I’m very excited to “talk up” two very cool books this week, written by two very cool people.
Tammy (I mean Tamara) and Robin are two very dear friends of mine. I am blessed to get together with these two, dear ladies once a year to plot our books. They’ve helped me tons, and yes … I can see parts of their stories I commented on too. Enjoy!!!
What happens when dreams aren’t what you imagined, And secrets you’ve spent a lifetime guarding are finally laid bare?
Determined to become one of the country’s premier newspaper photographers, Elizabeth Westbrook travels to the Colorado Territory to capture the grandeur of the mountains surrounding the remote town of Timber Ridge. She hopes, too, that the cool, dry air of Colorado, and its renowned hot springs, will cure the mysterious illness that threatens her career, and her life.Daniel Ranslett, a former Confederate sharpshooter, is a man shackled by his past, and he’ll do anything to protect his land and his solitude. When an outspoken Yankee photographer captures an image that appears key to solving a murder, putting herself in danger, Daniel is called upon to repay a debt. He’s a man of his word, but repaying that debt will bring secrets from his past to light. Forced on a perilous journey together, Daniel and Elizabeth’s lives intertwine in ways neither could have imagined when first they met . . . from a distance.
Rocky Mountains, Colorado Territory
April 15, 1875
Elizabeth Garrett Westbrook stepped closer to the cliff’s edge, not the least intimidated by the chasm’s vast plunge. Every moment of her life had been preparing her for this. That knowledge was as certain within her as the thrumming inside her chest. At thirty-two, she still wasn’t the woman she wanted to be, which was partially why she’d traveled nineteen hundred miles west to Timber Ridge, Colorado Territory. To leave behind a life she’d settled for, in exchange for the pursuit of a dream, for however long she had left.
A chill fingered its way past her woolen coat, into her shirtwaist, and through the cotton chemise that lay beneath. She pulled the coat closer about her chest and viewed the seamless river and valley carved far below, the mountains heaved up and ragged, draped in brilliant dawn to the limits of sight. She peered down to where the earth ended abruptly at the tips of her boots and the canyon plunged
to breathtaking depths.
The Chronicle offices in Washington, D.C., were housed in a four-story building, and she estimated that at least ten of those buildings could be stacked one atop the other and still not reach the height of the cliff where she stood. She’d never before experienced such a sense of possibility. Standing here, she felt so small in comparison to all of this, yet in awe that the same Creator who had orchestrated such grandeur was also orchestrating the dissonant fragments of her life.
The competition had been rigorous, but she’d made it—one of three final candidates being considered for the position of staff photographer and journalist at the Washington Daily Chronicle. The other two candidates were men—men she’d met, liked and respected, and who knew how to frame the world through a lens as well as they did with words—which meant she would have to work extra hard to prove herself.
A breeze stirred, and she brushed back a curl. She inhaled the crisp, cold air, held it captive in her lungs, and then gave it gradual release, as the doctors had instructed. Hailed for its purity and ability to heal, the mountain air was even thinner than she had expected, and more invigorating.
Refocusing on her task, she strapped on her shoulder pack and checked the knotted rope encircling her waist for a second time, then untied her boots and placed one stockinged foot onto the felled tree.
She tested her weight on the natural bridge and judged it would more than hold her. Even though the tree looked solid, she’d learned the hard way that things were not always as they appeared. She trailed her gaze along the length of the gnarled trunk to where it met with the opposite ledge some twenty feet away. Heights had never bothered her, but once she started across, she purposed to never look down. Better to keep your focus on the goal rather than on the obstacles.
She adjusted the weight of her pack, concentrating, focusing, and took that crucial first step.
“Don’t you go fallin’ there, Miz Westbrook!”
Startled by the interruption, Elizabeth stepped back to safety and turned to look behind her. Josiah stood on the winding mountain trail, gripping the other end of the rope that was secured to a tree behind him.
Uncertainty layered his mahogany features. “I’s just offerin’ one last warnin’, ma’am. ‘Fore you set out.”
Heart in her throat, she tried to sound kind. “I assure you, I’m fine, Josiah. I’ve done this countless times.” Though, granted, never over so great a height. But be it eight feet or eight hundred, the ability
to traverse a chasm successfully lay in focus and balance. At least that’s what she kept telling herself. “But it would help me if you would stop your screaming.”
