Sunday, July 19, 2009

God Stories

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:


David C. Cook; New edition edition (July 1, 2009)


Andrew Wilson holds degrees in theology from Cambridge University and London School of Theology. His passion is to communicate the extraordinary truths of God. Andrew teaches internationally and is an elder at Kings Church Eastbourne in the UK, where he leads training and development. Andrew is also the author of Incomparable: Explorations in the Character of God, and lives with his wife Rachel and their newborn baby Ezekiel in the UK.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765393
ISBN-13: 978-1434765390



Several years ago in Northern Nigeria, Emily was strung up on a tree and left for dead because she had epilepsy.1 Her tribal village had no idea what epilepsy was, let alone how to cope with it, so they tied her up and left her there, waiting for her to die from starvation or exposure. Just before she did, Daniel arrived with a small team to preach the gospel and plant a church. Horrified, he immediately cut down the young girl from the tree and put her under a doctor’s care. Then he and his team began explaining the gospel to the villagers.

Daniel has paid a price for his zeal. He, his wife, and his children have experienced pretty much every suffering you can have for preaching the good news: robbery, rape, physical beatings, death threats, the lot. But that hasn’t stopped him. In fact, from the little I have seen, his sufferings have increased his determination to establish churches and train leaders.

But as people in the village started responding to the gospel, Daniel and his team were able to plant a small church, and then build a school to educate the children. Daniel understood GodStories, you see. He had gone to the village in the first place because he knew the GodStory of world mission. He knew that he would face serious persecution for preaching the gospel, but he knew the GodStory of Christ’s suffering and was prepared to share it. When he got there, he preached GodStories about the gospel of God concerning his Son, victory over demons, and the death of death. He started bringing healthcare and education to the community because he knew GodStories about God’s kingdom, man in his image, and the renewal of creation. I’ve had the privilege of seeing the results firsthand: There is a thriving church in the village, nearly two hundred children at school every day (their English grammar is better than mine!), and Emily is still alive. Because of Daniel’s conviction that the gospel story is amazing, hope has conquered despair in that community.

And he certainly won’t stop preaching GodStories. Maybe it’s because he knows how they all end.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

The point of this book is to convince you that the gospel is amazing. It’s aimed at anyone who wants to understand the good news of what God has done: teenagers, caretakers, businesspeople, full-time mothers, artists. Knowing the gospel is the foundation for worship and mission, so the only thing we’re going to do in this book is explore the beautiful, triumphant, often-heartbreaking, and always-glorious stories that make up the gospel of God. I call them GodStories.

It’s a funny word, and you won’t find it in the dictionary. But my guess is that the idea of looking at a gospel through stories will excite lots of people. Perhaps you see theology as a rabbit warren of concepts without narratives, a series of points and principles and theories that take all the best bits (like characters and plot twists and heroism) out of the Bible, and leave behind a slightly inedible result, like eating cereal without milk or playing Scrabble without vowels. To you, the fact that this book is made up of stories—and, far more importantly, the fact that God’s gospel is made up largely of stories—should be encouraging. It will certainly increase your enjoyment of theology.

You see, just as we have one God in three persons and one church made up of many people, so in Scripture we have one gospel made up of many stories. We have one gospel, for sure: a single, unifying, big story about God and creation, man and sin, Jesus and rescue. But we also have many different ways of telling that big story because it is too large for us to grasp all at once. Even the quick summaries in the Bible itself—“your God reigns,” “the kingdom of God is near,” “God raised Jesus from the dead,” and “Christ died for our sins”—give different angles on the one big story. So seeing the many GodStories in the one gospel does not reduce that gospel in glory or splendor. Quite the opposite—it dramatically increases it.

