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!
***Special thanks to Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***
Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.
Visit the author’s website.
Why does everyone think a girl’s only lot in life is to find a husband and settle down?
Kathleen Muldoon is twenty-three and tired of ranch living. Fiercely independent and determined to become a nurse, she has left her family’s ranch to study medicine under Old Doc Jensen and live in town with her Aunt Mae, who runs a boardinghouse.
Daniel Monroe has just arrived in Porterfield to set up his law practice. Sparks fly when he is introduced to Kate at the boardinghouse, but the initial attraction quickly dissolves into an argument—the first of many. Daniel is enamored with Kate but uncomfortable with her independent spirit and dreams of becoming a nurse.
When trouble erupts between the ranchers and lumberjacks over timber rights, Kate is furious to learn that Daniel has worked out an agreement she believes will destroy her father’s land. Can they overcome their pride and help each other become everything God wants them to be?
Set in the late 1800s, the Seasons of the Heart series follows the lives of four women and their families, weaving together their stories of faith, life, and love as they bond in friendship only God could orchestrate.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 4, 2011)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Kate Muldoon, I simply can’t understand why you haven’t found yourself a husband among all the eligible men in this town.” Sarah picked up a book from the bedside table in Kate’s room. “You’re twenty-three now, and hiding yourself away to read and study all the time will not help you find the right man.”
Kate grabbed the book from her sister-in-law, who had wandered into her room for a chat. As usual, the talk had turned to men. “I don’t need a man,” Kate declared.
“How can you say that?” Sarah gasped.
Kate shook her head. Marriage and family ranked last in the things she wanted out of life right now. Kate fought against the swelling tide of anger that had landed her in trouble on more than one occasion. Why did everyone think a woman’s only role was that of a wife and mother? Sarah meant well, but then she loved living on a ranch and taking care of her husband Donavan Muldoon. Sarah believed everyone should be in love, as did her other sisters-in-law.
Once again Kate tried to explain. “Sarah, I do not intend to marry a rancher or anyone connected with cattle. I was born on a ranch, grew up on a ranch, and have lived around cattle and horses all my life so far, and I don’t plan on spending the rest of it on one.” Despite her love of horses and riding, the ranch held no pull or fascination for her as it once did when she was younger. Kate hugged her textbook to her chest. “Why do you think I’ve studied everything about Florence Nightingale and nursing and moved into town to help Aunt Mae?”
Sarah waved her hand airily, dismissing Kate’s plans. “I don’t know about that, but I do know Auntie Mae’s boardinghouse is full of men who are not ranchers. Why, there’s my cousin Seth who just moved out here to pastor our church, and then there’s Doc Jensen’s nephew who came to town to assist his uncle with the infirmary. They’re both unattached. Sometimes I think you’re just too picky.”
Picky wasn’t exactly the word Kate would choose, but preachers and doctors held no interest for her other than as people she could work with. She did enjoy working with Doc Jensen and his nephew, Elliot Jensen, but they were teaching her to be a nurse. Besides, Elliot wasn’t really a friendly sort even if he did have an excellent bedside manner with his patients.
Kate sighed. Her sister-in-law was raised in an upperclass family in Boston, where the entire focus of her life in the last few years had been on her whirlwind romance, marriage to Donavan, then moving to Texas and having Jeremy. How could she possibly understand Kate’s dreams? “I’m learning all I can about nursing and treatments so I can work more with Doctor Jensen,” she explained with as much patience as she
could muster. “He lets me help with some of the lighter cases and says I’m getting good at recognizing symptoms. Besides, I was thinking that the preacher would make a wonderful match for Erin.”
Sarah brightened at the thought. “That might not be a bad idea now that she is of marrying age. Erin would be a good wife for Seth and a good mother for their little ones. She loves little Jeremy and has been a big help to me in taking care of him.” She turned to leave. “I’ll look for you Sunday at church and then afterward for dinner out at the ranch. Now I need to rescue Auntie Mae from Jeremy.”
As if Aunt Mae needed rescuing. Kate waved her hand in the air to say good-bye. Dinner with the Muldoon clan meant much food and lots of laughter, but it also meant another boring afternoon listening to talk of cattle drives and auctions and horses by the men, and talk of babies and mothering by the women—none of which held any interest whatsoever for Kate.
Three older brothers—Brody, Donavan, and Ian—had ranches of their own, and that’s all they talked about. The fourth older brother, Cory, had his sights set on being a lawman and had moved into town to be a deputy for Marshal Slade. Erin, the baby of the family, still lived on the ranch. She’d just turned nineteen and was by far the prettiest of the Muldoon clan.
Kate welcomed Cory’s company and his presence at the boardinghouse. At least he wasn’t interested in finding a bride, and he didn’t pester her about finding a mate. He had his sights set on being a marshal himself one day and figured that job too dangerous to take a wife. Kate snorted. So it was OK
for a man to be unmarried and pursue his dreams, but not a woman.
She laid aside her book and sauntered down to the hallway to find the mail from Aunt Mae’s boarders. One of her jobs at Aunt Mae’s included taking care of the mail. With a start, she realized she’d have to hurry to get there before the afternoon train arrived.
