Tuesday, May 22, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour - The Sword Review Day 2

This month's Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour takes a look at The Sword Review. Day 2 brings us to the start of the column reviews.

The column that was most interesting to me is called Speculations. This is the place where Bill Snodgrass(the co-founder of The Sword Review)writes about a variety of subjects. I always find it interesting to learn about the people who are behind the website.

Some of Bill's column titles are:
Battle Victorious(about a musical group)
One More Thing to Love About My MacIntosh
MySpace Faces
Returning Humanity to the Fast-Food Counter
Children, Black Holes, and Their Effect on Time

Stop in and read them. Bill will get you thinking about subjects that you might not normally think about.

Please take the time to visit the sites participating in the blog tour.
Brandon Barr Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Frank Creed CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne April Erwin Kameron M. Franklin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Russell Griffith Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Holly Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium Terri Main Rachel Marks Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Rebecca LuElla Miller Robin Parrish Cheryl Russel Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver

Blinded by Darkness - Tony Burton

Holy Creek Christian Church is growing. A member donates the land to build a new church. The only catch is that the new building must be completed by a set date or the congregation looses the land. Blinded by Darkness begins with a dinner and concert to help raise money for the project. Suddenly, many of the members develope servere stomach cramps.

Pastor Wilson has suspects within his congregation. The police seem reluctant to investigate. In most churches, the pastor wears many hats. Pastor Wilson is forced to put on the hat of a detective. Especially after one of his members dies under mysterious circumstances.

Tony Burton's story will keep you turning the pages, anxious to find out the answers. It is great to read a mystery book where you do not have to worry about the worldview. Unfortunately, many mystery books focus on violence and questionable morals. Blinded by Darkness does not suffer from that problem. I liked the storyline and characters. The only problem I had with the book was the characters tended to explain things rather than letting the story show us. As Tony becomes more experienced as a writer I suspect that the dialogue will become more natural sounding. Recommended for mystery fans who are looking for something new and fresh. I am not aware of any other series that currently focuses on a minister detective.

Rating: 3 stars.

ISBN 0-9778402-4-7
Tony's website is located at http://www.tonyburton.biz/

Monday, May 21, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour-The Sword Review Day 1

This month's Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour takes a look at The Sword Review.

The Sword Review website has this description...

The Sword Review is a publication project of Double-Edged Publishing, Inc. (ISSN 1556-5416). We strive to provide quality fiction, poertry, valuable reviews, and meaningful exposition, all in a means that respects traditional values and Christian principles. The Sword Review actively seeks works from new and student authors and artists, but holds high standards of quality for all contributions.

During days 2 and 3 of our tour, I will be posting reviews of the various columns.

Please take the time to visit the sites participating in the blog tour.

Brandon Barr Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Frank Creed CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne April Erwin Kameron M. Franklin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Russell Griffith Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Holly Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium Terri Main Rachel Marks Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Rebecca LuElla Miller Robin Parrish Cheryl Russel Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver

CFBA Tour-Defiant Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the
is introducing
(Avon Inspire May 8, 2007)


Tracey Bateman lives in Missouri with her husband and four children. Their rural home provides a wonderful atmosphere for a writer'simagination to grow and produce characters, plots, and settings.

In 1994, with three children to raise, she and her husband agreed that she should go to college and earn a degree. In a freshman English class, her love for writing was rekindled, and she wrote a short story that she later turned into a book.

Her college career was cut short with the news of their fourth baby's impending arrival, but the seeds of hope for a writing career had already taken root. Over the next several years she wrote, exchanged ideas with critique partners, studied the craft of writing, and eventually all the hard work paid off.

She currently has over twenty-five books published in a variety of genres. Tracey Bateman believes completely that God has big plans for his Kids and that all things are possible to anyone who will put their hope and trust in God!


Will Fannie be able to keep her family...and her heart, safe and find a new life on the frontier?

Book One of the Westward Hearts series, orphans Fannie Caldwell and her two young siblings have spent the last three years as indentured servants under a cruel master. Desperately wanting a better life for her brother and sister, Fannie devises a plan to secretly join a wagon train heading west.

Her plan immediately runs into trouble when the handsome yet bullheaded wagon master Blake Tanner refuses to allow an unmarried woman on the train.

But Fannie's determined...she'll escape and go west with or without help!

