In my Mailbox Monday: May 31

In my Mailbox Monday originates from two blogs:The Printed Page and The Story Siren. I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are from the library, from a store, from a friend or actually in the mailbox.

I received two books for review this week:

1. She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell
From CBD: For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling. Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

2. Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky
From CBD:When her sister dies unexpectedly and leaves behind a 15-year-old Down syndrome son, Marnie's world comes unhinged---and her past collides with the present. As she struggles to find healing and forgiveness, a man arrives, determined to destroy her. Will she face the consequences of decisions made a decade earlier---or will she run again?


The Last Christian Winner and More

The Last Christian is a novel set in 2088. After tragedy hits the tribe she's been living with in New Guinea, Abigail Caldwell returns to America, following a 16 year old message from her grandparents to bring Christianity back to America! Americans have neural implants; they live and communicate largely through virtual reality, and the newest development in technology and medicine is brain transplants, utilizing silicon brains. Some believe that this could eliminate death.

What a thought provoking book! I truly enjoyed it. I made a connection with the characters; I was engaged in the storyline. The theme of Jesus is the Life was uniquely delivered, and there was a strong message of Jesus as the way to salvation. The setting in the year 2088 raised questions about where society will be at that time, in technology, medicine, faith. How will the church change in the coming years; how has it already begun to change? Where are the current trends in medicine and/or technology leading us, and how do the those changes correlate with the changes in society's belief in Jesus! I stopped reading to discuss issues the book raised with my husband; I was brought to tears at times when Abby shared the gospel. I was surprised, but not disappointed with the ending. Because of the strong theme, and contemplative questions it raises, I would probably rank this as one of my top books for the year.

Visit this link to watch the trailer.

Or you can download the first chapter here.

I posted the giveaway opportunity with Tuesday's Teaser...so now for the winner...

Comment #9
Sandy Jay

Congratulations! An email notification has been sent.

Both my review copy and the giveaway copy were provided by Waterbrook.


Teaser Tuesday with GIVEAWAY!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  4. Share the title and author as well so that other readers can add the book to their wish lists if they are enticed!
***Be Careful Not to include Spoilers!! (Make sure that your teaser doesn't give too much away so that you do not ruin it for future readers!)

This week I'm trying something a little bit different. I'm going to do a giveaway with my teaser, then on Friday I'll post the winner with the review! The book is The Last Christian by David Gregory. My review copy and a giveaway copy were provided by Waterbrook.

Teaser is found on page 60:

I knew those issues were secondary. Travel to a new country, and you can adjust to unfamiliar technologies and lifestyles--as long as you can find people with a similar belief system through which to interpret the experience.
But this woman would find no one of a similar mindset. Not in America.

For the giveaway, leave a comment. For an extra entry be a follower, and let me know in a second comment.
Giveaway ends Thursday, May 27 midnight EST. Winner will be announced with my review on Friday! Open to US and Canada only, due to shipping costs.


Sunday Sponsor Highlight!

As you can see from my sidebar, I am participating in two major giveaways in September:
Blogfest and Blogmania!

I have decided to use Sunday's as a way to share information about the amazing artist and craft workers that are adding to my giveaway. This week I will feature:
Patricia Zilinsky Designs!
Wave Bookholder The Hugger Book Mark ZigZag Bookholder
Look at these wonderful Bookholders and Book Marks!
There are also gemstone bookmarks!

You can find her incredible work at her home site: http://www.patriciazilinskydesigns.com/index.htm
or on Etsy:

Be sure to check out the variety of items;
There are office accessories, vases, candle holders,
picture frames, kitchen and tabletop items, garden and patio items,
and some original "one of a kind" items as well!



Random.org resulted in #1...which is


Who won Back Pocket Promises
Yay! and Congratulations!

Revell Blog Tour: This Fine Life Book Review

This Fine Life was a fine book. I really appreciated the faith and marriage struggles throughout the story. Mariette and Thayne met and married quickly, against her parents wishes. Later, he followed a call to the ministry requiring that Mariette work and the couple move in with her parents while he went to school. Finally completing his classes, they moved to Logan's Creek, a town of only about 200 people. Mariette struggles with all of the changes, with feelings of being left out, and with not understanding her husband's commitment to the Lord. Through her personal difficulties, marital challenges, and her husbands ministry trials, the two move slowly toward "the fine life," he has promised her.

