Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sisters, Ink by Rebeca Seitz

It is February FIRST, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Rebeca Seitz

and her book:


B&H Books (February 1, 2008)


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING being her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.



Tandy’s purple stiletto heel tapped in perfect rhythm to the pulse that threatened to leap out of her neck. She stared at the phone, willing it to ring and someone on the other end to declare this a joke. Her boss did not just call her into his office. Now. The smooth tones from her CD player of Ole Blue Eyes crooning I Did it My Way mocked rather than soothed. She had to calm down, but Meg’s idea of music soothing the savage soul was not working. Fingers shaking, Tandy snatched up the receiver and dialed her sister. Calm, stoic Meg always knew what to do in a crisis. From falling off the swing set to supplying Oreos and caffeine the night before Tandy’s bar exam, Meg was a pro at handling crises and keeping her three sisters’ lives humming.
A busy signal sounded, and Tandy slammed the phone back down. Of course Meg would be on the phone right now. Why on earth couldn’t that woman understand the helpfulness of call-waiting? Tandy could hear Meg’s soft, persuasive response now: Why would I stop talking to one person before our conversation ended, T? It’s rude and I just won’t have it in my house.
Grabbing the receiver again, Tandy punched in Kendra’s numbers, jumping when yet another hawk flew into her window. Why did Orlando have to have a courthouse with the perfect nooks and crannies to build a nest? Ever since the completion of this new structure, hawks circled attorneys in the Bellsouth building across the on a daily basis.
Kendra’s melodic voice floated over the line, its harmonious tones the same as in childhood: “You have reached the voicemail of Kendra Sinclair…”
Tandy slammed the receiver down again and glared at the circling hawks. Of course Mr. Beasley was angry. He had every right to be, really. That fat deposit in her checking account every other week meant the continuation of her dedication to keeping their clients out of jail. Certainly it meant she wouldn’t hand the prosecution the very evidence they needed to obtain a conviction. She fiddled with the purple and black silk scarf tied around her neck…
Would Joy be any help at all in this situation? Joy might be the baby sister, but her quiet strength could come in handy right now. Except that Joy loved to talk and Christopher Beasley was waiting. The thought of him in his office high above the hawks, tapping his long fingers on the glass top of a heavy mahogany desk, didn’t allow for long phone conversations.
Tandy’s office phone rang and she jumped. “Tandy Sinclair.”
“Tandy, it’s Anna.” Tandy smiled, thinking of the gentle lady seated a few floors above her. “Mr. Beasley’s on his third cup of coffee.”
Her smile vanished. “Oh, no, Anna. Couldn’t you have dawdled a bit? You know how he gets with caffeine overload.”
“And you know how he gets when I dawdle. You’ve got maybe three minutes before he asks me to get cup number four.”
“I’m on my way.” Tandy pushed back from her desk and stood up. “Thanks, Anna.”
“No problem, sweetie.”
Tandy dropped the phone in its cradle, her gaze darting around the room for something, anything that would prevent the next ten minutes.
If that idiot Harry Simons had been one iota less smarmy, this predicament could have been avoided. His outright ogling of her figure had been bad enough, but certainly not the first time Tandy had been forced to ignore a man’s unwanted attentions. They all seemed to believe her red, wavy hair was a sign she’d fulfill their wildest dreams. Heck, Mr. Beasley had probably even made that assumption at some point, as evidenced by his swift promotions landing her in a cushy corner office of Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton.
Tandy swigged caffeine and paced the office. It wasn’t even Harry’s condescension. His superiority, rooted in maleness, made no effort to hide the belief that a brain resting between the pierced ears of a thirty-year-old female graduate of Yale School of Law somehow negated its existence. That idiocy didn’t even raise her blood pressure. She fingered her pearl earrings and grimaced as a hawk glided to rest on the ledge outside.
No, she would have been fine, and Christopher Beasley would not at this very moment be preparing to fire her, except for one innocent little lunch with small-minded Harry. Why, oh why, had she agreed to go to lunch with the lizard? (Honestly, his head rivaled the shape of geckos that ran in and out of every flower bed in Central Florida.) Come to think of it, his eyes were shifty like a gecko, too. Was the single life getting to her so much that she’d date a lizard? She stopped and tapped the window ledge. Meg and Kendra were on her case to date more. But who had time to meet people after spending sixty-five hours a week at the office? She sighed. The sisters just didn’t understand life in the city.
“You guys have got it easy,” she said to the hawks. “Circle, eat, rest, repeat. With the occasional head bang into a window to keep us lawyers on our toes.” She shook her head.
Well, it didn’t matter now. Mr. Beasley awaited her presence and it would only get worse the longer she stood here. Her heels sank into the plush pearl-colored carpet as she crossed the office, ignoring the latest sacrifice to her black thumb—a nearly dead African violet. She opened her office door and cast one last glance at what, in about ten minutes, probably would not be her office. Oh well. Maybe she could take the plant to Anna.
She picked up the violet. At least the charade of defending a slimeball, who made fun of an old homeless man to make himself seem big, would come to an end. And the day was still young; she could hit the beach before the lunch rush hit I-4.
Shoulders thrown back, chin up, Tandy made her way down the hallway and entered an elevator lined in the obligatory mahogany, brass, and mirrors, testimony to Christopher’s desire to never rock a boat even in the decoration of his law firm’s offices. She eyed her reflection and saw steel in the brown eyes staring back. Cutting Harry off at the knees in public wasn’t the best financial move to make. How would she buy food for Cooper? Pay his vet bills? Keeping an old basset hound with arthritic knees and hips in comfort was a pricey endeavor. Still, it had been worth it to see the shock on Harry’s face when she announced in her loud voice the impending completion of his career. From a 9x9 prison cell, that cardboard box would look like heaven.
She checked her chignon, tucking in a stray curl and smoothing the rest down. Picturing Harry’s smug, pudgy face behind bars did way more to calm her pulse rate than Sinatra’s croon. The elevator dinged, announcing her arrival to Christopher Beasley’s penthouse lair.
