Monday, August 31, 2009

#ClothDiapers Education

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I knew that I was going to cloth diaper full time. It was about two or three days after finding out that I was pregnant that I started my cloth diaper (CD) research and then spent the next 35 weeks continuing it. *grin* I have been thinking over and preparing my mind to write up some great educational CD posts about my experiences and opinions of various products, but apparently I am not fast enough! My AppleBlossom is one month old today, and we have three weeks of CD experience under our belt, but I have a friend begging with questions, and they must be answered ASAP to make her a CD convert with her 3 mo old... so here is the beginning of my unorganized thoughts...

There are four main types of CD:
PF (prefolds) with covers
pocket diapers
AIO (all-in-one)
fitted diapers with covers

In addition to there being a million kinds of diapers out there with types and brands, there are also a trillion websites to choose from. So far in my experience I have three recommendations. In person in GA I recommend my friend Rebecca's shop The Natural Baby. Online, I recommend SoftClothBunz - I have ordered from numerous times and had fabulous customer service (SisterL goes here in person in VA) and Kelly's Closet which I have an affiliate button on my right side bar. Both have fabulous blogs that provide great and valuable CD information. and

Upon coming home from the hospital, most all of our diapers were still too big for my little AppleBlossom bum, plus her cord would be rubbed, so we had to wait a few days more. The exception to this was my Organic Kissaluvs Size NB fitted diaper, which in retrospect I wish we had about a dozen more of for her first few weeks. As well as a prototype gDiaper (you'll have to wait for more information about that one...).

Kissaluvs Unbleached Organic Size NB fitted diaper

From Cloth Diapers

From Cloth Diapers

tiny G prototype
From Cloth Diapers

After that we were able to start using our Small Bummis covers (including Super Whisper Wraps and Super Brites and borrowed from my sister Super Snaps) with the Bummis Unbleached Organic PF.

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Froggy Pond
From Cloth Diapers

From Cloth Diapers

And our Small gDiapers...

Go Fish Blue Small gDiaper
From Cloth Diapers
gEarth Small gDiaper
From Cloth Diapers
From Cloth Diapers

And since then, we have added in Small Perfect Size Fuzzi Bunz (FB) and so far a yesterday trial of the OS (one size) FB.

Baby Pink Small PS FB
From Cloth Diapers

From Cloth Diapers
From Cloth Diapers

As well a yesterday once trial of a OS AIO bG (bumGenius) Organic diaper, Bambino Mio newborn, Bamboo Baby AIO OS, Mother-ease Sandy's fitted, Thirsties Wrap cover with an infant PF (green edges), and a Polar Babies snap cover with an infant PF (green edges).

Newborn Bambino Mio
From Cloth Diapers
Small Mother-ease Sandy's fitted Diaper
From Cloth Diapers

Additionally diapers we have to try soon are an Infant AIO Kushies and a Small AIO Imse Vimse (english translation "Itty Bitty"), these start at 10 and 11 pounds respectfully.

*In the near future, I plan to have a detailed review of each diaper method we try.*

For now, some answers to some questions...

Do you think that four bummis whisper wraps and three dozen DSQ prefolds would be enough for a three month old? As it stands, with the disposables, we change our baby after every feed, right now eating five times a day. I read that you have to change more often with CDs, but that's fine if I can use the same cover, right?

36 PF should get you through two maybe three days, depending on just how productive of a gastrointestinal tract your little bit has working. As for four covers, in my opinion that is pushing it. Behind here - at one month of age, we are changing AppleBlossom every two to three hours during the day, and every four or five hours at night. As she grows and becomes more regulated, it will be less often. DH says it is probably about 8-10 diapers a day on average. There are the messy diapers that go off to one side almost making a blow out and then you cannot use the cover again until washed. There are other diapers that while changing the flaps fall back into the mess, then you cannot use that cover again. So depending on your directional of attempted blow outs and how meticulous you are with removing the cover clean and mess free you can use them again. The other thing is to not use the cover twice in a row. Moisture gets saved in the cover, and you should let it sit out at least one diaper change before reuse.

We personally have 46 PF (24 Bummis Unbleached Organic PF and 22 green edged newborn PF borrowed from SisterL) and 12 Bummis covers - 4 SWW, 2 SB, 6 SS (borrowed from SisterL).

Also, to CD when you're out, what do you do with your soiled diapers? I mean, does a zippy bag work? Do I have to buy one of these "wet bags" I keep seeing on all the sites? Also, how do you store your diapers at home while you're accumulating a load to wash?

First off, at home I have a Swaddlebees laundry bag that I use in my diaper pail (see image below). This is a trash can that we bought at Lowes. The bag or pail liner, fits perfectly. I also have the Bummis (I think it's Large) diaper wet bag. It has a zipper and does not fit in the pail. It is what we currently use while the Swaddlebees bag is in the wash, but I plan on getting another Swaddlebees bag when finances allow. These bags can easily hold two days or more of diapers, we usually start the wash before it gets full.

On the go, I have a Swaddlebees Wet bag. I would assume you could put about four diapers in this bag. I'm really having a problem with buying any wet bags/pail liners etc, without seeing them in person. But in GA there is not much choice outside of my friend's new shop near Athens, The Natural Baby.

Some people do use ziplock bags... I wouldn't, but it is done. For a trip out of town, it's my opinion that the Bummis bag would be perfect, it has a draw string and zipper. Both of the Swaddlebees bags only have draw strings.

Breastfeed dirty diapers can just be tossed straight in the bag. Formula-feed dirty diapers need to be dumped (not necessarily dunked) first (in other words get the fecal matter into the potty and not your bag). Once you have a used bag, I would be aware of it in your diaper bag, and not jostle it unrealistically to avoid a spill.

Taking reusable diapers with you does take up extra diaper bag space, but they're so worth it.

Also, I've seen that Prorap covers are about half the cost of the Bummis...are they a viable option?

My sister says: Prowraps are similar to bummis but didn't have snaps when I was shopping. Personally, I know nothing about them. I have not heard anyone talk about them, and I do not know many stores that sell them. Already Bummis, especially Super Snaps are a bargain in comparison to almost all other types of CD.

I read your blog posts about CDing, and see that you just use the covers. Have you tried anything else? I'm also loving the Bum Genius One Size diapers, but dunno what I think of the pocket diapers vs. the cover + prefold. Any thoughts?

If you are referring to this post, then that is actually my SisterL's testimony and experience of CD and a shout out for Bummis bran. I am loving covers with PF. I also have used fitted diapers, my only complaint there so far is the expense. As far as the bG OS... we have only used one once so far to try it out and need more experience to say much. So far we can say that on our little AppleBlossom it is really bulky, yet that is to be expected on a diaper that fits 7-35 pounds on a little 9 pound-er. And for pocket... my experience there so far consists of the FB. Both the OS and the Small PS. We bought two Small PS FB with the microfiber insert and love them, they are DH's current favorite go-to diaper, yet we only have two. We also have 10 Small PS FB seconds (slightly flawed) borrowed from SisterL, these do not have inserts and thus we use PF with them. We use the PF in two different ways, one just laying the PF in the diaper and using it as a cover, and also inserting the PF as if it were an insert. So far I have had a few leaks with the FB inserted with a PF, but that may be a detergent residue issue from the past. No problem ever with my FB with the real FB inserts.

Bummis covers run at $11-12.50 and the PF run at $2-8 depending on the brand and type of fabric. FB with inserts run at $17.95-$18.95. So, really covers + PF is more of an economical option. Yet, pocket diapers are still completely more economic than sposies and come in a bunch of adorable colors and some prints. We are going to use the next 3-6 mo deciding what we want to buy in our Medium size stash, but at this point we are definitely planning on buying both more SWW, SB, and FB.

You know, I think I've decided to go with the Bum Genius 3.0 One Size diapers. They're pocket diapers, but I plan to use them with prefolds so that I don't have to buy as many, or wash them as frequently!

There are many different types and brands of diapers out there. I only wish I were able to try them all and I do plan to try as many as I can. At this point I have not been able to acquire a bG 3.0, but I have heard tons of people talk about them, and do believe they are a best seller. As I said previously, we use some pocket FB with PF. Using them as a cover like a Bummis, you might be able to come out with a clean one, let sit a change, and can use it again. Yet if you stuff the PF in the pocket, they are not reusable before a wash.

I was also wondering though...what detergent do you use to launder your diapers? I've been reading online and there are so many to choose from...

I use Charlie's Soap, but my second choice would be Country Save. This page from Diaper Jungle is the best comparison chart I have found so far. SisterL uses Charlie's for CD and has no problems. I use Charlie's exclusively, and have no issues. (If you go through Charlie's, please mention my name.) I believe these are both soaps that you can find in GA in stores like Whole Foods and Harry's Farmers Market.

Are you using a snappi or anything to hold your prefolds in place, or are you just laying them in the covers? I was thinking I'd just lay them in the covers...

At this point I have not used a Snappi (although I think SisterL was going to let me borrow one to see if I should get some). Click here to see folding instructions (with images), I of course with AppleBlossom use the "Girl Fold".

CD = cloth diaper(s), cloth diapering
PF = prefolds
OS = one size
AIO = All in One
bG = bumGenius
FB = Fuzzi Bunz
PS = perfect size
DSQ = diaper service quality
SWW = Super Whisper Wraps
SB = Super Brite
SS = Super Snaps

Other things I think to say at this point is to point out sizing information. At this point, AppleBlossom is one month old (today actually) and wearing a size Small. Typically, a size small is ~7-15 lbs. Medium ~ 15-35 lbs. There are of course the exceptions. Names vary, always check the pound or measurements.

