Psychologist Susanna Daniels helps troubled teens find their footing and their faith, but in the face of erroneous accusations, she's lost hope, wondering if her work at Wellsprings of Grace even makes a difference any more.
Detroit police officer Gabe Peretti has returned home to Angel Falls, Texas, burned out by the big city, his faith stretched to the breaking point by the badlands he's witnessed and tried so hard to change. He craves fresh perspective, and wisdom enough to discern God's will.
A sparkling kiss and an embattled young lady careening down the wrong path bring Susanna and Gabe together, sweeping them into a set of circumstances that will require enough faith to shine bright, and enough love to leave them both forever changed, and positively breathless.
Read an excerpt!
The woman was in tears.
Curious, Gabe Peretti tugged on his dog’s leash, drawing his companion to a standstill. These weren’t slow building, trickle-and-roll tears. Her head bowed down, her shoulders trembled, and she kept swiping at her eyes with a mangled tissue.
What a sad picture.
The hop and charge of his German Shepherd, who suddenly wanted to spring ahead, distracted Gabe for a moment. Until now he and Axle had enjoyed a quiet, leisurely walk through Falls Park, a municipal facility located at the heart of downtown Angel Falls. A new year had just begun. In East Texas that meant cool weather, but chilly air didn’t keep folks inside. The sun was out, so the park teemed with kids and parents. Verdant trees, jungle gyms, and a few swing sets dotted the facility. Gabe continued to stare, maintaining a tug-of-war that kept Axle in place. Barely. The dog wanted to beeline straight for the woman.
She sat alone, not far away. Tucked against the far end of a green metal bench, bathed in dappled sunlight, her profile was framed by dancing leaves and tree branches that rustled and swayed around her. Gorgeous—but heart achingly sad. Dark brown hair trailed down her back in a satiny river. She was fair skinned and slender.
Fair skinned. Slender. How clinical, how distant. Gabe groaned at himself. He really had been a cop for too long.
A yank on his arm ended his perusal and nearly dislocated Gabe’s shoulder, reminding him to tend to Axle. Grumpy about being interrupted while he admired the woman, Gabe cast his dog a scowl—as if that would accomplish anything of value. “Axle, settle down.”
The deep spoken, firm command worked. For two seconds. After that, Axle surged ahead all over again, straining and coughing, dancing against the confines of the leash, pulling relentlessly on Gabe’s arm, which grew increasingly sore. Axle kept bouncing his attention back and forth between Gabe and the lovely lady.
His policeman’s instinct kicked in once more—the good old protect and defend aspect of Gabe Peretti’s persona that family and friends swore was hard-wired into his DNA. The pedestrian trail led right past her bench. He could wander by, casually. Just to be sure she was OK. Just out of courtesy. Would she be offended? Would she think him intrusive, or—
Another starburst of pain shot through his arm when Axle charged ahead—again. This time, eighty pounds of hard-muscled determination refused to be denied.
“Axle—gimme a break. C’mon!”
Gabe blustered but the next thing he noticed? A prompting. Subtle pressure moved against his shoulders—whisper soft and invisible but strong as steel.
He was drawn to the woman. Physically compelled.
Keeping it Real
by Marianna Evans
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it hundreds of times: ‘Christian fiction and romance needs to keep it real. Christian fiction needs to paint pictures of modern Christians dealing with modern culture in a Godly manner.’ I couldn’t agree. Fulfilling that challenge spreads hope like seeds just waiting for the nourishment of water and soil.
Answering the call to minister via words and characters to a world that’s becoming more and more secular isn’t easy. Some of you may have heard of the term ‘edgy Christian fiction.’ The label helps to define a level of storytelling that will tackle, in frank terms, such issues as child and spousal abuse, substance addiction, adultery. Issues Christians must confront every day. As authors, so must we. We can’t allow ourselves to back away from looking at modern problems straight on. No fear or self-righteousness must be allowed. After all, we all fall short. We’re all sinners.
I’ve been writing Christian inspirational romance and fiction for three years and if someone had told me back then that I would write a book for the Christian market centered on the crumbling—and redemption—of a loving, Christ-centered marriage as the result of adultery, I would have thought they were crazy. As modern as I can be in my approach to writing Christian fiction and romance, I never dreamed of working hand-in-heart with God to pull off such a plot. Devotion, however, accomplished just that—a portrait of redemption after a very human fall. Then there’s my Heart’s Haven novella, Operation Breathless, which deals with a burned-out cop in recovery after being caught in the crossfire of a gang shoot-out. Meanwhile, the heroine of the story is a counselor for troubled teens who finds herself framed for robbery by one of her young charges.
Messy stuff, huh? Well, sometimes life is messy. That’s when Christian love must shine through. That’s when the loving hand of God reaches into our spirits and works miracles. That’s the reward of writing in this genre: the romance between man and woman, and the romance between God and his beloved creation—you and me—each and every one of us.
And that’s an amazing thing to consider each time I put fingers to keyboard!
I hope you can join me and my dear friends, Delia Latham, Tanya Stowe and Mary Manners this month as we put a wrap on part one of the adventures taking place at Heart’s Haven with the release of Dance with Me! Stories from our favorite apartment complex in southeast Texas continue through the coming year – with special holiday titles we can’t wait to share with you then a special Easter offering as well!
Evans’s novel, Hearts Communion, earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors in the Romance category as well as best inspirational romance of 2012 by ACRA, a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Evans has also won acclaim in such RWA contests as The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence where she has been a finalist twice, and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence contest.
A lifelong resident of Michigan, Evans is active in a number of a number of Romance Writers of America chapters, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. She’s also active in American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.
Connect with Marianne:
Facebook Reader Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Marianne-Evans/308711716744
Find out more about the Heart's Haven series at www.pelicanbookgroup.com