My Grandchildren

From Collages
Featured above are four of my six grandchildren.

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Book & Product Reviewer

My family and I enjoy reading good books. We receive free books and in return review them. Here are a few kind folks that I review for First Wild Card Tours, Hachette Book Group/Book Blog(FaithWords), Thomas Nelson/BookSneeze and Tyndale House Publishers. You can read book reviews, sign up to win giveaways and much more on GAhome2mom Blog.

We have been homeschooling since 1989. We are interested in reviewing educational books, CD's, DVD's, games, toys and more. If you have a product that you would like us to review and/or would like us to host a giveaway of your product, please contact us today. (Add GAhome2mom at gahome2mom/gmail/com)

You can learn more about us on my profile. My daughters are ages from 8 to 30 years old. My six grandchildren range from 2 years to 10 years old. I have three step-children as well. (20's)

Social Media: Twitter :: Zazzle


Also, from Loving Heart Designs check out the latest recipes, jewelry, giveaways and reviews. Why not go see what contest are happening now?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Etsy It Up!





Wordless Wednesday(new home)
http://www.wordlesswednesday.com/newhome/

From Blogging/Toile Tales & Etsy It Up!


This is my daughter Tara. She is wearing a new beanie from Toile Tales.
I think it looks great on her. :)

From Blogging


~GAhome2mom
http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com
Disclaimer: Thank you to Etsy It Up! and Toile Tales. We won this beanie at Etsy It Up!
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Book Giveaways


GAhome2mom Reviews & Giveaways


Book Giveaways:




~GAhome2mom
http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com

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52 Things Kids Need from a Dad by Jay Payleitner

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 (March 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to David P. Bartlett - Print & Internet Publicist - of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked with the Josh McDowell Ministry, Voice of the Martyrs, Jesus Freaks Radio, and many others. He’s also a wrestling coach and author of several books, including 40 Days to Your Best Life for Men. Jay and his wife live in Illinois, where they spend a lot time with their mostly adult children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927239
ISBN-13: 978-0736927239

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Kids Need Their Dad…

To Help Them Beat the Odds

  Think of the top ten social crises of our time: Drug abuse. Teenage pregnancy. School shootings. Gangs. Spiritual confusion. Overcrowded prisons. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Domestic violence. Drunk driving. And so on.

  We can make the case that the most devastating rips in our social fabric would be radically reduced if dads were getting the job done at home.

  Statistically, what happens when dads aren’t around?

Eighty-five percent of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home.
Children who live apart from their fathers are 4.3 times more likely to smoke cigarettes as teenagers than children growing up with their fathers in the home.
Fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers come from fatherless homes.
Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households where a parent has been absent.
Adolescent females between the ages of 15 and 19 years reared in homes without fathers are significantly more likely to engage in premarital sex than adolescent females reared in homes with both a mother and a father.
  Sound hopeless? Just the opposite. If father absence is devastating, leading to all kinds of bad decisions and societal ills, then father presence is the solution, right?

  This hard data, along with all kinds of anecdotal evidence, is rarely brought into the light. Even with all the research, too many segments of society express little regard for fatherhood. The media, school administrators, television scriptwriters, judges, church leaders, and state agencies seem to say fathers don’t matter. Or they’ve given up on fathers. Or worse, we’re told fathers are part of the problem. The result is, men are driven away from their families, fathers are disenfranchised, and dads are afraid to hug their own kids.

  But the inverse is true and must be said. Men need to hear, “Dad, you matter!” “Your children need you.” “Your wife (or the mother of your children) needs you to be more involved and more invested in the daily lives of your kids.” Without strong male role models, families suffer both short- and long-term. Children make bad decisions. Communities weaken. Government agencies flounder to fix problems after the fact. Taxes go up. Our streets aren’t safe. As soon as they graduate high school, young people turn their back on Jesus. The vibrant potential of the next generation is lost—in many cases, for eternity.

  An oft-quoted survey found that if a mother attends church regularly with her children, but without their father, only 2 percent of those children will become regular church attendees. But if a father attends church regularly with his children, even without their mother, an astounding 44 percent choose to become regular church attendees on their own.

  Yes, dads matter. Do you want more proof?

  All you have to do is ask a kid.

Takeaway

Just opening this book and reading this far proves you want to be the kind of dad your kids need. You can do it, Dad.

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)



---

Guest Reviewer: John Carter

A good practical book for Dads that have a busy lifestyle. Illustrations  to touch the hearts of Dads that the simple things are the most important when spending time with their kids. The book gives many examples of building memories for a lifetime.





~GAhome2mom
http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Century Turns by William J. Bennett

A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears  
America 1988 to 2008
by William J. Bennett


  William J. Bennett is an inspired human being in giving each of us the unbiased point of view in today's environment. Serviced under two Presidents Reagan and Bush administrations and has a wide view of domestic affairs. His views are reviewed by television, radio and newspapers across the globe.

   A Century Turns takes us back to the course of history of The Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush presidency in America. A great book for every level of reader giving them a precise amount of events and history that has marked our nation through the past 20 years. Not one note of history has been left out to give an account of what is going on in America today.

   I would recommend this book for anyone that wants to get caught up with current events that is taking place now, and how and when did it start in past administrations. As I was reading this book, I have found out that William Bennett has written other books that have outlined our history and looking forward to purchasing the other books because of his writing style. I would recommend this book to High School on up.

   The September 11 account in this book brings back much memories and we need to rally back to this One Great Country, Mr. Bennett keep writing so we never forget who we are!!!

Guest Reviewer: John Carter


I review for BookSneeze

~GAhome2mom
http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Barrow County Historical Society

Barrow County Historical Society

The Barrow County Museum is open to everyone for FREE! Come on by Mon - Fri from 1 - 4 or on Sat from 10 - 1. Or, call 770-307-1183 or 770-868-7573 to make arrangements for an after hours tour. If you are part of a boy/girl scout troop,  homeschool group or other organization, please pass it on.  Visit them on Facebook for more information.


Location:
Winder, GA, 30680
Phone:
770-307-1183 / 770-868-7573
Mon - Fri:
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Sat:
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
 
 
Also, I would like to point out The State Botanical Garden of Georgia located in Athens, Georgia. My family and I have visited it often. It is FREE to visit. There is a lovely Cafe as well. Visit them online or on Facebook.

~GAhome2mom
http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com

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Book Giveaways

 Good morning,


Here are a few book giveaways from blogs that I subscribe to online.

To know HIM and make HIM known

WordVessel: (Cathy Bryant)


A Christian Writer's World: (Lena Nelson Dooley)

  • Rooms by James L. Rubart

Reading, Writing, and the Stuff In-Between

Reading, Writing, and the Stuff In-Between: (Trish Perry)

    ~GAhome2mom
    http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com


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    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    What's Up...

    Happy St. Patrick's Day




    I am currently reading Disater Status by Candace Calvert for First Wild Card Tour. My husband is guest  reading A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears by William J. Bennett for Thomas Nelson Publishers. And he is reading 52 Things Kids Need From A Dad by Jay Payleitner for FWCT. My seventeen year old  daughter will be reading and reviewing "the secret Holocaust Diaries: The untold story of Nonna Bannister" by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin for FWCT. (You can find many of these books at my favorite online store Christianbook.com.)


    I am an affiliate at Christianbook.com and I received my very first check a couple of days ago. It was a BIG Whopping $25.99. I thought I would never get a 1st check. lol

    Also, at Loving Heart Designs from MyBlogSparkTM check out the latest giveaways:

    • Sponsor: Yoplait - Yoplus Giveaway
    • Sponsor: Olay - $10 Walmart GC giveaway

    I received several things in the mail the past two weeks from blog winnings:

    • Crochet Brim Beanie(adult) from Toile Tales w/clip RV $36.00
    • Kidorable Ladybug Umbrealla RV $13.50
    • Lavender Goat Milk Soap from Creamery Creek  $5.00
    • Several audio books from Hachette Book Group

    ~GAhome2mom
    http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com


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    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard

    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 (January 1, 2010)
    ***Special thanks to Linore Rose Burkard and Dave Bartlett (Harvest House Publishers) for sending me a review copy.***

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



    Linore Rose Burkard is the creator of "Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul." Her characters take you back in time to experience life and love during the era of Regency England (circa 1811 - 1820). Fans of classic romances such as Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Sense & Sensibility, will enjoy Linore's feisty heroines, heart-throb heroes and happy endings.

