Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.

Amazing Grace, written by John Newton

Oh, yes, yes, YES! “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!” For each of us, there’s none better!

But … for an author? Well, there is one sound — although it’s miles away from close to God’s amazing grace — that’s still somewhat “amazing,” at least to me …

And that is … drum roll, please … the satisfied sigh an author makes when they write “The End,” which I just did yesterday on Blake “The Rake” McClare’s novella, Grace Like Rain.

You know, I’ll bet I’ve received a dozen or more readers’ requests for Blake’s story, the lovable and easygoing rogue brother/cousin from the McClare family of the Heart of San Francisco series. But I’ll be honest, for me, Blake was only a necessary part of the series’ plots, an easy way to get Blake’s sisters and cousin together with my heroes.

But as often happens in a novel, some characters take on a life of their own, winning the author’s (or readers’) hearts whether the author intends it or not. That’s what happened to Cluny McGee, the street rat in A Passion Denied. You see, originally Cluny was meant to be no more than a 1-page walk-on, a brief paragraph or two to flesh out the hero Brady’s neighborhood. But something happened on those initial pages. Cluny stole my heart AND nearly the novel, becoming not only an integral part of APD’s plot, but the hero himself in the next book.

In some ways, Blake McClare did the same. A happy-go-lucky sweetheart with a deep love for family and friends, Blake managed to make us care about him. Somehow we didn’t mind so much that he was a man about town, a rogue who followed in his Uncle Logan’s footsteps in playing the field and breaking hearts.

Well, in Grace Like Rain, Blake not only gets his comeuppance, but a new heart, a new life, and a new love … and all because of God’s “amazing grace.”

The whole time I wrote this novella, I listened over and over to a song by the same name written by the very talented Todd Agnew. Without question, it is one of the most beautiful worship songs I have ever heard. Every time I think of Blake now, I hear this song in my mind, so I hope you will give it a listen too. Here’s the link to the incredible video — enjoy!

GRACE LIKE RAIN, by Todd Agnew

Now that Blake’s novella is a wrap, I thought it would be fun to give my favorite reader friends — YOU — the first sneak peek of the first chapter and celebrity- lookalikes pix.

Blake’s love interest in Grace Like Rain is Miss Patience Grace Peabody, none other than Logan’s sweet and shy secretary who has been putting Blake’s ceaseless flirtations off for over two years now. Which is why I love the look on her face, almost an inner eye-roll because she’s got Blake’s number and stays far away from him.

For Blake, I found two pix I kind of like, although Blake has chestnut hair, gray eyes, and a cleft in his chin like his Uncle Logan.

So with these visuals in mind, here is the first chapter of Grace Like Rain, which follows at the end of this blog. This novella will be an April release in a Seeker anthology entitled With This Kiss, including novellas by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Cara Lynn James, and Pam Hillman, so I hope you enjoy it. You’ll find further details here on Journal Jots in the weeks ahead.

Hugs and Happy Reading!




SUPER CONGRATS to my two winners from the VALENTINE’S DAY CONTEST a few weeks back — the one with the most points and the other a random drawing of everyone who entered in order to give everybody a chance. Each of the winners receive their pick of any of my books (including a PDF or paper ms. copy of either of my two novellas, A Whisper of Hope or Grace Like Rain).The 1st place winner — who had the most points in the contest — will also get their choice of a second book from my personal library of top CBA novels.

MEGA HUGS to everybody who entered — you guys are THE BEST, and I wish I could send books to everybody, but since I can’t, here are our two winners:

1st Place Winner (Two-book win)

Deanne Patterson

2nd Place Winner (One-book win)

Meaghan Swaim

Super congrats again to our winners — I will be in touch this week to arrange for your prizes, okay?



Speedbo, the Seekerville  annual Book in a Month Challenge, starts March 1. Sign up now for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.  Details here



Chapter One

San Francisco, February 1905


Patience Peabody literally jumped in the air with a squeal, as if goosed by the bolt of lightning that lit up the galley kitchen of McClare, Rupert, and Byington. Heart slamming like the waves of water that battered the window, she poured a steaming cup of coffee with shaky fingers, staring out at a sodden sky that was still two hours from dawn.

“Sweet soul-saving mercy, I hate thunderstorms,” she muttered, feeling foolish for being such a baby at the age of nearly twenty. She shuddered, the motion rippling her coffee as she sipped on her way to the door, eyelids fluttering closed to savor the scent of cinnamon—the secret recipe her mother used for everything from coffee to handmade soap.