Tandy took a deep breath, tightened her grip on the sagging violet, sent up a prayer of thanks that she’d picked the Ann Taylor suit today—must look sharp when being fired--and stepped across the threshold.
“He’s waiting for you.” Sympathy shimmered in Anna’s blue eyes. The Orlando sun shining through the window made Anna’s hair glow like a fresh pearl.
Tandy set the violet down on Anna’s desk. “Thanks, Anna. It’s been good knowing you. I wonder if you might coax this little guy back to life?”
Anna raised her eyebrows. “Tandy, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re a danger to plants.” She smiled and wagged her finger. “You taking them in isn’t an act of kindness. You leave the greenery to us old chicks.”
Tandy laughed. “Yes ma’am.” She took another breath. “I guess I should go in now.”
Anna sobered. “Guess so.”
“Still on cup number three?”
“I just took in cup four. I doubt he’s taken a sip yet, though. He’s slowing down.”
“Thanks for everything, Anna.”
“You’re welcome, honey. Take care of yourself. And you call me if you need anything, hear?”
Tandy nodded, only now realizing that losing her job also meant losing Anna’s kind wisdom. She blinked hard. Crying at work would not do. She stepped to Christopher’s door and knocked.
“Come.” His deep voice bellowed through the door and Tandy’s pulse kicked up again. This was it. For the first time ever, Tandy Sinclair was about to be fired from a job. When she’d moved to Orlando to take this job and declare war on the city that took her childhood, Tandy never would have guessed she’d become an actual beach bum.
“Tandy, sit down, sit down.” Christopher stood, gesturing to a chair and patting the telltale stripes of his Ben Silver tie. “Seems we have a little situation on our hands.” The hawks circled one story below his window, the tops of their feathered backs lit by the sun.
Tandy sat down and nodded.
Christopher’s padded leather chair creaked with his weight. He settled back, propped his elbows on the arms, and templed his fingers. “Harry tells me he’s headed for a prison cell.”
She nodded again.
“He also tells me that would be your fault.”
Another nod. This must be what bobbleheads felt like.
“And he says he’s ready to sue this firm for inadequate representation unless I do something about it.”
She quirked an eyebrow. Score one for Harry.
“I’ve assured Harry that there must be some misunderstanding since you’re one of the most capable attorneys this firm has seen in quite some time. So, please, Tandy, explain to me how one of our biggest clients, someone for whom you serve as lead counsel, suddenly finds himself facing jail.”
Tandy tilted her head. He was giving her an out, bless him. Leave it to Christopher Beasley, King of Calm and Proper Appearances, to smooth the choppy waters and restore her professional boat to proper order.
An image of Harry’s sneer popped into her mind, though, and the thought of backtracking fled like money from her wallet during a trunk sale.
She smiled and adopted her lawyer voice. “Well, Mr. Beasley, I appreciate your belief in my professional abilities, but it seems Mr. Simons has some rather extreme positions regarding personal values that led me to determine he is, in fact, guilty of the crime for which he has been accused. When I asked him directly, he admitted as much to me.”
It was Christopher’s turn to raise a brow. “He told you he embezzled funds from Hope House?”
Tandy nodded. “Yes, sir. I advised him I could not put him on the stand, since I would be suborning perjury, but he refused to listen. It was either let him lie to the court or remove myself from his case. I chose the latter.”
Christopher swiveled his chair and stared out at the courthouse. What she wouldn’t give for a hawk to barrel into the glass. Anything to break the tension. Losing this job wouldn’t be the end of the world…just of her bank account, for the time being. She really didn’t want to lose the paycheck, but Harry gave her no choice.
The man wouldn’t listen to reason if someone etched it in a brick and threw it at his head.
She thought about their lunch again, seeing the hump-backed old man picking through a dumpster across the street. His coat had been threadbare, but Tandy knew too well the value of a coat, threadbare or not, on the streets. The priceless nature of every layer between skin and street. How the three bites of cheeseburger he found wrapped in its foil was enough to fill his belly for an entire day.
Harry’s voice had faded into the background of restaurant chatter as Tandy’s mind flew back to the seven years she spent living in a box with her mother. Before she met Marian and Jack Sinclair. Hearing the trains rumble past where they camped. Begging people for money, searching for a dry place when it rained, for a piece of food that hadn’t already been discovered by bugs. Watching her mom bob and weave as she walked, that scary light in her eyes that was both mesmerizing and terrifying because it meant mom wouldn’t make sense.
Tandy knew now her childhood had been stolen the first day her mother lit a match beneath the bowl of a pipe.
“Stupid junkie. Probably lost his job because of some drug habit.” Harry’s voice joined a thousand other voices that still kept her awake on too many nights. “Bet he chooses to live like that. Easier than getting a job and working for his money like the rest of us.”
Tandy looked at Harry sitting there in his three-thousand-dollar pin-striped suit, black crocodile shoes, and platinum cuff links with the Brooks Brothers insignia. Thought about reminding him his money came from his father’s hard work and planning, but decided against it. Harry was, after all, a huge client.
“Oh, probably not, Harry. You’d be amazed what some of the people living on the streets have been through.” She sipped her water and willed her blood not to boil at the stupidity of the man before her.
He sneered and pointed a stubby finger at her. “Don’t be naïve, Tandy. That man could get a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s just as easy as sit out there with a cup in his hand, begging me to part with my cold hard cash that I worked very hard to get.”
Silence was about as possible as finding a pair of Ferragamo’s in a size ten.
On sale.
Never gonna happen.
“Harry, how would he get a job? I doubt he owns any clothing other than what’s on his back. What would he wear to a job interview? Where would he get enough sleep in one sitting to be awake for an entire shift? What address would he even put on his job application?”
“Why, Tandy, I didn’t know you cared so much about our fair city’s homeless degenerates.” His voice, so patronizing and smooth, grated. It fought with the pockmarks on his face to portray a polished image. “I’d think, with such convictions, you would have a hard time taking my case.”