Small/Infant/Newborn ~7-15 lbs
Less than 11 pounds Newborn Bambino Mio cover
6-34 pounds OS AIO Bamboo Baby
7-35 pounds OS AIO bG Organic
7-35 pounds OS pocket Fuzzi Bunz
7-18 pounds Small PS Fuzzi Bunz
8-14 pounds Small gDiaper covers
8-15 pounds Bummis covers - SWW, SB, SS
10-20 pounds Medium Mother-ease Air Flow snap cover
10-22 pounds Infant AIO Kushies
11-17 pounds Small AIO Imse Vimse ("Itty Bitty")

10-20 pounds Small Sandy's fitted Diaper
Up to 16 pounds Bambino Mio Size 1 Nappy (PF)
8-15 pounds Bummis Infant 4x8x4 PF
8-15 pounds Newborn green edge 4x8x4 PF

Medium/Infant/Baby ~15-30 lbs
6-34 pounds OS AIO Bamboo Baby
7-35 pounds OS AIO bG Organic
7-35 pounds OS pocket Fuzzi Bunz
10-22 pounds Infant AIO Kushies
10-20 pounds Mother-ease Air Flow snap cover
13-28 pounds Medium gDiapers cover
15-22 pounds Medium AIO Imse Vimse
15-30 pounds Bummis covers
15-30 pounds Medium pocket Fuzzi Bunz

Does any of that information help?

#clothdiapers Feed Your Stash Friday

Feed Your Stash Friday: August 28 - September 4, 2009

Guest Post: Author Lynnette Bonner

Today, I have a special guest post from author Lynnette Bonner talking about creative madness. Without further adieu I turn the post over to Lynnette's thoughts.

Rocky Mountain Oasis

She's been living in a desert all her life. Suddenly she's come upon an oasis. But is it just a mirage? Idaho Territory, 1885. Brooke Marie Baker, eighteen, has been sent west as a mail-order bride. As the stage nears Greer's Ferry, where she is to meet the man she's pledged to marry, she tries to swallow the lump of nervousness in her throat. Can it be any worse than living with Uncle Jackson...or Hank? she wonders. All men are the same, aren't they? But with her parents and sister dead, she has no choice. Sky Jordan, a rancher, holds a single, yellow daisy in his hand as he watches the ferry cross the river. Ever since he'd found out his surly cousin, Jason, had sent for a mail-order bride, his mind and heart had been ill at ease. No woman deserves to be left with the likes of Jason. But now he questions his own plans to claim the bride for himself. Why am I drawn to this woman I don't even know? A wounded heart. Desperate choices. Unfathomable love. Set in the adventure and danger of the Wild West. Book One, The Shepherd's Heart series.

First I’d like to say thanks to Margaret for having me here today. I guess if you need an example of creative madness my life is a pretty good benchmark.

My first foray into the realm of creativity was through rubber stamping. At my wedding shower my sister had all the guests create me a stamped and embossed card with marriage advice hand-written on the inside. I liked stamping so much that I eventually started a small business making greeting cards. I sold them at craft fairs. Somewhere during that time I decided that the world just didn’t have enough rubber stamp companies, so I started my own company called Stampsational Stamps with my own drawings (and some from my friends) created into rubber stamps. I still own that business but haven’t done anything with it for a long time.

Early on, I was also introduced to quilting and fell in love with that, too. Along with my hand made cards I would take small sampler quilts that I made to the craft fairs to sell. One fun way to combine both quilting and stamping together was to emboss an image from a stamp into velvet and then use that in a quilt or pillow.

In my lifetime I’ve done floral arranging, card making, tole painting, quilting, scrap-booking and writing. If that’s not creative madness, I don’t know what is. :)

Out of all those creative outlets, though, writing is the one thing that has stayed at the top of the list through my various seasons of crafty passions.

Currently, I’m not doing too many crafts as my time with my husband, four kids, job, and church responsibilities is pretty well taken up. But writing is something I always seem to be able to make time for. I think I will always love writing. There is just something thrilling about creating a story, watching my characters come to life under my fingertips, and seeing all the threads come together in the end.

Recently my first book, a Christian historical romance, was published. And I thank God for allowing me the privilege of seeing that dream come true. If you like historical romance, I’d welcome you to stop by my website to find out more about the book. I’m also giving away a free e-copy of the book to one commenter on today’s post. So if you are interested in winning the book, leave a comment and I’ll add you to the drawing.

Thanks again, Margaret, for having me here today.


Christian Book:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Guest Review: Sand Sharks

Sand Sharks Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron

When Judge Deborah Knott travels to Wrightsville Beach for a summer conference for North Carolina District Court Judges, she stumbles upon the body of one of her colleagues. Meanwhile, Deborah's husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, is in Virginia with his son, tying up loose ends left by the death of his first wife. When another judge is found murdered at the conference, it soon becomes evident that Deborah may be the killer's next target. Her relaxing trip to the seaside soon transforms into a harrowing experience, and she must summon all of her strength and investigative expertise to track down the culprit before she becomes the next victim.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review by my mother:

Sand Sharks is the newest in the Margaret Maron series based on the very likeable, youthful, female judge Deborah Knott. In this novel Deborah is attending a judges’ conference on the shore of North Carolina away from her home near Raleigh, NC. The interaction with her fellow judges and the descriptions of the coastal area of NC were very interesting, but this book was not as good as others in the series. In past books Deborah has been so certain that her marriage to Dwight is absolutely right that her doubts in this book seem out of character for her. There were quite a few characters form past stories, and it seemed that some of this story was just tying in loose threads from the past. The mystery lacked adequate clues for the dedicated reader to figure out who the murderer was and why the crime was committed. Do read it if you like the series. There were quite a few sharks.

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Review: Remembered, Fountain Creek Chronicles #3

Remembered (Fountain Creek Chronicles, book #3) Remembered by Tamera Alexander

A touching historical romance set in Colorado of a woman searching for her father and finding love on the journey. Fountain Creek Chronicles, Book 3.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was the best of the trilogy. Really in this series, each book was better and better. A companion whose only thing she has ever lacked was a father goes in a forced search to find him when it seems all else is lost to her. She finds everything that she was meant to find, even when she did not realize that is what she was looking for. This story tells of patience, learning God's will and His timing, love, loss, friendship, fears, and the gift of giving. It is all around a great read.

View all my reviews >>

Review: Revealed, Fountain Creek Chronicles #2

Revealed (Fountain Creek Chronicles, book #2) Revealed by Tamera Alexander

Annabelle Grayson has been given a second chance at life, but she can't claim it with the cloud of her past hanging over her in Willow Springs. After her husband dies, she advertises for a trail guide to accompany her to land waiting for her in Idaho-and a most unlikely candidate applies for the job. Matthew Taylor is a man on the run, with consequences of past mistakes pursuing him at every turn. Meeting Annabelle Grayson the first time was unpleasant enough, but when she crosses his path again, her presence in his life-and what she reveals-is devastating. If given a single wish, Matthew would turn back time and right a grievous wrong. If given a second wish, he would make Annabelle Grayson pay.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is completely about forgiveness. It is a sequel, but is about a completely different character and could stand on it's own. Everyone has a past, but more importantly everyone has a future. Here the author has made two very different people come to an understanding of each and it is beautiful to see God working in people's hearts and souls. I strongly recommend this book to anyone in particular, but especially to someone who is holding a grudge that they just cannot let go of, either to someone else, or more importantly to themselves. I know I can find a way to relate. I'm sure you can too.

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RITA Award 2007 Best Inspirational Romance

Review: Rekindled, Fountain Creek Chronicles #1

Rekindled (Fountain Creek Chronicles, Book #1) Rekindled by Tamera Alexander

Left for dead, Larson Jennings returns home badly burned. His obviously pregnant wife Kathryn is losing their ranch. Disfigured beyond recognition to most-Larson is determined to save his family. Fountain Creek Chronicles book 1.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars (review written in 2007)
I read this all in one day in two sittings. Well to be honest, it's now 5:22am... so just over one day. :) If you liked Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love or Tracie Peterson's Yukon Quest then you are sure to love this little novel. Heartbreaking struggle from both ends of a marriage to make things work in the best of times and worst of times with a second chance is just fabulous. A great read!

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Review: Surrender the Wind

Surrender the Wind

Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach

A quick~match tale of unexpected love . . .
A fuse that burned rapidly ...

After a harrowing escape from the British, patriot Seth Braxton finds his father dead at Yorktown. Now battle scarred and grieving, he endeavors to settle down for a peaceful life along the shores of the Potomac by restoring the land his father loved.

Thinking he will forever stay in the secluded wilderness, he receives a message that he has inherited his grandfather's estate in faraway England. Seth is torn between the land he's fought for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister, Caroline, who was a motherless child at the onset of the Revolution, taken to England in order to spare her the horrors of war.

With no intention of making his stay at Ten Width permanent, he journeys to England to do his duty. When he arrives, he finds his sister in the throes of grief after being told her young son has died of a fever. In the midst of so much tragedy, he meets Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal his heart, and she becomes his wife and lady of the manor, enraging the man who once sought her hand and hoped Ten Width would be his own.

