA Michaels Author Steven Brown Against Idleness & Mischief Rayna Noire Author Deb Atwood Laurie Here Danielle @ Coffee and Characters Author A. Wrighton Chelsea Author Promotions ExtraordinaryReads Author Lynda Raymond LeahSay's View   Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here: http://www.iamareader.com/category/kindle-giveaway-sign-ups

Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7", $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash. Ends 8/31/14   Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash.

Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers.

VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Love Lives On -- A Christian Suspense


LOVE LIVES ON


Summary

Fifty-four-year-old Karen Williams is reunited with Brian Donelson, her college sweetheart, after thirty years apart only to learn a step-son she's never met has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against her for back child support. Brian has the assets to settle the law suit, but she won't let him. Her marriage to the young man's dying father was out of compassion and she feels she is only being sued because of Brian's money.

Her decision to fight the shadows from her past puts her marriage and life in jeopardy. While fighting the claims, she takes time away from her new life with Brian to respond to the charges. And, while doing so, she is being stalked by someone who is threatening her life.

A lifetime Christian, Karen begins to wonder why God put her in such a situation. Brian's parents face medical concerns and he has to leave Karen alone in Texas while he goes to California to care for them.

While Brian is in California, someone sabotages the bookmobile Karen drives and she ends up inside the vehicle as it rolls down a hill. Brian returns as soon as he learns about it and sits with her in the hospital. Again he wants to settle the case, but when she awakes, she says no.

Karen remembers a box left by the step-son's father that will help the young man. She gets her friend Cathy to go with her into the attic to search for the box. While they are they are looking for it, someone blocks the exit and sets the house on fire.

Karen may not succeed at all she sets out to, but she does help her step-son find God.

Spiritual Themes

Karen turns to George McCullough, the 79-year-old father of Brian's best friend, to talk to about her doubts. George tells Karen she has the gift of encouragement and has devoted herself to helping others. That is why she wants to fight the lawsuit. Not for herself, but to help the ones suing. You just want to jump into the fray because you believe that's what God wants of you. (Romans 12:8)

George also tells Karen, "Remember in Acts 9 where God asks Ananias to go put his hands on Saul, the man who jailed Christians? You're like Ananias. You're a good Christian, but you've been called to get into this lawsuit for some reason. The results can be devastating. Be open to what God is calling you to do. And, remember, it may not seem like it sometimes, but eventually, good overcomes evil. Ananias was asked to step outside his comfort zone. God works through others to help us. Aren't you curious about what God has for us next?"

Here's How it Starts

Karen Williams was fifty-four and divorced for so long she'd given up hope for that special marriage everyone talked about, but few probably had experienced. Then, a year ago, her life changed. Her college sweetheart charged back into her life, acting as if he'd never stopped loving her. He was waiting for her at the altar now as she touched up her makeup in the bride's room of her church.

She hurried to apply mascara, but her right hand wouldn't be still. The pencil hit the table with a soft clunk. Tears followed. Tears from nowhere. A glance into the mirror showed mascara running down both cheeks. What was happening?

Was it that feeling of unworthiness that crept in when she least expected it? Couldn't be. God had forgiven her long ago, but she would never forget what had happened. Second thoughts? Definitely not. She loved Brian and he loved her. He would never do anything to hurt her. Not again.

***

Brian Donelson looked at his watch again. She was now officially late. The buzz in the congregation meant he wasn't the only one who sensed something was wrong. All his friends and Karen's friends were laughing softly, but he knew there was no reason to be concerned. Not yet. Surely she'd walk up the aisle in a few minutes.

Perhaps he should announce a delay. Ardis Twiss stared at him from her perch on the organ bench as if asking what to do. He shrugged and she kept playing.

All the turmoil he'd endured the past thirty years came back to him now. His sin. His self-loathing. His unhappiness with his life. He accepted that God had forgiven him for what he'd done, so why was he thinking about it now? He feared she'd changed her mind about marrying him.

