When I look back at my 'to do' list for the year I wonder....where has this year gone? I mean...seriously...it's August already? I haven't accomplished half of what I wanted to and the year is more than half over.
Oh well, tomorrow's another day and I guess as long as I keep plugging away at it, the list might whittle down some....
IMW, it is my great pleasure to feature my dear friend and fellow Pelican Book Group author, Marianne Evans with her book, Jodi'es Song (part of the Hearts Haven series!)
Flowers…not the only thing blooming at Heart’s Haven this spring…
Nothing fills Jodie Cunningham's spirit like sharing contemporary Christian music and scriptural insights on her morning drive radio show at KWJD. But lately, she’s overwhelmed and depleted by family circumstances that have led her from Dallas to Angel Falls, Texas and Heart's Haven apartment complex.
Kevin Mitchell is the groundskeeper at Heart's Haven—a place famous for angelic intercession and loving connections. His uncle owns the facility, but he's ailing. Kevin eagerly chips in, and as he prepares the grounds for a spring wedding, he meets Jodie. They begin to work together to make Heart's Haven sparkle.
But just as Kevin succeeds at coaxing Jodie's heart to bloom, tragedy strikes in a double dose that tests both their strength of faith and the love they've found.
An idea came to life and Kevin decided to voice it without a second thought. “Do you like landscaping? Working in the dirt? Planting flowers?”
“Actually, I do. The other day, I prepped the beds at my father’s house. Digging and playing with plants for a while was wonderful.”
Kevin folded his arms across his chest and propped a hip against the kitchen counter. “You know, Heart’s Haven is going to be hosting a wedding pretty soon. A splashy outdoor celebration for Kaci James and Ryne Calvert. They’re two long-time residents and a fantastic couple.”
Jodie’s eyes lit. “Outdoor vows? That’s awesome! How can I help? What can I do?”
He savored the rush of her enthusiasm. On its tailwind he came to recognize why he had made the offer. An as yet indefinable piece of her personality called to him. He wanted to get to know her better. “My job is to manicure the bushes, rake and bag the refuse, purchase and plant flowers, that kind of thing. There’s a gazebo that’s set to be installed. We’ll decorate that as well. That’s the space where Kaci and Ryne will exchange their vows.”
“Count me in. Working with you would be fun.”
Rays of undisguised hope and expectation rode through her tone. The reaction seemed to stem straight from her heart and catch her by surprise, because right away she leaned away a bit, fussing over the task of rinsing cups rather than meeting his eyes.
“Oh, it’s fun all right—until about two o’clock, when the sun turns merciless. And just to warn you, I tend toward slave driving.” He grinned and winked. “I was born to supervise and delegate.”
The playful quips helped stabilize her mood. Sparkles danced in her eyes. “Oh, really?”
“Yep. Furthermore, I love willing laborers. According to Vivian, Kaci’s color choices are lavender and something like butterscotch. I don’t know. Purple is purple and yellow is yellow, right?”
Jodie laughed. “You’re such a guy. There are many and varied shades of purple and yellow.”
“I guess. Maybe you can be the one I call on when it comes to flower colors and styles.”
“All kidding aside, I’d love to help, and outdoor work and exertion certainly would be—” She stopped abruptly. Clearing her throat, Jodie opened the dishwasher and turned her back, beginning to slowly, carefully load their used tableware into the machine.
Confused, Kevin rested a gentle, stilling hand against her forearm; he didn’t speak or move away until he harnessed her full attention. She struck him as wide-eyed—the clichéd deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. Jodie Cunningham was running, and hiding. But why?
“Outdoor work and exertion would be what, Jodie?” He hoped his quiet tone would reach forward and speak to the spots in her heart that he sensed were raw and sore—exposed to the elements of doubt. “Would you like to tell me?”
Silver and stoneware clattered just slightly as she closed the washer door. She delivered an entirely unconvincing smile and moved away from his touch. “Oh, it’s nothing, really. Just…some time outside, working hard and bringing something beautiful to life…I think that’s just what I need right now. Doesn’t restoring the earth lend itself to restoring the soul?”
Kevin took a moment to ingest that comment and allow its double meaning to sink in. “That certainly has proven to be the case in my world. I’d love to hear more about you, Jodie. Did I happen to mention my other key attribute?” She shook her head. A layer of disquiet returned, which riddled him with even more questions about this spirited lady. “I don’t have a lock on wisdom and knowledge or anything, but I’m a born listener.”
Pelican Book Group
Barnes and Noble
Marianne’s novel, Devotion earned the prestigious Bookseller’s Best Award from Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America as well as Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements from the ACRA, a chapter of RWA. Hearts Communion earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors in the Romance category as well as Best Inspirational Romance from ACRA. Her novella Finding Home earned the Selah Award for excellence in Christian fiction and Evans has also earned acclaim in such RWA contests as The International Digital Awards, The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence where she has been a finalist twice, and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence contest.
Happily married and the mother of two, Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan who 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 at her Website, Blog, Facebook Reader Page, Twitter @ Amazon Author Page!
Well Friends, hope you enjoyed this week's spotlight. Stay tuned each week for more Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and of course, Saturday Spotlights!
Until next time...Take care & God Bless!