“Why is that, Harry? You didn’t embezzle from Hope House. Which means you didn’t take money from the mouths of homeless people. Which means my awareness of the plight of the homeless works in your favor.” She took a sip of her water and tried to relax.
He wagged his finger at her. “Tsk, tsk, tsk, Tandy. There goes your naiveté again.”
It took her a second to catch on. “Excuse me?”
He grinned and, for the first time, Tandy knew what jowls meant. “I think we both know what I’m saying.”
“I certainly hope not. Because if you’re confessing to taking money from a homeless shelter, I can’t put you on the stand. I’d be suborning perjury.”
Christopher cleared his throat, snapping Tandy back into the present. He swiveled around to face her. “I’m in a predicament, Tandy. Harry Simons brings a lot of money to this firm, been with us for years. That must count for something. Yet I find myself struggling with the thought of firing you since I understand the ethical dilemma you faced.”
A tiny smidgen of hope blossomed in her heart.
Christopher placed his palms down on his glass-topped desk, an act of finality. “And yet, I see no course of action but to terminate your employment with Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton. Anything less would cause serious repercussions in our relationship with Harry Simons.”
She fought to breathe normally. Blinked to hold back tears. Her savings account was basically nonexistent, which meant she and Cooper better start looking for a big refrigerator box to call home. Or maybe finding Cooper another family to live with would be a better idea. One of the sisters could take him. Meg, or maybe Joy. Kendra would be a last resort. She was as good with pets as Tandy was with plants. Well, except for Kitty, but cats were self-sufficient.
A hawk slammed into the window, making Christopher jump and spill the coffee sitting on his desk. “Dadgum it! Anna!”
Anna came rushing in, saw the mess, and snagged a roll of paper towels from the cabinet by the door without a word.
“You’ve got to call somebody about these hawks, Anna. They’re ruining my concentration!”
“Yes, Mr. Beasley. I’ll make the call today.” Anna shot Tandy a sideways glance. Tandy grinned. Seeing the unflappable Christopher Beasley in a snit was worth getting fired--almost. Anna sopped up the mess and left the room.
“Now, where were we?” He pushed paper around the desk, checking to ensure all the coffee was gone.
Tandy cleared her throat. “I think you were firing me.”
Christopher stopped arranging paper and looked up at her. “Right, right. Well, I don’t think we have to be that drastic. How about a leave of absence?”
Thank heaven for hawks.
“A leave of absence, sir?” Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but, hey, it had to be asked.
“Yes. I think that will mollify our good friend Harry.” Christopher nodded and patted the desktop, warming to his idea. “I’ll let him know you’ve taken some time to think through your behavior and will come back to the firm when you’ve gotten some perspective. Say, two months?”
Two months? She calculated the amount in her checking account and began deducting bills. With no extracurricular spending at all, it might work. Two months to find something else or learn how to eat crow. Okay, maybe this was a good thing. There was no immediate need to take another boring job in a legal firm. Two months was a ton of time. Figuring out her professional passion should be a snap. She could almost see Meg’s eyes roll at that thought. “Thank you for that, sir.”
Christopher smiled. “It’s the least we can do. You’ve been a good employee. I just wish this mess hadn’t occurred.”
Poor Christopher. Conflict between an employee and a major client. He must have been up all night figuring out ways to smooth ruffled feathers.
She shrugged. “These things happen for a reason, I think.” She stood up and held out her hand. Christopher took it with his own limp one and made a motion that might optimistically be called a handshake.
“Good luck, Tandy. We’ll see you back here in two months.”
“Thank you.” She turned on one Ferragamo heel and walked out of Christopher Beasley’s office. Eight weeks of nothingness spread out before her like a gift. There had to be a way to make money off of this.
She tapped her chin and watched the lights over the elevator. Maybe some tourist would want her apartment for a couple of weeks. Tourists would pay just about anything for somewhere to stay during season. A couple thousand bucks, easy.
But if someone were to stay in her apartment, where could she go? The whisper of her heart tickled Tandy’s brain. Stars Hill, Tennessee’s rolling countryside, Daddy’s smile, Momma’s painted roses, the sisters’ scrapbooks…
The ding of the elevator dispelled her mind’s image, but not the idea. Stars Hill. Well, it had been a while since she’d been back. Three years, if memory served. And, with Daddy and the sisters around, there wouldn’t be any need to spend money on restaurants. Though what she’d save might be spent on scrapbook stuff. It was one thing to scrap alone and quite another to sit around Momma’s old scrapping table with the girls.
Tandy exited the elevator and smiled. If she left right now, she’d be home in Stars Hill by morning.
She walked into her office, snagged her briefcase, and whipped out a tiny cell phone on the way back to the elevator.
“Hey, T, what’s up in the big city?”
Tandy laughed. “Well, not me. I’ve got eight weeks of a sudden vacation.”
“What? What happened?”
“I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.”
Meg’s squeal pierced Tandy’s ears and she jerked the phone away from her head. “You’re coming home? To Stars Hill? Yes!! When will you be here? Wait, what happened? Did you get fired? Did something happen at work?” Tandy could hear Meg’s three kids squealing now in the background. They must have caught on to their mom’s excitement.
“Seriously, I’ll tell you when I get there. Call Kendra and Joy. Breakfast at Joy’s, 9 a.m.”
“You’ve got it, sister. James, get down off that table!” Tandy could just picture Meg’s eldest. He must have grown a foot by now. “I’m telling you that child will climb on anything,” Meg said.
“Go keep your kids from tearing down the house. I’ve got to get home, get all my scrapping stuff packed, call the rental company to let some crazy tourist in my place for a couple of weeks, and get on the highway.”
“On the road again…” Meg’s voice blared through the phone.
“Sheesh, Sis, are you ever going to stop with the songs?”
“Not as long as there’s a breath in me.” Tandy heard scuffling. “James, put your sister down! I am not kidding with you, mister!”
Tandy chuckled. “See you in the morning.”
“Okay. Be careful and buckle up.”
“You’ve got it.”
Tandy snapped the phone closed and walked through the parking deck toward her new little silver BMW 323. Man was this car going to stand out in sleepy little Stars Hill.