Phil was all decked out in a tux with his gray hair complementing his caramel-colored skin. He took his best man duties seriously. He whispered to the pastor, just loud enough for Brian to hear, "We're checking on the bride." He then gave Brian a questioning look.

Pastor Jim Dunlap merely nodded and waited patiently. He didn't seem flustered at all. Maybe this was nothing new to him.

Brian had a sudden image of Karen driving away from the church with a corner of her long white wedding gown sticking out from under the driver's side door. He remembered she'd told him she wasn't wearing a traditional bridal gown. His imagination adjusted to show her in a suit, but still in her car speeding away from the church. He saw himself running after the car holding the bride's bouquet high in the air, yelling to her that she'd forgotten to get married so she could toss the flowers to all the single women. His legs were like rubber as he moved them faster and faster without going forward.

He took in a deep breath, tested his legs, and shook his head to erase the vision. Could their relationship survive one more difficulty? He hoped so.

***

Karen was glad she'd picked a dress she could wear again instead of a bridal gown. She'd worn a long white one when she married Steve only to have their marriage end in divorce.

"Well, is there going to be a wedding today, or not?" The question came from a large, some say full-figured, woman standing in the doorway. The floral dress she wore wasn't much different from her every day attire at the library, but it appeared to be newer.

"I'm glad you're here, Liz," Karen said, standing. "I need your help."

Karen knew Liz was a hugger. Still, she was caught off guard when Liz put her arms around her and held her tight.

"What can I do, darlin'?" Liz asked as she let go of Karen and moved back to look into her eyes.

Karen's hands quivered ever so slightly as she gripped them together in front of her chest. "I need to talk to Brian."

That was all it took. No questions asked. Liz was heading out the door when she called back over her shoulder, "I'll get him."

He entered the room soon afterwards.

"Oh, Brian. I'm sorry for holding up the wedding, but I have to tell you something."

"What?"

"First, let me say I love you deeply and I hope what I have to say doesn't change your mind about marrying me."

"Nothing could do that," he said.

"Don't be so quick to answer. Remember all the little and not so little surprises we had for each other during the past year? Well, this is one I wanted to tell you. I just didn't know how to say it."

"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. It doesn't make a difference to me. I love you and want to marry you. No matter what."

She smiled and hugged him. "I'm glad you feel that way. But, after so many years of keeping this secret, I didn't know what to do."

"Why are you bringing it up now?"

She gazed at those eyes she loved so much and kissed him. "Because I told you there were no more secrets."

Brian smiled as he took her in his arms and held her close. "That's all? No problem. Let's get married." He kissed her back. "Of course I want to hear all about it later. Okay?"

They turned and left the room, walking hand in hand down the hall toward the sanctuary.

***

Phil's father George was the only one ready to go when Karen and Brian got to the narthex. Brian's daughter Amy was talking on the phone while her own daughter Julie played some game on her smart phone. Karen's best friend Cathy was stretched out on the couch with her eyes closed. George stood at attention at the door to the church waiting to walk Karen down the aisle and give her away.

He turned to the bridal party. "Let's go, ladies. It's show time."

The three women came over of and hugged Karen and got in line to walk down the aisle.

Brian handed Karen's arm to George in a gesture for him to take it from there. "I guess I better get back to the altar before everyone leaves," Brian said.

"Not to worry," George said. "No one left. Ever'body wants to know how this soap opera's goin' to turn out."

Brian smiled. "Everything is just fine."

Karen nodded.

Brian walked down the hallway on the right side of the sanctuary to reach the altar while Karen looked into the church from the narthex. The organ music was nearly drowned out by the many voices all talking at once. The buzz from multiple conversations died down when someone noticed Brian was back and asked loud enough for all to hear, "Did you find her?"

Everyone chuckled as Brian smiled and gave a thumbs up. A rippling of applause began and quickly grew to a roaring accolade as he moved in next to Phil. Ardis sat up straighter on her bench and started shuffling the music on the stand.