As life on the trail tests everyone's endurance and faith, Fannie soon realizes the perils of being a single woman on the frontier. Witnessing Fannie fending off one scare after another, Blake slowly recognizes how much he cares for this alluring young woman.

Will Blake sacrifice his own dreams and guide Fannie to safety?
Or will Fannie's stubborn independence keep her from finding true love?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

CFBA Tour-Orchard of Hope by Ann Gabhart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Revell March 1, 2007)
Ann Gabhart

Ann H. Gabhart has published a number of adult and young adult novels with several different publishers. The author of The Scent of Lilacs, Ann and her husband live a mile from where she was born in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. She is active in her country church, and her husband sings bass in a southern gospel quartet.


Nothing will be the same after the summer of 1964.Drought has gripped the quiet Kentucky town of Hollyhill, and the town seems as if it is holding its breath--waiting. Jocie Brooke is nervous about starting high school. Her sister Tabitha is experiencing the weariness of waiting for a new baby. Her father David is feeling the timidity of those first steps toward true love. All of these pivotal steps in life are awaiting the Brooke family.

Into this cloud of tense anticipation, a black family from Chicago, the Hearndons move here to plant an orchard outside of town. Fresh off the Freedom Train, Myra Hearndon is sensitive to what the color of her skin may mean in a Southern town. Her family will have to contend with more than the dry ground and blazing sun as they try to create their ORCHARD OF HOPE.

Jocie finds herself befrending a boy that some townspeople shun. Due to unspoken racial lines in this southern town, the presence of these newcomers sparks a smoldering fire of unrest that will change Hollyhill..and Jocie...forever.

In this close-knit community, everything is about to change.

Let this riveting novel take you along to experience unexpected love, new life, and renewed faith amid life's trials.

Ann can be reached by email: dagabhart@gloint.com

Monday, May 14, 2007

Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins

Brandilyn Collins follows the first book in the Kanner Lake Series(Violet Dawn) with Coral Moon. Brandilyn has written numerous books in the Hidden Faces, Bradleyville, and Chelsea Adams series. Kanner Lake looks to be another good series for fans of suspense novels. A unique feature of this series is the characters have a blog called Scenes and Beans. It is interesting to keep up with the characters between books. Take the time to visit the site.
Kanner Lake is a small Idaho town that was the sight of a murder in the first book. Coral Moon follows a second murder that occurs in this rural community. The murder appears to be senseless. The victim was very well liked. Who did it? Why did they do it? What is the secret of the mysterious note left pinned to the victim? As the clues are gaithered, it looks like the murderer could be the ghost of a former resident. Or is it one of the people from the first book? But that is impossible, isn't it? The author will keep you on the edge of your seat until the mystery is solved.
I thought that this book was not quite up to the level of the first book. At times, some of the supporting cast seemed too much like characters in a novel instead of real people. It pulled me out of the story. Overall it is still a good book and worth reading.
The third story(Crimson Eve) is previewed in the back of this book. It looks to be a good one. Brandilyn continues to write some of the best opening chapters of any author I have read.
Rating: 3 stars.

A Bigger Life by Annette Smith

Sometimes you start reading what you think will be a good but not great book. Not too many pages into A Bigger Life, I knew that Annette Smith had written one of the best books of 2007.

Once I began reading the story of Joel Carpenter's life, I could not put it down. It reminds me of the writing of Nicholas Sparks(The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember). Sparks novels pull you into the life of the characters and doesn't let go until the end of the book. This is that kind of novel. Joel's problems and how he deals with them are realistic. Everything is not solved by a quick fix. His friends will seem like people you know.

This is the kind of writing that we need more of in Christian fiction. A Bigger Life will go on my shelf next to The Notebook and A Walk to Remember.

I will definitely be looking for more books by this author.

Rating: 5 stars.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rating System

In an effort to help readers of this site, I will be rating the books I review. All books will be rated based on the following critia.

Characters(main and supporting)
Pacing(holds interest)
Overall impression

The total score of each book will determine how many "stars" that book will rate.

The rankings within each category are strictly based on my evaluation. Other reviewers might agree or disagree with my determinations but it will provide a consistent way to look at each review. I think this will give a better overview of how I rate the books.

As time permits, I will go back and add the rating to any reviews posted in 2007. My best of the year list will appear at the beginning of 2008.