    Enjoy the free resources on Linore's website: http://www.LinoreBurkard.com/resources.html

    Visit the author's website.



    Product Details:

    List Price: $13.99
    Paperback: 300 pages
    Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0736927999
    ISBN-13: 978-0736927994

    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


    London, England, 1818


          Mr. Peter O’Brien felt surely he had a devil plaguing him, and the devil’s name was Mr. Phillip Mornay. The paper in his hand should have made him happy. Indeed, it ought to have elicited nothing but joy after two years of holding a curacy that didn’t pay enough to feed a church-mouse.  Yet, instead he was staring ahead after reading a letter of recommendation for him as though he’d seen a ghost.

          His previous naval commander, Colonel Sotheby, had recommended Mr. O’Brien to a wealthy landowner whose vicarage had gone vacant.  It was the sort of letter that a poor Curate should rejoice over. The man who obtained the vicarage in the parish of Glendover, the Colonel said, in addition to having a decent curate’s salary, would have claim to a large glebe, a generous and well built house, and, in short, would see himself by way of having enough to begin a family. (If he found a wife to marry, first, of course. O’Brien could just hear the Colonel’s good-natured laugh ring out at that remark.)

          But still his own mouth was set in an unpromising hard line: The landowner’s name was Mr. Phillip Mornay, none other than the Paragon, himself.   And Mornay, Mr. O’Brien knew, would never grant him the living. To do so would go against everything he knew to be true of him. After all, no man who had once overstepped his bounds with Mr. Mornay’s betrothed, as Mr. O’Brien unfortunately had, would now be presented to the vicarage on the man’s lands.  Of all the rotten, devilish luck! To have such a letter of commendation was like gold in the fiercely competitive world of the church, where there were more poor curates looking for a rise in their situations than there were church parishes who could supply them. 

          Therefore, instead of the boon from heaven this letter ought to have been, Mr. O’Brien was struck with a gloomy assurance that Mornay would sooner accept a popinjay in cleric’s clothing than himself.  Even worse, his mother agreed with his appraisal.

          He had taken the letter into the morning room of their house on Blandford Street, joining his mother while she sat at her breakfast. 

          “You do not wish to renew old grievances,” she said. “Mr. Mornay is not, to my knowledge, a forgiving man; shall you be put to the expense and trouble of travelling all the way to Middlesex, only to be turned down in the end? What can you possibly gain in it?”

          Mr. O’Brien nodded; he saw her point. But he said, “I may have to do just that. The Colonel will never recommend me for another parish if he learns that I failed to apply myself to this opportunity.”

          “Write to him,” replied his mama. “See if you can politely decline this honour, with the understanding that any other offer should be most welcome and appreciated!”

          He doubted that any letter , no matter how ‘politely’ written, would be able to manage his desire to avoid this meeting with Mornay, as well as secure the hope of a future recommendation. But he thought about it, put quill to paper and sent the Colonel a reply. He asked (in the humblest terms he could manage) if the man might commend him for a living to be presented by some other landowner, indeed, any other landowner, any other gentleman in England than Phillip Mornay.

          He could not explain the full extent of his past doings with Mr. Mornay without making himself sound like an utter fool; how he had hoped to marry the present Mrs. Mornay himself, some years ago. How presumptuous his hopes seemed to him now! Miss Ariana Forsythe was magnificent as the wife of the Paragon. He’d seen them in town after the marriage, but without ever presenting himself before her. It appalled even him that he had once thought himself worthy or equal to that beautiful lady.

          When the Colonel’s reply came, there was little surprise in it. He assured Mr. O’Brien that his apprehensions were ill-placed; that Mr. Mornay’s past reputation of being a harsh, irascible man was no longer to the purpose.  Colonel Sotheby himself held Mornay in the greatest respect, and insisted that the Paragon had as good a heart as any Christian. In short, (and he made this terribly clear) Mr. O’Brien had best get himself off to Middlesex or he would put the Colonel in a deuced uncomfortable spot. He had already written to Aspindon House, which meant that Mr. O’Brien was expected. If he failed to appear for an interview, he could not expect that another recommendation of such merit and generosity would ever come his way again.

          Mr. O’Brien realized it was inevitable: he would have to go to Middlesex and present himself to Mornay. He knew it was a vain cause, that nothing but humiliation could come of it, but he bowed to what he must consider the will of God. He knelt in prayer, begging to be excused from this doomed interview, but his heart and conscience told him he must to it. If he was to face humiliation, had he not brought it upon himself? Had he not earned Mornay’s disregard, with his former obsession with Miss Forsythe, who was now Mrs. Mornay?

          He no longer had feelings for the lady, but it was sure to be blesséd awkward to face her!  No less so than her husband. Nevertheless, when he rose from his knees, Peter O’Brien felt equal to doing what both duty and honour required. He only hoped that Mr. Mornay had not already written his own letter of objections to the Colonel; telling him why he would never present the living to Peter O’Brien. The Colonel was his best hope for a way out of St. Pancras .  It was a gritty, desperate parish with poverty, crime, and hopelessness aplenty—not the sort of place he hoped to spend his life in, for he wanted a family. A wife.  

           Prepared to face the interview come what may, Mr. O’Brien determined  not to allow Mornay to make quick work of him. He was no longer the youthful swain, besotted over a Miss Forsythe. A stint in the Army, if nothing else, had hardened him, brought him face to face with deep issues of life, and left him, or so he thought, a better man.

                                     ******  


          Aspindon House, Glendover, Middlesex

          Ariana Mornay looked for the hundredth time at her younger sister Beatrice, sitting across from her in the elegantly cozy morning room of her country estate, Aspindon. Here in the daylight, Beatrice’s transformation from child to warm and attractive young woman was fully evident . When Mrs. Forsythe and Beatrice had arrived the prior evening, Ariana had seen the change in her sister, of course, but the daylight revealed it in a clarity that neither last night’s flambeaux (lit in honour of their arrival) or the interior candlelight and fire of the drawing room had been able to offer.

          Beatrice’s previously brown hair was now a lovely luminous russet. Ringlets peeked out from a morning cap with ruffled lace, hanging over her brow and hovering about the sides of her face.  The reddish brown of her locks emphasized hazel-green eyes, smallish mischievous lips and a healthy glow in her cheeks. Beatrice noticed her elder sister was studying her, and smiled. 

          “You still look at me as if you know me not,” she said, not hiding how much it pleased her to find herself an object of admiration.  

          “I cannot comprehend how greatly you are altered, in just one year!”

          “I regret that we did not come for so long,” put in Mrs. Forsythe, the girls’ mother. She was still feasting her eyes upon Ariana and the children (though the nurse, Mrs. Perler, had taken four year old Nigel, the Mornay’s firstborn, from the room, after he had spilled a glass of milk all over himself minutes ago).  “We wished to come sooner, as you know, but Lucy took ill, and I dared not carry the sickness here to you with your new little baby.” At this, she stopped and cooed to the infant, who was upon her lap at the moment.”No, no, no,” she said, in the exaggerated tone that people use when addressing babies, “we can’t have little Miranda getting sick, now can we?”

          Ariana smiled. “It matters not, mama. You are here, now. I only wish Papa and Lucy could have joined you.”  Lucy, the youngest Forsythe sister, and Papa, had been obliged to stay home until the spring planting had been seen to. Mr. Forsythe did not wish to be wholly bereft of his family, so Lucy, who was a great comfort to him, had been enjoined to remain in Chesterton for his sake. 