This is true of all sorts of big stories, not just the gospel. Imagine that, instead of writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien decided to simplify things into a sentence: “Frodo and Sam left the Shire with the ring, faced a number of setbacks, and finally destroyed it in Mount Doom to save Middle Earth.” His summary would, in one sense, tell the same story, but it would be dramatically reduced in power and impact, and would probably not have sold millions of copies and been turned into three blockbuster films. The Lord of the Rings is about two hobbits and a ring, but it is also about the flight of the elves, the destruction of the forests, the corruption of mankind, the battles for Rohan and Gondor, the return of the king, and the influence the ring has on all of them. So when we read all those other stories, it adds to our understanding of the plot with Frodo and the ring, because it shows us the significance of the main story through its impact on all the others. The same is true of the gospel. But the process is far more important, for three reasons.

GodStories and the Glory of God

The first and biggest reason we must read these stories is because the glory of God is at stake. This is vital. If the Bible is stuffed full of GodStories but we tell only one of them, we lose much of the depth and wonder of the gospel, and that diminishes our view of God, just as it would diminish my view of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking if I ate only his steamed vegetables.

If, for example, we saw the gospel simply as a story of personal salvation, we would limit its scope enormously and rob God of the praise that is due to him. Such a view would miss out on the salvation of a corporate people and would find very little place for the history of Israel, which so much of the Bible is about. It would marginalize God’s faithfulness to his covenant and his multicolored wisdom in the church. And it would ignore the fact that Scripture speaks of the whole of creation, not just human souls, being made new. So reducing the gospel to only a story of personal salvation is like playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the recorder. The melody might be the same, but much of the music’s power is lost, and the brilliance of the composer is missed.

Yet, as with music, God’s excellence is shown not just in creating new storylines, but in fusing them together so that they enhance one another. Queen brings two melodies together to form a harmony, but Yahweh weaves dozens of GodStories—Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and many others—into one another so intricately that when Jesus finally arrives on the scene, you want to stand amazed and applaud with excitement. Composers frequently write notes that clash with one another to present an unusual sound, but God allows entire plotlines to clash for generations and then get explained with a twist you would never have predicted (a servant king, for instance). Queen leaves their final chord sequence unresolved for several seconds, but God leaves Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 unresolved for several centuries before uniting them at the cross with unimaginable power and beauty. So to grasp more of the glory of God, we need to appreciate the range and depth of the gospel, by studying as many of its component stories as possible. More than anything else, the reason for writing a book full of GodStories is to remind us how astonishing and faithful and glorious and worthy of worship is the God who wrote them.

This could not be more important. If God’s glory is infinite, and my concept of him is not, then I never stop needing an increased understanding of his greatness. Furthermore, that greatness is many-sided, like a massive mountain; there is nowhere in creation I could stand and see the whole of Mount Kilimanjaro at once, far less the glory of Yahweh. So I need there to be a whole host of pictures to reveal different angles of what he has done and how it fits together. Fortunately, by his grace, this is exactly the sort of Bible he has inspired.

Scripture contains something to inspire worship in everyone. To the philosopher, there are GodStories of riddles and revelation, inquiry and truth. To the historian, there is an array of events covering thousands of years and numerous civilizations. To the architect, there are descriptions of temples being established and cities being rebuilt. To the artist, there are GodStories of beauty triumphing over ugliness, order over chaos, new creation over stagnation. For the romantic, there is a tale of a complicated relationship with a wonderful man that ends happily ever after; for the action-film fanatic, a story of a hero rescuing the love of his life and saving the world against impossible odds.2 There are genealogies for the tribesman, visions for the mystics, and arguments for the intellectuals. And displaying his glory in every one of these GodStories is Yahweh, the I AM, the maker of heaven, and earth and the rescuer of all things. Reading all of these stories will give us a bigger and better view of him.

GodStories and the Rescue of People

The second reason that we need to know these GodStories is because people’s eternal destinies are at stake. After all, the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16), and preaching the gospel remains one of the highest callings of every Christian. Without the gospel, people cannot be saved. So it is vital that we know what the gospel actually is and how to communicate it in ways people understand.