From the Virginia wilderness, to the dark halls of an isolated English estate, Seth inherits more than a crumbling ancestral home. He uncovers a sinister plot that leads to murder, abduction, and betrayal --- an ominous mix that threatens to destroy his new life and new love.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The language and imagery in this book is enough to have me craving for more from author Rita Gerlach. The one downfall to this book was that I felt that things went so fast and there was not always enough depth as I would like, but with a 400 page book and so many things happening, one can only fit in so many words. Bringing forth the best of an English native land as well as a post-Revolutionary America hosts an exciting setting for this story of romance, betrayal, heart break, and adventure. The interweaving of the characters past, present, and future is beautiful and believable. I loved the main character and it was so good to have a book that followed a man's point of view for once instead of a woman.

I am really excited about the new publishing house of Abingdon Press and this cover is absolutely to die for!

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Review: A Dream to Call My Own

A Dream to Call My Own by Tracie Peterson

Lacy Gallatin, the youngest of the Gallatin sisters, is a woman with a mission: to find her father's killer. Haunted by the belief that she's failed him, Lacy is also battling a desire to have something more than just revenge, something she can't quite figure out. Enter Dave Shepard, deputy sheriff for the area. Dave has been fervently trying to find the man who killed George Gallatin, but he always feels inadequate when it comes to the beautiful Lacy. When they are together, the tension crackles between them--both when they argue and when they kiss. Lacy finds him frustratingly irresistible...but is it truly love?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a great ending to the trilogy of The Brides of Gallatin County. Once again the characters from the previous books are brought to a deeper level. Tracie really knows how to make you despise a bad guy, and in this book she even eloquently finds a way for a reader to find sympathy for the antagonist. I would say that this book is deeper and a little bit heavier than the other two, but it is good and could be read alone. This is one of those books that can make you look back on yourself and question if you are where you need to be in your faith. Lacy, the youngest of the Gallatin sisters has tried so long to be a strong person that she just ignores her pain and tries to go it all alone. It is once she realizes she needs another's strength that she can really prosper.

View all my reviews >>

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764201506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764201509
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches

Review: Honor in the Dust

Honor in the Dust: A Novel (The Winslow Breed Series)

Honor in the Dust: A Novel by Gilbert Morris

In the moral confusion of the court of King Henry VIII, young Stuart Winslow has many choices to make -- and lives depend on what he will choose.

Born in poverty when his father was forced to choose between the woman he loved and the wealth of his aristocratic family, the determined Stuart Winslow will go to any lengths to improve his social position. When his skills in weapons design and falconry secure a place for him in the court of King Henry VIII, he quickly learns that the court is really a wicked cauldron of vices, power plays, and temptations -- some of them very much to his liking.

When William Tyndale, an acquaintance of Stuart's, makes it known that his ambition is to translate the Bible into the language of the common man, the king opposes Tyndale's efforts and sentences him to death. If Stuart opposes the king in this, he will share the same fate. Is he willing to risk death at the stake for the sake of Christ? And how will he choose between the innocent Heather, who has long loved him, and the courtwise Nell?

In Honor in the Dust, bestselling author Gilbert Morris beautifully captures the tone of the Tudor period, chronicling the period's excesses with skill and prudence. But like Morris's other novels, this book also contrasts those excesses with the godly behavior of characters such as William Tyndale. In this captivating historical drama, Stuart Winslow is caught between two worlds: one that promises material and worldly success and one that promises salvation. Is his faith strong enough to withstand such a challenge?

About the Author
Born in 1929 in Forrest City, Arkansas, Gilbert Morris earned a B.A. and an MsE from Arkansas State University and a Ph. D. from the University of Arkansas. Since 1986 he published 205 novels and been awarded five Silver Angel Awards and a Christy Award.Dr. Morris lives in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with his wife.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Honor in the Dust" is my first experience reading a book by Gilbert Morris if you can believe that with my loving Christian Historical Fiction, but you can believe that it will not be my last. This being a prequel for a previous Winslow Series, I am excited that there are already some books for me to jump back to as well as being excited for the rest of the Winslow Breed series to come in 2010 and 2011. Set in England in the time period of King Henry VIII makes an interesting background as the story goes through two generations and really brings a reader to care about the families and individual characters involved, one can really see the young men grow and blossom in their relationships.

There are many themes in this book. Besides from being a good read overall, there are lessons available to learn. From similarities in life to Biblical lessons to trying to hold strong in ones "honor" in a temptation arena, the challenges are realistic and hard. With historical characters such as Queen Catherine, King Henry VIII, and William Tyndale make it very interesting. There is sword play and adventure, betrayal and romance, espionage and disguise and a dozen other features that make this an all around enjoyable read.

View all my reviews >>

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416587462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416587460
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Transformation Study Bible

The Transformation Study Bible--Personal Ed.

Legendary Clarity
Acclaimed Pastor Brings Experience, Wisdom to Transformation Study Bible

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX—As pastors seek to make the Word of God more understandable in an age that is unfamiliar with the Bible, and as growing disciples seek to discover the truth of Scripture in a skeptical culture, there is a great need for guidance in both the preaching and study of God’s Word. Whether you’re a pastor, a seminary student, or a truth-seeking disciple, an understanding of the Bible can be made clear to you with the help of one of the most influential, in-depth, and practical Bible scholars in modern history.

For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. According to Dr. Wiersbe, “It isn’t enough for us simply to read assigned portions of the Bible each day, as helpful as that is. A truly transforming experience involves meditating on what we read (Ps. 1:2), studying it carefully in the light of other verses, and then obeying what God tells us to do (Josh. 1:8).” Now available for the first time, The Transformation Study Bible offers the full text of the highly readable New Living Translation with accompanying notes and commentary from the 50 books in Dr. Wiersbe’s “Be” series.

“The Transformation Study Bible will better enable readers to appreciate, appropriate, and apply the Word of God, which will result in ‘purity, joy, right values, hope, comfort, freedom, new life, peace, guidance, wisdom, integrity, encouragement, and effective prayer,’” states Wiersbe. In other words, if you want to be a new person, knowing and obeying the will of God and becoming more like Jesus Christ, there is perhaps no finer tool to encourage that process than The Transformation Study Bible.

One of the most anticipated and comprehensive study Bibles of the year, The Transformation Study Bible has been a lifetime in the making by a man who is widely known as a prolific and trusted writer and theologian. The former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, an internationally known Bible teacher, and someone who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Wiersbe lends his vast experience and scholarly insight to the most beloved and revered book of all time. This effort is to encourage believers of all levels to know and love the Bible and to experience the same transformation that has radically changed his life. The result is a Bible that is clear, understandable, and applicable to the lives of its readers.

Dr. Wiersbe writes, “The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength.” By providing a new set of tools for Bible students of all levels, David C Cook and Warren Wiersbe have partnered to provide an essential tool to help bring the “perspective” and “renewed strength” that comes from a life transforming study of God’s Word. This fantastic and long awaited resource will bring more clarity than ever before to the study of God’s Word.

The Transformation Study Bible with General Editor Warren Wiersbe
David C Cook September 1, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1434765307/2100 pages/$24.99

Since 1987, The B & B Media Group, Inc. has used its broadcasting, marketing and advertising experience to provide the specialized and strategic publicity necessary to achieve the public relations goals of each client. The Barnabas Agency, a division of The B & B Media Group, Inc., is a proven provider of exceptional public relations and personal management services for authors, speakers, ministries and organizations.

Blog Tour & FIRST Chapter: The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love (#2)

Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status.

As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires. Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles.

Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum, Tennessee, love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other.

It is time for a
FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program.
An ordained minister in the Christian Church, Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program. Pattillo is the married mother of two children. She lives and laughs in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073952
ISBN-13: 978-1400073955



Every Tuesday at eleven o’clock in the morning, Eugenie Carson descended the steps of the Sweetgum Public Library and made her way to Tallulah’s Café on the town square. In the past, she would have eaten the diet plate—cottage cheese and a peach half—in solitary splendor. Then she would have returned to her job running the library, just as she’d done for the last forty years.

On this humid September morning, though, Eugenie was meeting someone for lunch—her new husband, Rev. Paul Carson, pastor of the Sweetgum Christian Church. Eugenie smiled at the thought of Paul waiting for her at the café. They might both be gray haired and near retirement, but happiness was happiness, no matter what age you found it.

Eugenie entered the square from the southeast corner. The Antebellum courthouse anchored the middle, while Kendall’s Department Store occupied the east side to her right. She walked along the south side of the square, past Callahan’s Hardware, the drugstore, and the movie theater, and crossed the street to the café. The good citizens of Sweetgum were already arriving at Tallulah’s for lunch. But Eugenie passed the café, heading up the western side of the square. She had a brief errand to do before she met her husband. Two doors down, she could see the sign for Munden’s Five-and-Dime. Her business there shouldn’t take long.

Before she reached Munden’s, a familiar figure emerged from one of the shops and blocked the sidewalk.

Hazel Emerson. President of the women’s auxiliary at the Sweetgum Christian Church and self-appointed judge and jury of her fellow parishioners.

“Eugenie.” Hazel smiled, but the expression, coupled with her rather prominent eyeteeth, gave her a wolfish look. Hazel was on the heavy side, a bit younger than Eugenie’s own sixty five years, and her hair was dyed an unbecoming shade of mink. Hazel smiled, but there was no pleasantness in it. “Just the person

I wanted to see.”

Eugenie knew better than to let her distaste for the woman show. “Good morning, Hazel,” she replied. “How are you?”

“Distressed, Eugenie. Thoroughly distressed.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Eugenie truly was dismayed, but not from worry over Hazel’s discomfort.

“Yes, well, you have the power to calm the waters, ”Hazel said with the same false smile. “In a manner of speaking, at least.”