My review is hopefully coming soon... MJ

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Passion Most Pure

(Revell January 1, 2008)


Julie Lessman


Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.


She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart.

Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. Collin is trying to win her sister Charity's hand, and Faith isn't sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure is Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series.

My review is coming soon!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Awaken My Heart

Avon Inspire (February 5, 2008)


DiAnn Mills


Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. She is the author of numerous titles including novels, novellas, and a nonfiction. In addition, she's written several short stories, articles, devotions, and has contributed to several nonfiction compilations.

DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.

Several of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and she remains a favorite author by Heartsong Present's readers. Two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers both in 2003 and 2004. She was named Writer of the Year for 2004 at the 35th Annual Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference and is the recipient of Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella categories.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, ChiLibris, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn also belongs to Cy Fair Women's Networking, an exclusive professional women's networking organization.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she'd own one, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.


1803, the colony of Texas

Awaken My Heart is set in 19th century Texas and tells the story of 18 year old Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Weston Phillips. Weston is involved in a hostile struggle with Armando Garcia, the infamous rebel leader of the 'mestizos' who claim to own the land that Phillips has settled.

Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to marry her off to the don of a nearby estate.

Armando Garcia is the locals' reluctant leader, but his people revere and depend on him. Knowing that without his leadership they'd be forced from their land, Armando accepts his role, but does not approve of the latest attempt to manipulate their enemy. When he learns that Marianne actually speaks his language, of her loyalty to his people, and of the faith that keeps her strong, Armando is faced with a difficult decision. Will his newfound love keep him from letting her go? Or will he set her free and risk losing their land forever?

My review:
I have to admit that this is my first experience with DiAnn Mills and I have to say that I like her. "Awaken My Heart" was thrilling to read. Just the right pinches of rebellion and devotion to God... Real emotions and the struggle to understand them make this book and it's story true to life.

An early 19th century Texas Colony Zorro meets Romeo meets Shakespeare in Love.

The heroine Marianne is a much better person than I, but she gives me an example of a woman's life that I should strive to be as strong as she. This book does have the desired kidnapping, fall in love, find peace with Christ, someone dies, and an almost happier ever after ending just as most good Christian Inspirational Fiction novels do, but it is even better because it is real and not overly flowery as some. Other plus points to this book are the little inputs of the Spanish language that I knew just enough of to really be able to enthrall myself into the atmosphere of the narrative. I could smell the earth and roses she described as well as hear the speech and playful banter of the characters throughout. As well as the main struggle with "culture, religion, and social demands [to] embrace the love that comes only from the great Creator."

I would definitely read this author again.

Q&A with DiAnn Mills on writing AWAKEN MY HEART

Q. Did you always want to be a writer, or is it something you fell into in your adult life?

Always. As soon as I could hold a pencil. My mind was always filled with some kind of story. As a child, I was punished for lying, now I get paid for it!

Q. Your love of Texas history is displayed throughout the book, especially since it takes place in 19th century Texas. Why do you think this would appeal to your readers?
Texas is known for it's rugged and courageous people. The folk lore and legends could fill volumes--and has. Those people who were not born here got here as fast as they could. The good people are the best, and the outlaws were the worst. That makes for grand stories. Awaken My Heart shows the beginnings of Texas from a Spanish and Mexican perspective. Where would this state be if not for those who stood up to tyranny?

Q. Marianne is in love with Armando Garcia, her father's arch enemy. How is Marianne able to suppress her feelings for Armando around her family?
Marianne understood that above all things, she should obey her parents. Outwardly, she respected their wishes, but in her heart, she could not deny her growing feelings for Armando.

Q. Weston Phillips is a hard man to understand, perhaps an even harder man for his wife and daughter to love. Do you have people like him in your life?
All of us have unlovable people in our lives. Sometimes we attempt to be indifferent or ignore them, but it doesn't change the way that person hurts us.

Q. Armando is confused by his feelings for Marianne. He feels like his heart has betrayed him. How does his past drive those feelings? Do you understand his hesitation?
Armando's parents were involved in a forbidden relationship--his father a member of the Spanish aristocracy and his mother a peasant. When it appeared that Armando's father had deserted his mother and son, Armando despised him. Now Armando has fallen into the same trap--forbidden love. He doesn't want to experience the same rejection again, but his heart is more powerful than his logic. He begins to understand the powerful force of love between two people.

Q. Armando and Marianne admit their love, but social and political environment of the day frowned on their relationship. Forbidden love often pulls two people together, but what does God say is the foundation for His gift of love?
The foundation for God's gift of love is rooted in His Son Jesus Christ. Those who have put their faith and trust in Him understand that all are equal in the eyes of God.

After reading the book, I realized it was published by Avon Inspire and that name is new to me so I did a little contacting and digging and this is what I found out about Avon Inspire and HarperSanFrancisco.

The new imprint, which will publish several titles each season, is a partnership between Avon and HarperSanFrancisco (HSF). ”This partnership recognizes what we have witnessed happening in the CBA industry over the last few years. Namely, that Christian fiction is no longer a sideline in CBA and general trade stores, but has become a mainstay,” says HSF Deputy Publisher Mark Tauber. Books will be acquired and edited by HSF editor Cynthia DiTiberio, and published by Avon Books. “Avon Inspire is dedicated to offering the Christian book market and mainstream readers alike page-turning stories of love and hope, upholding traditional values and featuring trustworthy characters,” says DiTiberio.

What I have to say is YAY! It is about time there was more VALUE works of worded art out there for consumption! Their mission statement just about sums it up... it's almost too good to be true!

Mission Statement:
Avon Inspire is Avon's line of inspirational women's fiction that features that which matters most: family, community, faith, and love. Encompassing contemporary romance, chick lit, romantic suspense, and historicals, these captivating stories engage the heart and refresh the spirit. In summer 2007, Avon Inspire will debut with two enchanting, uplifting novels. See the official press release here.

I now realize that one of my previous posts was in fact also published by Avon Inspire. In that case, also look at Defiant Heart and Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman. Other Avon Inspire books that look neat and are being put on my to-read list as soon as this is posted are Blessed Assurance by Lyn Cote, The Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck, and Wedding Bell Blues by Linda Windsor.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Latest Quilting projects

Two things, (WAIT NO THREE!!) one... I did a complete project start to finish today. It's my "Farm" of my imagination and dreams. The other (two) is a reversible crib size quilt that has a day/night theme... (And three...) The last is an Advent Calendar that I pieced and quilted. I made two this year, one for my sister's children and one for my brother's children to share. These pictures were on my camera and I forgot to upload them before. So, here have a look-see!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pastel Rag Quilt

This is my first ever rag quilt. I made it a couple months ago, but see now that I never posted the picture. So here you are... MJ

Christmas present for Daddy

This is the cross stitch Christmas present I made for my daddy, but after the fact I realized I should have made a second one for my brother... MJ

On-Going Scrappy Quilt

I have started a scrappy quilt that will be an on-going project for many years to come. Here is the part that is put up on my wall for inspiration and the beginning of this quilt.

Flannel Quilt in Progress

This is my blue flannel quilt in progress. It will be named something with "Blue Flannel" in the title, why you ask? Because growing up there were these blue flannel sheets for a twin bed, and I loved them! Loved them so much that they became holy... and then my wonderful mother cut the sheets up and made them into many pillowcases... STILL USE TODAY! Except for a little of the fabric, which is in process to be made into a babbie. (How does one spell babbie? babie? BAAAH-BEEE) Love the blue flannel. In process of making this quilt, I fabulously sewed one side completely backward and then the middle block doesn't meet up... So now it is need of tweaking, but at least you can see it laid out and get a general idea. - MJ

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Sunday night at 9:00pm on PBS!