This was a very authentic look at everyday difficulties of life, as well as a couple very real and very traumatic incidents. Set in the 1960's, the historical aspects added interesting looks into life at that time. The theme of just wanting to fit in, to feel included, is very personal to many women, and it was handled well. Mariette was a very believable character, and one many can understand; however, the resolution felt a little fast, and there were times when Thayne's character and motivations could have been better developed. Overall, the plot was believable and enjoyable. The theme was original and authentic. There was one typo, but the writing was beautiful, smooth, and genuine. I liked This Fine Life; it was subtle and unique--unlike anything I've read in a while. AND, I have four more of Everson's on my shelf to read: The Potluck Club Trilogy and Things Left Unspoken.

Available May 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Thanks to Revell for providing this book for review!
Eva Marie Everson is a successful speaker, a popular radio personality, and the award-winning author of Things Left Unspoken. She is coauthor of The Potluck Club series and The Potluck Catering Club series. She lives in Florida.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet life.

For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com


Waiting on Wednesday:Nightmare & Priceless

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I found quite a few this week that I am looking forward to reading. This week I will highlight two of them. Then maybe two more next week.

The first is Nightmare by Robin Parrish. This will release on June 1, published by Bethany House. Here is the product description from ChristianBook.com:

Ghost Town is the hottest amusement park in the country, offering state-of-the-art chills and thrills involving the paranormal. The park's main ride is a haunted house that promises an encounter with a real ghost.
When Maia Peters visits during her senior year of college, she's not expecting to be impressed. Maia grew up as the only child of a pair of world-renowned "ghost hunters," so the paranormal is nothing new. In fact, the ride feels pretty boring until the very end. There, a face appears from the mist. The face of Jordin Cole, a girl who disappeared from campus a few months ago.

Check out more at Robin's website.

The second book is Priceless by Tom Davis. This book is published by Multnomah and due out June 8. Here is CBD's description:

Stuart Daniels has found purpose in life. After suffering the fallout of a tragic assignment, Daniels rediscovered faith and hope after a chance encounter with an extraordinary African orphan. Now his photo work also carries a personal mission: To educate people on the devastating effects of AIDS around the world. But when Daniels receives his next assignment to Russia, he unwittingly finds himself a key player in rescuing young girls caught in the tragic sex-slave trade.

You can read chapter 1 here.

There are so many others that I am excited about. Watch next week for a couple more releasing next month!


Tuesday's Toddler Giveaway...

Back Pocket Promises is actually one in a series of out of print board books. The book looks like a denim pocket and has a velcro flap front. It explains 10 Biblical promises about the Lord. There are fun illustrations of children to go with each promise. On the inside flap, the reference verses are listed for each promise, so it provides a nice reference for adults as well. This book is a cute book for babies and toddlers conveying God's character to little ones. It is the perfect size for little hands as well.

To win a copy of this book please leave a comment with a way to contact you.

If you are a follower, leave an extra comment for an extra entry.

Contest ends Friday, May 21, and 11:59 pm EST.

Winner will be chosen by Random.org on Saturday, May 22. Winner will be notified via email and announced on this site, and will have 1 week to respond.


Teaser Tuesday: This Fine Life

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  4. Share the title and author as well so that other readers can add the book to their wish lists if they are enticed!
***Be Careful Not to include Spoilers!! (Make sure that your teaser doesn't give too much away so that you do not ruin it for future readers!)

This teaser is from This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson, page 85:

I stayed completely still and quiet, waiting to hear whatever it was he wanted me to listen to. But I heard nothing. Not a bird, not a twig cracking or breaking, not a trickle of water, or-blessedly- not a single forest creature.

Look for my review of this book later this week...

In My Mailbox Monday: May 17

In my Mailbox Monday originates from two blogs:The Printed Page and The Story Siren. I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are from the library, from a store, from a friend or actually in the mailbox.

