Awaken My Heart
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Awaken My Heart

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by DiAnn Mills

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1803, the colony of Texas Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to


1803, the colony of Texas Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to marry her off to the don of a nearby estate.

Armando Garcia is the locals' reluctant leader, but his people revere and depend on him. Knowing that without his leadership they'd be forced from their land, Armando accepts his role, but does not approve of the latest attempt to manipulate their enemy. When he learns that Marianne actually speaks his language, of her loyalty to his people, and of the faith that keeps her strong, Armando is faced with a difficult decision. Will his newfound love keep him from letting her go? Or will he set her free and risk losing their land forever?

Editorial Reviews

Romantic Times BOOKclub
“The land we know as Texas was also the beloved homeland of another culture and was defended to the death. This love story is filled with characters who have passion for land, culture and love.”
Library Journal

In early 19th-century Texas, rancher Weston Phillips attempts to drive longtime Mexican residents from their homes because he has big plans for their land. Phillips's intentions are thwarted when rebels led by Armando Garcia kidnap his daughter, Marianne, whose sympathies lean toward the mestizos. She is also attracted to their handsome leader, but she and Armando know that they are from different worlds and can never be together. When Marianne is returned to her father, he is more concerned with ensuring that the financially beneficial marriage he has arranged for his daughter takes place. This traditional historical romance with a Christian worldview features stock characters and a predictable plot, but it delivers a pleasant read for those who enjoy this genre. Mills lives in Texas.

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

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Awaken My Heart

Chapter One

April 1803,
The Colony of Tejas

Before the rooster had crowed three times, forbidden adventure had crept into Marianne's mind. In the shadows of her room, she quickly dressed and stole from her father's house to the outside. Cool air bathed her face, and a yellow-orange sunrise streaked the eastern sky. She made her way to the stables and peered inside the dimly lit building for signs of the servants before gathering up her skirts and squeezing through the latched entrance. Safely inside, she eased the heavy door closed and cringed at the creak, fearing its sound would arouse attention.

The smell of horses and leather met her nostrils, their familiarity breeding both comfort and excitement. She stopped and listened for voices. Her heart pounded furiously at the thought of being discovered. Glancing upward, she saw a glimmer of sunlight filter through a high window, illuminating a golden, straw-laden path to Diablo's stall.

Her father's sleek, milky-white stallion pawed at the ground and snorted as though defying any intruder to enter his domain. Weston Phillips, Marianne's father, owned the horse, but not his spirit. Only the stableman could groom him. Only Marianne could ride him.

Marianne gasped and hurried to his stall. "Hush, Diablo. Someone will realize I am here."

At the sound of her voice, the stallion ceased his complaints. She lifted the latch and stepped inside, being careful to gently close the door behind her. She eagerly anticipated the two of them racing across the dew-bathed hills dotted with live oak and juniper. How she yearned for the freedom of flying withthe wind and being as one with the powerful Diablo.

She wrapped her arms around the stallion's neck. He neighed softly and nuzzled into her embrace. "Oh, I have missed you, too." She planted a kiss on his forehead. "And we have a long morning to ride."

The low rumble of male voices pricked her ears and paralyzed her. Papa! He and Clay Wharton, the hacienda's foreman, had entered the barn. She held her breath and glanced about the stall. If Papa found her, his wrath would echo across the vast expanse of the Phillips Hacienda.

When the voices of Papa and Clay grew closer, she slipped her hands from Diablo's neck and crouched against the wall next to the stall door. She prayed neither Papa nor Clay heard her heart slamming against her chest.

"Quiet, you devil." Papa stopped outside of Diablo's stall. "I would welcome the opportunity to blow a hole through you, but I need you to breed with my mares."

Clay chuckled. "Are you sure you want more horses with his temperament?"

"I will sell them to the Spaniards," Papa said. "Let them deal with it."

Diablo lifted his head. His notched ears lay back as though he understood Papa's contemptuous words.

Her father banged his fist against the side of the stall. "Remember, I still own you."

Marianne clasped her arms around her trembling body. She envisioned her father's penetrating, blue-gray eyes, framed with the many lines of age and Texas sun. The servants called them relampago, lightning eyes, for they flashed with his ravings and curses.

"Where are our horses?" her father shouted. "Lazy Mexicans. None of them worth their pay."

"My guess, all of 'em here are aiding Armando Garcia," Clay said. "That rebel needs a bullet in his head."

She'd heard the stories about the man who rallied the peasants to fight against Papa's demands to leave their valley. The young girls dreamed of him and proclaimed him more handsome than any man ever born. The boys and men sang Armando Garcia's praises—the hero who dared to defy the harsh treatment of her father.

"You get rid of him, and there's a bonus for you," Papa said. "I'm tired of dealing with his arrogance."

"You know what I want."

Papa seemed to ignore him.

"I plan to talk to Garcia today. Our cattle need to graze in La Flor. Those Mexicans can move closer to one of the missions along the San Antonio River and leave me their valley."