Friday, May 11, 2007

CFBA Tour-Ransomed Dreams by Amy Wallace

This week, the
is introducing

(Multnomah April 16, 2007)
Amy Wallace is a member of the CFBA and an avid Blogger. A self-confessed chocoholic, this freelance writer is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and serves as the liaison for the training division of the county police department. Amy is a contributing author of God Answers Moms' Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Teens, Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes, and A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Mothers. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three daughters.

Drama. Tragedy. Thriller. Romance. Can these four actually go together? Amy Wallace's meaty first book of the Defenders of Hope Series, RANSOMED DREAMS, has successfully united these genres.

It is one of those books that after you read a little and put it down, the desire to see what will happen next is so strong that it will occupy your thoughts, compelling you to make the time to finish. But watch out! It is best consumed where no one will hear you cry because, if you have children, it will hit you like a stab in the gut and wrench you with a twist of the knife.

Although the subject at first depresses, the characters are so real and likable that you need to see what will become of them.
This book will NOT bore you.
Chained To Yesterday

When tragedy struck and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.

Forgiveness Unlocks the Future

An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people’s children and nights caring for his son. He’s through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both, and definitely doesn’t expect what’s coming next.

The Past Is the Key

A plot to kidnap a British ambassador’s daughter dangerously intersects Steven and Gracie’s worlds–a collision that demands a decision. But are they willing to pay the high ransom required to redeem dreams and reignite hope?

Steeped in police intrigue and rich characters, Ransomed Dreams entertains, educates, and captivates. Amy Wallace is a fresh, vibrant voice in the Christian market
~Mark Mynheir, Homicide Detective and Author of The Void
Ransomed Dreams had me hooked from the start and didn't let go until the deeply satisfying ending.
~Kristin Billerbeck, Author of What a Girl Wants

Thursday, May 03, 2007

CFBA Tour-Tribulation House by Chris Well

This week
is introducing
(Harvest House 2007)


Chris Well is a fellow member of the CFBA and founder of its sister organization, FIRST. He is an acclaimed novelist and award–winning magazine editor and has previously written the “laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers” Deliver Us from Evelyn and Forgiving Solomon Long(one of Booklist’s Top 10 Christian Novels of 2005). He has also contributed to 7ball, Infuze, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Chris and his wife live in Tennessee, where he is hard at work on his next novel.


Mark Hogan has it all. The job. The family. A position on the board at church. All he’s missing is a boat. Not just any boat—a 2008 Bayliner 192.

When Reverend Daniel Glory announces that the Rapture is taking place on October 17 at 5:51am, Hogan realizes his boat–buying days are numbered. So he does what any man in his situation would do—he borrows a load of money from the mob.

Not that there’s any risk involved: After all, when the Rapture comes, Hogan will be long gone. The mob will never find him.

But when Jesus fails to come back on schedule, Mark Hogan finds the mob is in no mood to discuss the finer points of end–times theology...

Chris Well’s laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers appeal to the millions of readers who gobble up the rollicking crime fiction of Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard. TRIBULATION HOUSE does not disappoint!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

FIRST Tour - The Heir by Paul Robertson

It is May 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Paul Robertson
and his book:
(Bethany House March 1, 2007)

Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and former independent bookstore owner in Blacksburg, Virginia. This is his first novel.


I couldn't take my eyes off the casket. It was expensive, and it glowed, resting among the candles and the heaps of flowers. It so perfectly expressed the man inside.

The dignitaries droned, and I didn't hear them. We knew it all. We knew what he had done with his life. If a man knows his purpose, then everyone else will know it, too.

They'd been told what to say and to keep it short, and they obeyed. They'd all gotten where they were by doing what they were told.

It was tribute by catalog listing: achievements, philanthropy, and Senate career. The real man was never mentioned—the companies he inherited, the rivals he crushed, the cold blood behind the politics—but everyone knew. Was anyone else listening? It's easy to eulogize a man who knew why he lived his life.

I just stared at that gleaming box and wondered why I was living mine.

We sang a hymn, and that brought me back—words obscure enough to drive any clear thoughts from a man's brain. A voice behind me sang off-key.

I watched the man's wife instead. Her name was Angela, and she was sitting between my brother, Eric, and me. I might have given her a hug, but she had always objected to my familiarity. It was nothing personal; she objected to anyone. Her brother and sister were not at the service.

She was his second wife. The other one died young of cancer, which had been worth a lot of sympathy in his first election. If he had grieved for her, I wouldn't know.

I looked back. The off-key voice behind me was another senator, a man I'd never liked. He had no speaking part. It was probably a snub.