I had another great week!!! I won one book from Life in Review by Michelle V, and purchased five from Ollie's Bargain Outlet.

I got to choose from a huge list for my prize,
and I chose Ted Dekker's The Bride Collector.

The five that I purchased (all at GREAT prices, I might add) were:

1. A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell
2. Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines
3. Lost Mission by Athol Dickson
4. In Everything Give Thanks by Terry Barnes
5. The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey


Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann

Waterbrook Blog Tour

Kristen Heitzmann is a great author. I have read a number of her older books and really enjoyed them. She has written some characters that have stuck with me for years! While Indivisible was a good book, it was not my favorite by Kristen. Check out her website for the list of her other great books!!

Heitzmann continues to create strong characters in Indivisible. Jonah is the police chief, following the footsteps of his father. Tia is the only one left in town from her family; she is running her mom's candle store. Piper is new in town, but she manages to convince the hardened Sarge to change his solitary ways and hire her to help at his bakery. Liz is the town's new veterinarian, who is greatly needed when animals are found mutilated. Miles becomes a regular customer at the candle shop and the bakery despite his extreme phobias and OCD behavior. All of these characters and the more minor ones were extremely well developed.

Their background stories expertly portray the hows and whys of who they are and what they do. The developing friendships contribute to many of the characters' personal growth, and the book ends with hope for future relationships. Friend, enemy, father, mother, sister, employee, sponsor: all relationships change who we are. Sometimes they help us grow; sometimes they stunt our growth, but relationships are central to our lives and to this novel.

The plot was unique, suspenseful, and engaging. It was pretty easy to solve the mystery, but that did not detract from the story. The book was relationship driven with plenty of action to keep the pages turning.
Also, Kristen uses language beautifully. When I started reading this book, I was struck by the quality of sound in her writing. You can see what I am referring to here where you can read chapter 1. And here is a great link to an audio interview with the author, herself.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

BLOGFEST and BLOGMANIA Here This September

I just joined the Blogmania event scheduled for September 15-16, 2010. This is a twice yearly event hosted by Between the Pages. There will be hundreds of giveaways and many new blogs to discover. Each site is to have at least $100 worth of giveaways....WOW!! How exciting!

And I've decided to participate in Blogfest too, which is September 10-12. It's going to be crazy, but so fun...I know, chalk it up to being a new blogger and overzealous! I'm looking for sponsors and donations for these exiting, high traffic events, if interested leave a comment with email and I'll be in touch!

I am starting to get my giveaways together, and I need a theme. It will obviously be book related, but I haven't decided on specifics. I am thinking about doing a few different sets: historical, thriller/suspense, contemporary. I'm also planning on adding in other fun prizes, like bookmarks, a tote, etc...

Here are some ideas:
Read and Relax: including bubbles, candles, tea, chocolate, and books!

Travel thru Time: with various novels set at different time periods, a vintage-style bookmark, a retro tote.

Soul-feeding Suspense: mystery and suspense books, a night light (for when you can't sleep with those scary ones!!), fun snacks

Coffee House Chick-lit: chick lit books, coffee/cappuccino, chocolate

Wall to Wall Books: books, bookmarks, booktote, bookends, maybe a bookshelf, a wall hanging or painting

Scrap-n-read: homemade bookmarks and bookplates, books, extra stickers and embellishments

Far Away Fiction: books set in different countries, fantasy, bookmarks & bookplates with various cities, various national coffees, etc

Family Fun: Book for Dad, mom, brother, sister; journal or scrapbook, boardgame or cards, snack pack or chocolate

Growing Up Books: baby book, toddler book, picture book, beginner reader, chapter book, YA book, and adult book

Princess Hearts: girly gifts--pinks and purples, jewelry, bubbles or lotion, romance novels

Variety is the Spice of Life: Christian books from various genres, (non-fiction, mystery, romance, historical, contemporary, devotional, etc), teas and spices

Please let me know which ideas you like...

And mark your calenders for these great giveaway events!!!

