Pirate of My Heart by Jamie Carie ~ Review

Pirate of My Heart: A Novel

My Review: Adventure abounds on this tale that takes you from England to America and back again.

Lady Kendra Townsend in an effort to get a way from a horrible marriage arranged by her uncle, escapes onto a ship bound for America. There she encounters the ship's dashing captain, who might just steal her heart away.

Lady Kendra is passionate, and so is Dorian Colburn. When they meet spark fly, and hearts collide. This book was well-written, yet I must be honest and say that the plot was a bit far-fetched for my personal taste. And I had a hard time understanding why, characters made some of the choices that they did. While I did enjoy the action, and I later appreciated some of the foreshadowing. I thought that after reading the book as a whole, that the strongest thread of the storyline got a bit buried under a couple of sub-plots. It was a fun book to read, and I enjoyed the action part of this book immensely.

Overall, I will say that this was a fun book, with a great setting, though I fear that this was not my type of story.This book is best described as, a romance between two passionate souls. And if that is what you are looking for, then this might just be the book for you!

Final Rating: 3.6 out of 5

I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Thank you!


ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student by James P. Stobaugh

ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student

My Review: Getting ready for the ACT? This book can help.

This book takes you through the basics of the ACT with 50 comprehensive lessons designed to increase the comfort of the student when taking the big test. Categories such as writing, math, science, critical reading, and practice essay writing, are covered with ease. I found this book especially helpful for answering all my little questions about the test, before I even had them! Filled with great little tips and strategies for certain parts of the test, which questions to skip, which ones to answer, etc.  Also there are memory verses that go along with every lesson, so not only are you feeding your brain, but your spirit as well! Peppered throughout the lessons were many thought provoking quotes that are fun to read and collect. The exercises can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on whether there is an essay practice or not. I haven't yet taken my ACT, but I feel so much more prepared and ready for it than I did before starting this course. So we'll see how it goes this Spring!

Overall, I found this course easy to understand and use. It doesn't take that much time, the lessons are for the most part short, but with great review of a variety of different subjects. I really loved the Christ -centeredness of the entire course, that focuses not just on doing well on your ACT but fostering your spiritual growth. Even the appendix is packed with great resources! Mr. Stobaugh's courses are some of the best I have ever used and I highly recommend this book.

Final Rating : 5 out of 5

I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review but simply to state my honest opinion. Thanks :)

Highland Crossings by Pamela Griffin, Laurie Alice Eakes, Gina Welborn, and Jennifer Hudson Taylor ~ Review

Highland Crossings (Romancing America)
My Review: A delightful collection of stories that follow the journey of one treasured broach through four generations of young Americans.

Four novellas all linked together by one broach, spanning generations. It all begins when Seona flees her native land in hopes of escaping a past of lies and misunderstandings, taking with her, her dear friend's family heirloom. The stories follow, an immigrant, wrongly forced into being made an indentured servant, a confectioner, and a young woman determined to perserve her community's heritage with a museum. For each of these young women, love is found in the most unexpected places, and their faith keeps them strong in times of hardship.

Each of the stories were well crafted and made the most of the lack of length to develop the characters and the plot expertly. I would say that the broach showed up more porminantly in some stories than in others, so sometimes I was sitting there thinking, "When is the broach going to show up?" One of the tings I loved most about this book was the variety. Variety in the plots, and variety in the different authors' voices. The character development was amazing in all four novellas for such short stories. If I had to pick a favorite story, I'm sure that I couldn't do it. Which is a great thing!

Overall, a great read. And especially great when you want to finish a story quick, and be able to lay it down and pick it up again in short intervals. Great book for those who like Irish/Scottish historicals, and Christian fiction in general :)

Final Rating: 4 out of 5

I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Thank you!


Words Spoken True by Ann Gabhart ~ Revell Blog Tour & Review

Words Spoken True

My Review: Ink flies, political powers battle, and love triumphs against  the back of wars of the press in the mid -1800's

Adriene Darcy is the daughter of Louisville's top newspaper editor of the Tribune, and Blake Garrett is the editor of the Herald, the rival paper. Sparks fly back and forth between the two papers, and between Adriene and Blake. Though they find it hard to deny their mutual attraction to each other, they must. Not only are from opposite sides of the news industry, Adriene is engaged to the foppish son of a powerful politician. What will it take to bring Blake and Adriene together?

Words Spoken True engaged my full attention from the very first chapter. Adriene Darcy is a woman ahead of her time, full of fire and determination to do what she loves. Though at times I found Adriene more than a bit conflicted within herself, though I totally respected how she wanted to do her duty to her father and try to save him by agreeing to marrying Stan. Blake had an air of mystery about him that makes him fascinating, and magnetic, yet a bit aloof.

I loved the setting, and the political world the newspapers wade in. And the sparks that few between Adriene and Blake during their encounters--Oh my! Their banter reminded me of a British drama, icy, flirty, and opinionated...Perfect! I don't usually like books where one or more of the characters falls for someone upon glimpsing their face or form, but Ms. Gabhart did it in such a way that was realistic--they weren't planning their weddings after their first encounter. Fast-paced in a hard to put down way, Words Spoken True was a book I couldn't help but enjoy the whole way through.

Overall, I loved  the tension and frost between Adriene and Blake that the newspaper rivalry brought.  And the general feel of the bustling Louisville setting, truly felt like a living city, with the ladies in high society and  political media on one end, and the murders on the seedier side of town at the other. I loved every minute of it. I would highly recommend to those who love a good adventure that isn't always guns and whistles. This is my first time reading Ann Gabhart, but I will definitely be reading her books again in the future :)

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5

With thanks to Donna Hausler and Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. It was not required that I give a positive review, only that I state my honest views on the book. Thank you.


What I'm Reading ~ Weekend 2/24-26/12

Heart of the Country 
Another week has come and gone, and my TBR pile has gotten higher! We got something of a blizzard yesterday, which was a surprise considering we have had an almost snowless winter until now. lol.

So onward to my cozy winter reads :)

First up is the soon to be made into a movie, Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge & John Ward.

Here's the blurb:
Faith and Luke Carraway have it all. Faith is a beautiful singer turned socialite while Luke is an up-and-coming successful businessman. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, he’s on the fast track as a rising young executive, and Faith is settling comfortably into her role as his wife.

When rumors of the Michovs’ involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she runs home to the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to turn to his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned, and will those families find the grace to forgive and forget? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere else to run but home?

Another book that I hopw to dig into is Laurie Alice Eakes' Heart's Safe Passage. I just noticed that I have a "Heart" theme this weekend ;)

Heart's Safe Passage
Here's the blurb: It's 1813 and all Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. When Belinda, her pregnant sister-in-law, presses Phoebe to accompany her onto a British privateer in order to cross the Atlantic and save her husband from an English prison, Phoebe tries to refuse, then finds herself kidnapped.

Captain Rafe Docherty is a man in search of revenge. His ship is no place for women, but he needs Belinda in order to obtain information about the man who destroyed his family and his life. Between Belinda's whining and Phoebe's hostility, Rafe can't help but wonder if he made the right choice.
When it becomes apparent there is an enemy among them on the ship, the stakes are raised. Will they reach the English shore in time? Can love and forgiveness overcome vengeance?

Book 2 in The Midwives series, Heart's Safe Passage is a stirring tale of love, intrigue, and adventure on the high seas. Readers will feel the salt spray and the rolling waves as they journey with Laurie Alice Eakes's vivid characters on the treacherous path toward redemption.

Well, that's what I've got in store for this weekend. What are you reading? I'd love to hear from you :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Contingency by Paula Wiseman ~ Powerful Novel of Forgiveness


My Review: All I could think to say when I finished this book was, "Wow!" And then, "Would I be able to do that?"

Bobbi and Chuck Molinsky are a typical Christian family, married for eighteen years, with two sons. But their world comes crashing down when Bobbi discovers Chuck's affair with his co-worker.
They never saw adultery coming, but now they are forced to face it head on. Will they choose to seek God's will in their broken marriage even when the pain is beyond anything they've ever experienced?

