Dark Glass Ponderings

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. -1 Corinthians 13:12

I'm over here this week with a review of DiAnn Mills Pursuit of Justice:

The Suspense Zone

My review of Petra by T.L. Higley is over here today.  Loved this book!

Title Trakk

And here's my interview with Julie, in case you haven't read it yet:

Julie Lessman Interview at Title Trakk


Congrats on winning Julie Lessman's book!!  You are in for a reading treat!!

Thank you so much to all who stopped by.  I was so blessed by the comments and those who stopped by just to hear from Julie.  And blessed by the fact that Julie took the time to respond to EVERY comment.  This is not common in the author world...

I think it was Amanda that said reading Julie's words was like a devotional.

Be sure to stay tuned for October 4-8th week for a blog-related giveaway!

Interview with Julie Lessman, Plus Giveaway, Plus My Review of A Hope Undaunted!!! 

**Special thanks to Amy Riley of Winsome Media Communications and Revell Books for providing a copy to review as part of the tour.  The opinions expressed in the following review are entirely my own.**

Title: A Hope Undaunted
Series: Winds of Change #1
Author: Julie Lessman

My Rating: 5/5

My Review:  I think this may be my favorite Julie book to date!

Julie Lessman tackles what love means in a most profound way.  Through this book she encompasses passionate love, familial love, friendship love...each in a way that is so beautiful.  But in the end, Lessman emphasizes in this book that the greatest beauty is found in agape love and that through the Holy Spirit we can be filled with this love for others.  I loved how Lessman demonstrated agape love and total surrender to God's will.

The character development was excellent.  Katie, like Charity, wasn't an easy character to like in the beginning.  She is very self-centered and behaves like a spoiled child at times.  Yet as Katie matures and grows throughout the novel she becomes a young lady who is now chasing God's dreams instead of her own.

I also loved the way Lessman shows the effects of a tragedy in bringing the whole family together, in showing them what was truly important.  This part of the book left me misty-eyed and became an event that drummed out much of Katie's selfishness.  I'm reminded of God's refining process of myself during trials in my own life.

As a married woman in her thirties I LOVE that Lessman shows love in all its dimensions at different ages and stages.  Many books stop when the character walks down the aisle, but Julie Lessman's books show how love grows and deepens over time.

Lessman also deals with the consequences of past choices on our lives and relationships and underscores the importance of protecting our marriages.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel was the Boston Children's Aid Society and the children involved.  I hope to read more about the orphans in one of Julie's future novels.

On top of all this, soda shops, bobbed hair, and twenties slang make this a fun romp into an era not often portrayed in Christian fiction.  Towards the end of the novel, the devastating stock crash takes place.  I'm curious to see as the story continues on how the O'Connor family will be affected by this tragedy.

The only downside to this book is knowing I have to wait another year to read more about the O'Connors.

I'm thrilled to welcome Julie Lessman to Dark Glass Ponderings!!  Julie has kindly offered a copy of A Hope Undaunted OR one of her Daughters of Boston series to a reader...keep reading!!

Julie's Bio: Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of "Passion with a Purpose" underscores her intense passion for both God and romance.  Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writer's of America awards and was voted by readers as "Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction."  She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, and daughter-in-law and is the author of the Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied.    You can contact Julie through her website at http://www.julielessman.com/.

Interview with Julie Lessman

Julia: Thank you so much for being here, Julie.  I'm thrilled to have you visit.  First of all, I wanted to let you know I love the cover. The gold and blue are gorgeous and I just love those 20s clothes. How did you choose the era of WWI to the Roaring 20s for your novels? Any favorite things about that particular era?

Julie Lessman: Thank you, Julia. I love this cover, too--Revell did an awesome job, as usual.

As far as choosing the time period of WWI through the Roaring 20s and Great Depression, there was a definite method to my madness. As you may already know, I started writing A Passion Most Pure at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind and knew immediately I wanted an Irish family coping with a war (like GWTW), but didn't have the audacity to try another Civil War epic J. World War I seemed a good time period because it was 1) unique and seldom done, and 2) far enough from the Victorian era that it wouldn't restrict me romantically, but close enough to the Roaring Twenties that I could have a moral arena with a choice between being a good girl or bad girl.

To be honest with you, when I started writing A Passion Most Pure at the age of twelve and then finished it some 40 years later, I never really thought in terms of a continuing series, but as you know all too well, my characters are pretty stubborn and simply would not let me go, so I started book 2 A Passion Redeemed soon after. Which was a really good thing because my agent sold me in 3-book deal on A Passion Most Pure alone, and I had a leg up with the 2nd book newly completed. Then once the O'Connors were in place from book 1, each daughter's story just seemed to flow from one book to the next with little or no effort, taking me from 1916 to 1932.

And favorite things from that era? Oh, the clothing, of course--flapper dresses and long pearls in the 20s and more glamorous curvy, waist-fitted dresses for the 30s and Art Deco artwork, furniture and jewelry.

Julia: As you know my favorite couple is still Patrick and Marcy. Do you have any great marriage tips to share for us newer (and sort-of-newer) marrieds? Also, what tips could you give for those who are single?

Julie Lessman: Oh, wow, do I have a tip for you!! One I learned the hard way, but paid off like a slot machine. J Are you ready??? Here it is: Take your eyes OFF your husband and put them on you!! What do I mean by that??

It's simple. In marriage, it's not about him, it's about you--are you following God's precepts as far as being the wife He has called you to be? Are you criticizing your husband because he's not what you want him to be, trying to change him and not respecting him as God has called you to do? Because I have a news flash for you--you can't change your husband one whit (I mean, he's a man, come on now!), but you can change yourself. And frankly, that's all you need to be concerned about--pleasing God by becoming the wife, mother, woman, friend, neighbor, whatever, that He has called you to be.

Now I know that right now there are some of you out there reading this, thinking “this woman is nuts.” And, yeah, you're right, I am a lot of the time. But … not about this!! I have lived it, applied, and watched it take me from near-divorce to the most incredible marriage I have ever seen on this planet. When I tell you that my husband makes me feel like I'm living my own personal romance novel, I am not woofing you here!! BUT … it wasn't always that way. Application of God's precepts and obedience to HIM softened my husband's heart, softened mine and knit us together like nothing I have ever seen. Because God's Word works!

For instance, did you realize that when Eve sinned by tasting the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, Adam was sitting RIGHT beside her??? Yep, sat there like a bump on a log and abdicated his God-appointed responsibility as head of the garden, which is the moral equivalent of a mother letting her toddler drink Drano. Are you kidding me??? Adam shirked his responsibility, and Eve took the lead, and let me tell you, ladies, women have been trying to take the lead and control men ever since.

But because fiction explains it best for me, here's a scene from A Passion Denied where the three O'Connor sisters, Faith, Charity and Lizzie, are talking about what I mean.

Lizzie blew on her tea. “I know exactly what you mean. I'm not married to Brady, but he certainly tries to run my life as if I were.”

Faith sighed deeply, causing little Hope to shudder in her sleep. She gave her sisters a lop-sided smile. “I'm afraid they come by it naturally.”

“What do you mean, 'naturally'?” Charity huffed. “Unnaturally is more like it. It's not natural to be a bully.”

“That's exactly what I thought when Collin bullied me with the submission scripture the year before we were married.”

Charity's left brow cocked a full half inch. “Submission scripture? Come again?”

Faith drew in a deep breath, preparing for her sisters' reactions. “Ephesians 5:22--'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.'”

Lizzie's eyes widened, accentuating their violet hue. “What does that mean?”

“You mean do whatever they say, without a fight?” Charity's tone was a near-shriek, disrupting Henry's sleep. He grunted and groaned, finally settling down when Charity patted his back, none too gently.

Faith chuckled. “I can see you're not thrilled with this particular part of the Bible, so let me tell you what Mrs. Gerson told me.” She took a deep breath. “'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,' only let's replace 'submit' with 'respect.'”

Charity's eyes narrowed. “And when does this get good?”

“In the Bible, God often underscores the importance of something by order of appearance. For instance, notice that after Ephesians 5:22, comes Ephesians 5:25--'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.' So, if you boil these two scriptures down in order of appearance, here's what you have:

Wives, respect your husbands.

Husbands, love your wives.

Mrs. Gerson believes this is cause and effect. When a woman respects her husband, it automatically increases the husband's love for his wife. God addresses the women first because Eve was the one who sinned first, taking control away from Adam and robbing him of his authority and self-respect. If a wife respects her husband, then her respect restores his rightful authority and elevates him to be the man God intended him to be. When that happens, he feels good about himself, and the 'effect' is his love grows for the woman who made him feel that way.”

Charity squinted. “So, let me get this straight. Mitch will love me more if I submit--”

“Respect,” Faith corrected.

“Respect him more?”