Blogfest = September 10-12
Blogmania = September 15-16


Tuesday Teaser: Indivisible

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  4. Share the title and author as well so that other readers can add the book to their wish lists if they are enticed!
***Be Careful Not to include Spoilers!! (Make sure that your teaser doesn't give too much away so that you do not ruin it for future readers!)

Today's teaser is from Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann, page 155

"She should have listend to her body, to the pain that had warned her she was weakening. She'd been stupid. And it could cost her."

Unwilling Warrior by Andrea Boeshaar

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:

An Unwilling Warrior

Realms; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar has been writing stories and poems since she was a little girl and has published articles and devotionals as well as 31 novels and novellas. In addition to her writing, Andrea is a certified Christian life coach and speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at such conferences as: Write-To-Publish; American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); Oregon Christian Writers Conference; Mount Hermon Writers Conference and many local writers conferences. Another of Andrea’s accomplishments is co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on both its Advisory Board and as its CEO.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 291 pages
Publisher: Realms; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599799855
ISBN-13: 978-1599799858


New Orleans, December 1861

Raindrops splattered against the garden’s cobblestone

walkway, forming puddles in low-lying areas.

Above, the heavens seemed to mourn in tearful shades of gray.

Staring out the floor-to-ceiling window, Valerie Fontaine realized

she’d forgotten the dreariness of the season. She’d been back

in New Orleans only a week, arriving Christmas Eve, but now

she questioned her decision to leave Miss C. J. Hollingsworth’s

Finishing School for Young Ladies, a year-round boarding school

in Virginia where she’d studied for the last sixteen months. She

let out a long, slow sigh. Life here at home was—well, worse than

the weather.

Closing the shutters, she stepped away and hugged her knitted

shawl more tightly around her shoulders. She strolled from the

solarium to the parlor, steeling herself against her father’s continuing

tirade. But at least they were talking now. He hadn’t said more

than six words to her since she’d been home. “You should have

stayed at school.” She had thought Father would be glad to see

her, given that it was their first Christmas without Mama.

But such wasn’t the case. Instead of spending the holiday with

her, he’d been at his gentlemen’s club almost continuously. His

actions hurt Valerie deeply. Nevertheless, he was the only family

she had left now.

“You should have stayed at school,” Edward Fontaine muttered

as he poured himself another scotch. His third.

“Yes, so you’ve stated. But isn’t it obvious why I came home?

I’m grieving, and I need the love and support of my father.” She

gave him a once-over, from the tip of his polished shoes to his

shiny, straight black hair. “And it might not seem like it, but I

think you need me too.”

“Need you? I should say not!” He teetered slightly but caught

her reaction. “And don’t roll those pretty blue eyes at me either.”

Valerie turned toward the roaring hearth so he wouldn’t see

her exasperated expression.

Holding out her hands, she warmed them by the fire. Although

temperatures registered well above the freezing mark, the cold and

dampness had a way of seeping into her bones. She shivered.

“I told you, ma fille, your efforts, as you call them, aren’t


She flicked him a glance. “I think perhaps they are.” She

sensed her father mourned Mama’s death too. However, drowning

himself in scotch would hardly help, and he’d lose his good

standing in society if anyone found out about his . . . weakness.

Did neighbors and friends already know?


Valerie turned to watch as he seated himself in a floralpatterned,

Louis XV wingback chair.

“You were to stay in Virginia and complete your education.”

Father gave a derisive snort. “I doubt Miss Hollingsworth will

give me a refund on your tuition.”

Valerie placed her hands on her hips. “How can you value

money over my well-being?”

“This is not a question of one or the other. These are

ous times . . . there are plans that you know nothing of . . . ”

“What plans?” Curious, Valerie tipped her head.



He lifted his gaze to hers, and she saw a flicker of something

in his eyes—regret perhaps? Then his face hardened. “My plans

were for you to stay in school and marry a young man from an

established family.”

Valerie groaned. Running her hands down the wide skirt of

her black dress, she gathered the muslin in clenched fists of frustration.

How could she make him understand? She simply had

to follow her heart and come home. Otherwise, she surely would

have stayed at Miss Hollingsworth’s, as many students did. On

most holidays, like this one, time constraints restricted travel.