Paula Wiseman has written an epic story of forgiveness, love, heartache, and trusting God, even when the world is breaking apart all around. Though I had never personally experienced the full brunt of what Bobbi and Chuck went through, there were smaller aspects that related to sin in general that I think everyone can relate to on a deep level.

I was sucked into the story from the very first page, and I found it nearly impossible to put down, yet at times I found it necessary to stop, and really ponder certain topics that the book dug up. One thing Contingency hit on that never ceases to to amaze me, is how God can even use sin--no He doesn't cause the sin--but God can use things that are devastating for to work out His purpose, even though we can't see it at the time.

Contingency is a tale woven true, with real Biblical answers to tough questions. This book focuses on a God-centered life and marriage, something that is so hard to find in even Christian books. I loved how the characters came across as real people, who reacted in a very real and raw way. They weren't perfect, but each of them was uniquely real and even though coming into the book I thought I wouldn't like Chuck, I did by the end. Why? Because the characters had raw depth, they were 3-demensional and it was almost impossible to believe that they weren't real people.

Overall, this book was fantastic! Deep both emotionally and spiritually, with true Biblical basis. Though it deals with a tough sin, rarely touched upon in Christian fiction, Ms. Wiseman never went into more detail than was appropriate. I would highly recommend this to someone who wants to read a book that will make them think, and wants a book where characters deal with tough problems Biblically. Contingency surpassed all my expectations! Definitely a book I will remember!

Final Rating: 5.1 out of 5

I received this book from the author who graciously provided me with a copy in return for an honest review.


Blogoversary Giveaway!

It is a wee bit past my  first blogoversary, but that doesn't mean I can't have a giveaway! I started this blog mid-February in 2011, though I didn't started reviewing books til around the tail-end of May. But anyway I wanted to have a giveaway as a means of appreciation for my followers!

Spring for Susannah

One fortunate winner will receive:

Spring for Susannah (ARC)
To Love and To Cherish by Kelly Irvin
Amelia's Journey by Martha Rogers
A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Summer Dream by Martha Rogers
Winter's Promise by Martha Rogers
Protecting Amy by Susan Page Davis
Four Letter Words by Bill Giovannetti
Protection for Hire by Camy Tang
Wings of Love by Kim Watters

( I may be adding more to this prize as things go along, so keep in mind there might be even more books later!)

Another winner will receive a hand cross-stitched bookmark that I made :)

The rules are simple:

~ You MUST be a follower ~ because I want to appreciate my followers, though new followers are more than welcome.
~ You MUST live in the U.S.
~ You MUST leave a comment below including your email address, perferrably (for your sake) encoded so spammers can't get it! Example: crazi.swans at gmail dot com

I will pick the winners March 11th, 2012. I will notify the winners by email and they will have one week to respond or another winner will be chosen.

*Just a small note, these are review copies and one or more of them might be an ARC, also I like to perserve my books in Contact Paper, just in ase any of the above mentioned stuff bothers you!

Also I will be using Random.org :)
And if you win and already have a copy of one or more of the books, I will, if you would like, choose another winner for the books that you already have :)

Thank you so much for the all the wonderful encouragement I have received from you all over the past year!



What I'm Reading~ Weekend 2/18-19/12


So sorry! This is late, I had to finish up When the Smoke Clears,which was awesome! Thie weekend I have only one selection. Contingency by Paula Wiseman. And it hooked me from teh very beginning! Wow! So well rounded in the just the first page with the emotional connection and....wow! I cannot wait to share my thoughts on this one this week :)

Here's the back blurb: Where was God? Bobbi Molinsky's comfortable life is shattered when a forwarded email from her husband's account lands in her inbox. The email teases, "My whole evening is free again." After an angry confrontation with Chuck, she is left with the broken remains of an eighteen year marriage. Where is God? Bobbi agrees forgiving Chuck is the right thing, the God-honoring thing to do, but it leaves her empty and isolated. Teaching her second-graders is a burden. Taking care of her boys saps all her energy. It seems God Himself has walked away, leaving her to struggle alone. Is God faithful? Bobbi can't deny the transformation in Chuck, but genuine forgiveness requires trust, and trust is a risk she's not willing to take. Can she let go of her deepest, most primal fears and save her marriage?

So that's what I'm reading--sorry this is so late! What are you reading? I'd love to hear from you :)
                                                           Have a wonderful weekend.

When the Smoke Clears by Lynette Eason ~ Revell Blog Tour & Review

When the Smoke Clears

My Review: A fast paced story that fills the senses, and kept me hanging on til the end.

Alexia Allen is being stalked. Someone wants her silenced. The problem is that she doesn't know what they think she does. Alexia grew up in a troubled home, with an abusive father. While fighting off the attacks in the present, she also battles the demons in her past. Not to mention dealing with a certain handsome detective!

When the Smoke Clears intrigued me from the very first page, and as the pages turned, the plot picked up more and more momentum, making this book nearly impossible to put down!

Alexia was a wonderful heroine, vulnerable, yet with an inner strength and a seeking heart. She was a very believeable character, and I found it easy it easy to instantly connect with her, even though my life is nothing like her's.

I'm not too much of a suspense reader but I'd heard alot about Lynette Eason, so I had to give this one a shot, and I'm so glad that I did! Non-stop action, with scenes that will send shivers down your spine, When the Smoke Clears is not a book to be missed! This is th kind of book that will swallow you up, taking you right along with the characters into the action. I really liked how the details of crime scenes weren't dwelled on more than they had to be, giving me the basic idea, but not all the goriness. I would highly recommend this book to suspense readers or anyone who likes a good unputdownable read that will keep them turning the pages when it's long past time to go to bed! Thanks.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5

“Available February 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Thanks to Donna Hausler & Revell Publishing for furnishing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.


Wings of Morning by Murray Pura ~ FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour & Review

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 (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Murray Pura earned his Master of Divinity degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and his ThM degree in theology and interdisciplinary studies from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more than twenty-five years, in addition to his writing, he has pastored churches in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta. Murray’s writings have been shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award, the John Spencer Hill Literary Award, the Paraclete Fiction Award, and Toronto's Kobzar Literary Award. Murray pastors and writes in southern Alberta near the Rocky Mountains. He and his wife Linda have a son and a daughter.

Visit the author's website.


Lovers of Amish fiction will quickly sign on as fans of award-winning author Murray Pura as they keep turning the pages of this exciting new historical romance set in 1917 during America’s participation in World War I.
Jude Whetstone and Lyyndaya Kurtz, whose families are converts to the Amish faith, are slowly falling in love. Jude has also fallen in love with flying that new-fangled invention, the aeroplane.

The Amish communities have rejected the telephone and have forbidden motorcar ownership but not yet electricity or aeroplanes.

Though exempt from military service on religious grounds, Jude is manipulated by unscrupulous army officers into enlisting in order to protect several Amish men. No one in the community understands Jude’s sudden enlistment and so he is shunned. Lyyndaya’s despair deepens at the reports that Jude has been shot down in France. In her grief, she turns to nursing Spanish flu victims in Philadelphia. After many months of caring for stricken soldiers, Lyyndaya is stunned when an emaciated Jude turns up in her ward.

Lyyndaya’s joy at receiving Jude back from the dead is quickly diminished when the Amish leadership insist the shunning remain in force. How then can they marry without the blessing of their families? Will happiness elude them forever?
Welcome a powerful new voice to the world of Amish fiction!

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736948775

ISBN-13: 978-0736948777


Lyyndaya Kurtz straightened her back and looked up at the blue and bronze evening sky. It was that strange sound again, like a large swarm of bees at their hive, and it grew louder and louder. She leaned the hoe against the picket fence her father had built around the garden. Her mother, whose hearing was no longer very good, continued to chop at weeds between the rows of radishes and lettuce. She glanced at her daughter as Lyyndaya shielded her eyes from the slowly setting sun.