Since Eugenie’s marriage to Paul only a few weeks before, she’d learned how demanding Hazel could be. The other woman called the parsonage at all hours and appeared in Paul’s office at least once a day. Although Eugenie had known Hazel casually for years, she’d never had to bother with her much. Eugenie couldn’t remember Hazel ever having entered the library.

“How can I help you?” Eugenie said in her best librarian’s voice. She had uttered the phrase countless times over the last forty years and had it down to an art form. Interested but not enmeshed. Solicitous but not overly involved.

“Well, Eugenie, you must know that many people in the church are distressed by your marriage to Paul.”

“Really?” Eugenie kept the pleasant smile on her face and continued to breathe evenly. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Oh, not me, of course,” Hazel said and pressed a hand to her ample chest. “I’m perfectly delighted. But some people… Well, they have concerns.”

“What concerns would those be?” Eugenie asked with measured calm.

Hazel glanced to the right and to the left, then leaned forward to whisper in a conspiratorial fashion. “Some of them aren’t sure you’re a Christian,” she said. Then she straightened and resumed her normal tone of voice. “As I said, I’m not one of them, but I thought I should tell you. For your own good, but also for Rev. Carson’s.”

“I see.” And Eugenie certainly did, far more than Hazel would guess. Eugenie wasn’t new to small-town gossip. Heaven knew she’d heard her share, and even been the target of some, over the last forty years. She’d known that her marriage to Paul would cause some comments, but she hadn’t expected this blatant response.

“I’m mentioning it because I don’t think it would be difficult to put people’s fears to rest,” Hazel said. Her smug expression needled Eugenie. “I know you’ve been attending worship, and that’s a wonderful start.” Hazel quickly moved from interfering to patronizing. “The women’s auxiliary meets on Tuesday mornings. If you joined us—”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” Eugenie answered. She was determined to keep a civil tongue in her head if it killed her. “I have to work.”

“For something this important, I’m sure you could find someone to cover for you.”

Eugenie tightened her grip on her handbag. In an emergency, no doubt she could arrange something. But this wasn’t an emergency. It was manipulation.


“Particularly at this time,” Hazel said, barely stopping for breath. “With all the losses we’ve had in these last few months… Well, our community needs leadership. Our church needs leadership.” She gave Eugenie a meaningful look.

Eugenie paused to consider her words carefully. “It has been a difficult summer,” she began. “Tom Munden’s death was so unexpected, and then to lose Frank Jackson like that. And now, with Nancy St. Clair…”

“So you see why it’s more important than ever that you prove to church members that their pastor hasn’t made a grave mistake.”

“I hardly think that my attending a meeting of the women’s auxiliary will offer much comfort to the grieving.” Nor would it convince anyone of her status as a believer. Those sorts of people weren’t looking for proof. They were looking for Eugenie to grovel for acceptance.

Hazel sniffed. “Don’t be difficult, Eugenie. You’re being unrealistic if you expect people to accept you as a Christian after forty years of never darkening the door of any sanctuary in this town.”

“I’ve always felt that faith is a private matter.” That was the sum of any personal information Eugenie was willing to concede to Hazel. “I prefer to let my actions speak for me.”

“There are rumblings,” Hazel said darkly. “Budget rumblings.”

“What do you mean?”

“People need to have full confidence in their pastor, Eugenie. Otherwise they’re less motivated to support the church financially.”

Eugenie bit her tongue. She couldn’t believe Hazel Emerson was standing here, in the middle of the town square, practicing her own brand of extortion.

“Are you threatening me?” Eugenie asked, incredulous.

Hazel sniffed. “Of course not. Don’t be silly. I’m merely cautioning you. As a Christian and as a friend.”

Eugenie wanted to reply that Hazel didn’t appear to be filling either role very well, but she refrained.

“I’ll take your concerns under advisement,” she said to Hazel with forced pleasantness. “I’m sure you mean them in the kindest possible way.”

“Of course I do. How else would I mean them?”

“How else, indeed?” Eugenie muttered under her breath.

“Well, I won’t keep you.” Hazel nodded. “Have a nice day, Eugenie.”

“You too, Hazel.” The response was automatic and helped Eugenie to cover her true sentiments. She stood in place for a long moment as Hazel moved past her, on her way to stir up trouble in some other quarter, no doubt. Then, with a deep breath, Eugenie forced herself to start moving toward Munden’s Five-and-Dime.

She had known it would be difficult, stepping into this unfamiliar role as a pastor’s wife. Paul had assured her that he had no expectations, that she should do what she felt was right. But Eugenie wondered if he had any idea of the trouble Hazel Emerson was stirring up right under his nose.

True, she hadn’t attended church for forty years. After she and Paul had ended their young romance, she’d blamed God for separating them. If Paul hadn’t felt called to the ministry, if he hadn’t refused to take her with him when he went to seminary, if she hadn’t stubbornly insisted on going with him or ending their relationship…

Last year she and Paul had found each other again, all these decades later, and she’d thought the past behind them. But here it was once more in the person of Hazel Emerson, raising troubling questions. Threatening Paul. Forcing Eugenie to examine issues she’d rather leave unanswered.

As the head of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, Eugenie had taken on responsibility for the well-being of the little group several years before. Since Ruthie Allen, the church secretary, had left for Africa last spring to do volunteer work, the group had experienced a definite void. It was time for an infusion of new blood, and after careful consideration, Eugenie had determined that Maria Munden was just the person the Knit Lit Society needed. What’s more, Maria needed the group too. The recent loss of her father must be quite difficult for her, Eugenie was sure. And so despite having had her feathers ruffled by Hazel Emerson, Eugenie walked into Munden’s Five-and-Dime with a firm purpose.

“Good morning, Maria,” Eugenie called above the whine of the door. For years she’d been after Tom Munden to use a little WD-40 on the hinges, but he had insisted that the noise bothered him less than the idea of a customer entering without him knowing it.

“Eugenie! Hello.” Maria straightened from where she stood slumped over the counter. She had red marks on her forehead from resting her head in her hands, and her nondescript shoulder length brown hair hung on each side of her face in a clump. Eugenie had come at the right time. Maria was in her early thirties, but her father’s death seemed to have aged her ten years.

Maria came around the counter. “What can I help you with today?”

“Oh, I’m not here to buy anything,” Eugenie said, and then she was dismayed when disappointment showed in Maria’s eyes. With the superstores of the world creeping closer and closer to Sweetgum, mom-and-pop shops like Munden’s were living on borrowed time. Even if Tom Munden had lived, the inevitable day when the store closed couldn’t have been avoided.

“What did you need then?” Maria’s tone was polite but strained.

“I have an invitation for you.”

“An invitation?”

Eugenie stood a little straighter. “On behalf of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, I’d like to extend an invitation to you to become a part of the group.”

Maria’s brown eyes were blank for a moment, and then they darkened. “The Knit Lit Society?”

“I can’t think of anyone who would be a better fit.” Eugenie paused. “If you don’t know how to knit, one of us can teach you. And I know you enjoy reading.” Maria was one of the most faithful and frequent patrons of the library. “I think you’d appreciate the discussion.”

Maria said nothing.

“If you’d like some time to think—”

“I’ll do it,” Maria said quickly, as if she didn’t want to give herself time to reconsider. “I know how to knit. You won’t have to teach me.”

“Excellent,” Eugenie said, relieved. “Our meeting is this Friday.”

“Do I have to read something by then?” Lines of doubt wrinkled Maria’s forehead beneath the strands of gray that streaked her hair.

Eugenie shook her head. “I haven’t passed out the reading list for this year. This first meeting will be to get us organized.”

Relief eased the tight lines on her face.

“We meet at the church, of course,” Eugenie continued. “Upstairs, in the Pairs and Spares Sunday school room. If you’d like, I can drop by here Friday evening and we can walk over together.”

Maria shook her head. “Thank you, but that won’t be necessary.” She paused, as if collecting her thoughts, then spoke. “I’m not sure why you asked me to join, Eugenie, but I appreciate it.”

“I’m delighted to have you. The others will be as well. ”Mission accomplished, Eugenie shifted her pocketbook to the other arm. “I’d better be going. I’m meeting Paul for lunch at the café.”

Like most of Sweetgum, with the possible exception of Hazel Emerson, Maria smiled at Eugenie’s mention of her new husband. “Tell the preacher I said hello.” Maria moved to open the door for Eugenie. “I’ll see you at the meeting.”

Eugenie lifted her shoulders and nodded with as much equanimity as she could. After years of being the town spinster, playing the newlywed was a novel experience. She hoped she’d become accustomed to it with time—if she didn’t drive away all of Paul’s parishioners first with her heathen ways.

“Have a nice afternoon,” Eugenie said and slipped out the door, glad that at least one thing that morning had gone as planned.

After Eugenie left, Maria Munden halfheartedly swiped her feather duster at the back-to-school display in the front window. Hot sunshine, amplified by the plate glass, made sweat bead on her forehead. What was the point of dusting the same old collection of binders, backpacks, and two-pocket folders? She’d barely seen a customer all day. She turned from the window and looked around at the neat rows of shelving. The five symmetrical aisles had stood in the same place as long as she could remember.

Aisle one, to the far left, held greeting cards, gift-wrap, stationery, office and school supplies. Aisle two, housewares and paper goods. Aisle three, decorative items. Aisle four, cleaning supplies and detergent. Aisle five had always been her favorite, with its games, puzzles, and coloring books. Across the back wall stretched the sewing notions, yarn, and craft supplies. Everything to outfit a household and its members in one small space. The only problem was, no one wanted small anymore. They wanted variety, bulk, and large economy size with a McDonald’s and a credit union. Not quaint and limited, like the old five-and- dime.