Everyone agrees with that sentence, I’m sure. But read it again, because it is more difficult than it sounds: It is vital to know what the gospel is and how to communicate it in ways people understand. Many churches are great at half of this but neglect the other half. Some churches know the gospel inside out but put a lot of religious or cultural baggage on it, and are therefore not very effective at communicating it to a pluralist and largely pagan culture. On the other hand, there are churches who have gotten very good at using culture to communicate the gospel but have in the process lost sight of what they were supposed to be communicating. To be effective missionaries to our culture, we need to have fixed theology and flexible culture—strong on what the gospel is, but communicating it without adding religious clutter to it—or, more eloquently, “reaching out without selling out.”3

Paul is a great model. No one could accuse Paul of not knowing the gospel or of being scared to preach it. The scars on his back and welts on his face from being stoned and flogged would see to that. Yet he used a wide range of GodStories to communicate the gospel, depending on his setting.

To the Jews in Damascus, he proved that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 9:22). To the Jews in Pisidian Antioch, he preached forgiveness of sins and freedom from the law through Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 13:16–41). To the pagans in Lystra, he spoke of the creator God who showed his presence by giving them crops and good weather (Acts 14:14–17). To the pagans in Athens, he proclaimed an independent God who did not need serving and who would one day judge the world (Acts 17:22–31). To King Agrippa and Festus, he shared his personal testimony (Acts 26:1–23). So, although we know from Romans that Paul was utterly convinced of justification by faith, redemption, and being in Christ, we know from Acts that these weren’t always the GodStories he started with or stuck to when preaching to unbelievers. Others, equally true, were often more appropriate to his audience.

In none of this are we saying the gospel needs to change. That would be a terrible mistake because it puts the desires of man above the desires of God, which is idolatry. What we are saying is that there are numerous GodStories in Scripture, and it might be that the best way of saving some of God’s image-bearers is to start our preaching with a slightly different GodStory to the ones we are used to. The main planks of the gospel—a loving God, fallen humanity, rescue through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and so on—will never alter. But how we nail the planks together might.

GodStories and the Health of the Church

The third and final reason for writing GodStories is partly a product of the first two: The health of the church is on the line. At one level, this is obvious: If the church isn’t worshipping God properly or reaching the world with the gospel, then it is a waste of space and time. There is more to it than that, however. Again and again, in the pages of the New Testament, we find writers contending for the gospel because they care about the church.

To the Galatians, Paul reinforces GodStories about being justified by faith apart from the law, and about Jews and Gentiles being one in Christ.4 The Corinthians, on the other hand, seem to understand that, but need a strong reminder about Christ being crucified, their sanctification, and the bodily resurrection. First John focuses on the incarnation GodStory more than others. Hebrews tells us about the priesthood of Jesus and the superiority of Christ to the major Jewish symbols. In none of these cases is evangelism the point. Instead, a failure to understand these various GodStories leads to division and sexual immorality and false teaching and backsliding, respectively. So the health of the church depends on understanding the fullness of the gospel.

The gospel is not just for guest meetings or open airs, as you would think to hear us sometimes, but for the people of God. The outstanding explanation of the gospel in Romans, remember, was written to Christians; Paul tells Timothy to preach the word to his church until he’s blue in the face (2 Tim. 4:2); and Paul’s aim to visit the capital of the world was generated by a desire to preach the gospel amongst the church there (Rom. 1:15). If preaching the gospel to the church means simply reiterating the call to repent and be saved every week, then it is no wonder that so many preachers (and listeners) struggle. But if it means explaining to the church the full extent and scope of the GodStories in Scripture, then you could preach for a lifetime and never repeat yourself.

Thank God that there are so many to go round. If you’re in an introverted community of mature Christians, you can study the mission of God. If you love seeing people saved but you aren’t quite sure what to do with them when they are, you can look at freedom from sin. Frustrated artists can look at God’s beauty; frustrated activists, his justice. If you don’t get the Old Testament, then you can look under every verse and every rock until you find Christ. If you get only the Old Testament, then see how all of God’s promises are now yes and amen. Whoever you are, wherever you’re reading this, you can find a GodStory that will expand your view of God and revel in it. Then you can experience the joy of sharing it, in a culturally appropriate way, with someone who doesn’t know it yet. The world has nothing in comparison.

So we need to know and preach and live the gospel. The good news that shines through every GodStory will bring us closer into worship, push us further into mission, and draw us closer into community—face down, flat out, all in. This book is just an introduction to a few of them. But they might change your life all the same.