One afternoon train from the west would be picking up mail headed for the East Coast. An earlier train had dropped off its delivery, and that mail waited for her now at the post office. Ever since the railroads had been completed, Kate had seen more men coming to town to work the ranches around the area as well as find their own land and start farming or ranching. All the land around Porterfield belonged to ranchers
and farmers, but in a state as big as Texas, there seemed to be plenty of land to go around.
She donned her wide-brimmed straw hat to ward off the sun’s rays and hurried out to complete her task. The Grayson General Store and Post Office beckoned her to hurry. The train would be here any minute. Her feet kicked up puffs of dust as she walked. Her shoes would need a good cleaning later, but she didn’t mind as she enjoyed the four-block walk to the general store that housed the post office.
When Kate stepped into the store, the balding proprietor grinned and tilted his head. “Is that mail from the boarders at your aunt’s house?”
Kate plopped the letters on the counter along with coins
for stamps. “Yes, it is.”
Mr. Grayson affixed a two-penny stamp to each envelope. “How many boarders are there now?”
Kate closed her eyes to vision the count. “Counting Cory and me, there’s eight. All but one of the rooms is filled, and Aunt Mae is happy as a lark. For some reason, men come to this town, like it, and stay.”
Mrs. Grayson joined her husband. Her blue eyes sparkled as she gazed at Kate. “And when are you going to choose one of these men here for your own?”
Heat rose in Kate’s cheeks. Everyone thought they had to ask that question. “I don’t plan on marrying anytime soon. I’m studying to be a nurse, and besides, who’d help Aunt Mae take care of the house and all the meals if I wasn’t around?”
The plump, rosy-cheeked Mrs. Grayson laughed. “She’d do fine without you, and I’ve seen how Mr. Fuller over at the bank looks at her. Wouldn’t surprise me if she takes a husband one of these days.”
“That’s hard for me to imagine.” The very idea of her aunt with another man after the love she shared with Uncle Patrick caused Kate’s insides to quiver like the branches of a justfelled tree. Aunt Mae did have a few of the men, including Mr. Fuller, looking her way, but she paid them no mind. If Aunt Mae did decide to marry, Kate wouldn’t interfere, but she’d have no part in bringing about that possibility.
As soon as Mr. Grayson dropped the envelopes into the outgoing mail bag, he headed outside and toward the depot. Mrs. Grayson handed her mail from the boardinghouse box. “Thank you.” Kate slid the envelopes into her pocket and wiggled her fingers at Mrs. Grayson. “Bye, now. It’s time to get things started for dinner at Aunt Mae’s.”
On her way back to the boardinghouse, the idea of Aunt Mae marrying danced through her head. Would Aunt Mae give up running the boardinghouse if she married? Kate knew how much her aunt loved visiting with the boarders and preparing their meals. It was impossible to think of her ever leaving the place. Certainly she had found her calling, and for once in this town it didn’t focus only on being a wife and keeping house! Still, when Uncle Patrick was alive, Aunt Mae had combined being a wife and managing all those boarders without much trouble. Perhaps Kate could do the same sometime in the far distant
Daniel Monroe finished his letter and sealed it in an envelope. In a few days he’d leave for the greatest adventure of his life, and he wanted Seth to know when to expect him. He reread the post from his friend telling him that the mayor was more than willing for Daniel to come to Porterfield, Texas, and practice
law as they had no lawyers in the town. If lawyers were needed in Porterfield, then that’s where he’d head.
Seth Winston had gone to Texas last year to pastor the church where his cousin Sarah and her family were members. The idea of going to Porterfield had grown more appealing as Seth had described it when he’d returned to Briar Ridge for his sister Rachel’s wedding this past spring. True, Texas was a long way from Connecticut, but images of the untamed West and all the adventures Daniel could have outweighed the
He envisioned cowboys, gunfights, saloon brawls, and train robberies. The tales he’d heard about Texas rolled through his mind in an endless stream of pictures. All the action and excitement sounded much better than the quiet town of Briar Ridge where he spent most of his time writing wills and taking care of legal documents for land sales or contracts for service. He’d already reassigned all his clients to other lawyers in
Briar Ridge, and none had truly complained, which only served to emphasize the fact that he wasn’t really needed here. Daniel cleaned out his desk and put it all in a box to carry home. He planned to have the desk, a gift from his parents, shipped to Texas with him. Now all he had to do was purchase his train ticket and say good-bye to family and friends. Since his parents, especially his mother, didn’t approve the move, he didn’t expect a going-away party.
Father seemed on the verge of understanding Daniel’s desire to travel to new frontiers and make a life for himself. Mother, on the other hand, wouldn’t and couldn’t accept the fact that her only son wanted to leave home and move thousands of miles away. His sister, Abigail, would hardly speak to him, but that did not keep Daniel from making arrangements to leave. After his twenty-fifth birthday last month, the desire
for a change came over him, and Texas seemed the best place to do just that.
On the way home he stopped at the depot and purchased a ticket that would begin his trip. He’d have stops in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Dallas before the last leg of the journey to Porterfield.