          “I could not bear to wait upon your father a day longer,” she answered with a little smile. “They will come by post chaise after papa has done his service through Easter. And then we will all be together--except for the Norledges. Perhaps when Papa comes, he may bring your older sister and her husband?”

          “I would want Aunt Pellham too, in that case,” murmured the blond-haired young woman.

          “Oh, my! With your Aunt and Uncle Pellham, and the Norledges, even this large house would be filled with guests, I daresay!” said her mother.

          Beatrice was still happily ingesting the thought that Ariana had evidently noticed her womanhood. At seventeen, hers was not a striking sort of beauty—one did not stop in instant admiration upon spying Beatrice in a room, for instance, as had often been the case for Ariana; but the younger girl had no lack of wits, a lively eye and countenance, and, not to be understated, an easy friendliness. Among a group of reserved and proper English young ladies, Beatrice would be the beacon of refuge for the timid; she was welcoming where others were aloof; inquisitive and protective where others looked away.

          Nor was she the sort of young woman to glide across a floor, dignified and elegant. Instead, Beatrice was ever having to keep her energy in check; When rising from a chair (her mama had made her practice doing so countless times) she could appear as elegant as the next young woman. She ate nicely, even daintily. But left unchecked, her natural enthusiasm might propel her through a room with alarming speed. Her shawls were ever hanging from her arms, never staying in place over her shoulder; and her mother forbade her from wearing hair jewellery, as it tended to lose its place upon her head. Bandeaux were her lot; besides bonnets, of course.

          “It is fortunate that I am only seventeen,” she had said to her mama only last week, while the woman was draping a wide bandeau artfully around Beatrice’s head.  “Or I believe you would exile every manner of female head attire from this house, saving turbans! Although my hair holds a curl twice as long as Lucy’s!”

          Mrs. Forsythe had paused from her ministrations and met her daughter’s eyes in the looking glass before them.  “I daresay you are suited for turbans; perhaps we should shop for some. I believe they are very popular just now.” Since the last thing in the world Beatrice wished to wear upon her head was a turban—no matter how many ladies in the pages of La Belle Assemblée wore them—she simply gave voice to an exasperated huff, evoking a knowing smile upon her mama’s face. 

          “I should adore a full house of guests,” she said, now. “Please do invite the Norledges’ Ariana! Only think of the diversions we could have; play-acting with enough people to fill all the roles, for a change! Or charades; or even a dance!”

          Ariana looked at her sister fondly. “Which dances do you like best?”

          “The waltz!” she quickly responded, with a smile to show that she knew it was mischievous to prefer the waltz—the single dance which entailed more contact with the opposite sex than any other ballroom fare. Mrs. Forsythe clucked her tongue, but Beatrice blithely ignored this, taking a peek at her brother-in-law to gauge his reaction, instead. The host of the gathering was reading his morning paper, however, and not listening to the small talk between his wife and her relations.

           And relations were virtually all around him. In addition to Beatrice and Mrs. Forsythe, there was his aunt, Mrs. Royleforst, staying with them at the present, and her companion, skinny, nervous Miss Bluford. These two ladies had not appeared yet for breakfast, which was probably on account of Mrs. Royleforst. She found mornings difficult and either slept in, or took a tray in her room.

          “What do you think, sir?” asked Mrs. Forsythe, of her host. “Shall my daughter invite the Norledges to join Mr. Forsythe and Lucy when they set out for your house? Or is your home already filled enough for your liking?”

          Mr. Mornay looked over his paper enough to acknowledge that he had heard her question. “As it is your and my wife’s family, I think the two of you must decide upon it. As long as there are bed-chambers enough,” he added, looking at Ariana, “you may fill them with guests as you please.”

          “Thank you, darling,” she said, making Beatrice stifle a titter. Her sister and her husband were still inordinately romantic, to her mind. Good thing no one else was present save her mother! She would have been embarrassed for them in company.

          “Shall I take the baby, mama?” said Ariana, for Miranda was beginning to fuss.

          “I suppose she wants to be fed,” agreed her mother. Ariana nodded to a maid who was seated against the wall, who went and received the child from her grandmother and brought her gingerly to her mama. Ariana’s eyes sparkled with happiness as she took her little girl. She murmured to the baby, by turns picking her up and kissing her face, and then just holding her in her arms and gazing at her in loving adoration. “I shan’t feed her yet,” she said. “She isn’t insisting upon it.”

          Beatrice’s thoughts were still upon the diversions that would be possible with a large group staying at the house. “If they all come, can you and Mr. Mornay hold a ball, Ariana? Or, will you take me to London this year for the Season? Then I may go to as many balls as I like, and you will not have the expense of holding them!”

          “If she takes you to London for the Season,” put in her mama, “she will have a great deal more expense than just that of a ball! Besides which, you are too young for such.”

          Beatrice looked at her mama, her enthusiasm temporarily dampened. “But my sister sees I am older, now,” she said, looking at Ariana with a silent plea in her gaze. “And I am not too young for a Season, according to the magazines. Many girls my age do have their coming out, mama!”   

          “Many gels,” she returned, instantly, “have little sense, and their parents, no better; your papa and I did not allow either of your sisters to go about in society at your age. You have been already too pampered, if you ask me. London society is out of the question!”

          Beatrice was now thoroughly dampened in her spirits, but she looked about and settled her eyes upon her brother-in-law. “I daresay Mr. Mornay has seen many a girl of my age--and younger—make their debut during the Season. And to no ill effect! Why, I am sure some of them have made the most brilliant matches! Many a man of good standing prefers a younger lady for his wife. You had ought to let me go while I am young enough to enjoy this advantage.”

          Mr. Mornay was frowning behind his newspaper. He knew that his young relation wanted his support in the matter, but Mr. Mornay was assuredly not in the habit of coming to the aid of young women, particularly regarding a London Season. So he said nothing, though an ensuing silence in the room told him the ladies waited for his opinion.  

          Ariana, who knew better, offered, “Let us discuss it another time. There are months, yet, before the Season. And with Miranda so young, I cannot decide at this point, in any case.” 

          Beatrice, who had no idea she was treading on dangerous ground, said, “Only let Mr. Mornay tell us his thoughts! I know my mother will listen if you tell her, sir,” she said, directly to him.

           He put his paper down reluctantly, and then looked at Beatrice. “I think Ariana was young to face society at nineteen.  At your age, you need to be sheltered, not put forth among the wolves.”

          Her face fell so entirely, that he almost chuckled at it. “Why are you so eager for a Season?”

          She smiled a little. This was better; he was inviting her to explain so that her mother could see the good advantage in it. “I have long lived with the memory of my sister’s tales of her experiences in London;” she said. “She met you there! Her coming out is what brought her to marriage, to Aspindon, to a better life! I have had my fill of Chesterton, I assure you! The prospects for marrying well in that region are as dismal as ever, if not worse;” she said. (Ariana closed her eyes at this; she could hardly bear to hear her sister telling all the reasons Phillip would most despise.) “Why does it seem that all the eligible young men in the county are either in a regiment somewhere, or at sea, or in need of a fortune? I must go to London or Bath, where there are more men one can meet!”

          She paused, looking at him earnestly. “I have no fortune, sir, as you are well aware. And with your connexions, I am certain to make very advantageous acquaintances! What could be more certain? I shall end up, no doubt, just as my sister has, with a man like you, sir!” Beatrice evidently thought she was giving him a great compliment. She waited, expecting a gracious answer. 

          “Oh, Beatrice!” moaned Mrs. Forsythe. “You foolish gel!”

          Mr. Mornay stood up, after folding his paper to a neat size. He said, “It takes more than wearing a corset to say a young lady is grown up, would you not agree?” He directed his remark to the whole room, and then settled his eyes upon Beatrice for one second too long, before giving a small bow to the women in general, and turning to leave the room. Beatrice considered his words for a moment. He had rested his eyes on her long enough so that she knew exactly what he meant. 