GodStories usually do.


1. The names of the people in this story have been changed.

2. Adapted from David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church (Nashville, TN: Nelson, 2005), 15.

3. This phrase is the subtitle of Mark Driscoll’s excellent book on the subject, Radical Reformission (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).

4. If, that is, we recognize that Galatians might tell more than one GodStory at once, rather than (as sometimes happens) playing them off against each other. For an excellent explanation of how we can and should embrace both these GodStories together, see Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You've Gotta See This

Have you ever noticed when you look at pictures of people when they were kids that one of the consistent features you still see in them as adults is their smile?

I noticed that right away when writing buddy Diana Brandmeyer was interviewed over at Crystal Laine Miller's blog on when she was a kid.

It's such a fun trip back in time, and it reminded me of how many similarities we writers have and how much of who we are today has its roots in our childhood.

So go read Diana's interview. It's a fun way to spend some time. And she's doing a drawing for a copy of her book that's currently only available at It's a terrific read. I loved it and can't wait to post a review about it.

So what are you waiting for?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sunset Beach

Ah, the beach. One of my favorite places to be. Which was why I was happy to get Trish Perry's Sunset Beach to review. I wondered if it would live up to my expectations.

I have to admit I was skeptical at first. A book about mother-daughter relationships, secrets, a summer romance. Seemed like there were a lot of places for this story to get trite. But Sunset Beach manages to find a fresh take on these themes and even have some humor in the process. I haven't quite finished it yet, as I only go the book on Monday, but I would recommend it as a story that rises above a typical beach read without being too heavy.

For a fun twist on a blog tour, there's a Flickr group of pictures around the theme of Sunset Beach. Go check it out. I've posted a few myself.

Be sure to visit Trish Perry's website.

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written Sunset Beach (2009), Beach Dreams (2008), Too Good to Be True (2007), and The Guy I’m Not Dating (2006), all for Harvest House Publishers. She writes a monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. She was editor of Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization (CCW), for seven years. Before her novels, Perry published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media.

Perry holds a B.A. in Psychology, was a 1980s stockbroker, and held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group and Romance Writers of America. Perry lives in Northern Virginia with her teenaged son.

The Case of the Disappearing Book

Have you ever sworn you put something someplace and then not been able to find it ANYWHERE???? Gah! What I hate most is the feeling that I'm losing my mind. That I didn't actually put the object where I thought I did, or that perhaps I never even had the object to begin with. My life is crazy enough as it is. I don't need it to resemble a Twilight Zone episode.

I was thrilled to get Kaye Dacus's Ransome's Honor to review. Kaye has been working on this book for a long time and I've had the privilege to read a few excerpts. So I couldn't wait to read the whole book.

Still waiting.

I managed to read the first quarter of the book. I swear I left the book on the dining room table because I was reading it while I was eating lunch. Then I left. And the book some how disappeared into another dimension. I turned my house upside down trying to find it that night to read before I went to sleep. No. Book. Anywhere.

I did however find the remote that I thought the puppy had eaten. Maybe he ate the book.

I really enjoyed what I had read so far and I can't wait to see what happens. Kaye does a wonderful job of drawing a picture of the Regency era, including nice flavors of naval life, without stopping the flow of the story.

So pick up your own copy of Ransome's Honor. Just don't tell me how it ends.

UPDATE: While looking for the remote for the TV last night (which we still can't find!) I found the book under the couch. I KNOW I looked there!

In the meantime, the remote fob for my car and a couple shoes (different pairs) have disappeared. Me thinks the puppy has a secret stash. Or we have a black hole. One of the two.

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!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Ransome’s Honor

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)


Kaye Dacus has a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in history, and a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction. Her love of the Regency era started with Jane Austen. Her passion for literature and for history come together to shape her creative, well-researched, and engaging writing.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736927530

ISBN-13: 978-0736927536


Portsmouth, England

July 18, 1814

William Ransome pulled the collar of his oilskin higher, trying to stop the rain from dribbling down the back of his neck. He checked the address once more and then tucked the slip of paper safely into his pocket.