The ticket agent handed Daniel his passage. “That’s a mighty long trip. I take it you’re heading out West to join Seth Winston. I can see the need for a preacher out west, but what’s a fancy lawyer like yourself going to do there?”
Daniel laughed. His mother had asked the same question. “Not sure, but I hope to help tame some outlaws.” How he’d do that he had no idea, but it sounded good when he said it.
“Well, now, just don’t go and get yourself shot by one of ’em.”
“I don’t plan to, Mr. Colley.” He tipped his hat and walked back out to his rig. At least he knew how to ride a horse well. With all his many long trips to Hartford by horseback, he figured he’d have no trouble riding in Texas. The rig today was simply a convenience for carting home his personal belongings from his office. Tomorrow the desk would be crated and shipped westward.
He entered the foyer of the comfortable, two-story home he still shared with his family. At his age, many other men had places of their own, but Ellie’s cooking and the free lodging had tempted him to stay.
After handing over his hat to Stevens the butler, Daniel turned toward the voices he heard in the drawing room on his left. He knocked then pushed open the doors. “Good evening, Mother, Father.”
His mother stood and hurried to him. She wrapped her arms around him. “Oh, Daniel, please tell me you’ve changed your mind and are staying in Briar Ridge. I can’t bear for you to leave us.”
He patted her back and glanced at his father, who simply lifted his gray bushy eyebrows and shrugged. He turned back to his mother. “I’m sorry you feel this way, Mother, but I purchased my train ticket on the way home this evening and will leave the beginning of next week.”
She pushed away from him and held a handkerchief to her nose. “I simply can’t believe it. I don’t understand why you have to go all the way to Texas to practice law. New Haven and Hartford are much closer. Why, even Boston would be better than way out West.”
“We have a multitude of fine barristers in the cities here in the East. As I’ve said many times, this will give me the opportunity to travel and see what is happening in the rest of our great country.” No matter how many times he explained, his mother would never truly understand his desire to move on. She had grown up in this town, as had his father, and she would never leave it or her beautiful home.
Stevens appeared in the doorway. “Mr. and Mrs. Monroe, dinner is served.”
Mother hooked her hand into Daniel’s arm. “Thank you, Stevens. Tell Ellie we’ll be right in.” She patted Daniel’s hand now resting on hers. Although she held her head high, he noted the slight tremor in her voice as she spoke. “I had Ellie prepare your favorite meal tonight. She’ll be serving all your favorites until your departure.” She swallowed hard as she walked beside Daniel into the dining room.
Daniel’s younger sister, Abigail, bounded down the stairs but stopped short when she saw her parents and Daniel. Her next steps were much more sedate. “Good evening, Daniel. I didn’t know you were home.”
Father waited to escort her into dinner. “And what is your great hurry, my dear girl? Is Ellie’s food that tempting?”
“No, Father, I’m just happy about my trip to see Rachel and Nathan in Hartford next week. I haven’t seen her since the wedding, and I’m anxious to visit and talk with her.”
Daniel assisted his mother in her chair at the table. “I’m sure you two will have much to talk about. What’s it been? Two, three months since the wedding?”
She turned to glare at him. A month ago she wouldn’t have minded the teasing, but since his decision to leave, she had been less than sisterly. “Three, if you must count, but it may as well be three years.” Abigail dismissed him and turned to her mother. “I truly miss having Rachel here in Briar Ridge.”
Father held her chair while she seated herself. He bent and brushed his lips across her hair. “Then I’m glad you will have this chance to visit Rachel in Hartford.”
After his father said grace, Ellie brought in a platter emanating the most delicious aroma. His favorite roast beef as Mother had promised. Along with it came perfectly creamed potatoes, buttered asparagus, carrots, fresh baked bread, and his favorite sweet pickles. “What, no soup tonight?”
Mother pressed her lips together. “You said you didn’t care for soup at every meal, and since this is your meal, we skipped it.”
“Thank you, I prefer to fill up on the main course and not the first one.” He glanced over at Abigail, who scrunched up her nose as the asparagus was passed to her. “Not to worry, dear sister, after I’m on my way to Texas, you won’t have to worry about asparagus. Ellie only cooks it because she knows how much I like it.”
“Humph, that will be one good aspect of your leaving.” She placed two stalks on her plate and handed the bowl to their father.
As his parents began discussing their day, he noted the total lack of reference to his leaving the coming Monday. His mother believed if she ignored it, that perhaps it wouldn’t really happen. Father cast a wistful eye Daniel’s way a few times, as though he wanted to talk with his son. Perhaps after dinner he and Father could have a conversation.
Daniel gazed around at the opulent surroundings. Sparkling crystal, fine china, silver cutlery, and damask table cloth and napkins reminded him of his parent’s wealth. He would find nothing like this in Texas.
Then he glanced again at his mother and swallowed a lump in his throat along with a bite of potato. He didn’t want to hurt her, but he could see in her face and the way she only moved the food around her plate without actually eating it that he had done just that.
How could he make her understand his desire to move away and seek a new life? Somehow between now and Monday he must convince her that God had called him to the frontier. He had spent many hours in prayer over this move, and now he gladly embraced the future and all it held in the grand state of Texas.