From the counter a few feet away, Maria’s cell phone buzzed, and she sighed. She knew without looking at the display who it would be.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Maria, you have to do something about this.” Her mother never acknowledged the greeting but plunged into a voluble litany of complaints that covered everything from the state of the weather to her older sister Daphne’s management of the farm.

“Mom?” Maria tried to interrupt her mother’s diatribe. “Mom? Look, I’m the only one in the store right now. I’ll have to call you back later.”

“Where’s Stephanie? She was supposed to be there at nine.”

“I don’t know where she is. ”Maria’s younger sister, the baby at twenty-five, was AWOL more often than not.

Maria heard the shop door open with a whine of its hinges, not too different from her mother’s tone of voice. She looked up, expecting to see her younger sister. Instead, a tall, dark-haired man entered the store. He took two steps inside, then stopped. His eyes traveled around the rows of shelves, and his lips twisted in an expression of disapproval. The hairs on Maria’s neck stood on end. The stranger saw her, nodded, and then disappeared down the far aisle, but he was so tall that Maria could track his progress as he moved. He came to a stop in front of the office supplies. Someone from out of town, obviously. Probably a traveling salesman who needed paper clips or legal pads. Maybe a couple of blank CDs or a flash drive. Maria had dealt with his type before.

“Bye, Mom,” she said into the phone before clicking it shut. From experience, she knew it would take her mother several moments before she realized Maria was no longer on the other end of the line. Such discoveries never seemed to faze her mother. She would simply look around the room at home and find Daphne so she could continue her rant. Maria tucked the cell phone under the counter and moved across the store toward the stranger. “May I help you?” Upon closer inspection, she could see that his suit was expensive. So were his haircut, his shoes, and his aftershave.

His head turned toward her, and she felt a little catch in her chest. His dark eyes stared down at her as if she were a lesser mortal approaching a demigod.

“I’m looking for a fountain pen,” he said. He turned back toward the shelves of office supplies and studied them as if attempting to decipher a secret code.

A fountain pen? In Sweetgum? He was definitely from out of town.

“I’m afraid we only have ballpoint or gel.” She waved a hand toward the appropriate shelf. “Would one of these do?”

He looked at her again, one eyebrow arched like the vault of a cathedral. “I need a fountain pen.”

Maria took a calming breath. A sale was a sale, and the customer was always right—her father’s two favorite dictums, drummed into her from the day she was tall enough to see over the counter.

“I’m sorry. Our selection is limited, I know. Which way are you headed? I can direct you to the nearest Wal-Mart. You might find one there.”

At her mention of the chain superstore, the man’s mouth turned down as if she’d just insulted him. “No, thank you. That won’t be necessary.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with?” she said, practically gritting her teeth. She resisted the urge to grab his arm and hustle him out of the store. Today was not the day to try her patience. In two hours, assuming Stephanie showed up, Maria was going to cross the town square to the lawyer’s office and do the unthinkable. At the moment, she didn’t have time for this man and his supercilious attitude toward Sweetgum.

“I need directions,” he said, eyeing her dubiously, as if he thought she might not be up to the task.

“Well, if you’re looking for someplace nearby, I can tell you where you need to go,” she said without a hint of a smile.

He looked away, as if deliberating whether to accept her offer. Honestly, the man might be extraordinarily good-looking—and wealthy, no doubt—but she would be surprised if he had any friends. He had the social skills of a goat.

The hinges on the door whined again. Maria looked over her shoulder to see another man entering the shop.

“James!” The second man grinned when he caught sight of the stranger at Maria’s side. “You disappeared.” The newcomer was as fair as the first was dark. “We’re late.”

“Yes,” the stranger replied with a continued lack of charm.

“But I needed a pen. ”He snatched a two-pack of ballpoints from the shelf and extended them toward Maria. “I’ll take these.”

Maria bit the inside of her lip and took the package from his hand. “I’ll ring you up at the counter.” She whirled on one heel and walked, spine rigid, to the front of the store.

“Hi.” The second man greeted her with cheery casualness. “Great store. I haven’t seen anything like this in years.”

It was a polite way of saying that Munden’s Five-and-Dime was dated, but Maria appreciated his chivalry. Especially since his friend obviously didn’t have a courteous bone in his body.

“Thank you. ”Maria smiled at him and then stepped behind the counter to ring up the sale on the ancient register. She’d pushed her father for years to computerize their sales—not to mention the inventory—but he’d been perfectly happy with his tried-and-true methods. Unfortunately, while he’d been able to keep track of sales and stock in his head, Maria wasn’t quite so gifted.

The tall man appeared on the other side of the register. “Three dollars and thirty-two cents,” she said, not looking him in the eye.

He reached for his wallet and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. Maria refused to show her frustration. Great. Now he would wipe out all her change, and she’d have to figure out a way to run over to the bank without anyone to watch the store. She completed the transaction and slid the package of pens into a paper bag with the Munden’s logo emblazoned on it.

“Hey, can you recommend a place for lunch?” the blond man asked. He glanced at his watch. “We need a place to eat between meetings.”

“Tallulah’s Café down the block,” Maria said. Even the tall, arrogant stranger wouldn’t be able to find fault with Tallulah’s home cooking. People drove from miles around for her fried chicken, beef stew, and thick, juicy pork chops. “But you might want to go soon. The café gets busy at lunch.”

“Thanks.” His smile could only be described as sunny, and it made Maria feel better. She smiled in response.

“You’re welcome.”

The tall man watched the exchange impassively. Maria hoped he’d be gone from Sweetgum before the sun went down. Big-city folks who came into town dispensing condescension were one of her biggest pet peeves.

“C’mon, James,” the blond man said. “I have a lot of papers to go over.” He nodded toward his friend. “James here thinks I’m crazy to buy so much land in the middle of nowhere.”

Maria froze. It couldn’t be.

“Oh.” She couldn’t think what else to say.

“We’d better go,” the tall man said, glancing at his watch. “Thank you. ”He nodded curtly at Maria, letting her know she’d been dismissed as the inferior creature that she was.

“But I thought you wanted—” Before she could remind him about his request for directions, the two men disappeared out the door, and Maria’s suspicions—not to mention her fears— flooded through her.

She should have put two and two together the moment the first man had walked into the store. A stranger in an expensive suit. In town for a meeting. Looking for a fountain pen to sign things. Normally Maria was good at figuring things out. Like where her father had put the quarterly tax forms and how she and Stephanie could manage the store with just the two of them for employees.

What she hadn’t figured out, though, were the more complex questions. Like how she had come to be a small-town spinster when she hadn’t been aware of time passing. Or how she was going to keep the five-and-dime afloat even as the town’s economy continued to wither on the vine. And she certainly had no idea how she was going to tell her mother and sisters that she, as executrix of her father’s will, was about to sell their farm, and the only home they’d ever known, right out from under them.

“Welcome to Sweetgum,” she said to the empty aisles around her, and then she picked up the feather duster once more.

Learn more about or purchase these books at
The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love
Rose House

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blog Tour: The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper: A Novel

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she is currently a publicist with Books & Such literary agency.
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Learn more about or purchase these books at
The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love
Rose House

See some of my other reviews of fabulous books by Kathleen Y'Barbo.
Beloved Castaway
Beloved Captive
Beloved Counterfeit

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CFBA: The Frontiersman's Daughter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Frontiersman’s Daughter

Revell (September 1, 2009)


Laura Frantz


I was born and raised in Kentucky and my love of history goes deep - way back to the 18th-century when my family first came into the Bluegrass State. It will always be home to me, even though I now live with my husband, Randy, and my sons, Wyatt and Paul, in the misty woods of northwest Washington. I go back as often as I can to visit family and all the old haunts that I love.

I grew up playing on the original site of Fort Boonesborough and swimming in the Kentucky River and climbing the Pinnacle near Berea and watching the great outdoor dramas of the early settlers. Often my cousins and brother and I would play in my Granny's attic and dress up in the pioneer costumes she made us and pretend to be Daniel Boone, Rebecca, Jemima, or the Shawnee.

As I grew up I began to write stories and they were always historical, filled with the lore I had heard or read about. It's no accident that my first book (which is actually my fifth book - the others were practice!) is about those first Kentucky pioneers.

I feel blessed beyond measure to write books. My prayer is that you are doubly blessed reading them.

Note: Laura Frantz credits her 100-year-old grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's family followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in 1792 and settled in Madison County where her family still resides. Frantz is a former schoolteacher and social worker who currently lives in the misty woods of Washington state with her husband and two sons, whom she homeschools.


Lovely but tough as nails, Lael Click is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman. Haunted by her father's former captivity with the Shawnee Indians, as well as the secret sins of her family's past, Lael comes of age in the fragile Kentucky settlement her father founded.

Though she faces the loss of a childhood love, a dangerous family feud, and the affection of a Shawnee warrior, Lael draws strength from the rugged land she calls home, and from Ma Horn, a distant relative who shows her the healing ways of herbs and roots found in the hills.

But the arrival of an outlander doctor threatens her view of the world, God, and herself--and the power of grace and redemption. This epic novel gives readers a glimpse into the simple yet daring lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians, all through the courageous eyes of a determined young woman.