He took the four steps up to the front door of the townhouse in two strides and knocked. The rain intensified, the afternoon sky growing prematurely dark. After a minute or two, William raised his hand to knock again, but the door swung open to reveal a warm light.

A wizened man in standard black livery eyed William, bushy white brows rising in interest at William’s hat, bearing the gold braid and black cockade of his rank. “Good evening, Captain. How may I assist you?”

“Good evening. Is this the home of Captain Collin Yates?”

The butler smiled but then frowned. “Yes, sir, it is. However, I’m sorry to say Captain Yates is at sea, sir.”

“Is Mrs. Yates home?”

“Yes, sir. Please come in.”

“Thank you.” William stepped into the black-and-white tiled entry, water forming a puddle under him as it ran from his outer garments.

“May I tell Mrs. Yates who is calling?” The butler reached for William’s soaked hat and coat.

“Captain William Ransome.”

A glimmer of recognition sparkled in the butler’s hazy blue eyes. In the dim light of the hall, he appeared even older than William originally thought. “The Captain William Ransome who is the master’s oldest and closest friend?”

William nodded. “You must be Fawkes. Collin always said he would have you with him one day.”

“The earl put up quite a fight, sir, but the lad needed me more.” Fawkes shuffled toward the stairs and waved for William to join him. “Mrs. Yates is in the sitting room. I’m certain she will be pleased to see you.”

William turned his attention to his uniform—checking it for lint, straightening the jacket with a swift tug at the waist—and followed the butler up the stairs.

Fawkes knocked on the double doors leading to a room at the back of the house. A soft, muffled voice invited entry. The butler motioned toward the door. It took a moment for William to understand the man was not going to announce him, but rather allow him to surprise Susan. He turned the knob and slowly pushed the door open.

Susan Yates sat on a settee with her back to him. “What is it, Fawkes—?” She turned to look over her shoulder and let out a strangled cry. “William!”

He met her halfway around the sofa and accepted her hands in greeting. “Susan. You’re looking well.”

Her reddish-blonde curls bounced as she looked him over. “I did not expect you until tomorrow!” She pulled him farther into the room. “So—tell me everything. When did you arrive? Why has it been two months since your last proper letter?” Susan sounded more like the girl of fifteen he’d met a dozen years ago than the long-married wife of his best friend. “Can you stay for dinner?”

“We docked late yesterday. I spent the whole of today at the port Admiralty, else I would have been here earlier. And I am sorry to disappoint you, but I cannot stay long.” He sat in an overstuffed chair and started to relax for the first time in weeks. “Where is Collin? Last I heard, he returned home more than a month ago.”

Susan retrieved an extra cup and saucer from the sideboard and poured steaming black coffee into it. “The admiral asked for men to sail south to ferry troops home, and naturally my dear Collin volunteered—anything to be at sea. He is supposed to be back within the week.” She handed him the cup. “Now, on to your news.”

“No news, in all honesty. I’ve been doing the same thing Collin has—returning soldiers and sailors home. I only received orders to Portsmouth a week ago—thus the reason I sent the note express, rather than a full letter.”

“But you’re here now. For how long?”

“Five weeks. I’ve received a new assignment for Alexandra.”

“What will you do until your new duty begins?”

“My crew and I are on leave for three weeks.” And it could not have come at a better time. After two years away from home, his crew needed some time apart from each other.

“Are you going to travel north to see your family?”

“At the same time I sent the express to you announcing my return to Portsmouth, I sent word to my mother telling her of my sojourn here. When I arrived ashore earlier today, I received a letter that she and Charlotte will arrive next Tuesday.”

“How lovely. Of course, you will all stay with us. No—I will brook no opposition. We have three empty bedchambers. I could not abide the thought of your staying at an inn when you could be with us.”

“I thank you, and on behalf of my mother and sister.”

“Think nothing of it. But you were telling me of your assignment. Your crew is not to be decommissioned?” Susan asked.

“No. I believe Admiral Witherington understands my desire to keep my crew together. They have been with me for two years and need no training.”