School let out the Friday before Christmas and began next week,

on the sixth of January. However, Valerie didn’t plan on returning,

and her reasons to leave boarding school ran deep.

She lifted her fingertips to her temples as a headache formed.

“Father, school proved too much for me after Mama’s untimely

death. I tried to make it, stayed all last summer, but after the war

broke out I had to come home.”

“Silly girl. You risked your life traveling through that part of

the country. Did you think I wanted to bury a daughter too?”

“No, of course not. But I thought you would have wanted to

see me at Christmastime.”

He didn’t comment on her remark. “So, what am I going to do

with you? I can’t very well send you back. It’s too dangerous.”

“It’s not as if I need a nanny.” Indignation pulsed through

Valerie’s veins. “I’m almost nineteen, and I can take care of

myself—and manage the household for you too.”

“I manage my own household.”

Hardly! she quipped inwardly. Thankfully for him, Adalia,

their precious and loyal maid, had seen to almost everything

since Mama died.

But Valerie wouldn’t tell her father that. She’d learned neither

retorts nor reasoning did much good when he’d been imbibing—

which was frequently of late.

She watched as he swallowed the dark golden liquid, emptying

the crystal tumbler in his hand. He made a sorrowful sight, to

be sure. And yet Valerie knew her father was an honorable man,

a capable man who owned and operated a large business. Her

grandfather had started Fontaine Shipping when he had come

from France. Father grew up near the docks and learned everything

about ships and cargo, importing and exporting, and then

he took over the business after he had finished his education at

Harvard. Grandpapa had been so proud. And now Father secured

his importance among the international shipping community as

well as in New Orleans’s society.

Or at least that’s the way she had remembered him.

“I see I’ll have to marry you off myself.”

“Oh, Father, I’ll marry when I’m good and ready. Right now I

can’t think of a single man I’m even remotely interested in.”

“And what of James Ladden?” Father asked

“James is . . . a friend. That’s all.” Valerie moved to the

burgundy-colored settee. Gathering her black hoop skirts, she sat

down. Her fingers played across the rose-patterned, embroidered

armrest. Her father’s gaze seemed troubled. She shifted. “Perhaps

I should ask Chastean to bring you some coffee.”

He gave her a blank look, as though she’d spoken in a foreign


“Our cook . . . will bring you some coffee.”

He held up his empty scotch glass and said, “I’m fine with this.”

Valerie sighed when he rose to pour another drink. His fourth.

How she wished she could hide that scotch bottle!

“We’re having a houseguest tonight,” he said.

“What?” Her jaw slacked at the surprising news.

“You heard me.” He eyed the amber potion glistening in his

glass. “A houseguest.”

“Who is it?”

He lifted his slim shoulders and wagged his dark head. “Last

name’s McCabe. Don’t know his first. He’s the son of an acquaintance.”

He looked her way. “I extended the invitation before I

knew you would burst in from school unannounced.”

Valerie chose to ignore the slight. “Where did you meet him,

or rather, his father?”

Father’s gaze met hers. His brown bloodshot eyes watered

slightly, and his Adam’s apple bobbed several times as if he were

struggling to contain his emotions. “I met him,” he continued in

a pinched voice, “just after your mother passed away.”

Valerie swallowed an anguished lump of her own. He’d so

rarely spoken of Mama since her death.

Her mind drifted back to that terrible day she’d received the

news. She’d been at school, getting ready to paint with the other

girls when a telegram had been delivered. The weighty sorrow

that descended then returned now as she recalled the words:

Your mother took ill with a fever on 23 June 1861 and

has died. You have our sympathies and our prayers. The

telegram was signed Mrs. Vincent Dupont, the doctor’s wife.

Upon returning home, Valerie learned that a tropical storm

had detained the family physician when her mother had taken

ill. He hadn’t been able to reach Mama in time to help her.

Valerie had never gotten a chance to say good-bye or even

attend Mama’s funeral.

“I miss her too.” Valerie whispered the admission, hoping this

time it wouldn’t fall on deaf ears.

But Father drained his glass and poured another. Number five.

“Our guest will be arriving sometime tonight. I’ll be out. I’ve

left instructions with Adalia.”