"Weston, they haven't agreed to leave in the past. What makes you think they will now?"

Her father laughed. "I refuse to give them a choice. They'll either clear out of there, or I'll force them out. We have more weapons than they could ever hope to steal."

"What about men to carry it out? The vaqueros will not fight against their own people."

"I've already sent for some friends of mine back in Virginia. Everything is handled." Her father spat tobacco juice against the side of the stall. The slap of it coupled with his gruff words agitated Diablo.

"Shut up," Papa said to Diablo, who snorted and tossed his head. "This isn't a good day to rile me." He reached for the stall's latch.

"Leave the horse alone. Let's saddle up and get out of here," Clay said. "The day's wasting away."

When the heavy door of the stable finally creaked shut, and the pounding of horses' hooves faded into the distance, Marianne struggled to her feet from her crouched position, trembling more from overhearing Papa and Clay's conversation than the fear of being discovered in Diablo's stall.

What did Papa plan to do? He had plenty of land without adding more from the villagers' valley. From what she knew about Armando Garcia, he'd not take Papa's threats lightly. She hoped the problem could be settled without a bloody battle, for she feared the Mexican peasants were no match for whatever Papa had in mind.

With a deep sigh, she stepped from the stall to fetch Diablo's silver-studded bridle from the tack room. Beneath a worn, carved leather saddle decorated boldly in orange and yellow mineral paints, she found her cotton skirt and blouse.

One of the servant women had given Marianne the clothes after she complained of having to ride in the cumbersome petticoats. Mama objected to her wearing the apparel of the Mexican women, especially the blouses that revealed her elbows. But Marianne loved the loose fit and the way the style made riding effortless.

Awaken My Heart. Copyright © by DiAnn Mills. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is the author of Nebraska Legacy, the Texas Legacy series, and many other novels. She is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and lives in Houston, Texas.

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Awaken My Heart 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bookgirl209 More than 1 year ago
It was a wonderful Book.
wheeze More than 1 year ago
AWAKEN MY HEART, the historical romance by DiAnn Mills missed the mark for me. Armando, the leader of the valley where is all about protecting his people, and Marianne, the daughter of the arrogant man who wants the valley. Their love starts when Marianne is kidnapped from her home by Armando's men. Over the corse of their kidnap, they start to see feelings. But when Armando lets her go and sends her back to her home, what will become of their love? To me, this book was more about finding yourself with God, and the property of the valley, and that alone. The romance between these two characters was only talked about in 25 of the 255 page book. I needed more passion and love, less about the property and her rude father.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
I've read many books written by Diann Mills, and this story is my favorite. It's definitely the most romantic book, in my opinion, that she has ever penned. Life in 1800s Texas was portrayed in such a way that I got a strong sense of the culture during those hard times. Marianne had some difficult choices to make and she had to choose wisely. Several gritty and edgy topics arose in this adventurous tale and I applaud the author for her excellent portrayal of the destructiveness of domestic violence, alcoholism, and greed. Her clear portrayal of true faith is also to be commended. The author contrasted traditional religion with a relationship the believer has with the Living God, and the hope and true peace such faith produces. Armando was the ultimate hero. He was strong, yet compassionate, dedicated, yet torn because of his past. The author's description of him made me think of Antonio Banderas. Zorro here I come! Ah, what a tale of love! It was so passionate and felt so real it swept me off my feet. I loved every yummy kiss and the emotion I experienced as the hero and heroine dealt with all of the things separating them, along with all of the things drawing them together. Fabulous romance. Great historical fiction. This story gets my highest rating. It's a real page turner! The Avon Inspire line has some of the best, most inspirational and romantic historical fiction I've read to date!
harstan More than 1 year ago
1803 in the colony of Tejas (Texas), eighteen years old Marianne Phillips learns from her ailing mother that her martinet father Weston plans to marry her to cattle baron Lorenzo Sanchez de la Diaz. She loathes the idea of wedding someone older than her father, but her mom points out the other choice is the Phillips Hacienda foreman, mean spirited Clay Wharton. If she could select she would pick the handsome stranger she met while riding her protective noble horse Diablo. Weston warns mestizos rebel leader Armando Garcia that he better move his impoverished people out of La Flor Valley as he plans to expand his holdings there regardless of what happens to these peasants. To save their livelihood, the mestizos abduct Marianne, who learns her dream lover is Armando, who objected to the kidnapping. As they fall in love, Armando arranges to free Marianne whose heart is in the right place as she supports the mestizos¿ claim and not that of her father. However, caught in the middle, Marianne realizes the conflict is about to explode in blood as her father has brought dangerous allies from his home state of Virginia to sweep the peasants off the land. --- AWAKEN MY HEART is a terrific early nineteenth century Texas Colonial romance starring two caring protagonists who in many ways seem like a North American Romeo and Juliet. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action. The key cast are fully developed especially the stars and her avarice father. Although Clay is more a caricature of a villain, Diann Mills provides a delightful historical that brings to vivid life a time and place that rarely if ever has served as the background. --- Harriet Klausner