“Understands?” Susan let out a soft laugh. “Was it not he who taught you the importance of an experienced crew?”

William sipped the coffee—not nearly as strong as his steward made it, but it served to rid him of the remaining chill from the rain. “Yes, I suppose Collin and I did learn that from him…along with everything else we know about commanding a ship.”

Susan sighed. “I wish you could stay so that I could get out of my engagement for the evening. Card parties have become all the fashion lately, but I have no skill for any of the games. If it weren’t for Julia, I would probably decline every invitation.”

“Julia—not Julia Witherington?” William set his cup down on the reading table beside him. He’d heard she had returned to Portsmouth following her mother’s death, but he’d hoped to avoid her.

“Yes. She returned to England about eight months ago and has become the darling of Portsmouth society, even if they do whisper about her being a ‘right old maid’ behind her back. Although recently, Julia’s presence always means Lady Pembroke—her aunt—is also in attendance.” The tone of Susan’s voice and wrinkling of her small nose left no doubt as to her feelings toward the aunt.

“Does Admiral Witherington attend many functions?”

“About half those his daughter does. Julia says she would attend fewer if she thought her aunt would allow. I have told her many times she should exert her position as a woman of independent means; after all, she is almost thir—of course it is not proper to reveal a woman’s age.” Susan blushed. “But Julia refuses to cross the old dragon.”

“So you have renewed your acquaintance with Miss Witherington, then?” The thought of Miss Julia Witherington captured William’s curiosity. He had not seen her since the Peace of Amiens twelve years ago…and the memory of his behavior toward her flooded him with guilt. His own flattered pride was to blame for leading her, and the rest of Portsmouth, to believe he would propose marriage. And for leading him to go so far as to speak to Sir Edward of the possibility.

“Julia and I have kept up a steady correspondence since she returned to Jamaica.” The slight narrowing of Susan’s blue eyes proved she remembered his actions of a dozen years ago all too well. “She was very hurt, William. She believes the attentions you paid her then were because you wished nothing more than to draw closer to her father.”

William rose, clasped his hands behind his back, and crossed to the floor-to-ceiling window beside the crackling fireplace. His reflection wavered against the darkness outside as the rain ran in rivulets down the paned glass. “I did not mean to mislead her. I thought she understood why I, a poor lieutenant with seeming no potential for future fortune, could not make her an offer.”

“Oh, William, she would have accepted your proposal despite your situation. And her father would have supported the marriage. You are his favorite—or so my dear Collin complains all the time.” Silence fell and Susan’s teasing smile faltered a bit. “She tells the most fascinating tales of life in Jamaica—she runs her father’s sugar plantation there. Collin cannot keep up with her in discussions of politics. She knows everything about the Royal Navy—but of course she would, as the daughter of an admiral.”

A high-pitched voice reciting ships’ ratings rang in William’s memory, and he couldn’t suppress a slight smile. Julia Witherington had known more about the navy at age ten than most lifelong sailors.


“My apologies, Susan.” He snapped out of his reverie and returned to his seat. “Did Collin ever tell you how competitive we were? Always trying to out-do the other in our studies or in our duty assignments.” He recalled a few incidents for his best friend’s wife, much safer mooring than thinking about the young beauty with the cascade of coppery hair he hadn’t been able to forget since the first time he met her, almost twenty years ago.

Julia Witherington lifted her head and rubbed the back of her neck. The columns of numbers in the ledgers weren’t adding properly, which made no sense.

An unmistakable sound clattered below; Julia crossed to the windows. A figure in a dark cloak and high-domed hat edged in gold stepped out of the carriage at the gate and into the rain-drenched front garden. Her mood brightened; she smoothed her gray muslin gown and stretched away the stiffness of inactivity.

She did not hear any movement across the hall. Slipping into her father’s dressing room, she found the valet asleep on the stool beside the wardrobe. She rapped on the mahogany paneled door of the tall cabinet.

The young man rubbed his eyes and then leapt to his feet. “Miss Witherington?”

She adopted a soft but authoritative tone. “The admiral’s home, Jim.”