Faith nodded. “It's a cause and effect like Mrs. Gerson says. God knew that what women want more than anything is to be cherished by the man they love.” Faith's lips curled into a thin smile. “Nobody's proven that more than you, Charity. And that's why Lizzie and other women have been reading romance novels for years. Yet men seldom do. Why? Because what a man needs most is to be 'respected' by the woman he loves. Bottom line? Women crave love and men crave respect. And in Ephesians 5:22-25, God gives us the perfect solution.”

Charity rubbed her head. “Goodness, that hurts just thinking about it.”

Faith took a sip of tea. “It does, doesn't it?”

Yeah, it hurts … but NOT as much as NOT applying God's precepts to your marriage!!

As far as tips I would give singles??? I can only tell them what I did as a single woman who didn't marry until I was 28 and quite frankly, never thought it would happen for me. I prayed my heart out for a man who would love God more than he would love me … but … there's a catch. It's called Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Which means, girls, that God must become your passion, your best friend, your comforter, your supporter, your confidence and as near and as vital as the breath in your lungs. Because when that happens, your desires become one with His, and He gladly gives them to you. And how do you do this, fall in love with God as passionately as you would with a man you love?? You pray DAILY, HOURLY for passion and fervor for Him, reading His Word, seeking His face in worship and prayer, and not just in Church on Sundays, but every minute of every day. Then sit back and watch while the blessings flow from a Father in love. 

Julia: Will you share with us how you got started in writing romance? (As a former "book snob" I just have to ask this one, Julie ;)

Julie Lessman: I owe it all to Margaret Mitchell, the woman I'd like to personally thank for writing Gone With the Wind, the novel that inspired me to be a romance writer at the age of twelve, even though I shirked the calling for many years because I was too blind to see what God had called me to do. Why? Because I was a romance snob--one of those professional women who wouldn't be caught dead reading a romance novel because I didn't consider it “serious” reading. And then nine years ago, God set me free from my bias when He dropped the bomb on me that the actual desire of my heart was to write romance for Him. What a shocker! Now I wouldn't be caught dead without a romance novel in my purse or powder room at ALL times! How's that for being “transformed by the renewing of your mind”??? 

Julia: Do you have any writing rituals?

Julie Lessman: Ah, rituals. Is the sky blue??? I'm quirky and crazy and just a wee bit off center, so I have a number of rituals with my writing such as the essentials--a constant cup of hazelnut decaf with Half 'n Half, lots of lip gloss, Kleenex (for the soggy scenes I write), and a mirror handy for those facial expressions I'm trying to capture on paper.

My biggest ritual, however, is ambiance. My family jokes that I am an “Ambiance Queen” because dim lighting with candles during dinner is a must, as well as a mainstay for my writing. During the summer months (basically May through October), I sit outside on my lower deck that runs the length of the house, overlooking a lush, green wooded area that has sunlight dappling through the trees. I have my feet up on this cushy lawn furniture we have at all times (like now!), and a fan gently blowing while I sit with my laptop on my ... where else? Lap!!

In the winter when I'm not in the hearth room with a crackling fire, I write in a tiny computer room that my artist husband and I share. It has a big window that lets in gobs of light and lots of fun distractions like chipmunks and deer. It's a pretty small room, though, so most of the time, we are back to back, which is kind of nice because I like to lean back and kiss him after I put lip gloss on, which is OFTEN! That would definitely qualify as one of my quirks--lipstick and lip gloss. I wear it everywhere, even to bed (the lip gloss, I mean). Also, I always have a candle lit next to a favorite picture of my husband and me before we were married. How's that for romantic inspiration? J It sure works for me!

Julia: Do you have a favorite character from your books (or is that a bit like asking whether you have a favorite child)?

Julie Lessman: Grin … yeah, it is a bit like that because I do love ALL of my characters, but there are ones that are easier to write because I connect with them more. For instance, Faith is my spiritual self, so every single spiritual conversation or habit you see her do in the books are taken straight from how I live my life, right down to the anger at God on the ship in A Passion Most Pure. Faith felt like He had boxed her in and ruined her for the world because she had tasted His love and could never go back. That's EXACTLY how I felt at times when I was a single woman, so Faith comes by it honestly!

But as far as favorites, this is going to shock some people, I know, but Charity O'Connor is right up there. Don't get me wrong, I love Faith O'Connor, the heroine from book 1, A Passion Most Pure, but in all honesty, she is more like the woman I am today--heavily dependant on God, emotionally involved with Him and a person who prays at the drop of a hat, so I almost feel one with her. But Charity--goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be--selfish, manipulative, lost. I think that's why she fascinates me so much, because I look at her (and women like her) in the same way I suspect God looked at me back then--with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ Jesus. And quite frankly, I think she is just downright funny and quirky and such a hoot that she makes me laugh, ESPECIALLY in the upcoming book, A Heart Revealed. I literally laugh out loud almost every time that woman is on the page--even in the serious scenes!!

As far as my favorite hero??? Oh, don't get me started because they are all hunks in my opinion, with Mitch and Luke neck-in-neck at the top of the list.

Julia: Do you have a favorite Biblical character?

Julie Lessman: Oh, GREAT question, Julia, and YES, I do!! Three cheers for King David--a man of God who gives fallible people like me great hope. I have had more than my fair share of failures and shortcomings in my life, and it thrills me to no end that God loves me and forgives me despite them all, and it's King David that taught me that very valuable lesson.

You see, David was a man who loved God with such abandon that he didn't give a rip if he made a fool of himself doing it. King David had an emotional relationship with God that was as deep as any father-son relationship I know. He worshipped God with everything in him and loved Him deeply, and was always grief-stricken when he sinned against Him. That's what I want to be like--a real, down-to-earth, feet-of-clay woman who loves God with every fiber of my being and every word that I write. Like King David, a wo”man” after God's own heart--oh, God, let it be so!

Julia: What's coming up next for Julie fans?

Julie Lessman: You mean my “reader friends”? This may sound silly, but I'm not crazy about the word “fan” because to me it implies that one person is above the other, which is SO not how it is. We are all equal in God's eyes--just insecure human beings looking for a little kindness in life and someone who will love us and accept us with the love of Jesus. BUT … I digress.

As far as what I plan to write next, I'm hoping to write a prequel about Marcy and Patrick O'Connor before they were married as well as a new trilogy entitled “The Cousins McClare,” a poor-man, rich-man scenario among three cousins amid the Irish-political landscape of 1920s San Francisco, prohibition and the Barbary Coast. Think Little Women meets Dynasty.” And for those of you too young to remember the TV show Dynasty, think family wealth and poverty in a political setting.

To please my husband (who wants me to write for the market), the next series will be a lot shorter (yeah, good luck with that!) and less complicated, God willing!! Which means the books will be about 400 pages rather than 500, and the plots will be two tier instead of 3- and 4-tier (i.e. less subplots than A Passion Denied and the “Winds of Change” series). There will be the story between the hero and heroine, of course, but also a second-tier love story between the older couple in the series, a godly widowed matriarch who butts heads with an ungodly brother-in-law with whom she used to be in love and who owns a vineyard during prohibition. And, of course, there will be LOTS of romantic tension between both couples. 

Julia: Lastly, if we beg...will you give us readers a "snippet" that will whet our appetites to read A Hope Undaunted?

Julie Lessman: Grin … you don't know me very well because no “begging” need be involved.  Since romantic scenes are among my favorites, I will give you one that has all the elements I like in a love scene--tenderness, passion, humor. In this scene, our hero Luke McGee has just learned that the feisty 8-year-old street orphan tomboy he's been trying to find a foster home for is being shipped out on an orphan train against her will (and Luke's). Our heroine Katie O'Connor, who works with him, interrupts his malaise.

She hesitated. “Are you sure you don't need anything before I go? You look … tense.”

Tense? Because two people he loved were leaving his life forever? He blew out a sigh of frustration and wheeled in his chair to stare out the window. “No, Katie, go home. I'm just down about Gabe, that's all. Go on, get out of here and have fun this weekend.”

Go home to Jack, Katie Rose.

His stomach tightened at the sudden click of her heels, and shock expanded his eyes when she perched herself on the edge of his window. She crossed silky legs and leaned forward, palms flat on the sill and blue eyes sparkling with excitement. Her mouth twitched with a smile, as if a secret hovered behind those full, sensuous lips, and the tease of her proximity triggered his pulse till he thought he couldn't breathe. A gentle breeze from the window rustled her silk dress, and the scent of roses drifted in the air, warming his blood. “What's on your mind, Katie?” he asked, heat crawling up his neck at the realization of what was on his.

“The same thing that's on yours, apparently,” she said with a mysterious smile. “Gabe.”

His pulse slowed. “Gabe? What about her?”

Katie bit her lip and then grinned outright. “I have a foster family for her.”

He sat up straight in the chair, fingers gripped white on the arm. “W-what? W-where?” His words tripped over his tongue, moving faster than the hammering of his heart.

Her laughter floated in the air like the sound of hope. “A wonderful family, really--large, well-to-do, and so full of love that Gabe will think she died and went to heaven.”

He couldn't help it--tears stung his eyes. “Who?” he whispered.