          Mr. Frederick met his master at the door, holding out a salver with a letter for Mr. Mornay, who took it but then looked curiously at the butler.

          “It arrived in that condition, sir! I daresay it was lost in the mail or some such thing.”

          “Hmm, very good, Freddie.” He held up a battered and ink-soiled missive for his wife to see, while eyeing it dubiously.

          She looked amused. “Who is it from?”

          He unfolded the paper, as the sealing wax was almost entirely worn off already, and scanned the signature at the bottom.  “Colonel Sotheby. I’ll read it in my office.” She nodded, and Mr. Mornay left the room.

          Beatrice  was still smarting from his earlier remark, and said, as soon as he’d gone, “How ‘grown up’ can I be, when I am forced to exist in a small country village, with no prospects, and genteel company only upon a Sunday?”

          “You overstate your case!  That is not true,” answered her mama, disapprovingly.

          “And as for wearing a corset,” Beatrice continued, after taking a sip of tea, “I do not pretend that wearing one is what makes me of age for a Season. I have formed my principles upon sound reason. I have sat beneath the tutelage of my father and of Mr. Timmons, and of his curate, and I should say my principles are well-founded.”

          “We are glad to hear it,” Ariana said, with great forbearance, “but really, you should not be setting your mind upon seeking a man like my husband; you should be intent upon finding the man that God has chosen for you.” 

          “And so I am!” she protested, her eyes wide and laughing. “But look at the advantage He gives me in having you for my sister! Am I to ignore that? When it could be the very means of bringing me and my future husband together?” 

          Ariana played absently with little Miranda’s blanket, tucking it in about her chin more snugly. She met her sister’s eyes. “London is not the only place a young woman may meet a husband. And if you want my husband’s approval of your plan, the last thing in the world you should tell him is that you want to meet a man like him! Or that you wish to marry above you in any way!”
    “But is it above me? To marry well? When my sister is Mrs. Mornay of Aspindon House?” 

          “It is above you,” said her mother, “because you are Miss Forsythe of Chesterton.”

          “I am a gentleman’s daughter,” she replied. 

          “With no dowry to speak of,” said her mama.

          Beatrice’s cheeks began to burn. “With a rich and famous brother-in-law!” she said, petulantly.

          “That does not signify!” said her mother.

          “It does, to me!”

          “It should not!” Mrs. Forsythe was quickly growing ashamed of her daughter, and she was relieved that Mr. Mornay had left the room, and was not hearing Beatrice right now. Ariana’s eyebrows were raised and she was doing her best to act as though she had no part in the dialogue. 

          “But it does, mama!”

          “Beatrice! You have already said far too much on this topic, which proves to me your great ignorance of the world.” She held up her hand for silence as Beatrice was about to protest; “Not another word! I shan’t have it, not another word.” Mrs. Forsythe turned her attention to her elder daughter.

            “I think I will visit the Nursery to see how Nigel is faring. Do you mind?”

          “Of course not! He will enjoy showing you his toys.” She smiled, while her mother rose to leave the room. “I’ll be up myself, shortly, to feed the baby.”

          “Very good.” She nodded to her daughter, and then her eye fell upon Beatrice. “I think it would be wise if you said nothing more regarding a Season. In fact, I forbid you to mention it to Mr. Mornay again! Do you understand me?”

          “I do, mama.” Beatrice was not happy but she recognized the tone of voice her mother was using.  She considered, moreover, that it would be a simple matter to keep from mentioning her hopes to the man, for he evidently would not encourage her in them. But as for herself, she would continue to think of the Season in London. She would continue to hope; and some other day, when Ariana was in a good disposition, she would prevail upon her to sponsor her in London.  

          Beatrice did not want to seem disrespectful, but she knew that Mr. Mornay was quite in error regarding her. He did not know, for instance, that she was determined to make a good match, and recognized it as her lot in life. Every inch she saw of Aspindon just confirmed her sense that a rich life awaited her. She was born for it. And now all that was necessary was to meet her future husband—the man who could make it all happen. She had long prayed for just such a meeting, and knew that it was bound to occur. All she had to do was be properly outfitted, and in the proper company, for it to do so.

          All she had to do was change her sister and brother-in-law’s mind on the matter. How difficult could that be?        

          





    ---

    My Thoughts

    The Country House Courtship is a fictional romance novel by Linore Rose Burkard. This story takes place in the early 1800's in Middlesex, England and focuses on the Phillip Mornay family and friends. You may have read  "Before the Season Ends" and "The House in Grosvenor Square" which are the two novels released earlier in this series. I have not read these two and I still enjoyed reading her newest release. If you are a Jane Austen fan, this may be a series that will thrill you. I so enjoyed reading it. I think it would make a great movie. 

    Please take time to read the first chapter provided by First Wild Card Tour.

    You can find her book at Christianbook.com and other fine stores online. Since I do not own "Before the Season Ends", I plan to purchase it from a local Sam's Club.


    ~GAhome2mom
    http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com
    Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard from First Wild Card Tour for review.

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    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Win a $10 Gift Card from Walmart



    Loving Heart Designs Giveaway:




    ~GAhome2mom
    http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com

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    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Prevailing Love by Loree Lough

    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:

    Whitaker House (January 2010)
    ***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


    A prolific writer, Loree Lough has more than seventy-three books, sixty-three short stories, and 2,500 articles in print. Her stories have earned dozens of industry and Reader’s Choice awards. A frequent guest speaker for writers’ organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, corporations, college and high school writing programs, and more, Loree has encouraged thousands with her comedic approach to “learned-the-hard-way” lessons about the craft and industry. Loree and her husband split their time between Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains.

    Visit the author's website.



    Product Details:

    List Price: $9.99
    Paperback: 496 pages
    Publisher: Whitaker House (January 2010)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1603741666
    ISBN-13: 978-1603741668

    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


    Prologue

    May 31, London


    Sam Sylvester was dying, and he knew it.

    When he closed his eyes, he could picture the huge red truck careening around the corner on two wheels, its chrome bumper aiming straight for the convertible’s windshield.

    Right before the impact, he’d glanced at Shari. As usual when they were driving, she’d had her nose buried in the pages of a romance novel. “It helps keep my mind off all the dangerous drivers,” she’d once said. It doesn’t get any more ironic than that, Sam thought.

    He wondered where Shari was now. He’d seen the paramedics load her, bloodied and unconscious, into one of the ambulances at the scene. Had the Lord, in His infinite mercy, decided to take her home then and there, to spare her any suffering?

    It was a struggle just to open his eyes, but Sam forced himself. Nothing in the bustling emergency room could possibly be as horrible as the pictures in his mind.

    “Look ’ere, doctor,” came the mask-muffled Cockney accent of a nurse. “’e seems to be coming round.”

    The broad, beefy face of a doctor peered at Sam from behind a surgical mask. “You know where you are, sir?” he asked, bushy brows drawn together in a frown.

    Under other circumstances, Sam might have chuckled, because the doctor’s breath was causing the pleats of his white mask to puff in and out like the bellows of a tiny accordion. Instead, Sam tried to muster the strength to nod. Yes, he knew exactly where he was—on his way to heaven.

    But you can’t go, he told himself. At least not yet. There was so much to do, so much to say, so many questions to ask before—

    “M-my wife….” The words scraped from his parched throat like sandpaper across roughened wood. “W-where’s my wi—?”

    “Down the hall,” said the nurse, patting his hand.

    “Is she…is she—?”

    The expression on her face told him everything he needed to know. Shari had already joined their Maker in Paradise. But maybe, just maybe, he’d read the blue eyes above the mask wrong….

    He ignored the pain—pain that seemed to have no particular source, throbbing in every joint and every muscle. He screwed up his courage. He had to know for sure before he let go of this earthly life.

    “Did she make it?”