He rushed to see to his duty, just as Julia had seen sailors do at the least word from her father. Admiral Sir Edward Witherington’s position demanded obedience, but his character earned his men’s respect. The valet grabbed his master’s housecoat and dry shoes. He tripped twice in his haste before tossing the hem of the dressing gown over his shoulder.

She smothered a smile and followed him down the marble staircase at a more sedate pace. The young man had yet to learn her father’s gentle nature.

Admiral Sir Edward Witherington submitted himself to his valet’s ministrations, a scowl etching his still-handsome face, broken only by the wink he gave Julia. She returned the gesture with a smile, though with some effort to stifle the yawn that wanted to escape.

He reached toward her. “You look tired. Did you rest at all today?”

She placed her hand in his. “The plantation’s books arrived from Jamaica in this morning’s post. I’ve spent most of the day trying to keep my head above the flotsam of numbers.”

Sir Edward’s chuckle rumbled in his chest as he kissed her forehead. He turned to the butler, who hovered nearby. “Creighton, inform cook we will be one more for dinner tonight.”

“Aye, sir,” the former sailor answered, a furrow between his dark brows.

That her father had invited one of his friends from the port Admiralty came as no surprise. Julia started toward the study, ready for the best time of the day—when she had her father to herself.

“Is that in addition to the extra place Lady Pembroke asked to have set?” Creighton asked.

Julia stopped and turned. “My aunt asked…?” She bit off the rest of the question. The butler did not need to be drawn into the discord between Julia and her aunt.

The admiral looked equally consternated. “I quite imagine she has somebody else entirely in mind, as I have not communicated my invitation with my sister-in-law. So I suppose we will have two guests for dinner this evening. Come, Julia.”

Once in her father’s study, Julia settled into her favorite winged armchair. A cheery fire danced on the hearth, fighting off the rainy day’s chill. Flickering light trickled across the volumes lining the walls, books primarily about history and naval warfare. She alone knew where he hid the novels.

He dropped a packet of correspondence on his desk, drawing her attention. She wondered if she should share her concern over the seeming inaccuracy of the plantation’s ledgers with her father. But a relaxed haziness started to settle over her mind, and the stiffness of hours spent hunched over the plantation’s books began to ease. Perhaps the new steward’s accounting methods were different from her own. No need to raise an alarm until she looked at them again with a clearer mind.

She loved this time alone with her father in the evenings, hearing of his duties, of the officers, politicians, and government officials he dealt with on a daily basis while deciding which ships to decommission and which to keep in service.

The sound of a door and footsteps in the hallway roused her. “Papa, how long will Lady Pembroke stay?”

Sir Edward crossed to the fireplace and stoked it with the poker. “You wish your aunt to leave? I do not like the thought of you without a female companion. You spend so much time on your own as it is.”

“I do not mean to sound ungrateful. I appreciate the fact that Aunt Augusta has offered her services to me, that she wants to…help me secure my status in Portsmouth society.” Julia stared at her twined fingers in her lap.

“It seems to have worked. Every day when I come home, there are more calling cards and invitations on the receiving table than I can count.” Going around behind his desk, he opened one of the cabinets and withdrew a small, ironbound chest. With an ornate brass key, he unlocked it, placed his coin purse inside, secured it again, and put it away.

“Yes. I have met so many people since she came to stay three months ago. And I am grateful to her for that. But she is so…” Julia struggled for words that would not cast aspersions.

The admiral’s forehead creased deeply when he raised his brows. “She is what?”

“She is…so different from Mama.”

“As she was your mother’s sister by marriage only, that is to be expected.”

Julia nodded. To say anything more would be to sound plaintive, and she did not want to spoil whatever time her father could spare for her with complaints about his sister-in-law, who had been kind enough to come stay.

Sir Edward sat at his desk, slipped on a pair of spectacles, and fingered through the stack of correspondence from the day’s post. He grunted and tossed the letters back on the desk.

“What is it, Papa?”

He rubbed his chin. “It has been nearly a year…yet every night, I look through the post hoping to see something addressed in your mother’s hand.”