Was ist los?” she asked, using Pennsylvania Dutch.

“Can’t you hear them, Mama?” Lyyndaya responded. “There are aeroplanes coming.”

Her mother stood up, still holding the hoe in her brown hands, and squinted at the sun and sky. “I don’t see anything. Is it a small one?”

“No, it’s too loud for just one aeroplane. Do you see, Mama?” Lyyndaya pointed. “Coming out of the west. Coming out of the sun.”

Now her mother shielded her eyes. “All I am seeing is spots in front of my eyes from looking into the light.”

“Look higher. There are—three, four, six—there are half a dozen of them.”

The planes were not that far from the ground, Lyyndaya thought, only a thousand feet, not much more. Each with two wings, the top wing longer than the bottom one, each plane painted a yellow that gleamed in the sunlight. As she watched, one of them broke away from the others and dropped toward them. It came so low that the roar of the engine filled the air and children ran from their houses and yards into the dirt road and the hay fields. They were soon followed by their mothers and fathers and older brothers and sisters.

Lyyndaya laughed as the plane flew over their house. A hand waved at her from the plane’s open cockpit and she waved back with all her might. “Can you see the plane now, Mama?” she teased.

Her mother had crouched among the heads of lettuce as the plane flashed past. “Ach,” she exclaimed with a cross look on her face, “this must be your crazy boy, Jude Whetstone.”

“He’s coming back!”

The plane had banked to the left over Jacob Miller’s wheat field and was heading back over the farmhouses while the other five planes carried on to the east. Its yellow wings dipped lower and lower. Lyyndaya’s green eyes widened.

“He’s going to land in Papa’s field!” she cried. “Where the hay was cut on Monday!”

She lifted the hem of her dress in both hands and began to run. The black kaap that covered her hair at the back, left untied, flew off her head.

“Lyyndaya! This is not seemly!” her mother called after her.

But the young woman had reached the old gray fence around the hay field, gathered the bottom of her navy blue dress in one hand, and climbed over, and with strands of sand-colored hair unraveling from their pins, she was racing over the stubble to where the plane’s wheels were just touching the earth. Others were running toward the plane from all directions, jumping the fence if they were spry enough, opening the gate to the field if they were not.

The aeroplane came to a stop in the middle of the field and when the propeller stopped spinning a young man in a brown leather jacket and helmet pushed his goggles from his eyes and jumped from the cockpit to the ground. He was immediately surrounded by the several boys and girls who had outrun the adults in their rush toward the craft. He mussed the hair of two of the boys who came up to him and tugged the pigtail of a red-headed girl.

“Jude!” Lyyndaya exclaimed as she ran up to him, the tan on her face flushed. “What are you doing here?”

“Hello, Lyyndy,” the young man smiled, lifting one of the boys up on his shoulders. “The whole flying club went up and I convinced them to come this way to Paradise. I wanted to see you.”

“To see me? You fly a plane from Philadelphia just to see me?”

“Why not?”

“But you were coming back on the train in a few days.”

“A few days. I couldn’t wait that long.”

Lyyndaya could feel the heat in her face as neighbors looked on. She saw one or two frown, but most of the men and women smiled. A very tall man in a maroon shirt wearing a straw hat laughed. She dropped her eyes.

“Bishop Zook,” she murmured, “how are you?”

Gute, gute,” he responded. “Well, Jude, what is all this? Why has a pigeon dropped out of the sky?”

Bishop Zook was not only tall, at least six-foot-nine, but broad-shouldered and strong. He shook Jude’s hand with a grip like rock. The young man pulled his leather helmet off his head so that his dark brown hair tumbled loose. Lyyndaya fought down an overwhelming urge to take Jude and hug him as she had done so many times when they were nine and ten.

“I wanted the children to see the plane, Bishop Zook,” said Jude.

“Only the children?”

“Well—” Jude stumbled. “I thought perhaps—I might ask Miss Kurtz—”

“Ah,” smiled the bishop. “You want to take her up, as you flying men say?”

“I thought—”

“Are you two courting?”


“You remember what is courting, my boy—you have not been among the English in Philadelphia that long, eh?”

Everyone laughed, and Lyyndaya thought the heat in her face and hands would make her hair and skin catch on fire.

Bishop Zook put an arm like a plank around Jude’s slender shoulders. “You know when there is the courting here, we let the boy take the girl home in the buggy after the Sunday singing. You remember that much after a week away?”


“So your horse and buggy are where?” the bishop said.

Jude continued to hunt desperately for his words. “In the barn, but I wanted—” He stopped, his tongue failing him as the whole colony stood watching and listening.

The bishop waited a moment and then walked over and touched the top wing of the plane. He ran his hand over the coated fabric and nodded. “A beautiful buggy. Pulled by horses with wings, eh? How many, Master Whetstone?”

Jude was trying not to look at Lyyndaya for help, but did anyway, and she was making sure she did not look at him or offer any by keeping her eyes on the stubble directly in front of the toes of her boots.

“There are—” Jude stepped away from the crowd pressing in on him and Lyyndaya and turned around to look at the plane behind him as if he were seeing it for the first time—“there are—” He stood utterly still and stared at the engine as if it did not belong there. Then he looked at Bishop Zook’s thick black beard and broad face. “Ninety. Ninety horses.”

The bishop nodded again and kept running his hand over the wing. “More than enough. There is the problem however—if God had meant us to fly, Master Whetstone, wouldn’t he have given us wings, hm?”

He took his hand from the plane and looked at Jude directly. Several of the men and women murmured their agreement with the bishop’s question and nodded their heads. Most remained silent, waiting for Jude’s answer. Jude stared at the bishop, trying to gauge the look in the tall man’s blue eyes. He thought he saw a flash of humor so he went ahead with the answer he had used a hundred times in their own Amish colony as well as in dozens of the ones around it.

“Bishop Zook,” he responded, “if God had meant us to ride a buggy he would have given us wheels and four legs.”

“Ah ha!” shouted the bishop, slapping his huge hand against his leg and making most of the people jump, including Lyyndaya. “You have it, Master Whetstone, you have it.” He clapped his hands lightly in appreciation and a smattering of relieved laughter came from the small crowd. “So now take me up.”


“As bishop, I must make sure it is safe for Miss Kurtz, ja? After all, who has ever had such a horse and buggy in our colony, eh?” He gave his hat to one of the men and climbed into the front of the two cockpits.

“I only have a little time before I must head back to Philadelphia—” Jude began, again glancing at Lyyndaya for help, who had gone so far as to raise her gaze to stare fixedly at the bishop and the plane, but still refused to make eye contact with the young man.

“Five minutes,” said the bishop with a gleam in his eye. “That is all I ask. I am not the one you are courting, eh?”

The people laughed again. The thought passed through Jude’s head that the bishop was enjoying a lot of laughter at his expense. Then he shrugged and climbed into the rear cockpit. He saw his father in the crowd and gestured with his hand.

“Papa, will you give the propeller a turn?” he asked.

“Of course, my boy.”

As Jude’s father, a tall, slender man with a short beard and warm brown eyes, walked toward the plane, Bishop Zook leaned his head back and asked, “Now, before the engine noise, tell me, what is the name of this aeroplane and where do they make such things?”

Jude handed the bishop a leather helmet and goggles. “It’s a Curtiss JN-4, the Jenny, and they’re usually made in Buffalo, New York. But our flying club outside of Philadelphia was able to purchase these at a very good price from our Canadian friends just across the border. They are built there by Curtiss’s Canadian associate, the Canadian Aeroplane Company, so we call them the Canuck.”

“But they are the same as the New York ones?”

“Almost. They have one great advantage. I use a stick, a joystick, to control the aeroplane in these. The old American ones have a wheel that is not as good.”

“Why don’t we put the stick in ours then?”

“We will. The next model has the stick, the JN-4D. But they have only brought it out this month. There are not enough of them. Besides, it’s 1917 and they are all going to the army. Civilian clubs will not be able to purchase them while the war is on.”