“You won’t be here to greet him?” Valerie swiped away an

errant tear and squared her shoulders.

“Not tonight.” He suddenly hollered for his coat, hat, and

walking stick.

“Where are you going?” Stunned, Valerie strode toward him.

“The club. For supper.”

“Again? But I had so hoped you’d come to the Donahues’

tonight and celebrate the coming of the New Year with me.”

“You should know right now, ma fille, that hope is a useless word

in the English vocabulary. All of mine died with your mother.”

Valerie’s breath caught at the admission, tears obscuring her

vision as the portly British maid, who’d been part of the family

ever since Valerie could recall, entered the room carrying Father’s

belongings. He donned his winter coat.

“I hadn’t planned to stay home to entertain a houseguest.”

“I don’t expect you to.” He moved into the foyer and adjusted

his black top hat. “Adalia will show him to his room, and you

can go to your party.”

“But—” He swung open the front door and disappeared, closing it

behind him before Valerie could speak again. All she could do

was stand there, stunned.

At last she exhaled, her lower lip extended so the puff of air

soared upward and wafted over the strands on her forehead. “Oh,

this is a fine mess.” She folded her arms.

“You needn’t worry. I’ll be sure to tidy the gentleman’s room.”

“I know you will.” Valerie smiled at the good-natured woman.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, dearie. But here now—” Adalia bustled

across the room and slipped one arm around Valerie’s shoulders.

“Don’t look so glum.”

“I can’t help it.” Valerie’s bottom lip quivered as she peered

into the maid’s bright green eyes. “My father has no room in his

life for me, Adalia. I’m a burden to him.” She paused. “Maybe I

always have been, but I never noticed because of Mama.”

Adalia patted her shoulder.

When the moment passed, Valerie straightened. “Well, Father

said I can go to the party. I’ve been looking forward to it.”

“Go. I’ll take care of Mr. McCabe. Now you’d best be getting

yourself ready.”

Valerie gazed down at her dark skirts. “And another thing. I’m

tired of this dreary mourning garb. It’s been six months.”

“That it has, and you’ve fulfilled your societal obligations and

behaved as any good daughter would.” Holding her by the shoulders,

she turned Valerie so they stood face-to-face. “I don’t think

I’m out of place to say that y’ mother’d want each of us to go on

with our living. So go and have fun tonight. As for y’ father’s guest,

he can occupy himself in the library. Plenty o’ books in there.”

Valerie sighed, remembering some of Father’s former houseguests.

“He’s probably some eccentric old geezer who’ll just want

to read and go to sleep anyway.”

Adalia snorted. Her eyes twinkled with amusement. “We’ve

seen our share of those over the years, now haven’t we?”

“Yes.” A smile crept across Valerie’s face. “We certainly have

at that.”


Beneath the bright glow from her bedroom’s wall sconces, Valerie

studied her reflection. She selected a sapphire-blue silk gown

with satin trim around its off-the-shoulder neckline. The flouncy

creation matched the color of her eyes and complemented her

pale complexion. Adalia had expertly swept up Valerie’s dark

brown hair into a becoming chignon, although several tendrils

rebelliously escaped and curled around her face.

“Pretty as a princess, y’ are. Just like y’ mother.” Adalia stood

back to admire her. “You look just like her.”

“Thank you.” Valerie took the compliment as high praise. “But

do you think I seem a bit pale?” She pinched her cheeks until

they turned a rosy pink.

“Not anymore.” Adalia placed her hands on her hips. Valerie

smiled, then chuckled. Adalia turned and folded an article of

clothing on Valerie’s four-poster bed. “Now, you be sure to catch

the latest gossip, dearie. Chastean and I are dependin’ on you.”

Valerie whirled from the full-length mirror in a swish of silk.

“Why, Adalia, I don’t listen to gossip.”

“’Tis such a pity. We’ll be needin’ something to talk about

while we stir our soap.”

“Mama’s soap.” Valerie’s grin faded as wistfulness set in. She’d

almost forgotten how she and Mama used to create the specially

scented soaps from garden herbs and the essential oils that Father

had shipped in from around the world. The practice had started

with a church bazaar for which Mama had to bring something

she’d made, something unique.