Her gaze was tender as she studied him, the wetness in her eyes matching his own. “The O'Connors of Boston,” she said softly, then put a hand to her chest and blinked back her tears. “Goodness, you think she'll mind sharing a room?”

He stared, disbelief stealing the air from his lungs. And then in a jolt of comprehension, it whooshed back in, flooding his body with such joy and emotion, he thought he would faint. In one frantic clip of his heart, he swallowed Katie up in his arms and squeezed as if he would never let go, his deep laughter rumbling against her hair. “Woman, I could just kiss you,” he shouted, and then all at once his breathing stilled as he set her back down, suddenly aware of her body pressed against his, the burn of his hand on the small of her back.

Their gazes met, and heat traveled his bloodstream like alcohol, drowning all inhibition he may have felt. He saw the vulnerability in those wide blue eyes, heard the tremulous breathing drifting from those soft, parted lips, and all reason fled from his brain, disarming all good intent. In slow and careful motion, his hands cupped the sides of her face like a caress, eyes fixed on her mouth before shifting to lose himself in her eyes. He feathered her lips with the pad of his thumb. “Thank you, Katie Rose,” he whispered, “for giving me so much joy.”

He wanted to fight it, knew it should only be a kiss on the cheek, but his body seemed drugged with her. His eyelids weighted closed as he moved near like a man in a trance, compelled to graze his lips against hers. Upon touch, their shallow breathing became one as he nuzzled her mouth with his own. And then, in a ragged beat of his heart, she melted into him with a familiarity that destroyed all restraint. He clutched her body to his, deepening the kiss that just cost him a promise he'd made. “God help me, Katie, I want you--”

Somewhere in the recesses of their minds they heard it, that gruff clearing of a throat that seemed so very far away. And then harsh reality struck, and Katie jerked violently from his arms as if he had thrust her away.

“I knocked, but I guess you didn't hear it.” Parker stood with arms crossed in the open door, voice rock hard and jaw even worse.

An unnatural shade of red bled up Katie's neck and face like a thermometer registering a fever of a 105. “P-Parker … Mr. Riley … it's not what it seems. L-luke was just thanking me …”

The hard line of Parker's mouth twisted as his eyes shifted to Luke with a penetrating look. “A simple 'thank you' wouldn't have been enough?”

Julia: Thanks so much, Julie!! Its been such a joy to have you on Dark Glass Ponderings.

For more about Julie be sure to visit: http://www.julielessman.com/.  Julie also has a journal blog I've been blessed by Julie's Journal Jots.  She is also a regular blogger on Seekerville, a must-stop for aspiring writers.

For a chance to win A Hope Undaunted OR one of the Daughters of Boston series, please write an encouraging comment for Julie.  This is open 9/24-9/25 ONLY.  Even if you already have her books, maybe you could send a little encouragement her way today.  Please include your email address in this format:

my email(at)wherever(dot)com

(Keep in mind my comments are located ABOVE the posts).

A Hope Undaunted Facebook Party
A Hope Undaunted Facebook Party

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 (September 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Groupfor sending me a review copy.***


Rachel Olsen is a writer, editor, and speaker on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of their online devotions, “Encouragement for Today,” with a readership of more than 375,000. She also writes for and serves on the editorial board of the P31 Woman magazine. Olsen is a national women’s speaker who enjoys interacting with audiences at women’s retreats and conferences from coast to coast.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765377
ISBN-13: 978-1434765376


Always RSVP

Revealing the Secret to Responding to God

Everyone has a story. Everyone chooses to ignore God, (re)define God, or search for God and respond to Him as He truly is. I’ve done all three.

When I was growing up, my family attended church in a brown brick building with stained-glass windows and bright red carpet. The sanctuary smelled faintly of wood. I’m surprised I remember the smell; we weren’t there often—a few times a year.

I don’t remember much about going to church other than feel­ing embarrassed by my mother’s singing. We rarely went, but each time we did Mom sat us front and center, and then she sang as loudly as she could. She sang with passion, but she couldn’t carry a tune with a U-Haul. Being from the South I’m required to follow that criticism with “bless her heart.” (So let it be noted here that I blessed my momma’s can’t-sing-a-lick heart.)26 It’s No Secret

I listened to the pastor’s sermons, but I didn’t understand much about the subject matter. From what I could gather, God was good and He didn’t do bad things. So I concluded that if I wanted God to like me I, too, needed to be good and not do anything bad. Being a proper Southern girl, I very much wanted God to like me.

I thought believing in God and trying to do the right thing was what church was all about. I didn’t realize that—because Jesus lived, died, and rose—I could have a dynamic relationship with the God of the universe and He would delight in empowering me to live well. Instead, I assumed it took willpower. Like a diet or a marathon.

Glimpses of Revelation

When I was twelve, my mother called me into her room and patted the edge of the bed. I sat down beside her. With an unsettled look on her face, she revealed she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. The room started to spin, splintering my carefree world within its centrifugal force.

She explained something about cells and masts. Then she braced me for the likelihood that the treatments would cause her hair to fall out. That did it. I ran from the room crying inconsolably. My momma, sick, without her pretty auburn hair? It was too much for a tweenager to take in. I might have been only twelve at the time, but I understood the importance of big hair to Southern women.

During the months of cancer treatments that followed we went to church more often. About this time our church employed a new minister, and I really liked him. I understood more of his sermons, perhaps because I was desperate, or maybe because I was growing Always RSVP 27

up. All I know is I sensed something stirring in a dormant chamber of my heart.

I asked Mom to buy me a Bible; she did. I sat on the floor one Saturday, sunlight streaming through my window, and read through Genesis. (OK, I might have skimmed a little bit.) Then I skipped to the middle—because I’d never read a book this long—and read through Matthew, Mark, and part of Luke. Then I skipped to Revelation to find out how the book ended.

I don’t know if you’ve spent much time in Revelation, but it isn’t exactly light reading material. Challenging concepts make it difficult to grasp, especially for a clueless tween with no decoder ring. I closed the book, remembering the stories about Jesus. He lived doing good, which reconfirmed my notion that I had to be good and do good to make heaven’s invitation list. I’d finally made a Jesus-sighting, but I was still missing His point. I didn’t hear His message of mercy.

I set out to be and do good. I unloaded the dishwasher without being asked. I invited less-popular kids to sit at my lunch table. I even said “yes ma’am,” and “no sir” to my teachers. But inevitably something would happen to throw me off my good game. Someone would insult me, something would depress me, or some boy would pass a note my way.

After a year or so of mastectomy recovery and radiation treat­ments, my mother’s cancer went into remission. Things returned to normal around our home. Sadly, the preacher I liked so well left to pastor another church, and my interest in the things of God faded as my interest in the things of my peers grew. I didn’t give God much thought during my high school years, preferring to focus on fashion, sports, boys, and music.28 It’s No Secret

Halfway through my freshman year of college, my brother called to tell me Mom had again been diagnosed with cancer. This time, it was a brain tumor. His words sank into my own brain, creating a mass of stress and fret.

One night, I lay alone in my dorm room trying to sleep when I thought I saw Jesus standing in the corner. He didn’t say anything; He just looked at me, His arms extended toward me. He looked just as He did in the statues you see in old churches—long brown hair and white flowing robe. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or hallucinat­ing, but I decided it meant that my mom was going to be OK.

Turned out, the tumor was inoperable. The doctors resorted to chemotherapy and radiation, but I could tell they didn’t think it’d work. I spent my spring semester driving the two hours back and forth between college and home. By exam week I was sick with a sinus infec­tion, probably stress-induced. I’d take an exam, drag myself back to my room and sleep, then stagger—coughing and sniffling—to the next test. At the end of the week, I lugged myself home.

Hope Deferred

That Sunday, Mother’s Day, I visited Mom at the cancer center, determined to keep a smile on my face and do my best to cheer her up. I didn’t want her worrying about me. I purchased a sweet card and wrote, “Thank you for being my mom.” When I arrived, the nurse told me I couldn’t enter her room because I was sick.

I still remember the sterile feeling of the cold, hard floor in the hall outside her room, where I sat and cried. But it’s Mother’s Day, my mind protested between sobs, but she’s dying anyway…. Even today, the memory stings my eyes with tears.Always RSVP 29

A few days later I was better, but Mom had worsened. She came home from the cancer center with hospice care. A couple days after that, she couldn’t respond to me beyond raising her eyebrows at the sound of my voice. Panic set in as I realized I was losing contact. She was sliding away, and I was powerless to stop the inevitable.

Later that evening, my dad and I went out to grab dinner, leav­ing Mom under my grandmother’s watch. As we returned, I spotted a police car parked out front—and I knew. I ran to the bedroom to find my beautiful, vibrant mom lying lifeless.

She was gone. I was seventeen.

That night my life passed before me. Not my history with my mom, but my future without her. Where my prospects once looked promisingly bright, I now saw a haze of uncertainty.