His soft laughter was as deep as the canyon and gentle as the breeze. “I ain’t screamin’, ma’am. Womenfolk, now, they scream. Us men, we yells.”
She threw him a reproving look. “Then, please . . . stop your man-like yelling.”
He tugged at the rim of his worn slouch hat. “I won’t be havin’ to yell if you’d start actin’ like a normal-headed woman. Instead of some . . . hoople-head traipsin’ herself across a log for some picture of a bird’s nest.”
The felled tree was large, nearly fifty inches in circumference, hardly the log Josiah referred to, and crossing it to the opposite ledge would provide a better vantage point of the eagle’s nest. The aerie was built on a precipice jutting from the side of the mountain, slightly below the level of the cliff and some thirty feet beyond. The photograph of the nest with the chasm below and the mountains in the backdrop would be breathtaking—if she didn’t fall and break her neck first.
She’d crossed wider drop-offs on much narrower tree bridges than this. Doing such things always made her feel a little like a girl again, and took her back to a time when she hadn’t yet been told that certain things were impossible.
“May I remind you that I’m paying you, very well”—she raised a brow, appreciating the ease of banter they’d shared since the outset of their association—”to carry my equipment and assist me in my work, not to offer opinions on my decisions.”
“Ain’t no extra charge for them, ma’am. They’s free.”
She shook her head at his broad smile. For the past week Josiah Birch had followed her instructions to the letter, as well he should. When properly motivated, the Washington Daily Chronicle had deep pockets.
Two other men had applied for the job as her assistant. They’d both seemed capable, but there was something about Josiah Birch that she innately trusted. He wasn’t an educated man, but he knew how to read and write, and he’d learned to handle and mix the chemical solutions for her trade as fast as she had. And that he weighed twice what she did and held the excess in lean hard muscle and in an honest, open gaze had only bolstered his nonexistent résumé.
Focusing again, Elizabeth placed her right foot on the tree. Arms outstretched like a tightrope walker’s, she compensated for the heavier-than-usual shoulder pack and took a carefully plotted first step. Then a second step. And a third . . .
A NOTE FROM TAMERA: Stories are journeys, and each story I write is a journey for me.
Rekindled began with a dream—the image of a man returning home on horseback. He came upon a freshly dug grave and when he knelt to read the name carved into the roughhewn wooden cross, he discovered the name was…his own. The inspiration for Revealed grew from two characters in Rekindled whose stories needed to be told. But even more, whose stories I needed to tell. Writing Revealed was a very personal journey for me, and a healing one. For Remembered, I met that story’s heroine (figuratively, of course) while strolling the ancient cobblestoned pathways of a three hundred-year-old cemetery in northern Paris, France. And From a Distance came from a question I was struggling with in my own life at the time, “What happens when the dream you asked God for isn’t what you thought it would be?”
For me, the greatest thrill of these writing journeys is when Christ reveals Himself in some new way, and I take a step closer to Him. And my deepest desire is that readers of my books will do that as well—take steps closer to Him as they read. After all, it’s all about Him.
In the Potter’s Hand,
Tamera Alexander is the bestselling novelist of Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered. Her deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers and have earned her multiple industry awards. After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Franklin, Tennessee where they enjoy life with their two college-age children and Jack, a precious—and precocious—Silky Terrier.
From a Distance is available at bookstores everywhere, on http://www.bethanyhouse.com/, http://www.amazon.com/, http://www.christianbook.com/, and at your local Christian bookstore.
Copyright © 2008 by Tamera Alexander.
Bethany House PublishersAll rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Bethany Silverton can’t resist the challenge of charming a rough cowboy. But when she makes an innocent wager, unexpected results could turn a little flirtation into a lifetime of love. A sheltered preacher’s daughter stakes her heart on love in this action-filled romance in the wild west of 1880s Montana.
“Hawk and Bethany’s journey is fraught with misunderstandings, personal tragedy and the schemes of a treacherous man adding excitement to a tale that overflows with simmering attraction and blossoming love. Interspersed with humour and electrifying dialogue, Wagered Heart is a summer treat not to be missed.”– Relz Reviews
Bethany Silverton swept her lime green and white striped gown out of the way and closed the picket gate of her family’s new home. Then with gloved fingers, she opened a matching striped silk parasol and rested it against her shoulder. From down the street, the sounds of laughter mixed with the brassy tinkle of piano keys spilled from the nearest saloon and into the main street of Sweetwater, Montana.