Laura Frantz's debut novel offers a feast for readers of historical fiction and romance lovers alike.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Frontiersman’s Daughter, go HERE

I am really looking forward to reading this one!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FIRST Chapter: Honor in the Dust

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Honor in the Dust

Howard Books (August 25, 2009)


Gilbert Morris is the bestselling author of more than 200 novels, several of which won Christy and Silver Angel Awards. He is a retired English professor, who lives in Gulf Shores, AL, with his family.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (August 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416587462
ISBN-13: 978-1416587460


May 1497

Sussex County, England-

Claiborn Winslow leaned forward and patted his horse’s sweaty neck. “Well done, Ned.” He had pushed the stallion harder than he liked, but after so many months away he was hungry for home. He straightened in the saddle and gazed in pleasure at Stoneybrook, the Winslows’s ancestral castle. It had withstood seige and battle, and bore all the marks that time made upon structure——as well as upon men. There was nothing particularly beautiful about Stoneybrook. There were many castles in England that had more pleasing aspects, designed more for looks than for utility. But Claiborn loved it more than any other.

The spring had brought a rich emerald green growth to all the countryside, and verdant fields nuzzled up against the very walls of Stoneybrook. If they were any indication, the summer’s harvest would be good, indeed. The castle itself rose out of a hillside, and was dominated by an impenetrable wall, on the other side of which a small village thrived. Even now, late in the day, people and carts and horses moved in and out of the central gate, and from the battlements he saw the banner of Winslow fluttering in the late afternoon breeze, as if beckoning to him.

“My heaven it’s good to be home!”

He laughed at himself adding, “Well, I guess the next thing they’ll put me in Bedlam with the other crazy ones talking to myself. I must be worse off than I thought.” His mind cascaded back to the battles he had seen, rare but fierce, and the men he had encountered. Some dreaded battle, feared it, and could not force themselves forward. Others found joy in the clash of weapons and the shouts of victory when the battle was over. Claiborn was one of these, finding a natural rhythm to battle, a path from start to finish as if preordained for him. When the trumpets sounded, and the drums rolled, his heart burned with excitement. God help him, he loved it. Loved being a soldier. But this, returning to Stoneybrook, had its own charm.

“Come on, Ned.” Kicking his horse’s side Claiborn guided the animal toward the gate, and as he passed through, he ran across an old acquaintance, Ryland Tolliver, one of the blacksmiths who served Sir Edmund Winslow and the others of the family as well.

“Well, bless my soul,” Ryland boomed, “if it’s not the soldier home from the wars!” He was a bulky man, his shoulders broad, and his hands like steel hooks from his years at the forge. He laughed as Claiborn slipped off his horse and came forward, and he shook his hand. “Good to see you, man. You’re just getting home. All in one piece, I see.”

“All in one piece.” The two man shook hands, and Claiborn had to squeeze hard to keep his hand from being crushed by the burly blacksmith. “How are things here? My mother and my brother?”

“The same as they were when you left. What did you expect? We’d fall to pieces without you to keep us straight?”

“No, I’m not as vain as that. I’m sure the world would jog on pretty well without me.”

“Tell me about the wars, man.”

“Not now. I need to go see my family, but I’ll come back later. We’ll have enough ale to float a ship. I’ll tell you lies about how I won the battles. You can tell lies about how you’ve won over the virtue of poor Sally McFarland.”

“Sally McFarland? Why, she left here half a year ago.”

“I thought you were going to marry that girl.”

“She had other ideas. A blacksmith wasn’t good enough for her.” He looked at Ned and said, “Not much of a horse.”

“He’s a stayer. That’s what I like. He needs shoeing though. I’ll leave him with you and feed him something good. He’s had a hard journey.”

“That I’ll do.” He took the reins from Claiborn. “What about you, Master? What brings you home at long last?”

Claiborn glanced back at him, and a smile touched his broad lips. “Well, I’m thinking about taking a wife.”

“A wife? You? Why, you were made to be a bachelor man! Half the women in this village stare at you when you walk down the street.”

“You boast on my behalf, but even if it was God’s own truth, I’ll not have just any woman.”

“Ahh, I see. So have you got one picked out?”

“Of course! Grace Barclay had my heart when we courted and never let it go.”

“Oh, yes, Grace Barclay.” There was a slight hesitation in the blacksmith’s speech, and he opened his lips to speak, but then something came over him, and he clamped them together for a moment.

“Ryland, what is it? Grace is well?” Claiborn said, his heart seizing at the look on the blacksmith’s face.

“She is well. Still pretty as ever.” Ryland had ceased smiling, and he lifted the reins in his hand. “I best go and take care of the horse. He must have a thirst.”

“As do I. I’ll return on the morrow. Give him a good feed too. He’s earned it.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The servants were busy putting the evening meal together, and as he passed into the great hall Claiborn spoke to many of them. He was smiling and remembering their names, and they responded to him well. He had always been a favorite with the servants, far more than his brother Edmund, the master of Stoneybrook, and enjoyed his special status. He paused beside one large woman who was pushing out of her clothing and said, “Martha, your shape is more…womanly than when I departed.”

The cook giggled and said, “Away with you now, m’lord. None of your soldier’s ways around here.”

He grinned. “You are expecting a little one. It is nothing shameful, I assume.”

“Shush! Mind that we’re in public, Sir. Such conversation is unseemly!” Her face softened and she leaned closer. “I married George, you know. A summer past.”

“Well, good for George. With a good woman and a babe on the way; he must be content, indeed. What’s for supper?”

“Nothing special, but likely better than some of the meals you’ve had.”

“You’re right about that. Soldier’s fare is pretty rough stuff.”

Passing on, Claiborn felt a lightness in his spirit. There was something about coming home that did something inside a man. He thought of the many campfires he had huddled next to out in the fields, sometimes in drizzling rain and bitter cold weather— dreaming of the smells and the sounds of Stoneybrook, wishing he was back. And now, at last, he was.

“Edmund!” He turned to see his brother, emerging from one of the inner passages.

Claiborn hurried forward to meet him and said, “It’s good to see you, brother.”

“And you,” Edmund said, holding him at arm’s length again to get a good look. “No wounds, this round?”

“Nothing that hasn’t healed,” Claiborn returned.

“Good, good. Mother will be so relieved.”

The two turned to walk together, down a passageway that would lead to their mother’s apartments. Claiborn restrained his pace, accommodating his smaller older brother’s shorter stride. “All is well here, brother? You are well?”

“Never better. There is much to tell you. But it can wait until we sup.”

A servant had just departed, after breathlessly telling Lady Leah Winslow that her son had returned. She wished she had a moment to run a brush through her gray hair, but she could already hear her sons, making their way down the corridor. She rose, straightening her skirts. How many nights had she prayed for Claiborn’s return, feared for his very life? And here he was at last!

The two paused at her door, and Leah’s hand went to her chest as her eyes moved between her sons. Claiborn’s rich auburn hair with just a trace of gold; Edmund’s dull brown. Claiborn’s broad forehead, sparkling blue eyes, high cheekbones, generous lips that so easily curved into a smile, determined chin. Here, here was the true Lord Winslow, a far more striking figure than his sallow, flabby brother. Her eyes flitted guiltily toward her eldest, wondering if she read her traitorous thoughts within.

But Claiborn was already moving forward, arms out, and she rushed to him. He lifted her and twirled around, making her giggle and then flush with embarrassment. “Claiborn, Claiborn!”

He laughed, the sound warm and welcoming and then gently set her to her feet. “You are still lovely, Mother.”

“You are kind to an old woman,” she said. She reached up and cradled his cheek. “The wars…you return to us unhurt?”

“Only aching for home,” he returned.

He took the horsehide-covered seat she offered and Edmund took another. A servant arrived with tea and quickly poured.

“Are you hungry, Son?”

“Starved, but the tea will tide me over until we sup.”

“Well, tell us about the wars,” Edmund said.

“Like all wars—bloody and uncomfortable. I lost some good friends. God be praised, I came through all right.”

Edmund let out a scoffing sound. “Don’t tell me you turned religious!”

“Religious enough to seek my Maker when facing death.”

Edmund laughed and Leah frowned. He had a high-pitched laugh that sounded like the whinnying of a horse. “Not very religious when you were growing up. I had to thrash you for chasing the maids.”

Claiborn reddened and guiltily glanced at Leah. “I suppose I was a terrible.”

“You were young,” Leah put in. “Now you are a man.”

“She forgets just how troublesome you were,” Edmund said.

“You might have been the same, had you faced manhood and the loss of your father in the same year. You were fortunate, Edmund, to be a man full grown before you became Lord Winslow.”

Edmund pursed his narrow lips and considered her words. “Yes. I suppose there is a certain wisdom in that, Mother. A thousand apologies, Claiborn,” he said, with no true apology in his tone.

“None offense taken. So tell me, what’s the feeling here about the king?”

“Most are for Henry. He’s a strong man—but it troubles all that he seems to have a ghost haunting him.”

“A real ghost?”

“No, but it might be better if it were,” Edmund grinned. “Henry defeated Richard III at Bosworth, and he claimed the crown. But he’s always thinking that someone with a better claim to the crown will lead a rebellion and cut his head off.”

“Do you think that could happen?”

“No. Henry’s too clever to let that happen.”

Leah fidgeted in her seat, wondering when Edmund would tell his brother what he must. Would it be up to her? She kept silent for ten long minutes as the men continued to speak of Henry VII and his various campaigns. When it was silent, she blurted, “Has Edmund told you of his plans?”

Edmund shot her a quick, narrowed glance, but then turned to engage his brother again.