I cried on the shoulder of a family friend. Gasping for breath and wiping away tears, I questioned, “What will I do when it comes time to graduate and my mom isn’t there to pin on my cap and clap? Or when I set out on my own and I don’t have my mom to advise me? What happens when I get married, and have babies, and I don’t have a mom to help me?”

Placing her hands on my trembling shoulders, she stared into my moist eyes. “When those times come, Rachel, God will make sure you are taken care of.” She spoke the words with enough cer­tainty that I resolved to believe her.

Filing that promise away in my heart, I held on to the hope that God would somehow become a mother to me. I had nothing else to cling to. My dad and brothers argued over Mom’s will, then went their separate ways. I didn’t just lose my mom; I lost my whole family that May.30 It’s No Secret

Coming Undone

In the fall I headed back to college, where I majored in journalism. I spent weekends trying to drown my sorrows at fraternity parties. I recall stumbling home one evening and walking into my closet, where I caught sight of one of my mom’s sweaters. My knees buckled beneath me as heavy sobs ensued. I realized the party life wasn’t fixing anything; it was an insufficient distraction. But I didn’t know how else to find relief.

My junior year I met a corduroy-clad young professor with uncommon wisdom and peace. He taught two of my classes, sched­uled back-to-back. As the weather turned cool and leaves crunched underfoot, we’d walk across campus together from one class to the other. I learned he was a Christian. He felt like a safe place. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt that way around anybody.

I found myself telling him about my mom, my fractured family, and my uneasiness about the future. I asked him questions about his faith. He answered convincingly, and when the semester ended, he invited me to his church.

Inside that prefab metal building I witnessed vibrancy. Those people possessed hope, joy, and peace, all of which I coveted. I learned about Jesus and how His shed blood washes away my sin and unites me with God—even though I don’t deserve such kindness.

I discovered God doesn’t just want me to be good, He wants me to be in Him—hand in hand, heart to heart. I realized it isn’t just a matter of willpower and proper performance He’s after, but a grow­ing relationship through which He’ll shoulder most of the burden to make me vibrant. Yahweh so desires that I bear His image, I learned, He will transform me into His likeness through His Spirit. He can Always RSVP 31

make the most tarnished Southern belle glorious. In fact, in Him my purpose is found and fulfilled. In coming to Him I’d become a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a bride. All in Him, and all to Him.

After attending church two Sundays, I responded to this divine truth. I walked to the front, acknowledged my need for Jesus, and handed Him the jumbled mess of my broken heart. I asked Him to forgive me, clear the haze, and untangle my knotted-up hopes and dreams.

Inside a priceless decoder ring, God inscribed my initials with an eternal beam of light. In the instant I responded to Christ’s call, I became a beloved daughter of the Most High God and a member of His Yahweh Sisterhood.

The Favor of a Reply Is Requested

You and I need a jeweler’s loupe of sorts to see the secrets Yahweh wants to reveal to us—indeed to see Yahweh Himself. Our basic eye­sight needs some spiritual amplification. We need a divine ointment to anoint our eyes for the task.

Remember that Greek word musterion, meaning a sacred secret revealed by God? Its root word is muo, which means locked up or shut, as in eyes that are closed. In Revelation 3:17–18 Jesus told the people of the church at Laodicea that, although they didn’t realize it, they were spiritually blind. Their eyes were locked shut and could not see God. They were neither seeing nor responding. Jesus counseled them, “Buy from me … salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (v. 18 ESV). Jesus affords us the ability to see, hear, understand, and respond to God. Only Jesus can provide that divine salve we need.32 It’s No Secret

In Matthew 5, we find Jesus perched on the side of a moun­tain near the ancient city of Capernaum to preach. Massive crowds gathered to watch and hear what He had to say. Some in the crowd followed Jesus; they had already opened themselves to His teach­ing. Others desperately sought a miracle or healing. A few counted themselves Jesus’ enemies. Others showed up out of curiosity. They’d heard the rumors and came to decide for themselves if Jesus was a fake, a prophet, or a Savior.

Jesus gazed across the mountainside at the congregation of people. Many eyed Him skeptically, wondering if they would see something that proved a connection to God. He told them, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8 NIV). A pure heart; an authentic heart; a humble, believing heart open to Jesus’ teaching—that’s the currency that buys the salve to allow our eyes to see God. That’s what enables us to respond to God. Lacking it, many heard Jesus’ words without understanding Him or watched His moves without realizing they were staring into the face of Yahweh.

God’s gals understand that only Jesus can open the eyes of a woman’s heart, cleansing them pure enough to see and respond to Yahweh. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Did you catch the secret Jesus reveals here? He said He’s the only way to God, the full embodiment of truth, and the only source of vibrant, lasting life. Jesus is the way we want to go, the truth we need to know, and the eternal life that we crave. You just can’t get to God without going through Jesus. Jesus is our way to God, and God’s way to us.

Jesus is who God wants us to respond to.Always RSVP 33

All religions do not lead to heaven, despite popular opin­ion (John 3:3). God is wise beyond wise and has a purpose for everything He does, and He designed salvation in such a way that believing in God is not sufficient. We must also believe in His Son, who ushers us to Yahweh and shows us how to live His way.

So our membership in the Yahweh Sisterhood—our becoming a daughter of God—happens at Christ’s invitation to follow Him. You cannot buy, earn, or bluff your way in. You must be invited—and you have been. God’s own hand addressed your invitation some two thousand years ago, at the desk of the cross, on the parchment of Christ’s body, in the ink of His blood.

Have you RSVP’d?

A year of high school French enables me to inform you RSVP stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît.” It means “please respond” … don’t put it off … don’t wait and see … say you’ll join me!

If you’ve never responded to Jesus’ invitation to come to God through Him, now is the time. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t put it off until you get your act together—RSVP right now through prayer. Receive the gift of forgiveness offered through Jesus, and ask God to take charge of your life and future. Receive your divine decoder ring. Tomorrow may be too late. Be Jesus’ guest today.

Guest List

In Jesus’ day, a person throwing a soiree sent out servants to issue invitations to the guests and gather their responses. Invitations noted the day of the gathering but not the hour. The hour depended on when everything was ready. 34 It’s No Secret

Once everything was ready on party day, servants again went out to call in the guests. Those who’d said they’d come were expected to be dressed, ready, and waiting that day. When the ser­vant knocked on their door, they were to head immediately for the banquet room.

This scenario mirrors what happens in the spiritual realm. God sent His Son and Servant Jesus to issue our invitation on the cross. Those who accept are born anew spiritually—then expected and empowered to live in such a way that they are ready for the day Jesus will return, calling us to God’s heavenly banqueting table.

Though we don’t know the day or the hour, we will be ushered to a great wedding feast, the marriage banquet for Jesus and His bride. Jesus’ bride is the church, meaning you and me—all who have RSVP’d to His invitation.

I read about this feast in the book of Revelation that day in my room. What I couldn’t grasp fully back then now sets my heart aflutter in a way that nothing else can. I am loved, chosen, adopted, prepared, and betrothed—to the King of Glory. You are too! The wildest thing about this Yahweh Sisterhood? We’re all engaged to the same Man—Jesus—yet no one seems to mind.

You and I must RSVP and ready ourselves for our heavenly wed­ding day. The rest of the divine secrets in this book will purify and prepare us to take our Groom’s hand as He replaces our decoder ring with a wedding band. I don’t want to miss it. Nor do I want to get there and find myself underdressed and unprepared.

Understanding and responding to the twelve divine secrets that follow—internalizing and enacting them—will keep us dressed Always RSVP 35

and ready for the future party. While simply responding to the cross secures our seat at the grand banqueting table, keeping these secrets assures us that our heavenly Groom will look on us with utter delight.

My fellow belles, have you saved the date? Because a wedding feast looms on the celestial calendar. It’s part of your story. And savvy Yahweh Sisters are always dressed and ready for a party!

A Garden Wedding

Twenty days after I graduated college, I had my own wedding feast. I married that young professor, Southern style, in a garden surrounded by azalea bushes in full bloom, three-hundred-year-old oaks drip­ping with Spanish moss, and swans swimming on the lake behind. It was gorgeous.

God not only adopted this lonely girl into His heavenly family, He placed me into Rick’s earthly family. He presented me with three sisters-in-law and countless Sisters-in-Christ. I learned the truthful relevance of Psalm 68; it became the story of my life:

Sing praises to God and to his name!Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.His name is the LORD—rejoice in his presence!

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

God places the lonely in families;he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. (Ps. 68:4–6) 36 It’s No Secret

He’s a Father to the fatherless, and I can testify He’s a mother to the motherless as well. God has guided me, protected me, com­forted me, taught me, and provided for me. He also untangled my hopes and fears and brought me the joyful desires of my heart.

So now you’ll find me in church each week, singing praises to Yahweh and His great name. Oh, and I sing rather quietly when I praise Him in public. It’s not that I’m not extremely thankful—I am. It’s not that I don’t like to sing—I do. And it has nothing to do with embarrassing memories from my church past in that brown brick building with the red carpet.