• “Mansfield Park” (1/27, 9-10:30) Austen’s most complex plot stars Billie Piper (“Doctor Who,” “The Ruby in the Smoke”) as Fanny Price, who goes to live with prosperous relatives at Mansfield Park. Fanny navigates a labyrinth of intrigues and affairs among the occupants of the house, while her cousin Edmund Bertram (Blake Ritson, “Inspector Lynley Mysteries”) remains her stalwart confidant. Also starring Jemma Redgrave (“Bramwell”) as Fanny’s observant aunt. Adapted by Maggie Wadey. Directed by Iain B. MacDonald. Executive producers, George Faber, Charles Pattinson. Executive producer for WGBH, Rebecca Eaton. Produced by Suzan Harrison. A co-production of Company Productions and WGBH/Boston.

For more details, see my schedule previous post, complete previous post or the Masterpiece Theatre website.

What I'm Reading...

"Auralia's Colors" by Jeffrey Overstreet
"Abandoned Identity" by Tamara Tilley
"Reluctant Smuggler" by Jill Elzabeth Nelson
"Jane Austen The Complete Novels"
"Illuminated" by Matt Bronleewe
"The Redemption of Sarah Cain" by Beverly Lewis
"Stuck in the Middle" by Virginia Smith
"Sisters, Ink" by Rebeca Seitz
"Land of My Heart" by Tracie Peterson
"A Passion Most Pure" by Julie Lessman
"On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness" by Andrew Peterson
"What Lies Within" by Karen Ball
"When Comes the Spring" by Janet Oke
"Faina" by Rudy Gaborno
"The Book of God" by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
"Courting Trouble" by Deeanne Gist
"The Amish Quilt" by Eve Wheatcroft Granick

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fallen by Matthew Raley

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Kregel Publications February 29, 2008)


Matthew Raley


Matthew Raley is senior pastor of the Orland Evangelical Free Church in northern California, where he lives with his wife and two young children. For fun, he enjoys playing chamber music with friends, giving occasional solo recitals, and playing first violin in the North State Symphony. This is his first book.


Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A ripped-from-the-headlines drama of suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page.

Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.

The only way to understand this book is to read it for yourself. Personally, this was not my favorite. I actually did not finish it, but stopped about half way through. To me, the first quarter of the book was when Jim sees Dave with an unknown woman and spends the next six or seven chapters debating whether or not he is going to confront Dave. The next quarter of the book is the actual confrontation. I could not get hooked on this book. I read Christian Fiction myself to escape reality and get inspired by the miraculously good in some people's hearts. This story is too realistic and full of pain for me. It is not an escape, but a realistic reminder that even pastors make mistakes. This book for me, was just not my cup of tea.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey"

Tonight at 9:00pm on PBS!!

• “Northanger Abbey” (1/20, 9-10:30) In Austen’s gentle parody of gothic fiction, Felicity Jones (Meadowlands) plays romance-addict Catherine Morland. Invited to a medieval country house that appeals to her most lurid fantasies, she forms a close friendship with the younger son on the estate, Henry Tilney (JJ Feild, “The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton”), but their budding romance is mysteriously cut short. Adapted by Andrew Davies. Directed by Jon Jones. Executive producers, Andy Harries, Charles Elton. Executive producer for WGBH, Rebecca Eaton. Produced by Keith Thompson. A co-production of Granada and WGBH/Boston.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Christian Writer's Marker Guide 2008 by Sally Stuart

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008

WaterBrook Press (January 15, 2008)


Sally Stuart


Sally Stuart has been writing for the last 40+ years, and has been putting out the annual "Christian Writers' Market Guide" for the last 23 years. Her other writing includes several Christian education resources books, a children's picture book, a basic writing text, writing resources, and a western novel--plus hundreds of articles and marketing columns. She writes marketing columns for the "Christian Communicator," "Advanced Christian Writer," and the Oregon Christian Writers' Newsletter. She speaks and teaches at Christian Writers' Conferences nationwide. Sally is the mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. She and her husband, Norm, spend their free time vacationing on the Oregon coast.

Check out her blog!

The essential reference tool for the Christian writer, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide is now in its 23rd annual edition!

Check out the section on Blogging on page 69...the CFBA is listed!

Writers’ Conference listings, Book Publishers, Magazine Publishers, and a Bookstore filled with the resources you need to be successful in this business. Get a Book Contract or Manuscript Evaluation, and check out the Writer’s Resource links. This book has all you need to connect to all these valuable helps for the beginning, intermediate, or professional writer.

To keep you up to date with the latest marketing news, visit Sally Stuart’s new marketing blog, Christian Writers’ Marketplace, at

A new, updated version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide is available about January 15 each year.

Reading through this book I was very impressed and surprised by the wealth of information capable of being discovered in this one location. I am not to advanced stages in my own ideas of writing, but there is a abundance of information for writers at all stage points to get a little bit further to being published and even beyond.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jane Austen - Schedule

Masterpiece Theatre
The Complete Jane Austen
Premiering Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Complete Jane Austen, beginning Sunday, January 13, 2008, features all new productions of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility. The lineup also includes the acclaimed Emma staring Kate Beckinsale, and the Emmy Award-winning Pride and Prejudice that made Colin Firth a leading man. Four of the titles -- Emma, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility -- were adapted by celebrated screenwriter Andrew Davies.

January 13, 2008

Northanger Abbey
January 20, 2008

Mansfield Park
January 27, 2008

Miss Austen Regrets
February 3, 2008

Pride and Prejudice
February 10, 17, + 24, 2008

March 23, 2008

Sense and Sensibility
March 30 + April 6, 2008

For more details, see my complete previous post or the Masterpiece Theatre website.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happily Ever After by Marilynn Griffith

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Happily Ever After (#3 - Sassy Sistahood Series)

(Steeple Hill January 1, 2008)


Marilynn Griffith


Marilynn Griffith is mom to a tribe, wife to a deacon and proof that God gives second chances. While best known for her colorful novels about friendship, family and faith, Marilynn is also a speaker and nonfiction writer.

Her nonfiction has been included in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN'S SOUL and several other devotionals and magazines. Currently, Marilynn is editor of the SISTAHFAITH:BELIEVING BEYOND SHAME anthology. She is also the founder of, a blog for faith fiction readers.

Marilynn is the author of six novels dealing with issues such as teen pregnancy, AIDS, abstinence, stress relief, single parenting and marriage. Her recent fiction titles include TANGERINE and IF THE SHOE FITS.