She called her little square bars “Psalm 55 Soap” after her

favorite passage of Scripture. Mama gave them to friends or

left them near the basin in the guest room with a handwritten

portion of that psalm. Feeling a sudden deep determination to

hang on to the memory, Valerie decided to somehow keep her

mother’s custom alive.

“We’ll make a new batch soon,” she said.

“Good, ’cause we’re down to the last few bars of the lavender

rose.”One of Valerie’s favorites. “They’re from the last batch Mama


Adalia replied with a remorseful bob of her gray-blonde head.

That weighty sorrow descended again. Valerie’s shoulders


Several long, reverent seconds ticked by, and finally Adalia

picked up where she’d left off. “I’m particularly interested in

hearing if Mrs. Field’s wayward daughter married that sailor she

ran away with.” She fidgeted with Valerie’s dress. “So listen up.”

“I’ll do no such thing. Besides, James told me yesterday that

Nora Mae married the man in a private ceremony.”

“Y’ don’t say!”

Valerie turned to her. “I shouldn’t have even repeated that,

except there’s nothing wrong with saying a wedding took place,



Valerie narrowed her gaze. Maybe she had succumbed to

gossiping after all.

“Now you’d best get downstairs.” Adalia wisely changed the

subject. “Mr. Ladden’ll be here soon, and you know how impatient

that one gets if he has to wait even a minute.”

“You go on down. I’ll be there in a bit.” Valerie wanted to

check her reflection one last time.

“Don’t tarry.”

“I won’t.”

The maid left, and Valerie checked her reflection once more. It

felt good to shed those black mourning clothes. She thought of all

her friends she hadn’t seen in the almost year and a half since she’d

been away at Miss C. J. Hollingsworth’s. They’d always been such

fun-loving girls. Valerie smiled, thinking about how they used to

laugh together with chatter of balls and beaus and fashion.

Would it be the same when they saw each other again tonight?

Sadness spilled over her when she thought things might have

changed. She felt so removed from those subjects now. They

seemed trite, considering her present circumstances. She’d

never imagined her life without Mama. But here her future lay,

stretched out before her in grim uncertainty.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee . . .

Valerie smiled as part of Mama’s favorite psalm waltzed across

her mind. Drawing in a deep breath, she plucked her satin shawl

from where it lay on her canopy bed. She pulled it around her

bare shoulders, admiring its ivory softness, and fixed her mind

on the gala. She’d laugh and dance, and maybe some semblance

of joy would return to her life.

Leaving her bedroom, Valerie made her way down the stairs to

the parlor. As it happened, she turned out to be the one who did

the waiting. It seemed forever before she heard James’s carriage

pull up in front of the house.

At long last he entered the foyer, looking dapper in his overcoat

with its fur-trimmed collar. He shed it and handed the garment,

along with his hat, to Adalia. Valerie noted his foggy-gray dress

coat, waistcoat, and matching trousers. The flame-red curls on

his head, usually unruly, were combed neatly back.

“Why, James Ladden, don’t you look handsome!” She held out

her hand in greeting, and he took it at once.

“Thank you, honey. I’ll have you know this suit is cut from the

best cloth money can buy.”

“It’s quite . . . nice.” Valerie felt a bit wounded that he didn’t

remark on her gown or the style of her hair.

Instead James puffed out his chest and smiled. “We have some

time before we have to go.” He ambled across the parlor’s large

Persian carpet. “Perhaps a drink to warm the blood would be


“Yes, of course. I’ll call for Adalia.” She flicked a glance at him,

hoping he didn’t imbibe like Father. This was, after all, their first

public outing together. A moment later she decided to serve hot

cider in spite of the fact he hinted at something stronger.

She looked at him again. James had been a childhood friend,

an auburn-headed prankster who annoyed her by putting twigs in

her braided hair and calling her names. He threw slimy, creepycrawly

creatures at her and laughed when she screamed in terror.

But then James matured into a dashing young man, and when

he discovered that she’d come home from school, he offered to

escort her to every social event in New Orleans beginning this

New Year’s Eve. She’d accepted because . . . well, it was a kind offer,

and James seemed to have transformed into a gentleman.