Jude’s father, in his brown summer shirt and straw hat, was standing in front of the plane and smiling. Jude played with a switch on the control panel in his cockpit. Then he pulled down his goggles and smiled back at his father and made a circle in the air with his hand. His father nodded, put both hands on the top blade of the wooden propeller, and swung it downward. The engine coughed twice and roared. His father’s hat went spinning into the sky with the prop wash.

“Contact,” Jude said loudly. “Please buckle on your harness, Bishop Zook.”

“Ah. So we truly do have something in common with the horses.”

Jude’s father had caught up with his hat. He looked back at his son and pointed east. Jude turned the plane in that direction.

“What is your father telling us?” shouted Bishop Zook.

“The direction the wind or breeze is coming from. We take off into the wind.”


“It gives us lift to help get the aeroplane off the ground.”

The craft moved ahead, slowly bouncing over the field, then gathering speed and rising into the air. Jude took it to a thousand feet and made sure he flew over the entire town of Paradise and especially the bishop’s dairy farm on the west end. The sun was still an hour or two over the horizon and covered the plane in light. The bishop began to laugh and slapped one of his hands against the side of the Jenny.

“Too beautiful, too beautiful,” Jude heard him call out. “Mein Gott, what a gift you have given the birds, such a gift, such a world.”

When they landed again and the propeller had spun down to a stop, Bishop Zook climbed out, pumped Jude’s hand like an excited boy, and then beckoned to Lyyndaya.

“Come, come, my dear,” he smiled, “your buggy awaits.”

Feeling every eye on her, the skin of her face burning, she stepped up to the plane and the bishop helped her into the front cockpit. She used one hand to manage her dress and the other to grab onto parts of the plane. When she was finally in her seat, the bishop gave her the helmet and goggles and showed her how to tighten the buckles of the shoulder harnesses. Then he walked to the front of the plane and bent his head at Jude’s father.

“May I?”

Jude’s father stood back from the propeller. “Of course.”

“I just pull it downward?”

Ja, just a sharp tug and then let it go. Do not hold on.”

“Yes, yes, all right—when?”

“My son will tell you.”

Lyyndaya sat in her cockpit feeling an odd mixture of embarrassment, excitement, and fear. Suddenly Jude’s hand squeezed her left shoulder from behind.

“You will be all right, Lyyndy Lyyndy Lou,” he said.

She could not turn all the way around to see him, but she knew he would be smiling just as his use of the childhood nickname had made her smile as well. Now, ten years later, without having had a chance to discuss it between themselves, the plane ride had become a buggy ride and they were courting, thanks to Bishop Zook. Well, it would give them something to talk about besides the weather and the crops when he came back to Lancaster County from Philadelphia in a few days.

She could not see what Jude was doing, but the bishop all of a sudden nodded, swung down on the propeller with his enormous hands and arms, and the engine burst into life. They began to roll across the ground faster than she had ever traveled in anything before, faster than galloping her mare, Anna, bareback. She felt her heart hammering and her mouth go dry.

“Hang on!” shouted Jude.

The wind was rushing against her face and body. The earth streamed past brown and green. The sky was a streak of blue and silver. Then the plane lifted into the air and her stomach seemed to turn inside out and upside down. She looked down and the men and women and children were like dolls and the wagons like toys and the houses like tiny boxes. Suddenly the plane banked to the right and she felt herself falling out of her seat. The leather flying helmet, unfastened, was torn from her head, her hair exploded in the rush of air, and as her arms dropped over the side into empty space she could not stop herself and started to scream.

My Review: Refreshingly unique, and well done.

The one thing that really caught my eye about thia book was how different the premise was from other Amish books. And I loved every minute of it! Slightly reminding me of Gilbert Morris, Mr. Pura wove an engaging story about a young man full of honor and a commitment to doing his duty. We need more heroes like that! A book that made me smile and sigh, hoping that somehow the truth would come out, though  non of the problems were caused by the lips of the main characters.

The Wings of Morning is an adventure about trusting God for the best, even when things seem their bleakest. And then taking those situations, and making the best out of them. Who knows? It might just be for such a time as that, that God chose you to endure a certain hardship for the glory of his kingdom.

I really liked how different this was from any Amish book I had read before, set in the changing times when things like telephones were just starting to get banned.

And if you haven't already guessed, my favorite character was Jude, for his honesty, and pure heart :)

Overall, a book that engaged me on all levels, I can't help but give it five stars! Very clean, and I would recommend it to young teens as well as adults, both girls and guys :) And as a closing, let me just say that I will certainly be looking out of more books by Mr. Pura in the future!

Final Rating : 5 out of 5

I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review. Just to be honest and respectful in sharing my thoughts. Thank you!


Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin ~ I just had to reveiw it--even though I didn't have too!

Wonderland Creek

My Review: I was left completely wonderstruck. Wonderland Creek is now one of my most favorites books ever!

Alice is a young woman during the depression who eats, sleeps, pretty much lives on and in her books. Alice's world is turned upside down when she loses her dream job as a librarian due to the economic pressures, and to top it all off her funeral director boyfriend dumps her. Alice, in an effort ot get away from her woes, heads to the mountains of Kentucky to deliver boxes of donated books, to a small library. Little does she know that she just might be in for the adventure of her life!

I loved this book from the first line to the last page. It had me glued to the page, savoring every word, and laughing out loud when I found myself relating to Alice in an all-too-scary-way. Yes, Alice was very melodramic, but I loved her for it, and could hardly contain my laughter at some of her humorous musings.

I really loved the Christy-like setting, up in the mountains without the modern inconveniences like electricity, and running water, where you're more likely to meet a person's shotgun before you actually meet the person.

Leslie or "Mack" was in my mind the perfect hero, perfect in that he was not perfect enough to be perfect, which just ended up making him perfect! Now if you're still with me after that baffling chain of thoughts...OK! I love his sense of duty and his commitment to making things right. I could go on and on about Mack but for your sakes, I won't ;)

I think that nearly every character had a place in my heart by the time I turned the last page, I especially loved Miss Lillie. What a woman, indeed!

This book had everything. Excellent characters, a killer plot, sweet romance, a rediscovery of lax faith, a mystery that keeps you on your toes, evil villians, beautiful setting, and lots of books! I couldn't have asked for a better story. It completely blew me away! Especailly the suspense of trying to figure out who was behind everything and why. Oh, and did I mention buried treasure? Wonderland Creek has that too!

If you are anything like me, this is a must-read! I HIGHLY recommend this book. It is now pretty much my number one favorite book :D Thank you for listening to my somewhat overlong ravings, I'm going to go out a buy this book as soon as I can :)

Final Rating: 5.6 out of 5!!!!!

I checked out this book at my local library and reviewed it just because I loved it so much :)

Warring Spirits by April W. Gardner ~ FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour & Review

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:

Vinspire Publishing, LLC (November 30, 2011)

***Special thanks to April Gardner for sending me a review copy.***


April W Gardner has been a military brat, missionary's kid, and military spouse. After 21 years in various countries overseas, she happily resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, music, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

Librarian, reviewer, and avid reader, April adores anything books. She writes a regular column for the joint blog, Reflections in Hindsight, and is the founder and senior editor of the literary website, Clash of the Titles. She is the author of the historical romance series, Creek Country Saga and the children's adventure series, the Channel Islands Resistance.

Visit the author's website.


In 1816 Georgia, escaped slaves control the land just beyond the American border in Las Floridas. Lost somewhere between white and black worlds, Milly follows hope to the only place that can offer her refuge—the place Georgians are calling Negro Fort. The first, sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. Death would be more welcome.

Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters. Forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh—Phillip primes himself for battle. But inside, a war already rages—return for the woman he thought lost to him or concede her to the enemy she loves; follow orders or follow his heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 286 pages

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing, LLC (November 30, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 098341985X

ISBN-13: 978-0983419853


Warring Spirits
April Gardner
Vinspire Inspirations
A Division of Vinspire Publishing
Ladson, South Carolina

Warring Spirits
Copyright ©2011 April Gardner
Cover illustration copyright © 2011 Elaina Lee/For the Muse Designs
Printed and bound in the United States of America. All rights
reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval
system-except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a
review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the Web without
permission in writing from the publisher. For information,
please contact Vinspire Publishing, LLC, P.O. Box 1165, Ladson, SC 29456-1165.
All characters in this work are purely fictional and have no existence
outside the imagination of the author and have no relation
whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not
even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the
author, and all incidents are pure invention.
ISBN: 978-0-9834198-5-3

Chapter 1

Phillip knew it was a dream. He told himself again, though it did little good. The children’s shrieks grew louder. The flaming pickets roared with new life, as though fueled by his denial of their existence.
His legs churned, but he couldn’t free his mind of the constant nightmare. At least this time, he reasoned, he wasn’t awake. Small blessings.
And then, he saw her.
Arms dangling at her sides and skirt undulating in the waves of heat, she stood across the compound. Her lips were motionless, but her voice echoed through his mind. “Phillip.”
He rushed toward the vision, and she reached for him. “Phillip, love, you must wake up.”
With a cry, he bolted upright.
The silhouette of a woman hovered over him. He stared at her, unblinking, afraid to move and frighten her away.
Sweat poured down his chest—sweat as real as the shadow seemed.
“That’s better,” she whispered. “You’ll be alright.”
He disagreed, but if he spoke, he might shatter her. He’d done it before.
Her loose hair swayed as she moved so near, he should feel her heat.
Taking in the comfort of her presence, he held his breath until his lungs burned with need. Refusing to be contained any longer, air exploded from his mouth. The sound ripped through the cabin, and in one blink, Adela vanished.
A moan built in Phillip’s throat, and he buried his head in his trembling palms. When his fingers collided with the jagged flesh on his face, he recalled again why Adela was no more to him than a mocking shadow, a figment of his deluded, half-crazed mind.
She had turned him down.
Familiar nausea haunted his gut. With a growl, he threw his damp pillow across the room. The sound of splintering glass sent him scrambling for the musket by his bed. He had the unsteady barrel aimed toward the source before he realized he’d been the cause of the commotion.
He dropped the weapon and backed away from it as though it were a copperhead. Blood pounded in his throat. He swallowed hard, terrified of his own mind.
It had been nearly two years. One more night of this and he would prove the gossip correct. He would go mad.
There had to be a better way.
“Help me.” His voice shivered, and for once, he was thankful to be alone. “Sweet Jesus, show me a better way.”
Sitting as poised as possible in the bouncing buckboard, Milly rearranged her skirt then tugged her bonnet over her ears. Another rut in the road sent her stomach flying.
“You look fine, Miss Milly.” Isum transferred the reins to one hand then wiped a palm against his dingy, knee-length trousers. A sideways glance topped his crooked smile. “As fine as any white lady in stole clothes.”
Milly squirmed inside her stuffy petticoats. “Borrowed clothes, and don’t call me that. Milly will do.”
“No, miss. It won’t. Best make a habit of it now, before we’re needin’ it.”
“I hate admitting when you’re right.”
Isum chuckled, but Milly pressed her lips and snatched a peek over her shoulder.
“We’ll hear somebody comin’ before we see ‘em.” Isum’s voice remained steady, his demeanor casual, and his shoulders relaxed. His death-grip on the reigns told another story.
Three years ago, he had been as short and wiry as a plucked cotton bush. Now, his muscular, mahogany frame left little room to spare on the wagon seat. According to plantation gossip, the field girls took to nervous giggles whenever he came around. The master had perked up as well and taken to accepting bids.
There was only one thing Master Landcastle needed more than strong field workers. Cash.
The moment whispers in the big house revealed that Isum had been sold and would leave by dawn, Milly took action. There was no way she would let them take the only true friend she had, so ignoring the consequences, she loaded the buggy with vegetables. And one lady’s day gown.
As was their weekly custom, she and Isum set off toward town. Only this time, instead of stopping at the market, they went straight through.
Six miles of red, Georgia clay stretched behind them. Seventeen more before they ran into Spanish Florida. Sixty beyond that, Negro Fort, and safety.
It had been done many times before. It could be done again. But in broad daylight?
Escape stories ran through Milly’s twenty-four years of memory. Had there been a single one where a slave had taken to the road while the sun was at its highest? She shook her head.
But I have an advantageso long as I’m not recognized.
The July sun beat down on her with mocking strength. She pressed a palm across the back of her stinging neck.
Isum reached to the floorboard then passed her the borrowed parasol. “You’ll be burnin’ if you don’t.”
Since he first came to the plantation as a skinny tyke five years her younger, Isum had been her responsibility. She had cared for him as meticulously as she did her own flesh. About the time his gaze tilted downward in order to look her in the eye, they swapped roles, and his protectiveness had grown in proportion to his towering height.
She frowned, opened the frilly contraption, and settled it against her shoulder. Immediately, her neck cooled. It did nothing for the bile rising in her throat.
Gripping the side of the bench, she failed to tamp down the regret that swelled within her.
The timing was wrong. They would be caught, and he would be sold. She dare not consider her own fate.
They should turn back. It wasn’t too late.
She swiveled and squinted at the road behind them. What options did she have? Mr. Grayson’s features, twisting with his customary, terrifying rage, flashed before her mind’s eye. It’s too late. We can’t turn around.
They should be moving faster.
Isum pulled on the reins.
“Why are you slowing?” Milly sat forward, resisting the urge to yank the whip from its holder and spur the mare to a gallop.
He swiped the floppy hat from his head and mopped his brow with his sleeve. “We ain’t alone. Best we not seem in too much of a hurry.” He indicated with his hat then settled it back in place before taking up a deliberate, relaxed posture.
A horseman topped the next slope.
“Oh God, help us.”
“What you worried about, Miss Milly? You’s armed with the most beautiful smile this side of the Chattahoochee. Ain’t no gentleman gonna see past it to doubt your word.”
But what if he wasn’t a gentleman? Milly forced a wobbly smile then swept her hand under her bonnet, securing any strays.
Within minutes, Isum pulled the buggy to a halt as the gentleman came alongside them. The creaking brake nearly sent Milly scrambling for the trees lining the road. Instead, she angled the parasol to shield her face, presumably, from the sun.
“Good afternoon.” The man’s unfamiliar voice released her pent-up breath.
Easing back the shade, she peered through the lace edging. Long seconds passed before Isum shifted beside her and nudged her back.
Milly lowered the parasol and forced her gaze to the stranger’s eyes. She found them friendly and unsuspecting. “Good afternoon to you, sir.” Tucking her trembling hands into the folds of the closed parasol, she tried for that beautiful smile but feared she fell short of Isum’s expectations.
The man studied her, never once glancing at Isum.
A cold sweat broke out on her upper lip. Like venom, fear coursed through her, poisoning her confidence. Her gaze slipped to the dirt where it belonged.
“You’re a might far from civilization. It’s not exactly safe out here, even with a strapping young buck such as yours.”
Milly’s line of sight skittered to the man’s chest, then, weighted by years of training, fell back to the ground. “I plan to trade with Creek in the next village. I hear they’ll give anything for a little food.”
“So they will, poor devils.” The man laughed, making Milly’s skin crawl. He sidled his horse close to the buggy, and the smell of his cologne wafted down. “I appreciate a woman with a tender heart.”
“If you don’t mind, we best be moving along. I wouldn’t want to be caught out after dark.”
The man’s silence lured Milly’s hesitant gaze. A smile crept up his face. “There they are, those pretty brown eyes.” He tipped his hat, bowing slightly at the waist. “It would be my pleasure to escort you, miss.”
“No.” The discourteous refusal popped out of its own volition. “Thank you, but that’s not necessary. We’re accustomed to the road.”
Eyes darkening, the gentleman reined his horse around, pointing its nose toward the road behind them. “As you wish. Good day.”
Milly nodded but doubted he noticed. “Let’s move, Isum,” she whispered, anxious to leave the man’s dust behind.
A brisk mile later, Milly’s gloved hand still clutched the parasol in her lap. Tears burned her eyes at the thought of what might have happened. She blinked them away to find Isum grinning from ear to ear.
“We done it. We fooled that dandy.”
A strangled chuckle escaped her. “Yes. I supposed we did. He never suspected a thing.” Milly laughed, full and long. It unwound the knotted cord in her gut, and suddenly, the road opened before them and filled with possibilities.
Possibilities of a future. With Isum? He had offered as much, and she hadn’t exactly rejected him. Neither had she accepted. She found it difficult to move past the years of near-mothering to feel something more toward him. And yet, she couldn’t imagine another man on earth who would willingly wed her. And from all indications, he was more than willing.
Taking in a deep, cleansing breath, she turned and found his steady brown eyes on her. All joviality had fled. “Isum? What is it?”
“For half a minute, I thought I was gonna have to kill me a white man, the way he was lookin’ at you. Like you’s a Sunday pastry.”
It was always the same with men. Many women longed for beauty, but for Milly, it was the key to her shackles. Perhaps today would commence the end of her nightmares. Even if it did, it certainly wouldn’t erase what had already been done to her. She tucked her chin against the nagging shame.
Isum grunted and slapped the reins across the mare’s rump. “Ain’t nothin’ you can help.”
At the sound of thundering hooves, she felt the blood drain from her face. A glance behind them revealed four riders closing in fast.
She gripped Isum’s arm, words lodging in her throat.