Karen pulled George closer. "I think you're right. Everyone's here, and they're pulling for us."

"Amen," he said. "Ever'body here loves you two and wants you to be happy."

The music started softly as the bridal party walked down the aisle, but the volume quickly increased. Soon everyone was quiet and on their feet looking toward the entrance where Karen and George stood. Two photographers stepped into the aisle between them and the front of the church. One was the woman Karen hired and the other was a young man she'd never seen before. They both snapped photos then jumped out of the way.

When Karen and George reached the altar, the pastor asked, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

George was resplendent in his tux. His glasses sat so low on his nose he gazed out over the top of the wire rims. His curly black hair speckled with gray glistened from perspiration or hair oil. As usual he stood erect with his head held high. Today, though, when the pastor asked who gave this woman, he seemed taller. "I do," he said in his booming voice as he handed Karen to Brian.

She smiled as she moved into the position next to her fiancé and prepared to take her vows. Her mind stayed on the unknown photographer and the doubts she couldn't explain. When she faced the congregation she turned toward George and mouthed a "thank you." Her father walked her down the aisle when she'd married Steve, but both he and her mother died a few years ago. They would have loved Brian and been pleased she was marrying him.

The room was silent as George returned to his seat. Karen nodded at Phil who stood next to Brian.

"Who is that young photographer?" she whispered to Brian.

He looked around then shrugged.

Pastor Jim focused on Karen. "Is everything okay?" he asked, speaking softly.

"Yes. Sorry for holding up the ceremony."

He didn't seem upset that she'd kept him waiting. Standing here in front of her friends reminded her what a huge step they were taking. She took a few breaths to calm her body. Brian squeezed her hand. Was he nervous, too? Probably. He blinked more than usual and his forehead was covered with perspiration.

"Brian, face Karen and hold her right hand in yours," the pastor said. After a pause and in a voice all could hear, he continued. "Now, repeat after me."

She saw only Brian.

"In the name of God, I, Brian, take you, Karen, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

After they both repeated their vows, the pastor nodded to Phil and Cathy for the rings. "Bless, O Lord, these rings to be a sign of the vows by which this man and this woman have bound themselves to each other. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

They placed the rings on one another saying, "I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of God."

The pastor joined their right hands and said, "Now that Karen and Brian have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of rings, I pronounce that they are husband and wife, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder."

When the ceremony ended and they turned to be introduced to their friends as Mr. and Mrs. Donelson, Karen saw more than friends. Another unknown person stood on the side of the sanctuary, staring at her. He seemed angry with his arms crossed. She should acknowledge those happy faces in the crowd, but she couldn't take her eyes off the frowning one. As they walked down the aisle, she scanned the area for other strangers. She didn't see one until they reached the narthex. The young photographer pushed his way past the woman Karen had hired.

Brian went with the pastor to sign papers while Karen hung back with the photographers. The same negative feeling she'd experienced before the wedding came over her again as a man she didn't recognize approached her.

"Karen Williams Donelson?" he asked.

"Yes."

"I'm sorry to bother you at this occasion, but I must give you this." He handed her an envelope.

She took it, holding it away from her body as if it could harm her. "Who are you? What is this?"

"Ma'am, you're being sued. I don't know why. I only deliver the papers. Like I said, I'm sorry."

"Sued? Who's suing me?"

"I don't know that either, ma'am. You'll find all that information in the envelope." He nodded and turned around to leave. Before he got far, Liz had him by the arm and walked him to the exit.

Brian returned and stood by Karen's side. "Who was that?" he asked.

She held the envelope for him see. "A process server, I guess. He gave me this. Said I'm being sued."

She pulled out the document and scanned it quickly before returning it to its envelope. "We'll look at this later," she said, holding the envelope next to her hip. "Right now all I want to think about is our wedding day."

The rest of the wedding party moved in closer after the stranger was escorted out. Karen held Brian tightly and smiled at their friends. Still, she couldn't help wonder about what she had seen in the envelope.