Truth is, I sing every stinkin’ bit as off-key as my momma did.

Shhh, don’t tell anyone. Sisters stick together, right?

But you can go ahead and bless my heart over that vocal deficit. I need all the help I can get.


1. Check out this parable Jesus told about a man throwing a feast:

A man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”

Jesus replied with this illustration: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When all was ready, Always RSVP 37

he sent his servant around to notify the guests that it was time for them to come. But they all began making excuses. One said he had just bought a field and wanted to inspect it, so he asked to be excused. Another said he had just bought five pair of oxen and wanted to try them out. Another had just been married, so he said he couldn’t come.

“The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was angry and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the city and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.’ After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I invited first will get even the smallest taste of what I had prepared for them.’” (Luke 14:15–24)

What struck you when the people in Jesus’ story made excuses for not being prepared to attend? List the things that preoccupied them.38 It’s No Secret

What excuses do you make for not responding to Christ, or not living “dressed and ready”?

2. Read about the coming wedding feast in Revelation 19:6–10. What does it say about the bride (you) and her wedding dress?

3. Next time you throw a bash at your plantation, Jesus offers this advice for planning the guest list:

Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (Luke 14:12–14)

That’s precisely what God did when He created the Yahweh Sisterhood. He sent out invitations welcoming every one of us to His supper club. The glass slipper fits each gal here. Everyone gets the rose. The King of Glory doesn’t require Always RSVP 39

designer gowns or shiny black limos for us to dine with Him. What a relief!

In the space below, write a thank-you note to your King.

Dear Jesus,


My rating: 3.5/5

My Review:

I have read books by Lysa TerKeurst and subscribed to the Proverbs 31 devotional, so when this book by a P31 speaker came up for FIRST I signed up. I also had the opportunity to hear Rachel speak in my hometown just last weekend.

I enjoyed this book, it was a fun read. That being said, I didn’t find the secrets shared to be profound. However, I definitely did find areas the Lord showed me for further application. My favorite sections were on humility and sacrifice. And I believe perfection is something most women struggle with and I definitely fall into that category.

Throughout the book, Olsen used The Message version of the Bible. I don’t believe The Message to be an accurate translation at all, so at times this made me feel that the truth was being watered-down.

I most profited from the Bible study section. I found by going through the Scriptures on my own I found some “nuggets” of divine truth to apply in my own life. I don’t regret reading this book because I do feel that the Lord showed me things in my own heart, but I prefer my studies a bit more “meaty.”

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? -Mark 8:36

I'm not sure how to put into words the last week. This morning the hubby insisted I should take the kids somewhere fun.  We headed to a bounce house.  

I see a bunch of moms and a few grandmas and one dad.  Moms dressed in their Gap and Banana Republic jeans watching their kids jump on inflatables that I'm sure cost more than some houses in our city.  

This week I've traveled through pictures to places I would not dare to drive through in the middle of the night.  I've learned about weapons I had no idea existed and felt my breathing catch as I listened to transcripts of text messages.  

I've prayed hundreds of silent prayers , prayers sometimes only the Holy Spirit could utter for me.  

The judges bench reading the words "In God We Trust."  Although we have strayed so far, yet it gives my wandering mind peace....amidst the broken shattered glass, amidst the torn ligaments and pieces of bone, amidst the array of faces mired in memory.

Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die.
-Martin Luther

This week has been a bit different than business as usual. I'm writing this from a jury break room where I've been spending my "business" days with 13 other individuals.

I am one of those people who likes things relatively the same from day-to-day. I enjoy the routine of homeschooling, taking care of housework, spending time with family, and little bits of time in quiet pursuits such as reading and writing.

Even at home our routine has been somewhat different. This week it involves food such as chicken nuggets and frozen pizza before we succumb to the one part of the routine we are determined to keep: our children's bedtime routine. Bath, Bible, stories.

Last night our reading in Matthew contained the passage in which Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane. I began thinking of Jesus' friends. His friends who couldn't even stay awake one hour to watch and pray with him.

It struck me how much Jesus desired this human companionship in this most terrifying time. How we need to know we are not alone. How God asks us to show others they are not alone, when they are struggling, when they are suffering.

It struck me how often He just wants our presence. To just allow Him to be with us in our day. To allow Him to be our friend.

Then it struck me that even though his best friends abandoned him, it did not affect Jesus' love for them one bit. I thought about my own life. How is my own love tank pouring out? Do I let my love for others be influenced by their actions towards me? Sometimes, indeed,yes I do.

Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.

—Proverbs 10:12

When I think of my offenses that Christ has covered by His precious blood, I pray for the grace to cover up the offenses of others.

On the reading front, I've been reading A Hope Undaunted, but I find I have little concentration for books right now.  Instead I've been meditating on short passages from the Bible and playing praise music. 

I hope everyone's week is going well.  Let's remember that God has planned all our "disruptions", as we view them and oftentimes intends to use them for us to learn to love others in the way he desires.

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:

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


BJ Hoff’s bestselling historical novels continue to cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture to capture a worldwide reading audience. Her books include Song of Erin and American Anthem and such popular series as The Riverhaven Years, The Mountain Song Legacy, and The Emerald Ballad. Hoff’s stories, although set in the past, are always relevant to the present. Whether her characters move about in small country towns or metropolitan areas, reside in Amish settlements or in coal company houses, she creates communities where people can form relationships, raise families, pursue their faith, and experience the mountains and valleys of life. BJ and her husband make their home in Ohio.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927891
ISBN-13: 978-0736927895


Friends Old and New

Youth must with time decay…
Beauty must fade away…
Castles are sacked in war…
Chieftains are scattered far…
Truth is a fixed star….

From “Aileen Aroon” GERALD GRIFFIN (1803–1840)

New York City
August 1847

It was a fine summer evening in the city, the kind of sweet, soft evening that made the young delight in their youth and the elderly content with their lot.

On this evening Daniel Kavanagh and Tierney Burke were indulging in one of their favorite pastimes—stuffing themselves with pastries from Krueger’s bakery as they lounged against the glass front of the building. As usual, Tierney was buying. Daniel as yet had no job and no money. But Tierney, with a week’s pay in his pocket from his job at the hotel and a month’s wages due from his part-time job at Patrick Walsh’s estate, declared he felt rotten with money and eager to enjoy it.

It had been a good day, Daniel decided as he polished off his last sugar kucken. His mother was visiting, as she did every other Saturday, delivered as always by one of the Farmington carriages. Every Saturday without fail, a carriage either brought her to the Burkes’, or came to collect Daniel for a visit at the Farmington mansion uptown, where his mother worked.

In truth, Daniel thought he preferred the Saturdays he spent at the Farmingtons’, for then he could visit with his friend, Evan Whittaker, and the Fitzgerald children, as well as his mother. He enjoyed his temporary living arrangement with Uncle Mike and Tierney, but often he found himself missing the daily contact with his mother and the Fitzgeralds—especially Katie.

The thought of Katie brought a smile to his face and a sting of worry to his mind. Katie was both his friend and his sweetheart; they would marry when they were of age—that had been decided long ago.

So committed to their future plans was he that Daniel paid little heed to Tierney’s relentless teasing about his “lassie.” The fact was that Katie Fitzgerald had been his girl from the time they were wee wanes back in the village, and he did not mind who knew it. But Katie had ever been frail, and the famine and the long, horrific ship crossing had taken a fierce toll on her.

Daniel could not help but fret about her health. He would have thought the good, plentiful food and proper medical attention she was receiving at the Farmingtons’ would be enough to have her feeling fit by now. Instead, she scarcely seemed improved at all.

Still, as his mother had reminded him just today, three months was not really so long a time—not with all the troubles Katie had been through. “You must be patient, Daniel John,” she had cautioned him. “You must be patient and faithful with your prayers.”

He was trying to be both, but it was hard, all the same, not to worry.

Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, Daniel turned his attention to Pearl Street. Although darkness was gathering, most of the neighborhood seemed to be in no hurry to return to their cramped living quarters. The sultry August atmosphere carried the sounds of children playing, mothers scolding, dogs barking, and men arguing. Most of the voices were thick with Irish brogue, although German and an occasional stream of Italian could also be heard.

Almost as thick as the cacophony of immigrant voices were the odors that mingled on the night air. The ever-present stench of piled-up garbage in the streets had grown worse with the recent warm temperatures; the fumes from sewage and animal droppings were more noxious than ever.

Still, there was no spoiling the pleasure of such a fine evening. Besides, Daniel was growing accustomed to the aroma of New York. Indeed, the smell rarely bothered him at all these days; it was negligible compared to the stench of Ireland’s rotten potato fields and the countless dead bodies lying alongside the country’s roads.

“So, then,” Tierney said, downing a nut kipfel in one bite before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, “will they tie the knot soon, do you think? Your mum and my da?”

It was a question Tierney seemed bent on asking at least once a week, a question that continued to make Daniel feel awkward—almost as if his mother were somehow under an obligation to marry Uncle Mike. More and more Tierney’s prodding put Daniel on guard, made him feel the need to defend his mother—never mind that he secretly harbored the same question.