“Is your father home?”

“No, he chose to ring in the New Year at the club.”

“He won’t be at the Donahues’, then?”

Valerie shook her head.

“I had hoped to speak with him tonight about an important

subject.” His frown turned to a smile. “You.”


“I have courtship on my mind.”

His news surprised her. “I thought we were just friends, James.”

“We are. But the way you look tonight makes me wish we were


So he’d noticed. That was something anyway. However, his

backhanded flattering didn’t change her feelings for him. But

unwilling to hurt him, she chose her words with care. “I am fond

of you. It’s just—”

“Y’ father’s houseguest just arrived.” Adalia poked her head into

the room. “What would you like me to do with him, dearie?”

Valerie grimaced. “Oh, yes . . . ” She’d almost forgotten about

the man. “Show him in.” Looking back at James, she said, “Excuse

me for a few minutes.”

“What’s this?” He stepped forward, frowning his displeasure.

“What houseguest?”

“Forgive me. My father only told me at the last minute.” She

moved toward the door. “I must see to him. It won’t take too


Putting on her best hostess’s smile, Valerie strolled into the

foyer in time to see a tall but shadowy figure of a man coming

down the hallway. He must have entered through the back way.

Over his shoulder he carried a large satchel and, in the opposite

hand, a valise. As he neared, she saw that he was soaked to the

skin. Rain dripped from the wide brim hat.

“Good evening.” He set his burdens down with a thunk onto

the tiled floor. “Name’s Benjamin McCabe.”

“Valerie Fontaine.” She held out her hand to him. He took

it politely, and Valerie felt how cold he was. He also appeared

young, in his midtwenties. Hardly the old codger she and Adalia

had envisioned.

“Miss Fontaine, I must say you look . . . lovely this evening.” He

spoke in a velvet baritone, and yet Valerie heard a hint of a twang

in his voice.

“Why, thank you.” It had been more of a compliment than

what she’d received from James.

He shifted his stance. “The liveryman is seeing to my wagon.”

He gave a backward nod. “I trust it will be safe in the stables.

Most of my equipment—”

“Your wagon will be just fine,” Valerie assured him. “Willie is

a very capable attendant.”

An awkward moment passed as Valerie tried to get a better

view of the man standing there in the dim, candlelit entryway.

“I apologize for dripping rain on your floor.” Mr. McCabe

glanced down at the puddle forming beneath him. “That last

downpour caught me.”

My Take:
Valerie Fontaine lost her mother to an unexpected illness and after trying to adjust at boarding school, she decides, despite the civil war, to return home to her father, against his wishes. Her father has is own struggles and is distant and uninvolved. Benjamin McCabe visits the Fontaine's while looking for his brother who became separated from him in the war. Ben is a photographer and Luke was a chaplain, both declared neutral in the war. As Valerie spends time with Benjamin they forge a tentative relationship, but when Valerie's dad betroths her to another, they both feel stuck. When greater danger arises and threatens Valerie wit imprisonment, Benjamin knows he has to rescue her, so he does and then sends her home to his family. Valerie is unsure what she has gotten herself into, as Ben continues to search for his brother and Valerie faces competition in his parents home.

Valerie needs to feel safe again, as she did before her mother died. She is looking for that love and security from the men in her life: first her father, and later Benjamin McCabe. She initially forgets to look to her heavenly father for the belonging that only he can provide. This is a novel of discovery and real everyday struggles with feelings of jealousy, doubt, and neglect. Unwilling Warrior is a fun and engaging read with romance and adventure. The historical setting of the civil war and the varying opinions of the characters were enlightening. I would have liked to see more development of Valerie's faith. The resolution was a little too fast for me, but there is a compliment wrapped up in that statement because I wanted more. There was a beautiful discussion between Ben and his brother Luke (where the phrase "unwilling warrior" shows up) that delivers a wonderful message; this conversation is a good example of why I love Christian fiction. I enjoyed both the characters and the story, and I look forward to the next installment of Boeshaar's Seasons of Redemption.