Marilynn has served as Vice President and Publicity Officer of American Christian Fiction Writers. She speaks to youth, women and writers about believing beyond boundaries and daring to reach dreams.

Marilynn lives in Florida with her husband and seven children whom she taught at home for seven years. When not chasing toddlers, helping with homework or trying to find her husband a clean shirt, she can be found scribbling furiously on her next novel.

To book Marilynn for media interviews, speaking engagements, Serious Fun fiction parties or book club call-ins, please contact her thru her WEBSITE.

Superwoman doesn't live here!

I marry a gorgeous executive, have a baby, lose all the weight (most of it), and move to a fine house in the suburbs with a welcoming new church. Wait...did I say welcoming?

One teeny waaah! and new mothers and their crying babies are exiled to a separate room. At least there's some enlightening conversation. Like about my husband and issues I didn't even know about!

And then there's my aptly named mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, who can't stand me.

I'm about to lose my mind! So it's high time for a visit to the Sassy Sistahood for some much-needed advice about men, marriage and motherhood!

The Sassy Sistahood: They get by with a little help from their friends.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Abandoned Identity by Tamera Tilley

Happy New Year! It is January 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

Abandoned Identity

Evergreen Press (AL) (August 1, 2007)


Hooray! Tamara is one of our very own FIRST members!

She resides with her husband, Walter, and their children, John, Christopher, and Jennifer, at Hume Lake Christian Camps in the Sequoia National Forest. They have served on full-time staff and ministered at Hume for 13 years.

Tamara manages one of the retail stores at Hume Lake, which serves thousands of kids visiting the conference center on a daily basis.

Not only does she write, she is also an avid reader and enjoys other hobbies such as scrapbooking, designing greeting cards and invitations, and enjoying God's creation from her from porch.

A note from me... I have half way through this book already and I'm hooked and cannot read fast enough. It makes it worse that I have two other books that are overdue to the library and I'm trying to finish reading them, but this one keeps calling to me. From the description, I was unsure at first if this is something that would suit my taste, but this book is very intriguing. Once I have a full review I'll post it, so come back soon! I apologize, but things have been crazy with the holidays and my wreck...


The young, blond woman stepped off the elevator, rushed past the receptionist, and quickly headed down the hallway.

“Jennifer, Mr. Lynch is looking for you,” Doris called after her.

Jennifer didn’t stop to acknowledge the message. She didn’t have time. She could hear the warning in Doris’ tone. Mr. Lynch was looking for her, knowing she was late returning from lunch. This could very well be her last day at Weissler and Schuler.

She glanced at her watch as she threaded her way through the multitude of workstations. She moved as quickly as she could, even though she knew her efforts were probably for nothing—after all, late was late. He would assume she had done it on purpose and would make good on his threat from the previous week. Lynch had given her two weeks to change her attitude or she would be fired.

She hurried past his office door, hoping against hope that she would be able to slip by without being noticed. A sideways glance told her otherwise. She continued towards her own office, knowing he would be quick on her heels. She had struggled all morning, trying to do her work, trying to keep it together, but with the way she was feeling, her resolve was beginning to crumble. She’d only had enough time to slip off her jacket before she heard his booming voice in the hallway.

“Ms. Patterson, you of all people should not be abusing time restrictions. A one-hour lunch is a one-hour lunch, not an hour and 25 minutes,” he scolded her loud enough so everyone could hear him as he made his way down the hall toward her office.

Jennifer hung up her coat and purse on the rack behind her door and slumped in the overstuffed sofa that filled her office. She braced herself for the inevitable.

“You knew we needed to get started on the Yomahama account first thing after lunch,” he said as he entered her office and firmly shut the door. “Obviously you don’t care about this account as much as you say you do.” He was poised for her counterattack but was surprised instead to hear her soft apology.

“I’m sorry. I thought I could make it home and back again. But with the snow, and the traffic, and the way I’m . . .”

What’s the use explaining, she thought to herself. He doesn’t care. She had just given him the excuse he was looking for. She figured she would be packing up her personal items in less than an hour. She took a deep breath, her eyes focused downward. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional.”

Harrison was taken aback. In the short time he’d known Jennifer, she had never apologized for her actions. Everything she did was intentionally antagonistic toward him. But somehow he sensed a difference in her mood.

“What’s wrong?” he bristled, not really wanting to hear her excuse.

She glanced up at his imposing figure but lowered her eyes to the floor as she spoke. “I tried to kick something all weekend. I guess I’m just not feeling up to par.”

He said nothing, waiting for her to make eye contact with him. She stiffened her back, sighed and said, “It won’t happen again.”

Had she brushed a tear from her cheek? Not possible, he thought to himself. Jennifer Patterson was tough as nails. She would never lower herself to tears in the workplace . . . that was unless she really was ill.

He waited again for her to look up at him, and when she did, he was met with vacant eyes, pallid skin, and beads of sweat that were starting to form on her brow. Just then, the intercom system went off. “Mr. Lynch, Mr. Yomahama is on the line. Shall I put him through to Miss Patterson’s office or your own?”

Obviously Doris knew where to find him because of the scene he had just made. He walked around to the front of Jennifer’s desk and cleared his voice before pushing the intercom button. “I’ll take it in my office, Doris. Give me a minute to get there.”

Lynch gave Jennifer one last stern look and then marched from her office, shutting her door with a little more force than necessary.

She collapsed against the cushions, her strong exterior completely dissolving. She had done everything she could to hold back her tears in his presence, but his quick exit allowed her to unleash the torrent she had been suppressing.

She had never felt this horrible before in her life. She would’ve called in sick if it weren’t for the fact that she knew her job was in jeopardy. It isn’t fair, she thought to herself. I should have Lynch’s job. For the hundredth time Jennifer went over in her mind the scenario that had taken her completely by surprise.

She had been groomed for the director’s position by Meg, long before Meg left to start a family. Jennifer had put in countless hours on different accounts to make sure her and Meg’s statistics had been well researched and presented in a polished manner. She had done the bulk of Meg’s work, along with her own, as Meg progressed into her third trimester. It simply wasn’t fair!

The day corporate brought in Harrison Lynch and announced he would be the new director, instead of her, she was livid. She felt demeaned and unappreciated. Everyone in the office knew she had worked hard for the job and had deserved it. But corporate behaved in their typical chauvinistic manner and took the opportunity to replace Meg with a man instead of another woman. Testosterone was the only asset that Harrison Lynch had that she did not.