Jaw clenched, he focused on the horse as he pulled them to a stop. Running was futile. With quivering resignation, she removed her gloves and folded them neatly, just as the mistress had taught her. She couldn’t bring herself to look at Isum, to see hope shattered across his face.
“It ain’t ova,” he mumbled, as Master Landcastle’s men surrounded them.
Milly coughed in the horses’ dust, and probed her mind for a reasonable excuse.
“I thought you were smarter than this, Milly.” Grayson, the overseer, laid one hand across his legs, loosely aiming a pistol in their direction. “A shame what’ll become of you now.” His false sympathy grated on her ears.
Two of the others dismounted and dragged Isum from his seat. He struggled against their attempt to shackle him and was rewarded with a swift kick to the gut.
Milly jumped from the buggy and scrambled to the side of Grayson’s horse. Her nails dug into the leather of his riding boot. “Please, it was my fault. I didn’t tell him I planned to run.”
He guffawed and kicked her hand away. “He doesn’t answer to you, girl. And he’ll pay for his own foolishness. Just as you will.” He jerked the pistol. “You’re riding with me.”
The thought of being pressed against the man for seven miles of rough roads sent Milly back a step. He lunged forward, grappling for the fabric at the front of her gown, but he missed and scratched her neck instead.
She barely registered the burn.
His nostrils flared. “Get over here.”
Milly shied away from his curses then risked a glance over her shoulder.
The other three struggled against a willful Isum. “Hold him down,” one bellowed.
“I’m tryin’!” Metal clinked and rattled as Isum kicked, sending the shackles skidding across the road.
One of the men swore and went after them.
Too late, Milly noticed Grayson’s hand as he swiped for her again. She swayed back and away, but he compensated, stretching farther away from his horse. Fisting her blouse, he yanked her toward himself.
With a cry, Milly locked her knees, sending her lower half sliding under the horse’s belly. She clung to Grayson’s arm, her weight tugging him down with her.
“Let me loose.” His breath puffed hot in her ear.
The horse skittered, its hooves striking the ground so close she felt the vibration through the dirt. It bolted away from them, sending Grayson tumbling from his perch.
Just in time, Milly flipped to the side, avoiding his descending bulk.
He landed beside her with a grunt, his pistol coming to rest inches from her hand.
“Merciful, Lord,” she whispered through dusty lips.
“Grab it!” Isum screamed. Two held him belly-down, while the third locked one cuff on his ankle. His eyes bore into her, begging her to take action.
Grayson’s gaze darted to the pistol the instant her fingers wrapped around the handle. Before he could pull himself to a sitting position, she had the barrel pointed at his head. “Make them stop.” Her voice trembled in time with her hands.
He snorted. “You wouldn’t kill me.”
No, she wouldn’t, but she could cripple him. In a way he’d never hurt another woman again. Without a word, she redirected her aim.
Steady. Keep it steady. She scooted back, further of his reach. “You heard me.”
Grayson glared at her, his jaw working circles.
From the corner of her eye, she noted the stillness that had settled on the opposite side of the road. Isum flailed once more and managed to dislodge himself from under his captors.
“Unshackle him,” Milly called, her eyes never leaving Grayson’s.
“I’ll find you, and you know it.” His voice was gritty with hate.
“Maybe. But not today.”
“Grayson, what do you want us to do?”
“Let him go.”
The manacles clinked to the ground.
Isum pushed up and trotted to her side, lip bleeding and jaw swollen, but looking better than such a struggle should afford. “I got this here.” He took the weapon from her. “Think you can get the buggy into them trees?”
She nodded. If required to get them out of there, she could sprout wings and fly.
The sun had barely moved by the time Isum had all four men bound, gagged, and lashed to the wagon, which Milly had taken as far into the undergrowth as she could.
While he secured the men’s bonds, Milly changed back into her comfortable, plain brown frock then scattered all the horses but two. Leading one to Isum, she smiled. On horseback, they could cut through the forest and make better time. At least until the ground grew too swampy.
He gave her a boost then adjusted the stirrups with a swiftness that spoke of a lifetime in the master’s stables. Giving her foot a pat, he winked. “Now who’s the mastah of himself?”
She fingered the bonnet’s ribbon tied beneath her chin and shook her head. “It’s a bit soon to be so confident. We have a long trail ahead of us.”
Mounted, Isum directed his horse alongside hers. With a quick yank, he loosened her bonnet’s ribbons. “You don’t need that no more. From here on, we’ll be exactly like the Almighty created us to be.”
One hand pressed to the top of her bonnet, Milly leaned out of his reach.
He clucked his tongue. “Your feet can run, but your heart, it gotta stop chasin’ after lies. It’s time you be who you’s meant to be.”
Who I’m meant to be? “And what exactly am I?”
“A child of the King. And my girl. Nothin’ else mattuh.”
Milly snorted, as he took her mare by the bridle. “We ain’t leavin’ ‘til you know it.”
“I know it.”
“Then take it off.”
She fingered the edge of her bonnet, while Grayson’s gaze gouged her back. She was more terrified to remove it than to turn the mare toward Florida. Heart running wild, she lifted the bonnet until a breeze tickled the hair on her forehead.
With a smile born of unending patience, Isum released her horse.
She set the cap in her lap and ran a hand over the braid worked in a circle around her head, its coarse, frizzy texture accusing her of her tainted heritage.
Her line of sight traveled to Grayson. From where he sat tied to the wagon wheel, the hatred emanating from his eyes scorched Milly’s weak resolve.
“I can’t.” With a jerk to the reins, she twisted the horse’s bit out of Isum’s reach. Gripping the saddle with her thighs, she settled the bonnet back in place. A swift kick of her heel set the mare on the backwoods trail to Spanish Florida.
Isum might be doomed every day to face their reality, but Milly had been blessed with the option to hide.
What slave in her right mind would choose otherwise?
For the third time in an hour, Major Phillip Bailey checked that his musket was properly primed and loaded. The Apalachicola River wound along on his right, and Creek warriors fanned out on the left. He was trapped. It had only been two years since many of these same warriors had surrendered to General Jackson at the conclusion of the Red Stick War.
The sight of them now, wild in their feathers, piercings, and tattoos, set the hairs on the back of his neck on end. For every one of the hundred and sixteen, blue-coated regulars on the march to Prospect Bluff, there were two—supposedly ally—Creek warriors who slogged across the boggy ground next to him.
The odds were far from comforting. Sweat pasted his silk neck-stock to his throat.
He scanned the surrounding pines for any sign of danger, whether from runaway slaves or friendly Creeks turned hostile. Downriver a ways and set back into the forest, the outline of a dwelling took shape. Like the many other slave-owned shacks they’d come across, the place appeared abandoned, but that didn’t mean the owners weren’t lurking in the shadows, waiting to ambush them.
Silent as ghosts, a group of warriors split off and swarmed the farmstead. Within minutes, they rejoined Phillip’s column empty-handed.
If what was said about the runaway’s leader proved true, Chief Garcon wouldn’t allow Phillip and his men to waltz into the area without a dandy of a fight. It was no secret the Americans intended to neutralize the fort on Prospect Bluff, the stronghold they called Negro Fort. Its name alone struck fear in the hearts of southern Georgians.
General Jackson had jumped at Spain’s approval of his crossing the Spanish-American border to defuse the tension and reclaim American property—the slaves. With its swamps, alligators, and prowling Seminoles, Las Floridas was wild country. Toss in three hundred armed and desperate runaways, and the place became hell on earth.
Phillip had been the first to volunteer to invade that hell. Alligators and runaways, he could handle. Creek warriors were a different matter altogether. Running into them on the southerly trail had been a surprise to both parties. It just so happened that, this time, Creek and American objectives ran parallel. Or so the Indians said…
Without warning, a regular stepped out from behind a tree blocking Phillip’s path. His rifle arm jerked. “In the name of all that’s holy, Corporal Higgins, get back in line.” Phillip spoke from between clenched teeth.
“Yes, sir. Just taking care of business, sir.”
Phillip noted a smirk on the nearest warrior. He scowled back.
The natives might see him and his men as a bunch of untrained idiots, but Phillip knew better. When not attacked on the sly and when properly prepared, there was no equal to Phillip’s army anywhere in the Americas. Hadn’t they proved it two years earlier by crippling the Creek Confederacy?
He passed Higgins’ scrawny frame as he busily fastened his broadfalls. “Didn’t mean to scare you, sir.” A poorly contained leer plucked at the man’s freckled cheeks.
Phillip opened his mouth to refute the charge and put the private in his place, but the gravelly voice of Sergeant Garrigus beat him to it. “Idiot. You can’t rattle the major. He’s got nerves of iron.”
“Is that right?”
“After what he’s seen? You bet.”
Garrigus’s praise sounded sincere enough, but Phillip knew the truth and prayed every day no one else would discover it. “Enough chatter back there. Keep your mouths shut and your eyes peeled.” He cast a sideways glance at longtime friend and surgeon, Captain Marcus Buck.
Marcus returned it with a faint smile that raised his flawless cheeks. Eyes, nose, mouth—each feature lined up perfectly. He might be a favorite with the ladies, if he took his nose out of medical books long enough to notice.
Involuntarily, Phillip’s jaw twitched, tugging the taut skin around his scar.
“Where’s Enoch?” Marcus’s gaze skimmed the area.
“Are you enjoying the quiet too?” Phillip subdued a grin and jerked his head toward the end of the loosely formed column. “I put him to work keeping Cook company.”
“Indians making him nervous?”
“Him and me both.” It wasn’t the only thing Phillip and his young slave had in common.
Moisture sucked into his boot as he stepped into another pocket of muck. Swamp water soaked his half-gaiters and spattered his dirty white breeches. He shook his foot, longing for a pair of clean, dry stockings. An arduous, two-day trek behind them, Camp Crawford might have been nothing more than tents and pickets, but right now, it seemed pretty near to heaven.
An Indian, head shaved on the sides, loped from the front of the line toward Phillip. His black hair, collected into a long tail, flipped through the air behind him. His face was a solemn, purposeful mask, and he clutched a tomahawk, as if ready for battle.
A drumbeat sounded from nearby. Or was that the blood pounding Phillip’s eardrum?
He strengthened his stance and gripped the musket barrel, ready at any instant to swing it into position. Sweat dripped into his eye, but he refused to blink and miss even one of this warrior’s breaths.
The Indians had caught him unawares before. Never again.
As the man neared, the path cleared before him. Ahead, a commotion scattered the column.
This was it. The moment Phillip had been anticipating. One swing of this warrior’s blade would be the signal for the rest to attack. By sundown, every last American scalp would dangle from a pole.