Sorrow wrapped its cold fingers around Julia’s throat. “I started writing a letter to her today, forgetting she is not just back home in Jamaica.”

“Are you sorry I asked you to return to England?”

“No…” And yes. She did not want her father to think her ungrateful for all he had done for her. “I miss home, but I am happy to have had this time with you—to see you and be able to talk with you daily.” Memories slipped in with the warmth of the Jamaica sun. “On Tuesdays and Fridays, when Jeremiah would leave Tierra Dulce and go into town for the post, as soon as I saw the wagon return, I would run down the road to meet him—praying for a letter from you.”

His worried expression eased. “You looked forward to my missives filled with nothing more than life aboard ship and the accomplishments of those under my command?”

“Yes. I loved feeling as if I were there with you, walking Indomitable’s decks once again.”

His sea-green eyes faded into nostalgia. “Ah, the good old Indy.” His gaze refocused and snapped to Julia. “That reminds me. An old friend made berth in Spithead yesterday. Captain William Ransome.”

Julia bit back sharp words. William Ransome—the man she’d sworn she’d never forgive. The man whose name she’d grown to despise from its frequent mention in her father’s letters. He had always reported on William Ransome’s triumphs and promotions, even after William disappointed all Julia’s hopes twelve years ago. He wrote of William as if William had been born to him, seeming to forget his own son, lost at sea.

Her stomach clenched at the idea of seeing William Ransome again. “He’s here, in Portsmouth?”

“Aye. But not for long. He came back at my request to receive new orders.”

“And where are you sending him, now that we’re at peace with France?” Please, Lord, let it be some distant port.

Sir Edward smiled. “His ship is to be in drydock several weeks. Once repairs are finished, he will make sail for Jamaica.”

Julia’s heart surged and then dropped. “Jamaica?” Home. She was ready to go back, to sink her bare toes into the hot sand on the beach, to see all her friends.

“Ransome will escort a supply convoy to Kingston. Then he will take on his new assignment: to hunt for pirates and privateers—and if the American war continues much longer, possibly for blockade-

runners trying to escape through the Gulf of Mexico. He’ll weigh anchor in five weeks, barring foul weather.”

Five weeks was no time at all. Julia relaxed a bit—but she started at the thump of a knock on the front door below.

“Ah, that must be him now.” Sir Edward glanced at his pocket watch. “Though he is half an hour early.”


“Aye. Did not I tell you? Captain Ransome is joining us for dinner.”

Friday, July 03, 2009

My very own lemonade stand :)

My good friend and writer buddy Diana Brandmeyer gave me the nod for this award for a great attitude and gratitude. How fun is that? Plus, I've always wanted my own lemonade stand and this one has no mess to clean up.

I'm passing the award along to my fave bloggers who also display attitude and gratitude.

Living Proof. This is Beth Moore's blog that she shares with her daughters. It's a wonderful mix of all the things that make up being a woman at all stages of our lives, from growing closer to God to diaper changes. I always come away with a great appreciation of how wonderfully God has made us women.

A couple of my favorite photography sites: Anna Carson and Hey Harriet have such beautiful and real pictures on their sites. I stop by for inspiration.

Colour Lovers is wonderful if you like (love!) color in all of its various permutations. Another stop for inspiration.

And of course, author Joshilyn Jackson's blog is my favorite stop for laughs. Seriously, don't drink anything while you're here or you'll baptize your computer screen.

So there are just a few of my favorites. I have a lot more that I read often. There are so many good blogs out there that I could easily spend all day in the blogosphere instead of the real world. And some days, that doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Guess what I just found?

Those of you who are more in the know about these things than I am have probably already discovered this, but I thought it was kinda cool.

I was messing around on and found their section on movie trailers. When I saw this:

It only happens to be one of my favorite books made into a movie and coming in August.

I have mixed feelings. Not that they will stop me from seeing this movie, but movies and books are different genres and sometimes good books make bad movies. And that's disappointing. But this trailer looks like it's captured the essence of the book. It'll be interesting to see.

Any books that you loved as a movie? Or hated?

Guess what I just found?