While the other women in the office were quick to overlook the injustice of the situation because of Harrison’s availability, good looks, and charismatic personality, she only saw him as a thorn in her side.

She would only be fooling herself if she said she didn’t see his appeal. He was older than she was—the classic tall, dark, and handsome type. His sparkling brown eyes and wavy brown hair gave him a boyish charm, but his stature and muscular body proved him to be anything but boyish. His enigmatic character made him the kind of man that breezed through life with ease, putting the Midas touch on everything he encountered. But the way he clashed with her, rubbing her the wrong way and always trying to put her in her place, made his good looks less appealing.

Jennifer had butt heads with Harrison ever since he had shown up. She was not afraid to speak out against his proposals or the way in which he supplied information to a client. She had caused him more than one embarrassing moment in important meetings with prospective accounts. She upstaged him with what she called “a more efficient way to gather and record information.” She didn’t think it beneath her to use her feminine mystique with a client in order to work on a case that Lynch would’ve preferred to handle by himself. Lynch had put her on the spot on more than one occasion, but somehow she always came out looking professional in front of the clients.

When she had worked with Meg, Jennifer’s desk was out front with everyone else’s. She liked it that way. She enjoyed working in an environment that buzzed with activity. But Lynch changed all that. He made it very clear that Jennifer was his assistant, and he needed her at his personal disposal. And so he had her move her things into the smaller of the two conference rooms.

Giving Jennifer her own office was not a reward but a sentence. She felt he had isolated her on purpose to break her spirit. It had taken the wind out of her sails for a short period, but she decided two could play at that game. She promptly ordered custom office furniture and personalized the space. What he had intended on being a lonely, sterile environment, she had turned into a showplace of warmth and femininity.

She had one-upped him again and gloated in the fact that he could do nothing about it. After all, he was the one that gave her her own office and the freedom to decorate it the way she wanted. The fact that she did it with pastels in a style she knew he disliked (even though she disliked it too) was icing on the cake. Harrison had declared that an office should reflect professionalism not personality and initially insisted she get rid of everything. His request was denied when Mrs. Weissler came in and admired what she had done with the old conference room. With Mrs. Weissler on her side, Jennifer had once again thwarted Lynch’s authority.

Lynch had finally had enough. He called her into his office a week earlier and lowered the boom. “I’m giving you two weeks notice.”

“You’re firing me?” Jennifer was floored. Though she knew that he disliked her as much as she disliked him, he would have to explain to corporate why he was letting such a valuable employee go.

“No, I’m not firing you . . . yet.” He was cool and calm as he sat behind his solid oak desk. “I’m giving you two weeks to change your attitude. I’m tired of the mind games, the flirting with clients, and the way you insist on making proposals before discussing them with me. Weissler and Schuler should present a united front to all our clients, not a sense of division and indecisiveness. You have two weeks to get on board, assume your position as my assistant, and change your ‘I can top that’ attitude. If you choose not to, you will give me no alternative than to let you go.”

Now, it was just a week later, and Jennifer had given Lynch the perfect opportunity to show corporate that she was not the team player that they had assumed her to be. Corporate was breathing down everyone’s neck about the Yomahama account. It meant millions to them if they could seal the deal. If they felt she hadn’t given it her all, they would allow Lynch to have his way, no questions asked.

Jennifer sobbed into the arm of the floral couch that she despised. She thought about all the ways she had tried to make work uncomfortable for Harrison Lynch but knew she had failed. On occasion, he had tried joking with her and having innocuous conversations, but she would have none of it. She wouldn’t accept the olive branch that he tried to extend to her. Now he would have the last laugh, and it would be her own fault.

The door swung open once again. Harrison was poised and ready to battle with her, only to find her hunched over, her head in her hands and tears falling onto her charcoal colored slacks.

He felt uncomfortable finding her in such a vulnerable position. The all-business exterior he had resolved to use with her now took a back seat to the compassionate Harrison that others had seen. He stood for a moment before taking a seat on the couch alongside her and waited for her to gather her composure. It took several minutes before she could speak.

“I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll save you the energy.” She rubbed at her aching brows and sniffled. “You’ll have the files for the Yomahama account on your desk by the end of the day, and I’ll clean out my things. You can do what you want with the furniture. I don’t want it.” She held her head like she was afraid it was going to snap off her neck.

Harrison just sat there, not saying a thing. Jennifer wished he would just leave. She felt defeated and humiliated. He’d gotten his way; he’d won. With the experience she’d gained at Weissler and Schuler, she’d have no problem getting a job elsewhere, so she resolved to give up without a fight. Her only desire right then was to get home before her head exploded.

It seemed like an eternity before he spoke again. “What have you taken for it?”

“What?” She was confused. There was no smugness to his tone. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, he actually sounded concerned. She didn’t dare look at him. Just lifting her head would hurt too much.

“Is it a cold or the flu?”

“A cold,” she answered, wondering why he was being so nice. It was a trait she didn’t think he was capable of, at least not with her. He got up and left the room without saying another word.

She glanced at his receding steps, totally confused. She grabbed a tissue from her purse and tried to wipe away the salty tears and runny nose that was moistening her lips. She gently rolled her head back against the couch and sighed heavily, thankful for the solitude. It didn’t last long; within minutes, Harrison was back.

He sat down alongside her, causing her head to sway and a small moan to escape her lips. He handed her a glass that was fizzing, along with several pills. “Here’s something for your headache, a decongestant, and a bi-carbonate. They should do the trick.”

“No thanks,” she said through closed eyes. “I can’t take pills. They knock me out and make my head swim. Besides, I still have too much work to do. I don’t have time to pass out.”

“The way I see it, you’re already wasted. You’re no good to me like this. Take these, and in an hour you’ll feel a lot better. I guarantee it. We’ll work on the Yomahama account then.”

“I should have known you wouldn’t let me die quietly,” Jennifer retorted, looking at the pills he was still holding. “And if I don’t take your concoction?”

“Then I’ll have to assume the Yomahama account isn’t as important to you as I gave you credit for, and I’ll get Jerry to work on it with me instead.”

“Jerry!” She sat up, her head throbbing with disapproval. She slowly lowered herself back to the comfort of the couch, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands. “There’s no way I’m going to let Jerry take all my research and screw it up.”

“Okay, then. I guess you’ll have to do it my way,” he said. “Take these, dim the lights, and allow yourself some sleep. Don’t worry about watching the clock. I’ll come and get you in about an hour.”