Unless Phillip did something to stop it.
The drum increased its tempo. In his mind, he was back at Fort Mims, the fires licking at his heels. The world narrowed to the warrior streaking toward him. Phillip had known better than to trust these savages, but Colonel Clinch hadn’t listened.
Phillip should give some sort of call to battle, but his brain went numb. Breath ragged, he raised his weapon to his shoulder and pointed the muzzle at the warrior’s chest. His stiff collar dug into the base of his head and his sweaty finger trembled against the cool trigger as he waited for the red man to raise his tomahawk.
Instead, ten paces away, he came to a halt, his brown eyes boring into Phillip. The warrior lowered his weapon and slipped it into a loop on his waistband. Arms limp, his lean body visibly relaxed as he stood before Phillip.
Except for the drum in his ear, silence surrounded them,
Why didn’t he attack? Indians never surrendered. Surely, it was a trick.
Phillip blinked, then allowed his gaze to flick to the side.
Marcus laid a hand on Phillip’s arm, and he flinched.
“Easy, now,” Marcus sounded as though he were calming a terrified child instead of addressing a superior officer. His voice rose barely above a whisper. “The men are watching. There’s no call for this. Not this time.”
A massive vulture soared above them, pulling Phillip’s focus back to the man before him. As much as Phillip searched, he found not a hint of malice in the warrior’s steady gaze.
He dropped the tip of his musket and sensed two dozen warriors lowering their bows in response.
As realization of his error took hold, heat crawled up Phillip’s neck, burning his scar. He focused on the black ostrich plume trembling in the air above Marcus’ bicorned hat as he turned to the warrior.
“It’s nothing personal, you see. Major Bailey fought at Mim’s place. Next time you’re careless enough to run up on him that way, I’ll let him have at you,” Marcus stated with a half-grin.
The Indian stared at Phillip, long and probing, until his eyes softened and mystified Phillip with their sudden depth.
“No, best stop me, Captain Buck. No sense creating more work for yourself.” Phillip’s attempt at humor fell flat. He cleared his throat and turned to the Indian. “You have a message for me?”
The warrior nodded. “A white man. We found there.” He gestured toward a sandbar in the middle of the river.
Phillip’s pulse slowed. He swallowed and willed his voice not to tremble. “One of ours?”
“A seaman. Wounded here.” He tapped his shoulder.
“One of Sailing Master Loomis’ men?” Marcus asked, his voice rising with disbelief.
Phillip resumed walking at a quick pace. “My thoughts exactly, although it was my understanding that no vessel from the naval convoy was to enter the river until we’d arrived.”
“They weren’t,” Marcus confirmed.
The warrior took up a limping step beside them. “There is more,” he said, halting Phillip in his tracks. “Two dead. This side of river.”
“Sailors, as well?” Phillip asked, hoping the dead were runaways.
“Perhaps. Their white bodies lie naked.”
Marcus hissed a curse, while Corporal Higgins’ face lit with anticipation. “We gonna see action?”
“Never mind that,” Phillip said. “Did you hear the Indian’s report?”
“Yes, sir. I heard.”
Phillip pointed two fingers downriver. “Take it to Colonel Clinch, on the double.” At the sound of Higgins’ scurrying footfalls, Phillip turned to Marcus. “Surgeon, you’re with me.”
A silent crowd gathered ahead—around the wounded sailor, Phillip surmised. “Clear out,” he called as he shouldered his way through the throng. “Give the man space to breathe.”
Marcus followed, bumping into Phillip’s back when he stopped short. His breath caught in his lungs. Scalped and brutally stabbed, two stripped men lay in a puddle of blood, their features frozen in twists of agony.
Soldiers shifted, allowing the doctor room to press his fingers to each neck. He stood, retrieved a kerchief from his pocket, and wiped his hands, staining the cloth red. “Give me someone I can help, for heaven’s sake.”
As Marcus stepped over the bodies, a tremble began deep inside Phillip. The quiver grew, moving into his stomach with a painful shudder. “We camp here. Private Davidson, inform Major Collins. Garrigus, set up a perimeter.” He tore his eyes from the grisly scene, stepped back, and then turned to Marcus. “Captain Buck, see to the wounded sailor, wherever he is. I’ll find you shortly. I’m going to look for tracks before we lose daylight.”
Night was falling fast and with it, his composure. The skirts of his coatee slapped the backs of his legs as he quick-stepped toward the shelter of the woods.
He pressed his lips tight and willed his stomach to cease its rebellion. Eyes riveted to a massive cypress twenty yards in, he forced certain images from his mind. Images of Fort Mims, of the dead and dying, of the corpses he had trampled in his fight for life.
Satisfied the cypress hid him, he rested his hands on his knees. His head swam, and the world tipped. Closing his eyes, he focused on keeping his breath even and his army rations where they belonged.
At last, he regained a measure of control—enough to be presentable to his men.
These memories should not hold such power over him. And yet, they did. With more ferocity each passing month.
Furious at himself, he ripped the bicorn from his head and hurled it into the shadows.
A soft cry followed, emanating from the darkness beyond.
Every muscle in Phillip’s body froze, as he strained to pierce the obscurity of dusk. He saw nothing, heard nothing—besides voices carrying from the riverbed. Had he imagined the sound? If he had, the fact wouldn’t astound him. Not anymore.
The cry had possessed a human quality. Would he go so far as to say feminine? His mind replayed the sound. Yes, he would. Had there been a female with the sailors? Phillip knew of no situation where that might be permitted.
Unwilling to believe he was hearing voices in his head, he set out in the direction his chapeau bra had landed. Musket going before him, he proceeded with carefully placed steps and peered into the ever-darkening forest beyond. This could be a trap, but it was worth the risk if it squelched the notion he was indeed mentally disordered.
Ears finely tuned, he crept toward his cap which lay before a scanty shrub.
The bush shook violently. Phillip jerked his musket up then back down as a woman sprang from concealment.
Her skirt snagged, abruptly halting her flight. As her hands battled to extricate the fabric, she lifted her bonneted head, exposing large, fearful eyes and a face which glowed pale in the waning daylight.
Unless the encroaching night was playing tricks on him, this woman was white. Not the midnight skin of a runaway or the smooth olive of a Spaniard, but white. Nearly as white as Phillip.
He settled the butt of his musket at his feet. “Ma’am? What are you doing out here?”
Her struggle grew more desperate until the sound of ripping preceded her tumble. Mostly hidden by palmettos, she scooted backward on the ground.
Still many yards distant, Phillip reached a hand to her, unable to imagine why she might be afraid of him. “I won’t hurt—”
A black man, large as a bear, darted from behind a thick pine to Phillip’s right. His sprint carried him across Phillip’s path and directly toward the woman.
“No! Get away.” Her words came out a garbled croak.
“Halt!” Phillip flipped the weapon back into position and aimed it at the slave’s chest.
Unfazed, he kept moving and would have intercepted the woman except for the stone she hurled. It thudded off his shoulder and stopped him dead in his tracks.
He swiveled to face Phillip, who had shortened the distance between them, his eye never leaving the musket’s sites. “One more step, and before the night's out, I’ll bury you where you stand.”
The man’s shoulders rose and fell with each rapid breath, but his stony face showed no fear. “Then you bettah do it. Otherwise, it’ll be you what's buried. See, I plan to make it to that fort, and losin’ my life to do it is no mattuh to me.”
Phillip’s brother, Dixon, had often said that a man who didn’t value his own life made the most dangerous of enemies. This one wouldn’t live long enough to become that. Phillip leveled his musket’s barrel at the big man’s heart.
In response, he took a single step forward.
“Don’t shoot!” The woman stumbled forward, placing herself between the runaway and the iron-tipped muzzle.
Reflexively, he skipped to the side to maintain his aim on the man. “Step away, ma’am. Don’t want you hurt.” What was she thinking?
She mirrored his movements, keeping herself between them. “No one needs to get hurt.”
“Move away from him, and let me handle this.”
She faced Phillip, her large brown eyes pleading. “Let him go. Please.”
“Woman, are you crazy?” The black man voiced Phillip’s own thoughts.
She was either insane or suffering from over-exposure.
Weapon still trained on the runaway, Phillip took a quick step forward and flailed at her, trying to grab her by the arm.
She skittered to the side, and he swiped nothing but air.
“Get out of the way,” he snapped. Not one of his men would have dared defy his command, yet this woman stood her ground.
She backed further away from him and dangerously close to the black man. “He didn’t run a hundred miles just to be shot down defenseless in the woods a day away from the only chance at freedom he’ll ever have.” Her voice shook, but her rigid back told Phillip she wouldn’t give in any time soon.
With his mind concocting a way to move the woman and save both their necks, Phillip was only half-listening. “What are you talking about?”
Although shadows fell across her face, Phillip didn’t miss the softening of her eyes or the quiver of her lips. Her passion for this slave’s freedom furrowed Phillip’s brow.
“If you were fighting for your life, wouldn’t you want a fair shot at it?” she asked.
Like a Red Stick’s arrow, her soft-spoken question pierced him, immobilizing his thoughts to anything beyond one image—his brother’s doom-stricken features and the blood-thirsty warriors that swarmed him.
“Yes,” he rasped.
Surprise widened her eyes and parted her lips—a lovely image to return to after his disturbing trip to the past.
For one instant, Phillip would have done anything she asked. He lowered his musket and stretched a hand toward her, but before he could even shift his stance, the slave lurched forward.
He encased the woman in his arms, lifting her and covering the lower half of her face with a massive hand. “Hush, now, or you’ll call ‘em all down on us.” Her startled cry preceded the man’s swift backward steps. He hurled a steely glare at Phillip. “You ain’t seen nothin’. Ain’t talked to nobody. You hear, soldier?” The ferocity in his voice chilled Phillip’s blood.
One quick twist of the man’s hand was all it would take to snap the woman’s neck. Berating himself, Phillip released the barrel of his weapon and let it drop to the ground with a soft thud then splayed his hands in front of him. “No need to hurt her. Let her go, and I’ll never breathe a word I saw you. You can go right—”
The slave flipped the woman’s legs into the air and caught them under his arm in the same instant that he took flight.
Three seconds into Phillip's pursuit, common sense won out, and he came to a quick stop. If he were going into the wilds after an unpredictable giant, he had better have a squad backing him.
Within moments, the only evidence left of the woman’s presence was the dread constricting Phillip’s chest that no one would believe she’d even been there.

