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Welcome to my Journal Jots Blog!
My latest novel release — Isle of Hope — is not only my first contemporary novel (I am primarily known as a historical author in the CBA), but it’s somewhat biographical as well because it is loosely based on my own estranged relationship with my father after he kicked me out of the house when I was 21.
Isle of Hope is the story of a woman who has recently come to Christ and the first thing God tells her to do is to heal her relationship with her father, who kicked her out eight years earlier. At that time she was a good girl gone wild, engaged to a pastor’s son who planned to be a minister. But when the hero’s minister father has an affair with the heroine’s mother, the tragedy tears both families apart as well as the heroine’s relationship with her boyfriend.
So … eight years later, she’s back to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she betrayed. Only this time the tables are turned because now she’s the Christian and he’s the bad boy who wants nothing to do with God.
I’m excited to say that not only did Isle of Hope hit Amazon’s Bestseller List, but it currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon as well, with 108 reviews. So, without further ado, here is part of the first chapter in which you’ll find the answer needed to today’s Rafflecopter question.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.
Isle of Hope, Georgia, Early Summer
When it comes to burning bridges, I am the Queen of Kerosene.
Puffing out a wispy sigh, Lacey Carmichael squinted into the rearview mirror to make sure the coast was clear, then dragged her bulging purse onto the seat with an unladylike grunt. The action caused her dusty blue Honda to swerve on Skidaway Road—along with her stomach.
Oh, crud! She straightened the wheel with a jerk, body rattling more than her 2008 Honda after a cross-country trip. Her gaze flicked to the mirror, and relief coursed like high tide. The road behind revealed nothing but palms and Georgia pines, silent sentinels ushering her home.
Home. Where full moons rose over the marsh and the scent of wisteria embraced summer nights. Where the lazy lull of river grasses swayed in the breeze, soothing a sleepy coastal community that burrowed into one’s memory like a long-lost friend. A haven where tidy cottages nestled next to lush antebellum homes, evoking a postcard setting that harkened back to a simpler time.
A simpler time?
Lacey sucked in a deep draw of the rich and humid low-country air that was pungent with the salty smell of the marsh, and instantly zipped back eight years to a time that had been anything but simple. Memories of an eighteen-year-old wild child constricted her throat. A rebel daughter who’d bolted from the hometown that had been anything but a home. Her shoulders slumped as she passed the Piggly Wiggly.
What am I doing here?
She cut loose with another gust of ragged air while her eyes focused straight ahead. Returning to the scene of the crime. The charred debris of all the mistakes that I’ve made. One hand welded to the steering wheel, she rifled through her studded leather purse with the other, fingers fumbling on a tube of lip-gloss. With amazing dexterity, she untwirled the screw-on cap and applied “Ooh La La,” then puckered her lips. Now if she could only gloss over her past as easily …
The BP loomed ahead and she slapped on her blinker, veering in to park at the closest empty pump. Her car squealed to a stop at the exact moment the contents of her purse careened to the floor. Lacey, you lead foot—when are you going to learn? Mumbling under her breath, she turned the car off and leaned to pick up the spilled items. A woman’s high-pitched laughter suddenly riddled the air, desecrating the sacred strains of Justin Timberlake from a radio nearby.
“Jack, you bad boy,” a woman’s sultry voice said, drifting from the other side of the pump, “what am I going to do with you?”
“Well, I know a few things that come to mind.”
Lacey shot up. Her head slammed against the glove compartment. She blinked through a haze of stars at the car on the other side of the pump, too dazed to feel the pain.
That voice. The same voice that had once uttered a proposal of marriage and swore to love her forever. Goose bumps popped as her breathing shallowed. A second onslaught of female laughter grated in her ears, and when she inched up to peer out the window of her Honda, her stomach immediately took a dive.
Whenever she allowed herself to think of Jack O’Bryen—which wasn’t often—she convinced herself that memories made people and things far better than they’d actually been.
Yeah, right. Hands propped to the driver’s door of a brand-new cherry-red BMW Z4, Jack O’Bryen appeared every bit the hottie he’d been when they’d first started dating over ten years ago. Only now he was taller, his previously lanky frame more filled out, and his physique tighter. Once shaggy chestnut hair, a byproduct of college days, was now trimmed neat and clean at the nape of his neck. He casually scratched the back of his head with a bulge of a bicep that made her mouth go dry, then slacked a narrow hip to the door. “The nozzle leaked, so I’m going in to wash my hands—need anything?” he asked the blonde.
Lacey moaned inwardly. Yeah. Distance—lots and lots of distance. She’d expected to run into Jack eventually, but now? Her first two minutes in town? She fought the urge to roll her eyes. Really? Heaven knows she wasn’t ready. Not even after eight years. She caught a glimpse of his tight, faded jeans and swallowed hard.
God help me, will I ever be?
The blonde shook her head, letting fly with another nauseating giggle that was sheer blasphemy against the strains of Never Again, a song that fit perfectly with the theme of Lacey’s homecoming.
Never again would she turn her back on the people she loved.
Never again would she seek her will over God’s.
Never again would she give her all to Jack O’Bryen.
The man in question disappeared into the station, and Lacey dove for her keys. She cranked the ignition and groaned. The gas needle lay prostrate; so far beyond “E” it was on “F” for fumes. She shot a glance at the Barbie Doll applying hot-pink shimmer to Angelina Jolie lips and then at the station where Jack was nowhere to be seen, and decided to chance it. If memory served, the ladies’ room was on the opposite side of the building from the men’s—the perfect place to hide.
She could do this.
Jerking the handle, she flung the door wide and slammed it too hard, obviously distracting the blonde from her makeover as she looked up. Lacey offered a nervous smile and made a beeline for the station door, purse clutched to her chest while her gaze darted across the store. Ignoring the curious looks of bystanders, she sprinted to the ladies’ room, rib cage heaving as she gripped the knob and turned. Thank you, Lord, home free!
“Lacey? Lacey Carmichael?”
Her eyelids sank closed as her stomach contracted, hand now grafted to the door. Warding off a wave of dizziness, she willed herself to turn around, but her smile felt as cardboard as the Timberwolf Chewing Tobacco display over Jack’s shoulder.
“Hello, Jack.” Her voice was little more than a squeak as she peered up at “Bridge #1,” the man whose heart she’d stomped on eight years prior without ever looking back.
OKAY … to enter my contest for a $50 GIFT CARD, A COPY OF A GLIMMER OF HOPE, A COPY OF ISLE OF HOPE, AND A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK, just answer the question for February 12 in the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this page.
NEXT … before you go, make sure you WRITE DOWN THE FOLLOWING WORD CLUE in our 15-word sentence that you’ll need to enter the Kindle giveaway Feb. 29–March 3.
WORD CLUE #5 — STORIES
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