Congratulations to the winner of the Tea for Two giveaway: Sarah Thomas (entry 217). Congratulations, Sarah! And thank you to everyone for participating and making this so fun!
Welcome! Below you will find the form to enter the “Tea for Two giveaway” as well as an inside peek into the “Makings of a Hero”
I’m so glad you’re here!
Sometimes readers ask me if I had always intended to write a series.The answer is: no. Truly, I hadn’t. It wasn’t until I finished Be Still My Soul that the rest of the story came to me. When it comes to what happens in the sequel, Though My Heart is Torn, I was as surprised as you.
Overwhelmed by all that was suddenly at stake, I sat with the idea for a little while, uncertain of how to proceed. And then I began writing. Heartachingly, writing. Gideon had come so far from the scoundrel that he was in the beginning of Be Still My Soul, and knowing what loomed on the horizon for him, I didn’t know if I had the strength to write it. To write him. His heart, his words, his voice, his thoughts, his sins and his hopes. There was nothing about him that lived in fairy tales. There was no white horse. No prince charming. Yet to place him as the hero of this story…
It scared me like crazy.
Gideon. The hardest character I’ve ever written. I’ve sat down and stared at my manuscript and thought: How can a man be caught so fiercely between two worlds?
How can he yearn for his family, yearn for peace, but be pulled back into the world of his sin, not by current choice, but all because of a poor decision he made long ago.
Life happens that way sometimes.
So where is the hero? Where is the white horse? I’ll tell you this…there is no white horse. But there is a hero.
He’s there, but he’s struggling. He’s lost, and lonely and broken. He’s broken because he’s hurt others and he doesn’t know if he will ever get the chance to try and make it better. Oh, but he wants to. He wants to fight for what could be. That through a broken and contrite spirit, he clings to the hope that maybe–somehow–God will fill even him with the strength to see this through to a good end.
Blue Ridge Mountains, 1901
“I suppose…” Lonnie stopped when they were eye level. His green eyes were wide, wondering, and in an instant she remembered the man he had once been. A shiver crept across her shoulders but faded just as quick. Those days were gone. She plucked an apple. Then a second, her thoughts distant. “It just makes me happy. That’s all.”
Slowly, he added another apple to the bucket. A clear pain tugged his brows together. “It was that bad, wasn’t it?”
The regret she saw in his face put a stitch in her ever-mending heart.
Lonnie drew in a deep breath, knowing she could speak nothing but the truth, and her silence was truth enough. As the memories formed themselves anew, Lonnie pictured an unhappy young man standing at the front of the church, her unwanted hand inside his. If he could have wished her away, he would have. Hovering on the brink of a life of despair, she had made her marriage vows to the one man she despised most.
The man who had tried to steal her innocence one starry night.
His mouth was drawn, eyes sad as he watched her remember. Lonnie blinked quickly, shaking the icy memories from her heart. It was long ago. Her pa’s merciless grip on her life, further gone still.
The breeze tousled Gideon’s flannel shirt, pulling it tight across his shoulders. “It’s good to remember, I suppose.” He plucked an apple and held it in his broad hand, studying it. “It’s best not to forget what once was.” He smoothed his thumb over the dusky red skin. “It’s hard to think on it. Believe me, I’d rather not.” His voice was muted, chin to chest. “But”—he glanced up at Lonnie, his hair unruly in the morning dew—“forgetting seems unsafe.”
He gently lowered the apple into the pail and made no move to reach for another. He squinted at her. “If I forget…who I was. What I was.” He shook his head, throat working. “I just don’t want to get comfortable. Do you know what I mean?”
She kissed his forehead, inhaling his scent, and lingered when his eyes closed. “I do. And thank you.” Her fingers grazed his hair. “That means the world to me.”
Gideon’s lopsided grin warmed her. He took the bucket from her and gently tipped it; the apples rolled inside the empty wheelbarrow. He faced her. “You’re too good for me, Lonnie Sawyer.”
“It’s O’Riley now.” She laughed and climbed higher.
He winked at her. Peering up at her through branches, he spread his arms out wide, his familiar form silhouetted against a rising sun. “So I got all of this. A second chance. A wonderful wife. And a son.”
Lonnie put a hand up to shield her eyes.
“And what do you get?” His face was maddeningly serious.
Lonnie tugged another apple free. “You still don’t know, do you?” Before she could change her mind, Lonnie motioned him forward. Her bare feet lowered her down the rungs until she stood level with his tall frame.
His eyes widened, and the freckles sprinkled across his nose made him look more like a boy than a man of twenty-three. Placing one hand and then the other on his shoulders, she marveled at the solid flesh beneath his faded work shirt. “I’ll tell you, but only if you don’t tease me about it.”
“I promise,” he said in a throaty whisper. His Adam’s apple bobbed.
An unavoidable smile warmed her lips, and Lonnie delighted in the effect she had on him. “I got the only man I’ve ever loved. There was no one before you, and there will be no one after you. I could never ask for more. In fact”—she pressed fingertips to her chest, so full was her heart—“I think God was smiling down on me the day I married you.” She paused, remembering the rest of God’s grace.
Gideon smiled, joy flooding his face.
It was enough to fill Lonnie’s heart to overflowing.
With My Hope is Found (book 3) releasing this October, I want to give out a few more copies of the second book in the Cadence of Grace series! With the same group of characters growing and changing throughout, it’s one of those series that is best read in sequence, and I’d love nothing more than to give away a book to one winner and a friend! I’m calling it “Tea for Two” because we all have a girlfriend we love to talk books with and because tea makes everything more fun!
Included in the giveaway are two copies of Though My Heart is Torn, a tin of Scottish breakfast tea and two jumbo dark chocolate pecan turtles. To enter, simply use the form below. There are options for bonus entries, as well!