    In the moment of hesitation and silence that followed his question, Sam felt his own lifeblood seeping slowly onto the gurney beneath him. The doctors and nurses surrounding him were all perspiring, so why, he wondered, did he feel so cold?

    Drowsiness threatened to take him far, far from the ER, but he fought it. “Did she make it?” he repeated with force.

    “No, Mr. Sylvester,” said the whisper-soft voice of the nurse, “I’m afraid she didn’t.” Another gentle pat. “But I can promise y’ this—she didn’t suffer.”

    Sam closed his eyes as a curious mix of gratitude and regret propelled a slow, groaning breath past his lips. Gratitude that his precious wife wouldn’t be “up there” alone for long. Regret because their sweet little girl would have to live the rest of her days without them.

    At least Molly will have Ethan, thank God.

    Ethan…every bit as alone in the world as Molly would soon be.

    For the first time since he’d regained consciousness, Sam felt a profound fear pulse through him. Ethan…. They need to contact him right now because Molly’s going to need him!

    With a strength that belied his condition, he gripped the nurse’s wrist. “What…what did they do with…where are my things?” he choked out.

    “In a locker, just down the hall.” She fished in the pocket of her surgical gown as the corners of her eyes crinkled with a sympathetic smile. “I ’aven’t ’ad a chance yet to file it,” she said, withdrawing a key.

    The way it caught and reflected the light made it look like a silvery cross, if only for an instant. In that instant, Sam pictured Jesus welcoming Shari home. “In my wallet,” he said, struggling for air now, “there’s a business card, and—”

    Her blonde brows knitted with concern. “Please calm yourself, Mr. Sylvester.”

    “Why?”

    He watched as she blinked and tried to come up with a rational reason for him to calm down. His mind started to wander, and he recalled how he’d been a volunteer EMT in Maryland before moving to London. He’d witnessed enough accident scenes to know what impending death looked like. He knew that the remainder of his life could be numbered in minutes, and that he had just one reason to conserve his remaining strength: Molly.

    He thought about the joy she’d brought into his life, into Shari’s. From the moment they’d picked up their round-faced infant at that crowded Korean orphanage eleven years ago, she’d enchanted them with her dancing brown eyes and elfin smile. And the first thing every morning since, Sam and Shari had thanked the Almighty for blessing them with their beautiful, raven-haired angel.

    Life from now on would be hard for her. Very hard, especially at first. But Molly knew the Lord, and He would help her through those first sorrow-filled days. And she’d have her uncle Ethan to look out for her.

    Molly adored Ethan, and Ethan had always loved Molly as much as if she were his own. Sam and Shari had discussed it dozens of times. The way he looked at Molly, the tenderness in his voice when he spoke to her—that was the reason they’d decided to make him godfather and guardian to their only child.

    This would be hard for Ethan, too, Sam knew. But he’d be a good father to Molly. Sam was as certain of that as he was of God’s boundless love.

    From out of nowhere, a line Sam had read somewhere reverberated in his head: In knowledge, there is power. Knowing Molly would be in good hands gave him enough physical power to persist with the nurse. “The card,” he said again, “will you…get it…for me?”

    The doctor nodded his approval, and the nurse left to collect Sam’s belongings. He closed his eyes. Father, he prayed, let me hold on a little longer, for Molly’s sake….

    “Is this it?”

    Squinting, Sam smiled crookedly at the card held between the nurse’s thumb and forefinger. “After all that fuss,” he croaked out, “I’m ashamed to admit I…to admit that…that I can’t focus enough….to read it.”

    “It says ‘Burke Enterprises,’ and under that, ‘Ethan Burke, President and CEO.’”

    A relieved sigh rattled from his lungs. “Praise God,” he whispered. “Praise Jesus!”

    For a moment, an odd stillness settled over the cramped, brightly lit cubicle, despite the blips and hums of the equipment monitoring his heart rate and pulse, despite the nonstop efforts of the medical team to repair his broken, battered body.

    “What’s your name?” he asked the nurse.

    She raised her eyebrows high on her forehead, her stethoscope bobbing, as she pointed to her chest.

    “Yes, you.”

    “Tricia Turner.”

    Reaching for her hand, he said, “Will you call him for me, Tricia?” Sam squeezed her hand.

    “I’ll see it gets done, soon as—”

    Another squeeze, tighter this time, interrupted her. “I’d like you to do it.” Sam spoke slowly, knowing he had to conserve his waning strength until he could be sure Molly would be with Ethan as soon as was humanly possible. “You know as well as I that I’m not walking out of here, Tricia, so say you’ll grant me this last wish.”

    She blinked once, twice, and then said, “I—I’ll try.”

    “No,” Sam all but barked. “Promise me, before I die. Because my wife and I chose Ethan, there,” Sam said, nodding toward the card, “to be our daughter’s guardian, should anything happen to us. She’s only eleven, you see, and I—”

    “I understand. And you have my word. I’ll phone him for you.”

    “I have your word?”

    She nodded just once, but it was enough. A feeling of great peace settled over Sam, and, smiling, he let go of her hand. “Thank you. And bless you, Tricia, for your kindness…for giving me peace.”

    When she began to fade from view, Sam thought, Not a good sign. Not good at all. Good thing he’d given Molly an extra-big hug and an especially big kiss that morning. Good thing you told her how much you love her. And how you taught her to turn to God in times of trouble. The girl would need it—soon.

    Soon, soon, soon, he chanted in his mind as a drowsy, dizzy sensation wrapped around him. The pain was gone now, and he felt nothing but the feathery weight of the stick-on patches that held the heart monitor wires in place on his chest. Sam closed his eyes and listened to the high-pitched one-note whine of the monitor.

    “Code blue!” someone hollered.

    “Crash cart, stat!” yelled someone else.

    Their shouts didn’t startle him. Sam was beyond fear now. Somewhere in the deepest recesses of his conscious mind, he remembered his days as a paramedic, when he’d seen the flat line on the monitor signal the end of a life.

    This is the last time you’ll have that memory…last memory you’ll have, period!

    Did the saints in heaven remember their days on earth? And if they did, were they granted permission to visit their former world? Sam hoped so, because he wanted desperately to know that he could look in on Molly from time to time.

    The lead surgeon on the team applied electric paddles to Sam’s chest, then bellowed “Clear!” as Tricia prepared a syringe for one last-ditch effort to save him. But Sam knew it was pointless. Soon, they’d realize the futility of their efforts, and by the time the doctor called time of death, he’d be with his Father, and with Shari, in Paradise.

    Sam said one last prayer:

    Lord Jesus, be with Ethan now. Guide his steps and his words, for Molly’s sake, as well as for his….





    Chapter One

    Same day, Potomac Hills, Maryland


    There’d been a time when Ethan had enjoyed hosting parties—the bigger, the better—especially right here on his own riverfront estate. But his heart wasn’t in this one. Hadn’t been “in” much of anything lately.

    Not so long ago, his parties had been described in the society pages as “colorful affairs.” But there hadn’t been much color in his life lately, either. Even the sun setting over the Potomac seemed drab and washed out.

    Ethan stood on the pier, hands in his pockets, and looked back toward the great expanse of lawn, where no fewer than a hundred well-dressed guests meandered from tennis court to swimming pool to dual-level deck.

    You’ve got it all, he thought, frowning. And from all outward appearances, he did have it all—a successful, self-made business; a big, beautiful house on three acres of prime Maryland real estate; seven automobiles—a sleek, high-priced sports car (for impressing the ladies), a classy, imported sedan (for impressing clients), and five roadsters of various vintages to impress himself…and neighbors who were rich and famous, to boot.

    So why did he feel like something was missing? Something meaningful, something vital?

    There were two bright spots in Ethan’s life: Burke Enterprises and his Korean-born goddaughter, Molly. The mere thought of the pretty preteen raised his spirits a bit. In another couple of weeks, Molly and her parents would arrive for a long, leisurely vacation, and already, he was counting down the days until the family would leave London for their annual trek to Maryland.