For a moment it seemed a pity the whole thing was going by so fast. The church was flawless, and the funeral was such a good use for it. Now I even knew the true purpose of candles: to reflect off that casket. They were going to look tacky anywhere else. And there I was staring at it again.

Candles knew their purpose, but I didn't have a clue about mine.

The governor said his few words about what he had felt when he heard about the accident—the shock and sadness, the great man cut down in his prime, what a loss to the state. He shook his head at the whole sad mystery of life and death and checked his watch.


I pushed past Katie and got up to the pulpit. Now the box was right in front of me, shining like a waxed floor. I needed something else to look at.

The back wall of the place had a row of statues in it, saints or angels, and one had his hand up waving at me. I never had written anything to say.

"Why am I here?" The little saint seemed friendly, so I figured I'd just talk to him. "I wish I knew." Maybe it was a her, not a him. They all wear robes.

"I think he could have told me. He knew why he was here, what he was doing. He never doubted anything he did." Somehow, I was staring at the casket again. I found my friend on the wall.

"Maybe he is now."

They were all watching me, but I watched the back of the church. "The one thing I ever really knew for sure in my life was that he was there. I only saw him a few times a year and I won't miss him for that. It's more like a mountain is gone—one you'd see off in the distance.

"Katie wanted me to be impressive for the assembled personages. She knew they'd be measuring and calculating, putting me in their equations. After three years of marriage, she also knew me enough to know I didn't care. I did hope she wasn't embarrassed. Her mother was sitting behind her and she'd be embarrassed enough for all of us.

I wouldn't inherit anything anyway. It was all going to his foundation. Eric and I would just get our monthly checks, as we always had.

The saint's stone hand was palm up, as if it had been holding something that had just flown away. "Anyway, he's gone and we're still here, so we'll get by without him." I finally got myself to look at the people. What a well-dressed crowd. "And everything he knew about life is gone with him, so I'll get by without that, too."

I didn't have anything else to say. I smiled at Angela, and then I nodded at Eric on her other side.

I waited at the end of the pew as Eric got out, and he patted me on the back. Katie gave me a tight smile as I sat. She was annoyed, but not mad.

Eric was tall, dark, and clueless behind the heavy wood pulpit. We look alike, especially with him wearing one of my suits. For all the money he has, he'd never figured out how to buy clothes. It was loose on him, and maybe that was why he looked so young. Or maybe it was because he was so young. There were no questions about life beneath that spiky black hair.

But he kept his eyes on the audience the whole time and told them what a loving father the man had been. He did a good job. I appreciated him because he did the right thing, what I should have done, and maybe he thought what he said was true.

Then the priest said whatever he had to, and it was over. When I got out into the light of day, I was so glad it had lasted no longer than it did.

* * *

The rest of the festivities went about the same. In the limo, Katie chattered and Angela sighed about how nice the service had been. Eric was watching boats in the bay.

I watched them, too. I prefer water to land because land is unmoving; the water is never still and has nothing fixed. Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound, Block Island Sound—we were surrounded by silent waters named for the lands that confined them.

Eric turned to me. "What did you mean, you wouldn't miss him?"

"That's not what I said."

"And what were you looking at?"


He turned back to the boats and I did, too. I would rather have been out there. Anyone whose ancestors lived on these coasts would feel the same pull.

Across from me, Katie was glaring, so maybe she was mad after all. She had her hair down straight, over her shoulders. Her simple, dark blue dress with the string of pearls was as perfect as the church. She had me done up just right, too, with the black suit she'd picked out a year ago for weddings and funerals. She had a tailor come every six months to keep all the suits fitted. That's why it hung so loose around Eric's shoulders.

Change the subject. "He really was a great man," I said to Angela.

She smiled, and it was genuine. The funeral had penetrated the pink plastic armor. She wasn't even fifty. Her husband had been fifteen years older, but she'd still expected a lot more years with him. They'd been married for nineteen.

Katie smiled at me, and I was out of trouble. I pushed my luck.

"What do you think he would have been most proud of?"

"Most proud?" Angela always spoke so quietly, like a kitten. I'd wondered if it was an act, but it was no asset to a political wife, being so fluffy. She wasn't striking or brilliant. Why did he marry her? He must have actually loved something about her. I wouldn't even recognize her without the platinum hair and bubblegum lipstick. "He did so much. He didn't enjoy Washington, but he accomplished so much there. He was happier here at home. And he was proud of his foundation. I think that's what he was most proud of."