Crrrr-rack! Another clap of thunder crashed, knee-jerking her arms while she fired a panicked look out the window.

“Ah, hot coffee, Miss Peabody—you’re a lifesaver.”

“Oh!” Head lashing back, she jerked her cup and saucer in startled reflex, showering a second slosh of coffee on the soggy white shirt of Mr. Blake McClare, junior associate counsel in his uncle’s law firm.  

And her superior.

Dripping from head to toe with rain—and now coffee—he glanced down at his waterlogged shirt before peering up with an endearing smile. “Of course, I rather hoped for a cup.”

“Oh … oh … I am s-so s-sorry, Mr. McClare,” she stuttered, voice quivering as much as the cup in her hands. She spun around, spilling more coffee as she darted to the sink, china clattering to the counter before she doused a dishrag under the tap. Frazzled enough to faint, she rushed to where he stood in a puddle of coffee and rain and commenced banging the sopping rag against his chest as if it were a washboard.  

A very taut, muscled washboard.

She gulped, cheeks flaming hot when her skittish gaze rose to meet his.

“Why, thank you, Miss Peabody,” he said with a boyish grin, soggy dark curls framing a handsomely sculpted face, “this should serve nicely as my morning ablution since I didn’t make it home.”

Her cup rattled in its saucer. “Oh … oh … a towel …yes, I’ll get you a towel …” Whirling to head to the sink, she boomeranged back with a firm clamp of his wrist, nearly bouncing off his thoroughly wet chest.

“Not necessary,” he said with a broad smile, steadying her with a brace of her arm. “I assure you I won’t melt.” He slipped his coat off and hooked it over the door knob with a wink. “Unless, of course, you start scrubbing again …”

Blood from every part of her body converged in her face while he calmly removed the leaking dishrag from her grasp and squatted to wipe up the floor. She put her palms to her hot cheeks, mortified that Blake McClare, the one lawyer in the firm whom she frequently prayed about—dreamed about—was cleaning up her mess! “Oh … oh … I am so embarrassed, Mr. McClare, I could just die …”

“Oh, don’t do that, Miss Peabody, please,” he said in a mock stern voice that was clearly a playful plea. He rose, along with one thick, dark brow, his trademark twinkle glimmering in clear gray eyes that always reminded her of bottomless pools of tease. “Then Miss Murdoch would make the coffee, and I’d be the one who would die.” A tell-tale smile twitched at the edge of lips that had flirted, teased, praised, soothed, and encouraged her more times than she could count. A knot ducked in her throat.  

And tempted … ?

The thought nearly asphyxiated her, bloodying her face to heatstroke proportion. Snatching the rag from his hand, she wheeled around, praying she wouldn’t pass out before she made it to the sink. “I’ll p-pour you another c-cup, Mr. McClare,” she said in a shaky voice as she glanced over her shoulder, “then if you’ll kindly leave your s-shirt on the knob outside your office, I will attend to that stain immediately.”

“No need, Miss Peabody. I keep a fresh change of clothes in my closet for occasions just such as this.”

She blinked, suddenly noting the rumpled tux, loosened tie, and dark bristle that shadowed his jaw. Another flash of fire scorched when she realized what that meant.

He rubbed a hand to his stomach with a gleam of white teeth. “Although I would offer a week’s wages for something to eat …”

“I … I … h-have a muffin,” she whispered, hand knuckled to the counter to hold herself up.

His little-boy grin almost buckled her knees. “What flavor?”

“Cinnamon r-raisin.” It was little more than a croak.

Chuckling, he cocked a hip to the door, coat now haphazardly slung over his broad shoulder. “I’m drooling already. Do you mind if we share?”

Did she mind? “You c-can have it,” she said in a rush, willing to give this man almost anything … at least in her dreams.

“Absolutely not. We share 50/50 or I go hungry, Miss Peabody, is that clear?”

She nodded her head like a dolt, wondering how gray eyes the color of a winter sky could shine with such warmth. When he looked at her like that—both tender and teasing as if she mattered far more than she did—her tongue tangled more than the knots in her stomach.

“Good.” He stood to his full height with a firm square of shoulders. “Give me five minutes, and I’ll meet you in the conference room for coffee and said muffin.” Turning, he lobbed a glance over his shoulder, the mischievous smile back in play. “Oh, and napkins, if you will, Miss Peabody—lots and lots of napkins.”