Back of the Book: Single mom Ellie James has returned to Montana for a fresh start and a new job at a local school. She sure could use the support of hometown rancher Arnie O'Brien, especially when she faces the opportunity to step up as director. But this cowboy still holds a grudge from when Ellie left him behind eight years ago. Can Arnie trust God's plan and take a second chance on the girl who got away? He and Ellie will have to put aside the past to face the future together.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
Nick was singing softly in a beautiful baritone voice that sent chills up her spine. It was the old spiritual, "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." Miriam stood listening for several stanzas, captured by the beauty of his voice and the healing words of the song. Death was not an end, merely a river to be crossed.
Mark and her father were waiting for her on a shore she couldn't see yet, but someday she would. If only she could be sure she could gain their forgiveness.
How could she if she handn't forgiven Nick? She pushed the screen door open and walked out onto the porch.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Back of the Book
The arrival of Michael Bowen's bride, married sight unseen by proxy, sends the rancher reeling. With her trousers, cowboy hat and rifle, she looks like a female outlaw—not the genteel lady he corresponded with for months. He's been hoodwinked into marriage with the wrong woman!
Selina Farleigh Bowen loved Michael's letters, even if she couldn't read them herself. A friend read them to her, and wrote her replies—but apparently that "friend" left things out, like Michael's dream of a wife who was nothing like her. Selina won't change who she is, not even for the man she loves. Yet time might show Michael the true value of his unlikely wife.
The cover intrigued me first with this book. I’d never seen a woman in trousers on a cover. I read the back and learned she carried a rifle and couldn’t read. That seemed different. A young woman who disguises herself as a man is a fun and oft-used trope in romance, but I’d never run across a heroine not in disguise, and made no bones about dressing as she did.
Nor did Selina have plans to start wearing dresses to please Michael. Stronger yet, she had no plans to ever do anything because Michael told her to. The illiterate, hard-edged woman not be controlled by a man. Was she ornery, or what?
I didn’t relate well to Selina at first. I found I couldn’t “be” her as I read the story. If I met her in real life, she probably wouldn’t be in my circle of friends, although the women in the story had no trouble welcoming her into the family fold.
Selina had some softer edges as well, some highly likable qualities, I discovered as I read. She worked hard, was good friend, and had a way with animals. I began to see all the things to love about Selina, and Michael saw them soon afterwards.
I liked Michael all along, and felt really bad for him in the beginning, knowing that the soft-spoken, cultured woman he thought he had married did not exist, and would never exist, in Selina.
I felt bad for Selina, who felt she was someone no man could ever love. She was a good person, and willing to make small changes to be more loveable, but she really couldn’t change her stripes. She couldn't be someone entirely different from who she was, nor should Michael have expected it of her. Any marriage where one person expects their mate to become someone entirely different is just plain wrong.
In the end, Michael had to change the most. He had to grow to appreciate and love Selina as she was.
Debra Ullrick did a wonderful job of illuminating her theme of accepting and valuing people for who they are.
With this particular setup, she showed readers that sometimes God has decidedly different plans for our lives than we have for ourselves. Sometimes God’s plans take a good amount of getting used to. But if we are willing to open our hearts to His ultimate wisdom, we can grow to appreciate the difference between our idealized life and our actual one. And maybe, just maybe, the gifts of the real life are greater than anything we might have imagined.
I read an interview with Debra Ullrick where the interviewer asked her about her favorite romance authors. There are, of course, many authors that Debra likes, but she was able to single out a handful for their poetic prose. I’d also include Debra in that category. She is a poet and writes beautifully.
But what set this book apart from other romances for me was her heroine. Selina was so spirited, and so unusual, that she practically leapt off the page.
Friday, August 10, 2012
I’m baaaaack! I’ve been retired now for a little over a week. My pace hasn’t had a chance to slow down yet, although it will, hopefully next week.
There’s been babysitting stints with both sets of grandkids, a grandson’s 8th birthday party, a daughter's 32nd birthday party, two dinners out with friends, my retirement party at work, a shopping trip to Spokane with one of my daughters. Coming next week is a school shopping trip with my daughter-in-law and her kids.
The home renovators are almost done with our house. The windows are in. The siding is up (but not painted). A new heating and air-conditioning unit has been installed.
In September, we’ll have the builders build our deck. In the next couple of weeks, I need to paint and/or wallpaper five rooms, which makes me groan to think about. Maybe I will delay it. My son-on-law is due to put up new window trim next week. I'd hoped to paint first. Maybe I'll let him do his thing and just paint around the trim when I'm more in the mood to paint four rooms and re-wallpaper one.
One odd realization I’ve had about retirement is this:
When I looked at the growing mound of dirty laundry in my closet yesterday, it was no longer clothes I’d worn to work. Instead, it was jogging shorts and tank tops, which get sweaty and need laundering after every wear.
I’ve jogged 29 miles since August 1, but without weight loss. I’ve always quipped that the only way I can lose weight is to dynamite it off. Hyperbole, of course, but getting truer all the time.
Another unexpected change was the chance to take afternoon coffee breaks with hubby for a couple of days.
At the library, the managers never take coffee breaks, although Circ staff, who are on their feet all the time, do. Hubby’s job keeps him on his feet a lot. Or it has lately, while getting the trucks and combines ready for harvest. He needed to come inside, sit down, and sip iced mocha.
For a few days, we enjoyed afternoon coffee together. But harvest started today, and so coffee breaks are over again for a few weeks.
I haven’t had time to do any writing, but I hope to in a couple of days. There's been bugaboo loose ends to attend to, such as re-tooling the blog. I've made an effort to brand myself both according to who I am now, and to appeal to the readers of the type of book I'll be writing: historical inspirational romance.
There are plans for a new posting strategy and schedule. I’ve also learned some amusing things about my posting stats, which I'll share, along with my new schedule, tomorrow!
For now, I'm off again. Some writing friends asked me to have dinner with them. Afterwards, I need to buy groceries and be home by 8:30 to finish making dinner for my harvesters.
The tangy scent of sweet and sour spareribs roasting in the oven is drifting upstairs to my writing room ... They're gonna love it. Hubby loves my sparerib recipe.