Not of his sons. Not of his oldest son, anyway. "I hope it will keep going," I said.

"Mr. Kern will run it. He's always done such a good job there. And now he'll have charge of all of Melvin's companies."

Melvin. The name of the deceased hovered in the air for a moment like cigarette smoke, and Nathan Kern's name was the smell of stale beer that went with it so well. I was not a patron of that saloon. I'd get my little allowance, and the big wad would go to the foundation. Melvin had made it very clear that Eric and I should have no expectations beyond simply living in the style to which we had become accustomed.

We were born to be idle rich, Eric and I, and we'd never risen above it. I wondered what our new allowance would be. Katie was feeling constrained by our thirty thousand a month.

Ahead of us, the hearse turned onto the gravel road into the cemetery. We parked beside it. As we waited for the other cars to park, I walked to the open grave. What a view he'd have, of the cliffs and the waves breaking. I was about fifty feet from the edge of the grass, and it was twenty feet straight down from there into the violent water. In a thousand years the whole place would be gone, worn down by the surf. Usually he planned better than that, but while it lasted, it would definitely be a view to die for.

There were six pallbearers. Nathan Kern and the governor took the middle on each side, for show. The casket was heavy, though, and it needed at least four strong men out of the six. So Eric and I were in front, and two gardeners from the estate were in back. We walked the short distance slowly. The sun was bright, between clouds; the better to dramatize the moment. The mourners added darker colors to the brilliant blue and greens, and the brown of the earth piled by the grave.

Five minutes after we set the box down, we were done with the words and the gardeners were lowering it into the ground. I took the shovel they handed me and dropped some ceremonial dirt down on top of the box, and then a couple more good heavy loads just for the exercise. I was just kicking into gear, and I would have filled the whole pit, but then I had to stop. I felt lightheaded and my vision blurred and my breath stuck in my throat, and that was when I knew he was gone. I dropped the shovel and walked over to the cliff, and I didn't know if the pounding I heard was the waves or my own blood filling my ears.

Then Katie was beside me. "Jason? Are you all right, dear?"

I nodded. Wherever we all end up going, he was there now—where he knew the answers to all my questions and where I couldn't ask them of him. I looked around again at the strength and ferocity of that place with its hard stone and unrelenting breakers. It was everything hard, without mercy or forgiveness. I hoped he'd enjoy it.

"Come on, let's go back." Katie sounded nervous. She knew me well enough to want me away from the cliff.

"Don't worry." The moment was over. I took her hand and we strolled back to the others.

* * *

We stood for the right number of minutes in the rolling clouds and sun, nodding to the mourners, saying the proper words. The cloud shadows were chill, a reminder that the New England summer would soon have its own abrupt end.

"I'm getting cold, dear."

I hadn't noticed Francine next to us. The last I'd seen her, she'd been talking to the senator."You should go home, Mother," Katie said. "I'll call tonight." We watched her skitter across the grass, like a little crab.

"I'm getting cold, too," I said.

"No, you aren't."

"Let's go home anyway."

My own car was waiting for us. I was about to open the door for Katie when Melvin's lawyer waddled over to us.

Fred Spellman was a nice man. He must have been very smart to have been Privy Counsellor, but I'd never seen him in action. To us, he had always been Uncle Fred, and I had better childhood memories of him than of Melvin.

He gave me a paternal pat on the back and kissed Katie's hand, and I might have thought he'd been crying. But he took a deep breath and pulled himself together.

"Well, well." Then he paused and took another breath and tried again. "Well. We have some things to discuss, Jason, my boy. I need to have you and Eric come see me."

"Right. The reading of the will."

Melvin's secretary, Pamela, was next to us. She really had been crying, and she still was. She hugged Katie, patted my shoulder, and walked on, all without words. I watched her.

"It won't take long," Fred was saying. "Would tomorrow morning be too soon? Or do you need time to ... adjust? I don't want to hurry you, but there are some things that will need attention, sooner rather than later."

"That's fine. The body's still warm, but at least it's underground." I looked away from Pamela to my watch. "We could do it right now, sitting on his grave. That would be poetic. I'll call Eric."

"He's not serious," Katie said. "What time tomorrow?"

Maybe I had gone too far with him. He stared at me in a way I hadn't seen. "Nine o'clock?" he suggested. "Eric is available."