    A woman’s shrill voice broke into his thoughts. “Peewee-than!” she hollered. “There you are!”

    It was Kate, the six-foot, blonde marketing manager his vice president had appointed a couple months back. She waved a hand of red-taloned fingers above her head, and he sent a halfhearted salute in return, then faced the slow-surging river and ran both hands through his hair. He’d been neatly dodging her blatant flirtations all afternoon, pretending the ice bucket needed to be refilled or feigning a must-have conversation with someone across the way. But now he felt trapped, like a captive standing at the end of the gangplank on a buccaneer ship.

    Her high-heeled sandals clickity-clacked as she pranced across the wide, weathered boards of the pier. “Ethan, what are you doing over here all by yourself? People are looking for you.”

    Of course they were. And why wouldn’t they be? Somebody, somewhere, was always seeking him out for any one of a hundred reasons—a favor, a raise, a piece of advice, an introduction to another mover and shaker. With shoulders slumped, he shook his head. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, pal, he chided. As his mother would have pointed out, God had blessed him with a lot—materially and otherwise. But He’s taken away a lot, too….

    “Ethan?”

    You’ve got two choices, m’friend, he told himself, grinning slightly as he looked at the water swirling darkly around the pilings. Jump, or pretend you’re pleased to see her.

    Turning, Ethan took a deep breath and fixed a practiced smile on his face. “Kate, darling,” he said smoothly, taking the goblet of iced tea from her hand, “looks like you need a refill. Let me get—”

    Laughing lightly, she patted her flat stomach. “Please,” she gasped, “one more ounce of anything and I’ll positively pop!”

    There was an awkward pause, and Ethan knew she was waiting for him to fill the void with some form of flattery about her figure. Unable to think of a single truthful thing to say, he let the moment pass.

    A quick glance at his Rolex told him it was nearly four in the afternoon. Another hour or so and the party would be over. The crowd had already thinned considerably; once the last of them had gone, he’d call Sam and Shari to see if they’d made their airline reservations yet. Last time they’d talked, he’d promised to have a car pick them up at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. They were the closest thing to a family he’d likely ever have, so nothing but the best for them!

    Kate linked her arm through his and led him back toward the house. “It sure was nice of you to throw a Memorial Day barbecue for Burke employees and their families,” she purred. “I want you to know…I’m especially happy to be here.”

    Yeah, I’ll just bet you are, he thought.

    His vice president, Pete Maxon, had told Ethan what he’d overheard Kate say two days prior: “If I play my cards right,” she told the gaggle of gals gathered near the water cooler, “I’ll be Mrs. Ethan Burke by this time next year!”

    Mrs. Burke, my foot! “Couldn’t very well invite everyone else and leave your name off the guest list, now, could I?” was his bland reply.

    By the time Sam and Shari had made him guardian of their only daughter six years earlier, Ethan had pretty much accepted the idea that Molly was the closest he’d come to having a child. He would have loved kids—a house full of them—but a man needed a wife for that. And every female he’d met so far had been like Kate, keeping her tummy flat and her sights firmly fixed on his checkbook. Hardly mother material!

    “You look very handsome today,” she said, then threw back her back and laughed. “Which isn’t to say you don’t always look handsome. I just meant that in those jeans and that white shirt—”

    A gale of robust laughter interrupted her. “Ethan, m’boy! There you are! Seems I’ve walked every inch of this plantation you call a home looking for you.” The silver-haired gentleman fixed his gaze on Kate. “Well, now, no wonder I couldn’t find him,” he told her, wiggling his eyebrows. Leaning in close, he lowered his voice to add, “I’d make myself scarce, too, if my date was as lovely as you.”

    Ethan heard the phone ringing in the distance. Without knowing why, he tensed. Everyone who might have a reason to call him at home had been invited to the cookout. “Kate isn’t my date, Dad,” he said distractedly. “She’s—”

    “Dad?” Kate interrupted. “This attractive young fellow is your father?” She flung an arm over his shoulders. “Why, you don’t look nearly old enough to have a son Ethan’s age,” she cooed.

    The older man attempted a W. C. Fields imitation. “My dear, you’re an outrageous flirt!”

    Kate kept her eyes on Ethan’s father. “Now I see where you get your good looks and your charm, Ethan.” She turned slightly, aiming a haughty expression at her boss. “We-e-e-ell?”

    His stiff-backed stance and tight-lipped expression spoke volumes. At least they should have. Kate didn’t seem to notice at all how much her presence irked him.

    “Aren’t you going to introduce us?”

    Poor Kate, he thought. She somehow got the idea that Dad has more money than Donald Trump. Shoving both hands into his pockets, he stared at the close-cropped lawn in an attempt to hide his grin. If this is going where I think it’s going, you two deserve each other. “Dad, this is Kate Winslow,” came his bored monotone. “Kate, meet Sawyer Burke.”

    During the introductions, he noticed that the phone had stopped ringing, and he wondered if Maria had answered it or if the machine had taken the call. Wondered, too, why a sense of foreboding still churned in his gut.

    “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my dear,” Sawyer said, bowing.

    Her hands clasped beneath her chin, Kate giggled like a silly schoolgirl. “Oh, but the pleasure is all—”

    “Meester Burke! Meester Burke!”

    All heads turned toward the deck, where Ethan’s housekeeper was leaning over the railing with a portable phone pressed to her aproned bosom. “Hurry,” she yelled, waving him closer. “Muy importante!”

    Maria had worked for Ethan for years. The only other time he’d heard her carry on that way had been last Christmas, when the warmth of the fire had brought hundreds of praying mantis nymphs to life in the branches of the twenty-foot Douglas fir that dominated the living room. His heart pounding with fear and dread, Ethan took the steps two at a time.

    There were tears in the eyes of the plump, gray-haired woman when she said, “Oh, Meester Burke…poor leetle Molly….”

    Not Molly, Lord, he prayed silently. Please don’t let anything have happened to my sweet Molly….

    With a trembling hand, he accepted the phone and slowly brought it to his ear. “Ethan Burke here….”

    “Mr. Burke? Um, my name is, ah, Tricia Turner, and I’m a nurse at ’ampton ’ospital in London? I, uh, well….”

    He had a yard full of guests, so why was the little Brit hemming and hawing? But the instant she finished her sentence, Ethan wished he’d never rushed her, even in his mind. Because not even her crisp Cockney accent made it easy to listen to the rapid-fire dispensation of information that followed. Sam and Shari had been killed in a car crash at Trafalgar Square, and their daughter was home alone with her nanny.

    “She hasn’t been told yet?”

    The long pause made him wonder if they’d been disconnected. But then she said, “No. Before Mr. Sylvester passed on, he told us you’re the child’s guardian. He said you’d take care of everything, including breaking the news about her mum and dad.” Another unbearable pause ensued before she added, “’e was one brave chap, that pal of yours, ’oldin’ on till ’e knew ’is li’le one would be in good ’ands….”

    Ethan slumped into the nearest deck chair, one hand in his hair, the other gripping the phone so tightly his fingers ached. The nurse’s tone of voice rather than her words themselves told Ethan that Sam had suffered in the end. But how like him to bite the bullet until all the loose ends were tied up.

    Suddenly, the full impact of the news hit him. Sam and Shari, gone? Ethan struggled to come to grips with the stunning reality—the finality—of it.

    “Mr. Burke? Are y’there?”

    The oh-so-British voice snapped him back to attention. “Yes. Yes, sorry.”

    “’ow long d’you suppose it’ll take you to get ’ere? I don’t mean to be crass, but there’s the matter of…of….”

    “Identifying the bodies?”

    “Yes. Rules, y’know.”

    The bodies. The funeral arrangements. Ethan was at a loss for words.

    “So you’ll be ’ere soon, then…?”