“Plans?” Claiborn’s bright, blue eyes lit up. “What is it?”

“I’m to be married,” he said, uncrossing his legs and crossing them again in a studied, casual way.

“Well, I assumed you already long married. Alice Williams is your intended bride, I suppose.”

Edmund’s face darkened, and he took two quick swallows of tea and then shook his head. “No,” he said in a spare tone. “That didn’t come to fruition. She married Sir Giles Mackson.”

“Why, he’s an old man!”

“I expect that’s why Alice married him. She expects to wear him out, then she’ll be in control of everything.”

“I didn’t think Alice was that kind of a woman.”

“Come now, most women are that kind of woman. Apart from our dear mother, of course.” He reached out a hand to Leah and she took it. He held it too tightly, as if warning her. “You truly haven’t learned more of women as you’ve traveled?”

“Not of what you speak.” His eyes moved to his brother’s hand, still holding their mother’s. “Well, who is it then? Who is the future Lady Winslow?”

Leah couldn’t bear it then, watching her handsome son’s face. She stared studiously at her tea, waiting for the words to come.

“Obviously, I’ve considered it for some time,” Edmund said, releasing their mother’s hand, setting down his cup and rising to stand behind her chair.

Claiborn frowned but forced a curious smile. Why was he hesitating? “Cease toying with me, Edmund. Who is she?”

“I have selected Grace Barclay.”

Claiborn’s fingers grew white as he gripped the tea cup. With a shaking hand, he set it down before he crushed it. “Grace Barclay,” he whispered.

“Yes. She’s comely enough, and I’ve come to a fine arrangement with her father. We shall obtain all the land that borders our own to the east. That’ll be her dowry. We’ll be able to put in new rye fields and carry more cattle. It’ll add a quarter to the size of Stoneybrook. You know how hard I tried to buy that land from her father, years ago. Well, he wouldn’t sell, never would I don’t think, but when he mentioned the match I thought, well, why not? It’s time I married and produced an heir for all of this. I’ll show you around the property tomorrow.”

Claiborn said nothing further, and felt frozen in place. Edmund prattled on about the new land that would soon be added, how it would benefit them all, and finally turned toward the door and said, “Come along, you two. They ought to have something to eat on the table by now. You can tell us about the wars in more detail, Claiborn, now that you know all that’s new here.”

“Edmund, may I have a word with your brother?” Leah said quietly.

Edmund stared, as if having forgotten she was there. After a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Certainly, Mother. I shall see you both in the dining hall.” Then straightening his coat, he exited the room.

Claiborn struggled to speak. At last he asked, “When will the marriage take place?”

“The date has not been set, but it will be soon.” Leah turned warm eyes on her son. She reached out to touch his arm, but he flinched. She had stood idly by! Watched this transgression unfold! “Claiborn, it is a business arrangement. Nothing more.”

“But she was mine. He knew I courted her.”

“And then you left her. She has been of marriable age for some time, now. For all we knew, you could have already died on foreign soil, never to return. Like it or not, life continues, for those of us left behind. Grace needed a husband; Edmund needed a wife. It was a natural choice.”

Claiborn rose. “What of love? What of passion? Grace and I shared those things.”

“Years ago, you shared those things. Now you must forget them. Your brother, Lord Winslow, has chosen.”

“Chosen my intended!” Claiborn thundered, rising.

“You did not make your intentions clear,” Leah said quietly, pain in every word.

“I could not leave Grace, with a promise to marry. It was a promise I could not be sure I could keep. Too many die on the battlefield…” He turned away to the window, running a hand through his hair, anguished at the thought of never holding Grace in his arms, never declaring his love, enduring the sight of her, with him. His brother. His betrayer.

His mother came up behind him, and this time, he allowed her touch on his arm. Slowly, quietly, she leaned her temple against his shoulder, simply standing beside him for time in solidarity. “I’m sorry, Son. But you are too late. You cannot stop what is to come, only make your peace with it. It will be well in time. But you must stand aside.”

Claiborn went through the motions of the returned soldier through the rest of the evening. He was not a particularly good actor, and many of the servants noticed how quiet he was. Edmund did not, however, continuing to fill the silence with endless chatter. After the meal was over Claiborn said, “I think I’ll go to bed. My journey was long today.”

“Yes, you’d better,” Edmund said, mopping the gravy from the trencher with a chunk of bread “Tomorrow we’ll look things over, find something for you to do while you are home. Will you return to the army?”

“I’m not quite sure, Edmund.”

“Bad business being a soldier! Out in the weather, always the danger of some Spaniard or Frenchman taking your head off. We’ll find something for you around here. Time you got a profession. Maybe you’d make a lawyer or even go into the church.” He laughed then and said, “No, not the church. Too much mischief in you for that! Go along then. Sleep well and we’ll discuss it further on the morrow.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

As Claiborn rode up to the property owned by John Barclay, he felt as if he were coming down with some sort of illness. He had slept not at all, but had paced the floor until his mother sent a servant with a vessel of wine, which he downed quickly, and soon afterward, fell into a dream-laden sleep. As soon as the sun had come up, he had departed, only leaving word for Edmund that he had an errand to run.

Now as he pulled up in front of the large house where Barclay lived with his family, he dismounted, and a smiling servant came out. “Greetings, m’lord, shall I grain your horse?”

“No, just walk him until he cools.”

He walked up to the door, his eyes troubled and his lips in a tight line. He was shown in by a house servant, and five minutes later John Barclay, Grace’s father, came in. “Well, Claiborn, you’re back. All safe and sound, I trust?”

“Yes, Sir. Safe and sound.”

“How did the wars go? Here, let’s have a little wine.”

Claiborn’s head was splitting already from the hangover, but he took the mulled wine so that he might have something to do with his hands.

John Barclay was a small man, handsome in his youth, but now at the age of forty he was beginning to show his age poorly. He pumped Claiborn for news of the wars, customarily passed along the gossips of the court and of the neighborhood. Finally he got to what Claiborn had come to address. “I assume your brother has told you that he and my girl Grace are to be married?”

“Yes, Sir, he did.”

“Well, it’s a good match,” he rushed on. “She’s a good girl and your brother is a good man. Good blood on both sides! They’ll be providing me with some fine grandchildren. A future.”

Claiborn did not know exactly how to proceed. He had hoped to find Grace alone, but Barclay did not mention her, so finally he said, “I wonder if I might see Miss Grace? Offer my future sister-in-law my thoughts on her impending nuptials?”

“Certainly! She’s up out in the garden. Let her welcome you home. She’ll tell you all about the wedding plans, I’m sure.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Getting up, Claiborn walked out of the castle. He knew where the garden was, for he had visited Grace more than once in this place. He turned the corner, and his first sight of her seemed to stop him in his tracks. She was even more beautiful than he remembered. A tall woman with blonde hair and well-shaped green eyes, with a beautiful smile. He stood there looking at her, and finally she turned and saw him. She was holding a pair of shears in her hands, and she dropped them and cried out, “Claiborn—!”

Moving forward, Claiborn felt as if he were in some sort of dream world. He came to stand in front of her and could not think of what to say. It was so different from what he had imagained it would be like when he first saw her after his long absence. How many times had he imagined taking her into his arms, turning her face up, kissing her and whispering his love, and her own whispered declarations…

But that was not happening. Grace had good color in her cheeks as a rule, but now they were pale, and he could see her lips were trembling. “Claiborn, you’re—you’re home.”

“Aye, I am.”

A silence seemed to build a wall between them, and it was broken only when she whispered, “You know? About Edmund and me?”

“I knew nothing until yesterday when Edmund told me.”

“I thought he might send you word.”

“He’s not much of a one for writing.” Claiborn suddenly reached out and took her by the upper arm. He squeezed too hard and saw pain rise and released his grip. “I can’t believe it, Grace! I thought we had an understanding.”

Grace turned her shoulders more toward him. “An understanding, of sorts,” she said quietly. “But that was a long time ago, Claiborn. Much has transpired since you left.”

He couldn’t stop himself. He reached out his hand to take her own, gently. “I’m sorry. I was a fool.”

“You were young. We both were. Perhaps it is best that we leave it as that.” She turned her wide, green eyes up to meet his.

He frowned. “Is that all it was to you? The passion of youth? Frivolity? Foolishness?”

“Nay,” she sais softly, so softly he wondered if he had misheard her. But then she repeated it, squeezing his hand. His heart surged to doubletime. Her voice was unsteady as she said, “I did everything I could to get out of the marriage, Claiborn. I begged my father, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He’s determined…and so is your brother.”

“I know Edmund is stubborn, but there must have been some way, Grace.”

“No, both your brother and my father see a woman as something to be traded. I don’t think my father ever once thought of what I wanted, of what you and I once shared, of would make me happy. Nor Edmund. He’s never courted me. It is purely an arrangement that suits well…on the surface.”

Suddenly Claiborn asked, “Do you think you might come to love him, Grace?”

Tears came into Grace’s eyes. “No,” she whispered. “Of course not! I love you, Claiborn. You must know that.”

Then suddenly a great determination came to Claiborn. He could not see the end of what he planned to do, but he could see the beginning—which would undoubtedly bring a period of strife. And yet any great battle worth fighting began the same way. “We’ll have to go to them both, your father and my brother,” he said. “We’ll explain that we love each other, and we will have to make them understand.”

Grace shook her head. “It won’t do any good, Claiborn. Neither of them will listen. Their minds are made up.”