“I don’t suppose it’s for either of us to guess,” he muttered in reply. “Sure, and Mother does care a great deal for Uncle Mike.”

Tierney gave a curt, doubtful nod, turning the full intensity of his unnerving ice-blue stare on Daniel. “If that’s so,” he said, “then why is she still holding out?”

Daniel bristled. “It’s not that she’s holding out,” he protested. “She just needs more time, don’t you see? They haven’t seen each other for more than seventeen years, after all! She can hardly be expected to jump into marriage right away!”

Tierney regarded him with a speculative look, then shrugged. “You’re right, of course,” he said cheerfully, shoving his hands into his pockets. As if no friction whatever had occurred between them, he tilted a quick grin at Daniel. “I expect I’m just impatient because I’m wanting to see them wed.”

Not for the first time, Daniel found himself disarmed by his quicksilver friend. The older boy had a way of making abrasive, outrageous remarks, then quickly backing off, as if sensing he had caused Daniel discomfort.

Tierney had an incredible energy about him, a tension that sometimes made it seem that any instant he might leap from the ground and take off flying. He was impatient and blunt, decisive and headstrong. Yet he had an obvious streak of kindness, even gentleness, that could appear at the most unexpected moments.

Living with him was akin to keeping company with a hurricane. Wild and impetuous one moment, eager and conciliatory the next, he was entirely unpredictable—and a great deal more fun than any boy Daniel had ever known.

He liked Tierney immensely. In truth, he wished his mother would marry Uncle Mike so they could be a real family.

“If they do get married,” Tierney was saying, watching Daniel with a teasing grin, “you and I will be brothers. How do you feel about that, Danny-boy?”

Daniel rolled his eyes, but couldn’t stop a smile of pleasure. “Sure, and won’t I be the lucky lad, then?”

Tierney wiggled his dark brows. “Sure, and won’t you at that?” he shot back, perfectly mimicking Daniel’s brogue.

Avoiding Michael’s eyes, Nora stared at the flickering candle in the middle of the kitchen table.

The silence in the room, while not entirely strained, was awkward, to say the least. Nora had sensed Michael’s impatience early in their visit. She thought she understood it; certainly, she could not fault the man for wanting more of a commitment than she’d been able to grant him thus far.

On the other hand, she didn’t know how she could have handled things between them any differently. From the day of their reunion—Nora’s first day in New York City—she had done her best to be entirely honest with Michael. She had told him then—and on other occasions since—that she cared for him deeply but could not marry him for a time, if ever.

In the weeks and months that followed her arrival in New York, Nora’s life had changed radically. All that she had once held dear, everything familiar, had been mercilessly torn away from her. She had lost her home and her entire family except for Daniel John. Yet much had been given to her as well.

God had been good—and faithful. Daniel John had a home with Michael and Tierney, and she and the orphaned Fitzgerald children were safe and snug in the Farmington mansion with Lewis Farmington and his daughter, Sara—people who must be, Nora was certain, the kindest human beings God ever created.

Aye, she had fine lodgings—even a job—and she had friends, good friends: Michael, Evan Whittaker, Sara and Lewis Farmington, and Ginger, the Farmingtons’ delightful housekeeper. There was more food on her plate than she could eat, and a fire to warm her bones for the coming winter. Had any other penniless widow-woman ever been so blessed?

Yet when it came to Michael, something deep within her warned her to wait, to go slowly. There were times when she wanted nothing more than to run to the shelter of the man’s brawny arms and accept the security he seemed so set on offering—the security of a friendship that dated back to their childhood, the security of marriage and a home of her own. But in the next instant she would find herself drawing back, shying away from the idea of Michael as the solution to her problems.

She needed time, perhaps a great deal of time. Of that much, at least, she was certain. Time to heal, time to seek direction for her life. God’s direction.

And time to forget Morgan Fitzgerald…

“The Farmingtons seem more than pleased with your work for them,” Michael said, breaking the silence and jarring Nora back to her surroundings. “They cannot say enough good things about you.”

Struggling to put aside her nagging melancholy, Nora smiled and made a weak dismissing motion with her hand. “Sure, they are only being kind,” she said. “ ’Tis little enough they allow me to do. I suppose they still think me ill, but in truth I’m feeling much stronger.”

“I can believe that,” Michael said, studying her with open approval. “You’re looking more fit each day. I think you might have even gained a bit at last.”

Surprised, Nora glanced down at her figure. She did feel stronger physically, stronger than she had for months. “Indeed. Perhaps with all this fine American food, I’ll grow as round as Pumpkin Emmie,” she said, trying to ease the tension between them with reference to daft Emmie Fahey, one of the terrors of their youth.

“You’ve a ways to go, there,” Michael said, meeting her smile. “But you are looking more yourself, lass, and that’s the truth.”

Unnerved by the way he was scrutinizing her, Nora glanced away. “Our sons are becoming good friends, it seems.”

Michael, too, seemed relieved to move to safer ground. “Aye, they are,” he answered eagerly. “And I couldn’t be happier for it. Your Daniel is a fine boy—a good influence on that rascal of mine.”

“Oh, Michael,” Nora protested, “I think you’re far too hard on Tierney! He doesn’t seem nearly the rogue you paint him to be.”

With a sigh, Michael rose from the table to put the kettle on for more tea. “I’m the first to admit Tierney’s not a bad boy. Nevertheless, he can be a handful. And unpredictable—” He shook his head as he started for the stove. “Why, I don’t know what to expect from the lad one minute to the next, and that’s the truth.”

“It’s not an easy age for him, Michael. Don’t you remember how it was, being more grown-up than child, yet not quite either?”

Nora could have answered her own question. Michael had never seemed anything but a man grown, had never appeared to know the meaning of childishness or uncertainty, at least not in the time she had known him.

Returning with the kettle, he offered Nora more tea. When she declined, he proceeded to pour himself a fresh cup. “What I remember most about being a boy,” he said with just the ghost of a smile, “was trying to keep you and our lad, Morgan, out of the soup.”

Nora glanced quickly away. “Aye, you were like a brother to the both of us,” she said quietly.

“It wasn’t a brother I wanted to be to you, Nora,” he said pointedly, pausing with the kettle suspended above his cup. “That was your choice, not mine.”


He looked at her, setting the kettle down between them. “Is it still Morgan, then?” A muscle at the side of his mouth tightened. “Is he the reason you cannot bring yourself to marry me?”

“No! No, Michael, it is not Morgan! I’ve tried to explain all this before. I thought you understood…”

His gaze on her didn’t waver. “Nora, I have tried. But I’m not blind, lass. I see the way things are.”

Nora looked away, but she could still feel his eyes on her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that Morgan Fitzgerald still occupies a large space in your heart—perhaps so great a space there will never be room for another.”


He waved away her protest, saying nothing. Instead, he went to stand at the window, his back to her. He stood there for a long time in silence. At last, he drew in a deep sigh and said quietly, “We’d be good together, I think. We could build a fine life, a good home—watch our boys grow to manhood.” Stopping he turned to face her. “Perhaps we could even have more children…”

He let his words drift away, unfinished. As he stood there, his gaze fixed on her face, the frustration that had hardened his expression earlier faded, giving way to a rare tenderness. The grim lines about his mouth seemed to disappear, and his eyes took on a gentle smile.

“We go back a long way, you and I,” he said softly. “And our boys—why, they’re well on their way to being brothers already. Ah, it could work for us, Nora! You must see that.” Shoving his hands down deep into his pockets, he stood watching her. “I know I cannot offer you much in the way of material things just yet, but we’d have enough, enough for us all. And things will improve, I can promise you that. I have prospects on the force—”

“Oh, Michael, you know none of that matters to me!”

With three broad strides he closed the distance between them. Bracing both hands palms down on the tabletop, he brought his face close to hers, his eyes burning. “What, then, Nora? What does matter? Tell me, lass, for I’ll do whatever I can to make this work for us. I swear I will! Tell me what I can do to convince you to marry me.”

Nora remembered he had asked her that same question once before, when he was still a young man preparing to go to America. He had done his best then, too, to convince her to be his wife.

That had been seventeen years ago. Seventeen years, and her answer was still not what he wanted to hear.

“Michael, you know you have ever been…special…to me.”

He said nothing, simply went on searching her eyes, his large, blunt hands now clenched to fists atop the table.

“I do care for you…” She did. She was not immune to Michael’s appeal, his almost arrogant handsomeness, the strength that seemed to pulse from him. But more than that, and far deeper, were the memories that bound them, the friendship that even today anchored their affection for each other. She could not bring herself to hurt him, but neither could she lie to him!

Suddenly, he stunned her by grasping both her hands in his and pulling her up from the chair to face him. Holding her hands firmly, he drew her to him. “And I care for you, Nora,” he said, his voice gruff. With one hand he lifted her chin, forcing her to meet his relentless gaze. “I have always cared for you, lass, and that’s the truth.”