    Ethan hung his head, shading his eyes with his free hand. Sam and Shari had trusted him to do what needed to be done should anything like this ever happen. Of course, he hadn’t expected there would ever be a need for him to follow through; they’d always been so full of vim and vigor, always so alive.

    The word reverberated painfully in his brain. If he’d known, when he’d signed the documents making him executor of their estate, that the prospect of making those hard, under-pressure decisions would turn his blood to ice, he might have suggested they hire a lawyer instead. An outsider. Someone who didn’t love them.

    “How soon d’you think you can be ’ere, sir?”

    A mental image of Molly, alone in the Sylvesters’ London flat with some barely-out-of-her-teens nanny, flashed through his head. She needed him, and if he had to pull every favor owed him, if he had to charter a private jet, he’d get there by morning. “I’ll be on the next London-bound plane leaving Baltimore,” he said. And, thanking her, Ethan hung up.

    Propping the phone on the arm of the deck chair, he stared out at the Potomac. It wouldn’t be easy filling Sam’s shoes. The guy had made fatherhood look as natural as breathing. No matter how tired or overworked he had been, Sam had always dug deep and found the energy to spend time with his little girl.

    Molly had told Ethan no fewer than a dozen times that he was her favorite grown-up. It was one thing playing part-time uncle. Being a full-time dad was something else entirely.

    For that precious child’s sake, he hoped he was up to the task.

    ***

    Three months later


    Through the two-way mirror in the waiting room, Ethan watched the therapist working with Molly. Miss Majors had been recommended by Pastor Cummings. Ethan had prayed before making the decision, and he prayed now that it had been the right one.

    He’d been at his wit’s end wondering how to cope with Molly’s sad, stoic silence. Then Maria had suggested he turn to his church for help. He might have thought of it himself, except that church hadn’t exactly been at the center of his life for the past few years. If not for Molly’s refusal to speak, he might not have started attending again. But he’d had no choice. Her condition was his fault—no ifs, ands, or buts.

    His head in his hands, Ethan closed his eyes, unable to watch the child’s sorrowful expression a moment longer. He loved her as if she were his own flesh and blood; loved her the way he’d loved his sister Bess, his mother….

    Why did it seem that whomever he loved deeply suffered?

    With his eyes still squinted shut, he couldn’t see into the next room, but he could hear every word thanks to the speaker overhead. The pretty, young counselor was pulling out all the stops. She’d tried everything short of a song and dance act to this point, yet Molly hadn’t uttered a syllable.

    Ethan slouched on the sofa. He kept his eyes closed and let his mind wander back to that terrible morning in London when he’d broken the tragic news to Molly. Despite the speech he’d practiced over and over during the red-eye flight into Heathrow Airport, he’d messed up big time when the moment finally came.

    When he’d arrived at Sam and Shari’s, it had been easy to smile as Molly skipped around him in a slowly shrinking circle, clapping her hands and squealing with glee that her uncle Ethan had come to visit. They’d played this welcome game since she had been old enough to stand on her own, and he cherished every giggly moment.

    That morning, she’d wrapped her arms around him, just as she’d done a hundred times before…and then stopped. “Mommy and Daddy haven’t called….”

    Worry and fear were etched on her little face, and even as Ethan had prayed for the right words to erase them, he’d known no such power would be granted him that day.

    “They always call,” she’d said, looking up into his face. “There must be something wrong….”

    He’d perched on the edge of the sofa, invited her to sit down beside him, and then, with one arm resting on her slender shoulders, looked into those dark, trusting eyes…and lost it.

    What kind of a man are you? Ethan had demanded of himself as tears coursed down his face. You’re blubbering like a baby…. It’s your job to comfort Molly, not the other way around! He’d never felt more like a heel than during those long, harrowing moments when she’d patted his shoulder, saying, “It’ll be okay, Uncle Ethan. Don’t cry. Won’t you tell me why you’re so sad?”

    A minute or so later, after his carefully chosen words had been uttered, Ethan realized that in the space of a minute, maybe two, he’d completely destroyed her safe little world.

    He hated the old adage that said, “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.” However, looking into her shocked, pained eyes made him understand the truth of it as never before. He’d prayed for a kinder, gentler way to break the news. So, why hadn’t God delivered on His “ask, and ye shall receive” promise?

    He should have been gentler. Should have eked out the information more slowly. Should have brought in a professional to help deliver the awful, life-changing news….

    The ugly memory made him groan aloud and drive his fingers through his hair. The all-business attitude that had kept his nose to the grindstone while building Burke Enterprises had given him the drive and motivation to work until he thought he might drop, watch the market with a shrewd eye, and study his competitors even more closely. “Tell it like it is” had become watchwords—no exceptions. Straight talk had never let him down before, but it had backfired miserably that morning with Molly. He wondered what Miss Majors would say about his pathetic performance as a parent.

    Well, at least he’d done one thing right—he hadn’t gone into detail about the accident. He’d been to the morgue and seen his friends’ battered, lifeless bodies. The poor kid sure didn’t need the image of that in her head for a lifetime!

    Ethan didn’t think he’d ever forget the way her dark lashes had fluttered as her deep-brown eyes filled with tears. She’d begun to quake, as if each tremor was counting the beats of her breaking heart. “B-but…but they promised,” she’d whimpered.

    “Promised what, sweetheart?”

    “That…that they’d never leave me. Th-that they’d be here for me, forever.” She’d punched the sofa cushion. “They can’t be dead. It isn’t true! It isn’t!”

    Not knowing what to say, he’d simply held out his arms, his own eyes filling with tears again as he sent a silent message with one nod of his head: Yes, it’s true.

    For a moment, she’d simply sat, staring. Then she’d thrown herself into his arms, and they’d cried together. Ethan had no idea how much time had passed—minutes? half an hour?—before her rib-racking sobs and shirt-soaking tears subsided. Then, Molly had sat back, dried her eyes with the hem of her plaid skirt, and sucked in a huge gulp of air. “It’s my fault,” she’d whispered, staring blankly ahead.

    She hadn’t said a word since.

    And now, despite Miss Majors’ valiant efforts, Molly sat stiff and straight in the bright-red armchair, ankles crossed and hands folded primly in her lap, staring at some indistinct spot on the floor.

    It would feel good, actually, to confess his faults and frailties to this stranger; it would feel equally good when she gave him the tongue-lashing he deserved, not that taking his lumps would change anything.

    The counselor stood up and walked over to the two-way mirror, flipped a switch on the wall, and tapped on the glass. Up to this point, Ethan had been able to see and hear everything that was going on in the exam room without being visible to its occupants. But now, Miss Majors and Molly could see and hear him, too. The counselor’s beautiful green eyes zeroed in on his, and she smiled softly. “Mr. Burke, I realize Molly’s session has ended, but I’m hoping you’ll stay a few minutes to talk with me.”

    Ethan blinked, unnerved by her intense scrutiny. Here it comes, he thought, the dressing-down of your lifetime. “I—uh, well, sure,” he stammered, running a hand through his hair. He had the sudden feeling that this nervous habit betrayed a deep psychological disorder, and she must have read his mind, because Miss Majors tilted her head and raised an eyebrow.

    She opened the door in the exam room that led to the waiting room, then walked past him purposefully to her office, tossing Molly’s file on the blotter on her desk. He followed and stood in the doorway. “She’ll be fine in there,” the counselor assured him. “As you can see, Molly is all wrapped up in a book she found on the shelf.”

    He glanced back into the exam room, where, sure enough, Molly was sitting in that same red chair with an open book in her lap. How long was I lost in thought? he wondered. “She hasn’t been that interested in anything since I brought her home,” he admitted, meeting the therapist’s eyes. “How’d you get her to do that?”

    “It’s my job,” she said in the same no-nonsense tone he remembered from the telephone conversations that had led up to this appointment. “Please, make yourself comfortable.”

    She gestured to an upholstered armchair facing her desk.