"What about Angela?" I said. "The grieving widow, you know. The scene wouldn't be complete."

"She will have her own meeting."

"Whatever." I opened the door and Katie slipped in. "May I bring my wife?"

"That will be at your discretion." He smiled, the old teddy bear smile. "I think you should. It helps to face these things together."

I shrugged. "It's really not a big deal, Fred. Not to me. We'll just putter along like always. Nathan Kern will have the headaches."

That look again. I couldn't read it, and it was not from the kindly family friend I'd always known. But then we both turned to watch Eric vroom vroom out of the cemetery on his Yamaha. Nice touch, or it would have been if the thought had occurred to him. I would have done the motorcycle-at-the-funeral thing to make some kind of statement. He did it because he was oblivious.

Or maybe the bike was the most presentable thing he had. None of his five cars was very solemn. The leather jacket was going to mangle the borrowed suit.

"Tomorrow morning, nine o'clock."

"I'll be there, Fred."

I got in the car, but not fast enough. Nathan Kern floated elegantly up to the window.

"Jason! I don't know what to say." Not that that had ever stopped him from saying it. "It just doesn't seem possible." If Fred was the king's chamberlain, Nathan was the archbishop.

"Apparently it was," I said. I was the court jester.

"We will need to talk. I know the foundation will be as important for you as for your father." Selfless nobility, thy name is Nathan Kern.

"I don't plan to have much part in it."

He was surprised at that, and he shouldn't have been. He knew me better. "But it was always Melvin's foremost concern." His elegant fingers were trembling. I thought the diamonds would fall out of his cuff links.

"He left his estate to it. I feel sorry for you, Mr. Kern. You have some big responsibilities now." I was getting tired of the day or I might have been a little nicer. I could feel Katie preparing the lecture. "Give me a week, and I'll be glad to come see you." By then I might even build up some curiosity about him and his world. There had to be something beneath the sanctimony.

"Yes, yes, of course," he said.

I took that as a good-bye and closed my window.

* * *

We finally got out onto the road. "You could have acted like an adult," Katie said.

"That's not my way."

We'd come up behind a truck, and there was no place to pass. The coast road went on a few more miles like this, two winding lanes. "Everyone there was looking to you to take your father's place."

"I'd rather die."


I punched the accelerator and passed blind on a curve. The road ahead was clear so I kept the speed up. Katie held on to her shoulder belt.

"You don't have to kill me, too."

I slowed down. "All right, I won't. But the only reason I'm not taking this car off a cliff is because I don't want to die the same way Melvin did."

"Thank you." She would have bitten through the guardrail, her jaw was clenched so tight. I needed to make a gesture.

There was a gas station after a few minutes, and I stopped beside some landscaping and pulled up two flowers.


She relented. "I accept your apology." We got back out on the road and she held them, treating them with far more respect than they deserved. "Why did I marry you, anyway?"

"For my money," I said.

"Then I made a big mistake." She said it with a smile, though, for which I was very grateful. "I don't know if your money is worth putting up with you. If you worked with those people—Nathan Kern and all the rest of them—you could be rich."

"I am rich."

"Not as rich as you could be." The edges of the smile hardened a little. "He'd put you on the board of the foundation, and you could get control of everything your father had." She looked out the window. "It should have been yours anyway."

"Look, all I did was get born into this family," I said. "It wasn't my choice. As long as they send my check each month, nobody gets hurt. If they want anything else I'll inflict damage." I waited until she looked back at me. The two daisies in her hand were a little damaged. "You like your flowers?"


The road was bending through hills, away from the ocean. I stopped again, just off the edge, where the guardrail actually was bitten through. Out of the car, I stood and looked down the hillside at the scraped dirt and torn bushes and the broken tree at the bottom. They'd cleaned away the wreckage, every piece of it.

Katie got out with me.

"Why am I here?" I said. "What is the point?"

She pulled a knot of wildflowers from the ground, much nicer than the daisies, and handed it to me.


"You don't need to apologize for anything," I said.

"I just want to give you some flowers."

I stood for a moment. Then I tossed them down the steep hill and the wind caught them and they landed just where his car had. I'd seen it there, with yellow police tape and spotlights, and the trucks pulling it up the embankment.

"He's gone, Jason," she said. "It might really be different now."

Excerpted from:The Heir by Paul Robertson
Copyright © 2007; ISBN-13 9780764203244
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.