Bethany’s friend, Ingrid Johnson, shook her head. “It is shameful that those men drink so early in the day.” The words rolled off her tongue in a soft Swedish accent. “I do not know why the good reverend wanted to build his church here. He could have settled in a more civilized place long before this.”
Bethany hid her amusement behind her parasol. She couldn’t admit to Ingrid how much she liked this raw frontier town. After all, she had complained without ceasing when her father announced they were leaving Philadelphia to go west. She had declared to both of her parents she would never forgive her father for withdrawing her from Miss Henderson’s School for Young Ladies, for making her leave all of her friends behind, for removing her from the glittering society of which her wealthy grandmotherand by extension, Bethany herselfwas a part. She had pouted when they traveled, and she’d pouted whenever they stopped along the way, waiting for her father to hear from the Lord if they had reached the place God meant for them to call home.
She stopped walking at the far corner of the Plains Saloon and tacked a notice about her father’s first church service to the clapboard siding. The noise coming from inside was louder than ever. Twice she glanced toward the door, battling an almost irresistible temptation to peek inside and learn the cause of so much merriment. But, of course, she couldn’t do anything so unbecoming. She might relish her many new freedoms, but as a preacher’s daughter she had to be mindful of her position. Besides, Ingrid would go straight to the reverend if Bethany did anything so brash as look inside a saloon.
She turned from her task, ready to head for home, then stopped when she felt the hem of her dress catch, cringing as she heard the tearing of fabric. This was one of her favorite dresses, a gift from her Philadelphia cousin, Beatrice Worthington. She’d taken great care of it, and if it was ruined, she would be heartsick. There would be no replacing it in Sweetwater.
“Allow me,” a deep voice said.
She glanced over her shoulder in time to see a stranger bend down to free her skirt from the troublesome nail. When he straightened, she found her head tilting backward, ever backward in order to look him in the face.
He was over six feet tall with broad shoulders, lean but exuding an aura of power. She had never felt so slight as she did now. His features were boldly spaced, his skin dark, his jaw smooth and square. Blue-black hair brushed the collar of his shirt. She could read nothing in his expression, but his midnight blue eyes seemed to look right inside her head, reading her mind, judging her thoughts.
She gasped and stepped backward.
One corner of his mouth lifted, suggesting a smile. He turned away without a word.
“Bethany?” Ingrid’s hand clasped her arm.
She took another step back, her gaze still on the man.
“Look at this, Hawk.” A second cowboy, one Bethany hadn’t noticed before, pointed at the notice she had tacked on the wall. “They’re startin’ a church here in Sweetwater. We’re gonna get civilized. You gonna come to the service on Sunday?”
The man named Hawk looked behind him, his enigmatic gaze meeting Bethany’s once again. She held her breath, awaiting his reply.
“No,” he said and walked away.
“Come on, Bethany.” Ingrid tugged at her arm.
“Did you see him?”
“Of course I saw him.”
“I wonder who he is. Have you ever seen anyone so … so …” She didn’t know what she wanted to say about him. So handsome … so mysterious … so dangerous.
“He looked like every other cowboy we have seen in Montana. And certainly not the kind of man you would find in church.”
Bethany turned. “Why do you think that?”
“He said so himself. Weren’t you listening? He would not come even if you invited him.”
“But it’s our Christian duty to encourage everyone to come to church. How else are we to reach them with the good news?”
Ingrid shook her head. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
His eyes were as wild and raw as this land. As if he’s a part of it. Surely that is why God called Papa to this place, to reach men like him.
A delayed shiver of reaction ran through her.
“I can see what you are thinking, Bethany, and I tell you, it will not happen.”
“Who says?” She tossed her head. “I’ll wager I could get him to services if I tried hard enough.”
Ingrid shot her a frown. “Gambling is a sin.”
“Oh, pishposh. This isn’t gambling. It’s a little game between friends.”
“I’ll wager you five dollars I can get him to come to church within thirty days.”
“I do not have five dollars.”
“Well, we’ll pretend you do. See. Then it isn’t gambling.”
“The reverend would not approve.”
“Then we simply won’t tell him.”
Copyright 2008, Robin Lee Hatcher.
WAGERED HEART is available on-line at Amazon.com, B&N.com, Christianbook.com, etc., and in bookstores everywhere. To obtain autographed bookplates or for more information about books by Robin Lee Hatcher, visit her web site at http://www.robinleehatcher.com/.