My Review: Freedom isn't free. That's a lesson Milly knows all too well.

Full of action and adventure, love and racial prejudices, Warring Spirits is not a book to be missed. Even though I haven't read the prequel, I was able to figure out what had happened in the first book and how it effected Warring Spirits. Fraught with tension at every turn, and heart-rending choices, Warring Spirits  is emotionally strong, in a way that will grip you until you read the last page.

Every single character was well developed, though not all were of strong moral character. I loved how deep the main characters were and how strong they were. They could have wallowed in the past but they chose to move forward, to push on, even though I wouldn't have blamed if they hadn't. I think my favorite character was True Seeker, because he was a boy who became a man over the course of the book. Not just any man, but an honorable man, who went above and beyond to fufilled his duties. I'm hoping that the third book will be about him!

So overall I'd say that this is a great book for those who like action with their romance, and tons of hold-your-breath-moments full of taunt-as-a-bow-string-tension. A great read through and through. I would make a suggestion though, that this book should not be read by those younger than 16-17 because of a few rape/or almost rape scenes to be aware of. But I loved how just all over awesome this book was! Strong plot, strong characters, great emotional depth, and a great biblical message to never forget that God is there. I highly recommend this book. Thanks!

Final Rating: 5 out of 5

I received this book from teh author in return for an honest review. Thank you!