I hope your Valentine's Day was blessed and happy. Today I'm pleased to bring to you, Ms. Claire Sanders with her brand new release, From the Ashes.
After many years of dry, academic publications, Claire Sanders yearned to stretch her creative muscles. Since she’d long enjoyed the guilty pleasure of reading romance novels, she decided to try her hand at writing one. Claire has several publications:
o “Fresh Start” – Wild Rose Press, 2008 (not Christian fiction)
o “Equally Yoked” – Barbour Books, 2011 a novella featured in “A Quaker Christmas”
o “New Garden’s Inspiration” – Barbour Books, 2012 a novella featured in “The Quakers of New Garden”
o “Three Gifts” – Prism Book Group, 2012
o “The Captive Bird” – Prism Book Group, 2013
o To learn more about Claire, check out her web site www.clairesandersbooks.com
Fleeing a secret that changed her life forever, Judith Robertson decides she can live in the little cabin in the woods that she inherited from her grandfather. The big barn and the quaint little church just add to the allure of the four hundred acres of her new home. Within minutes of her decision, Reverend Washington asks to use her church building, and Jacob Fraser wants to cut a deal to timber the woods Judith now owns. But arsonists are burning African-American churches and threatening anyone who dares to intervene. Judith loans her church to the recently burned out members of the All Faith Community Church, which brings troubles beyond anything she ever imagined. And Jacob Fraser is everywhere, causing a heart she'd thought was stone cold dead to flutter with emotions she had lost a long time ago. But Jacob has secrets, too. Can two heartbroken people gain the courage to challenge the status quo and accept the Lord's blessings?
Jacob Fraser aimed the stream of high-pressure water toward the burning roof of All Saints Community Church. This was the fourth church fire he and the other volunteer firefighters had fought, and his heart sank lower with each fire. Someone was intentionally destroying places of worship.
He glanced at the familiar faces in the huddled groups of onlookers. Arsonists liked to watch their handiwork. Was one of his neighbors the culprit? Maybe it was George Hampton, his old Boy Scout leader, or Marvin Simpson, his Little League baseball coach. Maybe he didn’t know the people of Piney Meadow as well as he thought.
Henry Washington, the pastor of the church, stood in front of a separate group of bystanders. His dark skin glowed in the firelight, but the brightness of his dark eyes was more than mere reflection. Was it anger, righteous indignation, or something more that ignited the fire inside the African American pastor? Henry raised his Bible toward the flames and his congregation gathered around him. Some embraced and others cried, but most stood in silence, their backs straight and their gazes fixed on their suffering church.
Above the roar of the fire, Jacob heard voices singing a familiar chorus:
“Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.”
Jacob’s heart swelled with admiration. The fire might destroy their building, but their faith was strong.
“What have I to dread, what have I to fear, Leaning on the everlasting arms?”
A second truck from a neighboring community arrived, but there was no saving the All Saints Community Church. Jacob and the other firefighters could contain the blaze, but the church was beyond rescue.
At last Chief Dutton gave the order to turn off the hoses. While Jacob’s team stowed the equipment, other volunteers raked through the charred ruins, putting out hotspots.
The county sheriff, Vince Miller, clapped Jacob on the shoulder. “Good job keeping the fire contained.”
“We were lucky there’s so little wind tonight.”
“Is Chief Dutton around?”
“I saw him just a few minutes ago.” Jacob scanned the area, then pointed to a man talking into a radio. “There he is.”
. The chief raised one hand in acknowledgement and strolled toward Jacob and the sheriff. Sheriff Miller shook hands with the other man. “What do you think, Emmett?”
“Same as the others. It burned too fast to be anything other than an accelerant.” Chief Dutton removed his wire-rimmed glasses and wiped his sooty face with a bandana. “When are you going to call in the cavalry?”
“Already done it. The FBI is sending a special agent from the hate crime task force.”
Chief Dutton let out a low grunt. “Hate crimes in Piney Meadow. Didn’t think I’d ever live to see the day.”
Jacob’s stomach churned as he removed his heavy firefighter’s jacket. Four churches in three months, all belonging to African American congregations, and now the FBI was coming. What was happening to his hometown? Piney Meadow had always been a place where neighbors could live and work without the threat of violence. He’d needed just such a haven after his stint with the Houston Police Department. Now crime menaced his refuge as sure as a nest of copperheads.
From the Ashes is available from Pelican Book Group.