    As comfortable as a body can get in a contraption like this, he thought, sliding onto its seat. Ethan immediately leaned forward, balanced elbows on knees, and said, “So, can you help her or not?”

    Miss Majors was standing behind her chair, her pale pink-painted fingernails drumming on the wood-trimmed headrest. When she smiled, the room brightened. He was taken aback until he realized why her smile looked so different, so special. It wasn’t a flirty grin intended to knock him for a loop or a seductive smirk meant to advertise her availability, which were the types he’d grown accustomed to receiving from women of all ages. Her smile was honest, unpretentious. She was offering herself, all right…but on a caring, professional level.

    Ethan found his respect for her growing, and he’d opened his mouth to compliment her when she said, “Yes, we can help her. But it’ll take time, perhaps a lot of it, to find out why she stopped talking.”

    Pausing, she plopped into her chair. “And it’ll take a major time commitment from you, Mr. Burke.”

    Her voice was soothing, rhythmic, like the calming sound of the Potomac lapping at the piling that supported his pier. Ethan sat back and crossed his legs, resting an ankle on his knee. “I intend to cooperate in any way I can. Tell me what to do, and it’s as good as done.”

    Miss Majors wrote something in Molly’s file, then stood up and walked around to the front of her desk. Perching on one corner, she said, “I’m glad to hear that.”

    His mind began to wander as she matter-of-factly outlined a course of treatment. She’s not much bigger than most of her clients, he mused. His gaze shifted from her big, green eyes to the mass of long, carrot-colored curls framing her face, making her look like a cross between Julia Roberts and Pippi Longstocking. And really, what kid wouldn’t be attracted to a woman like that?

    Earlier, as she’d walked ahead of him into her office, he’d felt like a cartoon character floating along on the delectable scent of flowers and sunshine. The aroma reminded him of the hedgerow behind his childhood home…lilacs? Honeysuckle?

    Ethan shifted in his chair, suddenly angry with himself. What sort of person was he, anyway, having thoughts like that about the woman who would help his little Molly escape her self-imposed prison of silence?

    “If you’re agreeable, I’d like to hold all future sessions at your house,” she was saying. “At least, until we make some headway.”

    It appeared she hadn’t noticed how far his mind had wandered from Molly, and after a quick prayer of thanks, he nodded.

    “I think she’ll benefit from being in familiar surroundings.”

    “I agree.”

    Miss Majors lifted her chin a notch and tilted her head slightly as those bright eyes zeroed in on his face. “I think it’s important for you to be available for the first few sessions, if at all possible.”

    “Of course, it’s possible,” he blurted out. “Nothing is more important than Molly.”

    “Not even Burke Enterprises?”

    He clenched his teeth. Hadn’t he just said that Molly came first? What did she mean by that crack, anyway? “Not even Burke Enterprises,” he affirmed.

    She’d said it to put him to the test. He could see it in her eyes, in the way one eyebrow lifted at his response. He’d used the tactic himself plenty of times during hard business negotiations. And from the looks of her approving smile, he’d passed.

    “Good,” she said matter-of-factly. She returned to the other side of her desk, sat down, and opened her daily planner. “Three times a week, an hour at a time, for starters,” she said, clicking a ballpoint pen into action. And without looking up, Miss Majors added, “Mornings are usually best for the kids.”

    Most of Ethan’s business meetings were scheduled first thing in the morning. But he’d just underscored that nothing was more important than Molly, and he aimed to prove it. Reaching into his suit coat pocket, Ethan slid out his electronic calendar. “Nine o’clock?” he asked, hitting the On button.

    The upward curve of her full, pink lips told Ethan she hadn’t expected him to agree so quickly.

    “I owe you an apology, Mr. Burke.”

    Confused, he blinked. “What? But…why?”

    “For appearing inflexible.” She shrugged. “I’ve been at this long enough to know that people rarely say what they mean. Especially people like you—with plenty of money—who can hire others to do what….”

    It seemed to Ethan that she hadn’t intended to be quite that open and honest. Maybe that would teach her not to judge all her wealthy clients by the abysmal behavior of a few.

    “Most parents say they want to help,” she continued, “and that they understand therapy will take time, and patience, and cooperation. But what they really want is…for me to perform a miracle. Like I’m equipped with a magic wand that’ll fix everything with one quick stroke.” She gave another shrug. “It’s not an altogether fair tactic, but I’ll do anything, say anything, go to any lengths, to help my kids.”

    Her kids? Was that something all the self-professed child experts said to worried parents? Half a dozen other specialists had said the same thing…and had failed to draw Molly out of her shell.

    Still, there was something about Miss Majors that made Ethan believe she could no more look him in the eye and lie than leap from the roof of this three-story building and fly to the parking lot! It made him want to give her a shot, if for no other reason than that time was running out. The longer Molly remained in her wordless world, the harder it would be to coax her out of it.

    “You’re the expert,” he conceded. “So even when it’s inconvenient, or difficult, I’ll make whatever changes are necessary to help Molly.”

    With pen poised above her book, she smiled. “Just so we can get things started sooner rather than later, what do you think of my coming to your house at seven tomorrow evening? And when we wrap things up, we can schedule dates and times that work for all of us.”

    “Sounds like a plan to me.” Without knowing it, she’d spared him having to cancel and reschedule tomorrow’s early-morning meetings. Ethan got to his feet and extended a hand. She stood up, too, and reached across her desk to shake it. The power of her grip surprised him, especially considering her slight frame. If her ideas about helping Molly were as solid as her handshake, things would right themselves in no time.

    Ethan pulled a business card out of his pocket and plucked a pencil from a mug on her desk overflowing with writing implements. “It’s tough to find my driveway if you don’t know what to look for,” he said, sketching a small, crude map on the back of the card, “so this should make it a little easier. Just watch for a gray mailbox.”

    Accepting the map, she thanked him and, nodding, watched him as he left her office and entered the exam room. He felt her eyes on him as he took the girl by the hand and led her down the hall. If he hadn’t glanced over his shoulder as he and Molly were waiting for the elevator, he’d never have seen her wiping tears from her gorgeous green eyes. The sight of it touched something in him, though he couldn’t say what, couldn’t understand why. Her reaction should have roused deep concern. After all, weren’t therapists supposed to remain aloof and unemotional if they hoped to obtain successful results?

    It wasn’t like him to let go of a suspicion that quickly, that easily. He’d sealed many deals with nothing more than gut instinct to go on. So no one was more surprised than Ethan when he said a silent prayer asking God to help him figure out if he’d made the right choice for Molly—or if he simply wanted to believe he had—because something about the pretty counselor called to something desperately lonely deep within himself….



    --

    I did not receive this book for review but wanted to share it with  my readers. I enjoyed reading her previous book.

    Thank you,
    ~GAhome2mom
    http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com


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    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

     Little Women by Louisa May Alcott



    One of my all-time favorite novels is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This story takes place during the Civil War area and shares the life and struggles of four little women, the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. If you get the chance, check out one of the classic movies based on Little Women.

    My favorite version to watch of Little Women is from 1949 starring June Allyson, Margaret O’Brien, Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh. There is an earlier version from 1933 starring Katharine Hepburn(Jo), Joan Bennett(Amy), Jean Parker(Beth) and Frances Dee(Meg). But you may be more familiar with the 1994 version of Little Women starring Winona Ryder(Jo, Claire Danes(Beth), Kirsten Dunst(Amy) and Trini Alvarado(Meg).

    I found lots of wonderful facts from the Internet Movie Database including movie trailers of Little Women. I was amazed to learn that there were actually five versions created since 1917. The first was a silent take on the popular novel. Whichever version you prefer, consider making it a family favorite. You can find these movies sold on Amazon, Christianbook.com and other fine stores. Christianbook.com has Little Women on MP3, Audio, and Ebook and much more.

    Read Little Women online for free ::Watch Trailers on Internet Movie Database :: Learn @ Wikipedi

    ~GAhome2mom
    http://gahome2mom.blogspot.com

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