Trembling, Nora held her breath as he bent to press his lips to hers. Irrationally, she almost wished Michael’s kiss would blind her with love for him, send stars shooting through her. Instead, she felt only the gentle warmth, the same sweet, sad affection she had felt for him all those years so long ago when he had kissed her goodbye, regret brimming in his eyes, before sailing for America.

He knew. He said nothing, but she felt his knowing as she stood there, miserable beneath those dark, searching eyes that seemed to probe her very soul. Gradually he freed her from his embrace, setting her gently away from him with a sad smile.

“You have been through a great sorrow,” he said huskily. “And I am asking too much of you, too soon. I’m sorry, lass. Perhaps it’s just that I’m anxious for you to realize that when you’re ready, I will be here. I will wait.”

“Oh, Michael, please—don’t…”

He put a finger to her lips to silence her. “Enough sober talk for tonight. Why don’t we have us a stroll? We’ll go and find the lads and see what they’re up to.”

Relieved, Nora nodded, managing a smile. “Aye, I’d like that.”

Michael smiled, too, watching her with infinite tenderness. Framing her face between his calloused hands, he brushed his lips over her forehead. “Remember that I am still your friend, Nora Ellen. No matter what happens—or does not happen—between us, I will always be your friend.”

Nora could have wept for gratitude at his understanding, his gentleness. “Thank you, Michael,” she whispered. “Thank you for being the man you are. And thank you,” she added fervently, “for being my friend.”

My rating: 3/5

My review:
At the end of the first volume, Nora, Daniel, and Evan safely arrived in New York Harbor…barely. They left many friends and family members behind, either in the old country or during the hazardous journey. Book two begins with a story tying in the Kavanaugh harp and the role it plays in the story. I enjoy the way Hoff begins each book with an ancestral story. The remainder of the book jumps between the saga of the American immigrants to the story of the struggle for change in Ireland.

Once again, I appreciated the perspective of history. Hoff has clearly done her research. Hoff demonstrates well the conflict between the classes, political conflict, and conflict between ethnic groups. Life was difficult for immigrants in America and the plague and political battle rage on in 19th century Ireland. However, this book did not have quite as dark and heavy a feel as book 1 in the series.

The book was slow-paced and the prose dense, as in book 1. I most likely will not continue on with the series, however, I am glad to have learned more about Irish history.

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:

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


BJ Hoff’s bestselling historical novels continue to cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture to capture a worldwide reading audience. Her books include Song of Erin and American Anthem and such popular series as The Riverhaven Years, The Mountain Song Legacy, and The Emerald Ballad. Hoff’s stories, although set in the past, are always relevant to the present. Whether her characters move about in small country towns or metropolitan areas, reside in Amish settlements or in coal company houses, she creates communities where people can form relationships, raise families, pursue their faith, and experience the mountains and valleys of life. BJ and her husband make their home in Ohio. 

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736927883

ISBN-13: 978-0736927888



Write his merits on your mind; 

Morals pure and manners kind; 

In his head, as on a hill, 

Virtue placed her citadel.

William Drennan (1754–1820)

Killala, County Mayo (Western Ireland)

January, 1847

Ellie Kavanagh died at the lonesome hour of two o’clock in the morning—a time, according to the Old Ones, when many souls left their bodies with the turning of the tide. A small, gaunt specter with sunken eyes and a vacant stare, she died a silent death. The Hunger had claimed even her voice at the end. She was six years old, and the third child in the village of Killala to die that Friday.

Daniel kept the death watch with his mother throughout the evening. Tahg, his older brother, was too ill to sit upright, and with their da gone—killed in a faction fight late last October—it was for Daniel to watch over his little sister’s corpse and see to his mother.

The small body in the corner of the cold, dimly lit kitchen seemed less than human to Daniel; certainly it bore little resemblance to wee Ellie. Candles flickering about its head mottled the ghastly pallor of the skull-like face, and the small, parchment-thin hands clasping the Testament on top of the white sheet made Daniel think uneasily of claws. Even the colored ribbons adorning the sheet mocked his sister’s gray and lifeless body.

The room was thick with shadows and filled with weeping women. Ordinarily it would have been heavy with smoke as well, but the men in the village could no longer afford tobacco. The only food smells were faint: a bit of sour cheese, some onion, stale bread, a precious small basket of shellfish. There was none of the illegal poteen—even if potatoes had been available from which to distill the stuff, Grandfar Dan allowed no spirits inside the cottage; he and Daniel’s da had both taken the pledge some years before.

All the villagers who came and went said Ellie was laid out nicely. Daniel knew their words were meant to be a comfort, but he found them an offense. Catherine Fitzgerald had done her best in tidying the body—Catherine had no equal in the village when it came to attending at births or deaths—but still Daniel could see nothing at all nice about Ellie’s appearance.

He hated having to sit and stare at her throughout the evening, struggling to keep the sight of her small, wasted corpse from permanently imbedding itself in his mind. He was determined to remember his black-haired little sister as she had been before the Hunger, traipsing along behind him and chattering at his back to the point of exasperation.

Old Mary Larkin had come to keen, and her terrible shrieking wail now pierced the cottage. Squatting on the floor beside the low fire, Mary was by far the loudest of the women clustered around her. Her tattered skirt was drawn up almost over her head, revealing a torn and grimy red petticoat that swayed as her body twisted and writhed in the ancient death mime.

The woman’s screeching made Daniel’s skin crawl. He felt a sudden fierce desire to gag her and send her home. He didn’t think his feelings were disrespectful of his sister—Ellie had liked things quiet; besides, she had been half-afraid of Old Mary’s odd ways.

Ordinarily when Mary Larkin keened the dead, the entire cottage would end up in a frenzy. Everyone knew she was the greatest keener from Killala to Castlebar. At this moment, however, as Daniel watched the hysterical, withered crone clutch the linen sheet and howl with a force that would turn the thunder away, he realized how weak were the combined cries of the mourners. The gathering was pitifully small for a wake—six months ago it would have been twice the size, but death had become too commonplace to attract much attention. And it was evident from the subdued behavior in the room that the Hunger had sapped the strength of even the stoutest of them.

Daniel’s head snapped up with surprise when he saw Grandfar Dan haul himself off the stool and go trudging over to the howling women grouped around Ellie’s body. He stood there a few moments until at last Mary Larkin glanced up and saw him glaring at her. Behind the stringy wisps of white hair falling over her face, her black eyes looked wild and fierce with challenge. Daniel held his breath, half-expecting her to lash out physically at his grandfather when he put a hand to her shoulder and began speaking to her in the Irish. But after a moment she struggled up from the floor and, with a display of dignity that Daniel would have found laughable under different circumstances, smoothed her skirts and made a gesture to her followers. The lot of them got up and huddled quietly around the dying fire, leaving the cottage quiet again, except for the soft refrain of muffled weeping.

Daniel’s mother had sat silent and unmoving throughout the entire scene; now she stirred. “Old Dan should not have done that,” Nora said softly. “He should not have stopped them from the keening.”

Daniel turned to look at her, biting his lip at her appearance. His mother was held in high esteem for her good looks. “Nora Kavanagh’s a grand-looking woman,” he’d heard people in the village say, and she was that. Daniel thought his small, raven-haired mother was, in fact, the prettiest woman in Killala. But in the days after his da was killed and the fever had come on Ellie, his mother had seemed to fade, not only in her appearance but in her spirit as well. She seemed to have retreated to a place somewhere deep inside herself, a distant place where Daniel could not follow. Her hair had lost its luster and her large gray eyes their quiet smile; she spoke only when necessary, and then with apparent effort. Hollow-eyed and deathly quiet, she continued to maintain her waxen, lifeless composure even in the face of her grief, but Daniel sometimes caught a glimpse of something shattering within her.

At times he found himself almost wishing his mother would give way to a fit of weeping or womanly hysteria. Then at least he could put an arm about her narrow shoulders and try to console her. This silent stranger beside him seemed beyond comfort; in truth, he suspected she was often entirely unaware of his presence.

In the face of his mother’s wooden stillness, Daniel himself turned inward, to the worrisome question that these days seldom gave him any peace.

What was to become of them?

The potato crop had failed for two years straight, and they were now more than half the year’s rent in arrears. Grandfar was beginning to fail. And Tahg—his heart squeezed with fear at the thought of his older brother—Tahg was no longer able to leave his bed. His mother continued to insist that Tahg would recover, that the lung ailment which had plagued him since childhood was responsible for his present weakness. Perhaps she was right, but Daniel was unable to convince himself. Tahg had a different kind of misery on him now—something dark and ugly and evil.

A tight, hard lump rose to his throat. It was going to be the same as with Ellie. First she’d grown weak from the hunger; later the fever had come on her until she grew increasingly ill. And then she died.

As for his mother, Daniel thought she still seemed healthy enough, but too much hard work and too little food were fast wearing her down. She was always tired lately, tired and distracted and somber. Even so, she continued to mend and sew for two of the local magistrates. Her earnings were less than enough to keep them, now that they lacked his da’s wages from Reilly the weaver, yet she had tried in vain to find more work.