“They’ll have to listen!” Claiborn’s voice was fierce. “Come. We’ll talk to your father right now—and then I’ll go try to reason with Edmund. My mother will come to my aid, I am certain.”

“I fear it will do no good—”

“But we must try.”

She accepted his other hand and met his gaze again. “Yes,” she said with a nod, “we must try.”

“Grace Barclay, if we manage this feat, would you honor me by becoming my bride?”

“Indeed,” she said, smiling with fear and hope in her beautiful eyes.

“Come, then,” he said, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm. “Let us see to it then.”

The two of them went inside, and found Grace’s father eating grapes. Claiborn knew there was no simple manner to enter the discussion at hand so he said, “Mr. Barclay, forgive me for going against you and your arrangement with my brother, but I must tell you that Grace and I love each other. We want your permission to marry.”

John Barclay stared at the two, then hastily swallowed a mouthful of grapes. The juice ran down his chin, and his face was scarlet. “What are you talking about, man? I’ve told you, she’s to marry your brother!”

“Father, I never cared for Edmund,” Grace said at once. She held her head up high, and added, “I’ve loved Claiborn for a long time.”

“Have you lost your senses, girl? Sir Edmund is the lord of Stoneybrook. He has the money and the title. What does this man have? A sword and the clothes he has on his back!”

“But father—!”

“Not another word, Grace! You’re marrying Edmund Winslow, and I’ll hear no more about it!” Barclay turned to Claiborn, and his face was contorted with rage. “And you! What sort of brother are you? Coming between your brother and the woman he’s sought for his wife! You’re a sorry excuse for a man! Get out of here, and never come back, you understand me?” He turned to Grace and shouted, “As for you, girl, go to your room! I’ll have more words for you later…!”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

As Claiborn rode out of the environs of Barclay Castle, he felt as if he had been in a major battle. He loitered on the way home, trying to put together a speech that might move Edmund after so utterly failing with John Barclay. When he reached the castle he saw his brother out in the field with one of the hired hands. He was pointing out some fences, no doubt, that needed to be built, and he turned as Claiborn rode up and dismounted.

“Well, you ran off early this morning. What was so pressing that you could not even stop to break your fast?.”

“I must have a word with you, Edmund.”

His brother said something else to the field hand and then turned to walk beside him. “Well, what is it? Have you given thought to your profession?”

“No, no, it’s about Grace.”

Edmund’s eyes narrowed. “Grace? What about her?”

Claiborn faced his brother and said, “Grace and I love each other. We have for a long time. Forgive me for this, but we wish to be married, Edmund.”

Edmund’s face contorted into a look of confusion. “Have you lost your mind, Claiborn? She’s engaged to me! Everyone knows about it.”

Claiborn began to try to explain, to reason, and even to plead with Edmund, but Edmund scoffed, “You were always a romantic dreamer, boy. But you are a man grown now. You must embrace life and all its practicalities, as I have. Think if it. The woman is handsome, yes, but what she brings to this estate is even more attractive. There will be another girl for you.”

“Perhaps Barclay will still give the land as Grace’s dowry if she marries me.”

“Of course he won’t! Are you daft? I’m the master here! Now don’t be difficult about this, Claiborn. It’s for the good of the House of Winslow. Let’s hear no more about it.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The thing could not be kept a secret, and soon everyone at both houses knew what had happened. Edmund made no secret of his displeasure, and finally, after three days, he found Claiborn, and his anger had hardened, but he gave Claiborn one more chance to change his mind. “Look you now, Claiborn,” he said. “You know you have no way to provide for a wife, without me. And if you stubbornly pursue this one as your wife, I shall turn you out. What kind of a life would a woman have with you then? You know as well as I she’d be miserable. Grace has always the best of everything. What would she have with you, outside of the House of Winslow? Dirt, poverty, sickness, misery, that’s what she’d have. You must see that.”

“But Edmund, we love each other. If you’d help me fit myself for a profession—”

“I will help you! I’ve said so already—but I’d be made to look ridiculous if my own brother took my choice for a wife from me. A lord cannot be made to look the fool. It will bind me in every future arrangement I make. No, the die has been cast. You must live with what has transpired in your absence.”

Claiborn had never asked his brother for anything, and he hated to beg, but he pleaded with Edmund until he saw that it was useless.

“You cannot remain here,” Edmund said flatly. “Not feeling the way you do about my intended. Refusing to act as a man. Refusing the way of honor.”

“I cannot be the man God made me, honor what he has placed on my heart, and do anything but this!” Claiborn cried, arms out, fingers splayed.

Edmund stared at him for a moment and said coldly, “I never want to see you again, Claiborn. You have betrayed me, turned away from all I’ve given you!”

“And you did not betray me? You knew I courted Grace!”

“Once upon a time, as a young whelp! How was I to know you fancied a grand return, a romantic reunion? No, I deal with a man’s responsibilities, and I shall move forward as that, as a man.”

Claiborn stared hard at him. “Mother will—”

“Mother will side with me. With the Lord of Winslow. She knows her place.”

“Just as Grace will know it, right? Pretty, and placed in a corner, until you have need of her in your bed.”

“Get out. My bride is my family, my business. And you, you are no longer kin to me.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

“Grace, I’ve hoped you’d show more sense,” her father said. “You don’t see life the way it is, so I can’t let you make such a terrible mistake.”

“It would be a terrible mistake if I married a man I didn’t love.”

“Nonsense! You’ve been unfairly influenced by those French romances. I knew I should not have allowed them in my house!”

Grace sighed. To be fair, she had placed him in a terrible position, and never challenged him on anything of note. Up until now. “Father, I believe in love. Did you not once love my mother?”

“There was no nonsense. She understood how things progress, between a man and a woman. She…” He colored, growing so frustrated in choosing his words that he shook his finger in her face. “My father and her father saw that there were advantages to our marriage, and we were obedient. We had a good life.”

Grace lost her mother to the fevers when she was fourteen, just as Claiborn had lost his father at the same age—but she well remembered how unhappy she had been, how she longed for affection, but got very little from her husband. John had loved her mother, just as she knew he loved her, but he seemed incapacitated when it came to showing it. “I love Claiborn, Father,” she repeated. “I beg you, don’t force me to marry a man I don’t love.”

John opened his mouth as if to say something in fury, then abruptly closed it, turning away from her. He took a step toward the fire, burning in the hearth, and ran a hand through his thinning hair. “We shall discuss it no further. You are marrying Sir Edmund Winslow. I shall see to it myself.”

. . . . . .

“We’ll have to leave here, Grace.” Claiborn had come under cover of darkeness to meet with her in the garden. The air was heavy for the rain had come earlier and soaked the earth.

“Yes, we will.”

“I have nothing to offer you.”

Grace looked up. “But I have something to offer you. You remember my Aunt Adella?”

“She married an Irishman when we were but children, didn’t she?”

“Yes, and he died, and now she’s dead. She left the farm in Ireland to me. That’s where we must go and make our lives.”

It sounded like a dream—an unfavorable dream since Claiborn had no good opinion of Ireland. But it seemed they had little choice. Perhaps it was of God, this provision.

“This asks much of you, Grace. You’d have the life you were born to, here, if you married Edmund.”

“No, my life would be tragic, living with a man I didn’t love and never again seeing the man I do. There is no choice. Come for me, in two days’ time. I shall meet you by the side gate, when all are deeply asleep.

.. . . . . .

Two days later, Claiborn waited outside the Barclay estate in the dark, nervously shifting from foot to foot. He had stolen away from Stoneybrook as soon as even the lightest sleeper was deep into his dreams. But if she didn’t emerge soon…if Edmund discovered he was gone, and here, or if Grace’s father came upon them…his hand went to his sword. He would do what it took to get his intended away from here. But if anyone died as they departed, it would haunt them forever. “Please Lord,” he muttered under his breath. “Make a way for us. Help us depart in peace.”

Two men approached and Claiborn narrowly ducked around a copse of trees in time. But the lads had been too deep into the ale to notice him—-nor Ned’s soft whinny in greeting to their own horses. They trotted past, laughing so giddily Claiborn wondered how they stayed astride their mounts. His eyes moved back to the side door, where he had sent word for her to meet him. “Make haste, Grace,” he begged through gritted teeth. “Make haste!”

Edmund was not a fool. He was certain to have encouraged servants to keep an eye out for him and any suspicious actions within Stoneybrook. With each minute that ticked by, their risk of exposure increased. Claiborn’s eyes traced the outline of the side door, willing it to open. Had she changed her mind? Or been intercepted? His mind leapt through different options, should she not emerge within a few minutes. Steal inside? Summon a servant and demand he see her? Or walk away?

But then, there she was. He hesitated for a moment, wondering if his mind was playing tricks upon him. No, it was her. She had come! He hurried forward, wincing as the cart behind Ned creaked in protest. Her head swung toward the sound and she hurriedly shut the door behind her, turning a key in the lock and pocketing it.

He took her hands in his. “All right, sweetheart. We’ll find someone to marry us straight away, and then we’ll make a life together in Ireland. Thank you for this honor. Thank you for trusting me.”

“I’m trusting you and God, Claiborn.”

Claiborn was well aware that he did not really know God in the way that Grace did She had a firm faith in the Lord, and his religion had been more of a formality, but now he put his arms around her and kissed her. “I hope you’re right, Grace. At least we’ll have each other.”

“Yes,” Grace smiled up, tears in her eyes. “We’ll have each other.”

I am really looking forward to reading this one. It will be my first experience with Gilbert Morris who I have heard wonderful things about and it just look fabulous too!

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