Jennifer realized it was no longer a suggestion. Harrison put the pills in her hand and waited for her to drink them down with the bi-carbonate.

She tossed them to the back of her throat and held her breath as she drank the fizzy water. She knew she had to do it in one swig, or it would never stay down. Her shoulders shuddered in protest, and she thought she saw the hint of a smile form on Harrison’s lips. He pressed the button for the automatic shades to cover her office windows and dimmed the lights. “I’ll check on you in an hour.” With that, he closed the door and left her with her thoughts.

What just happened? she thought to herself. He had the perfect opportunity to fire me, and instead he helped me. Jennifer couldn’t concentrate on figuring out the answer to that one. Her head was throbbing so hard, it was making it impossible for her to reason.

She pulled her feet up under her and allowed her head to rest on the padded arm of the couch. An hour’s sleep, then I’ll be able to push through the rest of the day. She drifted off quickly. She was a lightweight when it came to tolerating medicine, and with the mixture she had just taken, she knew that she would finally get some rest.

Harrison walked back to his office and closed the door. He stood before the expansive window and watched the falling snow blanket the Chicago streets. Jumbled emotions crowded his mind. He was afraid that he’d allowed Jennifer’s weakened state to play on his sympathy, but it wasn’t unlike him. He really was a nice guy. It’s just that since he’d arrived at Weissler and Schuler, he and Jennifer had clashed . . . no, more like collided.

He found out soon enough that she had thought she was a lock for his job because of the work she had done with the previous director. He tried to talk to her about it and let her know he understood her disappointment. When he told her he was excited to be working with such a talented analyst, she only stiffened at his attempt at civility. Her spitefulness and malice made her look so unattractive—nothing like the vulnerable woman he had just left in the darkened office. He finally saw in her what some of the men in the office already had seen. She was a lot more appealing when she wasn’t being conniving or manipulative. With her defenses down, he actually found himself drawn to her, but he was wary that would change as soon as she had her strength back.

HARRISON HAD BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY at his computer when he glanced at his watch. He realized it had been more than an hour since he had left Jennifer in her office. He quietly opened her door and leaned in to see how she was doing. She was curled up on the couch, her face flushed and moist. He moved to her side, leaned down, and carefully placed the back of his hand to her forehead. She was feverish. She stirred under his touch, but her eyes had a difficult time focusing. She looked at Harrison and tried to figure out why she was lying down and why he was hovering over her. She closed her eyes and vaguely remembered being late to work and taking a handful of medicine.

“What time is it?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Almost 3:00 p.m.”

“Oh, my gosh.” She tried sitting up as her head spun out of control. “I’ve got to get working. We have the Yomahama meeting tomorrow. We can’t waste any more time.”

Harrison pressed his hands against her shoulders and gently pushed her back against the couch cushions. “You need to rest. Your body is obviously trying to fight something. You have a fever.”

“We don’t have time for this, Mr. Lynch.”

She again moved to a sitting position. She wiped at the perspiration on her forehead and scooped her long blonde hair up into a handful on top of her head. She started pulling at the pink cashmere sweater she was wearing, bellowing it to get some cool air up against her skin. “I feel like I’m suffocating.”

“That’s the fever.”

Before Harrison realized what she was doing, Jennifer reached for the hem of her sweater and began to pull it over her head.

He turned away and sputtered, “What are you doing?”

“If you have a fever, you’re supposed to keep at least one foot and one shoulder exposed to cool air.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s worked before.”

She continued to remove her sweater. Harrison was relieved to see that she was wearing a silky, pink shell underneath the soft sweater. She pulled her black, high heeled boots from her feet and curled up into a fetal position once again.

“You look miserable; you need to go home. This is ridiculous. There’s no way you’re going to be able to get any work done under these conditions,” Harrison added as she tried to get comfortable.

“I’d be fine if my head would just stop pounding, and I wasn’t so hot.”

“Let me call you a cab. You need to go home.”

“No! I can beat this. Let me just rest a little bit longer. If I could just get rid of this headache, I know I could finish our proposal. Please give me another hour.” She was determined to finish what she had started, especially since it could quite possibly be her last account. Harrison was being uncharacteristically nice to her at the moment, but if the Yomahama meeting didn’t go well, she knew she would be the proverbial scapegoat.

Harrison stood with his arms firmly crossed against his chest and doubt in his eyes. He knew from past experience there was no sense arguing with her. Of course, there was nothing that said he was obligated to wake her up either.

“Fine, I’ll see you in about an hour.” He left her office with no intention of disturbing her again. If she had the strength to wake up, she would have to do it on her own.

Although Harrison knew he needed to spend every minute on the Yomahama proposal, he found himself thinking about Jennifer. Why hadn’t he noticed her crystal blue eyes or the delicate curve of her jaw before? Maybe because whenever he talked to her, her eyes were glaring and her jaw was set.

He wandered back into Jennifer’s office around 4:30 p.m. He watched her as she slept. Her breathing was even and her complexion no longer looked flush. His eyes followed the tip of her chin to where it rested near her exposed shoulder. He felt his thoughts wandering in a direction that was far from work related. He had always been cautious to keep his professional life separate from his personal life, but somehow seeing Jennifer in such a vulnerable state also exposed a side of her that was quite beautiful.

He left her office and drifted down the hall. People were beginning to shut down their computers and straighten up their workstations. The talk was all about the snow that had continued to fall throughout the day. The weather report was predicting another foot before morning. Harrison waved goodnight to them as they left and headed back to his office.

Doris followed him down the hall, worry etched on her kind face.

“Mr. Lynch, I’m concerned about Miss Patterson. I know she was awfully sick this morning when she came in, and she didn’t look any better when she returned from lunch. I haven’t seen her since you . . . well, since you spoke with her this afternoon.”

Harrison knew what Doris was alluding to. The way he had barked at Jennifer when she returned from lunch had obviously been heard throughout the office.

“I gave her some medicine earlier today, and it made her pretty sleepy. That’s why you haven’t seen her.”

“Will she be okay to drive herself home? The road conditions have gotten pretty bad.”

“Don’t worry, Doris, I’ll make sure she’s okay before she leaves.”

“Okay, I was just concerned. She really is a sweet girl; she just comes off a bit harsh sometimes.”

“Harsh? That’s an understatement!”

Doris just smiled. “Well, good night, Mr. Lynch.”

“Good night, Doris, and thank you for your concern.”