The entire village was in drastic straits. The Hunger was on them all; fever was spreading with a vengeance. Almost every household was without work, and the extreme winter showed no sign of abating. Most were hungry; many were starving; all lived in fear of eviction.

Still, poor as they were as tenant farmers, Daniel knew they were better off than many of their friends and neighbors. Thomas Fitzgerald, for example, had lost his tenancy a few years back when he got behind in his rent. Unable thereafter to get hold of a patch of land to lease, he barely managed to eke out an existence for his family by means of conacre, wherein he rented a small piece of land season by season, with no legal rights to it whatever. The land they occupied was a mere scrap. Their cabin, far too small for such a large family, was scarcely more than a buffer against the winter winds, which this year had been fierce indeed.

Daniel worried as much about the Fitzgeralds as he did about his own family. His best friend, Katie, was cramped into that crude, drafty hut with several others. She was slight, Katie was, so thin and frail that Daniel’s blood chilled at the thought of what the fever might do to her. His sister had been far sturdier than Katie, and it had destroyed Ellie in such a short time.

Katie was more than his friend—she was his sweetheart as well. She was only eleven, and he thirteen, but they would one day marry—of that he was certain. Together they had already charted their future.

When he was old enough, Daniel would make his way to Dublin for his physician’s training, then come back to set up his own practice in Castlebar. Eventually he’d be able to build a fine house for himself and Katie—and for his entire family.

There was the difference of their religions to be considered, of course. Katie was a Roman and he a Protestant. But they would face that hurdle later, when they were older. In the meantime, Katie was his lass, and that was that. At times he grew almost desperate for the years to pass so they could get on with their plans.

A stirring in the room yanked Daniel out of his thoughts. He glanced up and caught a sharp breath. Without thinking, he popped off his stool, about to cry out a welcome until he remembered his surroundings.

The man ducking his head to pass through the cottage door was a great tower of a fellow, with shoulders so broad he had to ease himself sideways through the opening. Yet he was as lean and as wiry as a whip. He had a mane of curly copper hair and a lustrous, thick beard the color of a fox’s pelt. He carried himself with the grace of a cat-a-mountain, yet he seemed to fill the room with the restrained power of a lion.

As Daniel stood watching impatiently, the big man straightened, allowing his restless green eyes to sweep the room. His gaze gentled for an instant when it came to rest on Ellie’s corpse, softening even more at the sight of Daniel’s mother, to whom he offered a short, awkward nod of greeting. Only when he locked eyes with Daniel did his sun-weathered face at last break into a wide, pleased smile.

He started toward them, and it seemed to Daniel that even clad humbly as he was in dark frieze and worn boots, Morgan Fitzgerald might just as well have been decked with the steel and colors of a warrior chief, so imposing and awe-inspiring was his presence. He stopped directly in front of them, and both he and Daniel stood unmoving for a moment, studying each other’s faces. Then, putting hands the size of dinner plates to Daniel’s shoulders, Morgan pulled him into a hard, manly embrace. Daniel breathed a quiet sigh of satisfaction as he buried his cheek against Morgan’s granite chest, knowing the bond between him and the bronze giant to be renewed.

After another moment, Morgan tousled Daniel’s hair affectionately, released him, and turned to Nora. The deep, rumbling voice that could shake the walls of a cabin was infinitely soft when he spoke. “I heard about Owen and the lass, Nora. ’Tis a powerful loss.”

As Daniel watched, his mother lifted her shadowed eyes to Morgan. She seemed to grow paler still, and her small hands began to wring her handkerchief into a twisted rope. Her voice sounded odd when she acknowledged his greeting, as if she might choke on her words. “ ’Tis good of you to come, Morgan.”

“Nora, how are you keeping?” he asked, leaning toward her still more as he scrutinized her face.

Her only reply was a small, stiff nod of her head before she looked away.

Daniel wondered at the wounded look in Morgan’s eyes, even more at his mother’s strained expression. The room was still, and he noticed that the lank-haired Judy Hennessey was perched forward on her chair as far as she could get in an obvious attempt to hear their conversation. He shot a fierce glare in her direction, but she ignored him, craning her neck even farther.

Just then Grandfar Dan moved from his place by the fire and began to lumber toward them, his craggy, gray-bearded face set in a sullen scowl. Daniel braced himself. For as long as he could remember, there had been bad blood between his grandfather and Morgan Fitzgerald. Grandfar had carried some sort of a grudge against Morgan for years, most often referring to him as “that worthless rebel poet.”

“Sure, and that long-legged rover thinks himself a treasure,” Grandfar would say. “Well, a scoundrel is what he is! A fresh-mouthed scoundrel with a sweet-as-honey tongue and a string of wanton ways as long as the road from here to Sligo, that’s your Fitzgerald! What he’s learned from all his books and his roaming is that it’s far easier to sing for your supper than to work for it.”

Now, watching the two of them square off, Daniel held his breath in anticipation of a fracas. A warning glint flared in Morgan’s eye, and the old man’s face was red. They stared at each other for a tense moment. Then, to Daniel’s great surprise, Morgan greeted Grandfar with a bow of respect and, instead of goading him as he might have done in the past, he said quietly, “ ’Tis a bitter thing, Dan. I’m sorry for your troubles.”

Even shrunken as he was by old age and hard labor, Grandfar was a taller man than most. Still, he had to look up at Morgan. His mouth thinned as they eyed each other, but the expected sour retort did not come. Instead, the old man inclined his head in a curt motion of acknowledgment, then walked away without a word, his vest flapping loosely against his wasted frame.

Morgan stared after him, his heavy brows drawn together in a frown. “ ’Tis the first time I have known Dan Kavanagh to show his years,” he murmured, as if to himself. “It took the Hunger to age him, it would seem.”

He turned back to Daniel’s mother. “So, then, where is Tahg? I was hoping to see him.”

Nora glanced across the kitchen. Tahg lay abed in a small, dark alcove at the back of the room, where a tattered blanket had been hung for his privacy. “He’s sleeping. Tahg is poorly again.”

Morgan looked from her to Daniel. “How bad? Not the fever?”

“No, it is not the fever!” she snapped, her eyes as hard as her voice. “ ’Tis his lungs.”

Daniel stared down at the floor, unable to meet Morgan’s eyes for fear his denial would be apparent. “Nora—”

Daniel raised his head to see Morgan searching his mother’s face, a soft expression of compassion in his eyes. “Nora, is there anything I can do?”

Daniel could not account for his mother’s sudden frown. Couldn’t she tell that Morgan only wanted to help? “Thank you, but there’s no need.”

Morgan looked doubtful. “Are you sure, Nora? There must be something—”

She interrupted him, her tone making it clear that he wasn’t to press. “It’s kind of you to offer, Morgan, but as I said, there is no need.”

Morgan continued to look at her for another moment. Finally he gave a reluctant nod. “I should be on my way, then. The burial—will it be tomorrow?”

Her mouth went slack. “The burial…aye, the burial will be tomorrow.”

Hearing her voice falter, Daniel started to take her hand, but stopped at the sight of the emptiness in her eyes. She was staring past Morgan to Ellie’s corpse, seemingly unaware of anyone else in the room.

Morgan shot Daniel a meaningful glance. “I’ll just be on my way, then. Will you walk outside with me, lad?” Without waiting for Daniel’s reply, he lifted a hand as if to place it on Nora’s shoulder but drew it away before he touched her. Then, turning sharply, he started for the door.

Eager to leave the gloom of the cottage, and even more eager to be with Morgan after months of separation, Daniel nevertheless waited for his mother’s approval. When he realized she hadn’t even heard Morgan’s question, he went to lift his coat from the wall peg by the door. With a nagging sense of guilt for the relief he felt upon leaving, he hurried to follow Morgan outside.

My take:

My rating: 3/5

I chose to read this book because I am quite interested in Irish history as a person of Irish descent. In particular, I had never read any fiction set around the potato famine so I decided to give this series a try Hoff does an excellent job of incorporating history. I learned much about the era from reading this book. I would love to see more CBA books set in Ireland.

Song of the Silent Harp is also a story of the glory and strength of the immigrants travelling to the United States in the 19th century. Between the potato famine, plagues, poverty, racism, swindlers taking advantage of new immigrants and thwarted relationships…there is not much happiness between these pages. I found this read to be slightly draining because there was very little positive that happened in the entire book.

I found the pace of this story to be slow and the sentences wordy. The last hundred pages picked up and I was desperate to find out if the emigrants would arrive safely in New York Harbor.

I would recommend this book for those who are particularly interested in Ireland’s history as I did learn much about the history of Ireland and was captivated by the beauty of the land.

Julia M. Reffner

About Me

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Christ-loving bookworm & homeschool mom of 2 stealing the rare quiet moments to pursue that all elusive writing dream. I also write book reviews for Title Trakk and The Historical Novel Society.


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