Desert Gift [NOOK Book]


What does a nationally known marriage expert do when her own marriage falls apart? Just as Jillian Galloway sets out for a publicity tour to promote her new book, her husband drops a bombshell: He wants a divorce. Jill flees to her parents’ home in the California desert, wondering whether everything she’s built her career on—indeed, everything she’s built her life around—is a sham. Navigating this “side road” of life is an uphill climb that leads to new understandings about herself, her marriage, and her ...
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Desert Gift

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What does a nationally known marriage expert do when her own marriage falls apart? Just as Jillian Galloway sets out for a publicity tour to promote her new book, her husband drops a bombshell: He wants a divorce. Jill flees to her parents’ home in the California desert, wondering whether everything she’s built her career on—indeed, everything she’s built her life around—is a sham. Navigating this “side road” of life is an uphill climb that leads to new understandings about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with the One who created marriage.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Having built a successful career as a marriage coach and on-air personality, Jillian Galloway has just written her first book and is looking forward to her upcoming book tour when her husband tells her he wants a divorce. Reeling from the news, she retreats to her parents' home in the California desert where she questions everything she thought to be true about her marriage and her life. VERDICT John ("The Beach House" and "Safe Harbor" series) has created likable characters facing issues that arise over the course of any long-term marriage. A satisfying conclusion will make women's fiction readers happy. A good choice for fans of Richard Paul Evans and Robin Pilcher.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414360553
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/18/2011
  • Series: Side Roads
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 400,798
  • File size: 722 KB

First Chapter



Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Sally John
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-2786-0

Chapter One


When Jill was a little girl, her father nicknamed her Jillie Jaws. He asked, What choice did he have? Not only were her initials JAW, she was also without question, from birth, a motormouth. When air first hit her lungs, she never even cried. She yammered. Yes sirree, Jillian Autumn Wagner always had something to say.

Until now.

Four hours into it and she had nothing to say.

Not that anyone would have listened. The flight attendants had spent more time buckled in than not because of air turbulence. A sullen thirtyish woman in the window seat wore a headset and kept her nose buried in a novel that sported a strikingly handsome Fabio-type on the cover. The aisle seat remained empty.

Of course it remained empty. It was Jack's.

Her jaw quivered. The movement had no relationship to yammering.

What would her father think? Skip Wagner thought the world of his son-in-law.

Her dad? She was concerned about her dad? What about her audience?

Don't even start, Jillian. Do not even start.

But of course she had started, thanks to Jack's introduction of the subject. He had said her fans were counting on her.

Jack was a kind man, a physician in the classic sense. He was a gentleman who wanted nothing more than to help his patients feel better. That he actually said he wanted a divorce was inconceivable. As if that weren't enough, he had added insult to injury by mentioning her fans. Moments later as they stood at the curb, he'd done it again. At the echo of his voice in her head now, she could scarcely breathe.

"You will be all right," he had said. "This trip is about you meeting your fans." He gave her a quick hug, the stiff-armed sort he used for his elderly, frail mother. Then deftly, one hand under her elbow, the other on the open car door, he ushered her into the backseat of the cab as if she were another scoop of snow tossed aside.

"Jack, I'll go later. I'll get another flight—"

"No!" He shook his head vehemently. "No. I must do it this way. I'm sorry." He shut the car door.

Before the driver pulled from the curb, Jack had scurried away, making it halfway up the sidewalk without a wave or backward glance.

And that was that.

At breakneck speed he had detonated three explosions: He wanted a divorce. He didn't want to talk about it for weeks. He mentioned her fans.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Her fans were women who listened to her radio show and planned to read her new book. They were women from across the country who trusted her advice on how to prevent a husband from doing exactly what her husband had just managed to do.

More specifically they were women in Los Angeles who had already paid money to eat lunch with Jill Galloway. They had paid money to hear her speak about how to communicate in marriage. They had scheduled it on their BlackBerrys for tomorrow.

Before the cab had reached the end of the block, her jaw quit working.

Except for the tremble.

She was supposedly an expert in marital discourse. How did it happen that in ten words or less, with absolutely no forewarning, her own husband had exploded their world with "I want a divorce" and then sent her off to the airport?

The scene was so totally out of character for him it made her head swim. The Galloways were the poster couple for a healthy marriage. They had worked hard for over twenty years at keeping it healthy. She had taught on the subject for a dozen years. She had a solid grasp of the ins and outs—

A sharp jab against her arm startled her.

Her seatmate moved her elbow from the armrest. "Sorry."

Jill nodded and then shook her head and hoped it was a universal sign for "no problem."

"Excuse me." The woman pushed the headset from her mane of dark hair. "No one is sitting in the aisle seat. You could use it."

Jill gazed at the empty seat.

"Uh, are you all right?"

She nodded, shook her head, and nodded again. You don't want to know.

"Do you need the attendant?"

Jill's lungs craved air. Her chest felt like it was on fire. Maybe words were piled up inside. Instead of their usual flight off her tongue, they had lumped themselves together and now spontaneous combustion was occurring.

Maybe she was having a heart attack!

Miss Sullen reached up and snapped on the call light.

Jill blurted, "It's my husband's seat."

"Okaaay." Her voice rose on the last syllable.

"He's in Chicago."

The woman's eyebrows twitched.

"And I think he just left me." Jill unbuckled her belt, snapped off the call light, and moved into Jack's seat, affirming that he really and truly was not coming.

The burning sensation lessened. Maybe speaking aloud had released some of the pressure. Maybe what helped was giving voice to truth, the hard truth that she was on a plane somewhere over the Rockies and her husband for no conceivable reason was not.

She shut her eyes. She couldn't even articulate a prayer. Where was God in all this anyway? A simple answer was that He allowed this situation for a reason. A reason she could use someday. Something like a new insight to share with other women or like material for a lesson plan.

Her chest went all hot again. The simple answer did not resonate. No way, nohow.

She pressed her fingers against her breastbone. Was it heartburn? Not the kind that plagued her when she was pregnant, but the kind inflicted by such emotional pain it felt like her heart was being seared.

"Maybe he didn't leave you," her seatmate said.

Jill opened her eyes.

Miss Sullen shrugged. "You said you 'think' he left you. If you don't know for sure, maybe he didn't."

"Maybe he didn't." Jill sighed. "Out of the blue he said he wanted a divorce."

"Out of the blue?"

"Yes. The thing is, I can't figure out why he would. I mean, of course I've gone over my obvious, most glaring faults. I talk too much. I drag him to events he doesn't give a hoot about. He wanted four kids but I said no after one. I ignore his parents a lot. I don't cook. I really don't like his office manager. I threw his baseball cards into the trash. It was a mistake—I didn't mean to, but I did it. And I spend an arm and a leg every three weeks for this." She grabbed a fistful of frosted blonde hair. Its carefree style cut exactly one inch below her earlobes remained undisturbed.

Miss Sullen's brows inched upward.

Jill went on. "But that's just everyday life, you know? It's what he married. Piled up for twenty-four years with no serious complaint out of him, do they create a motive? I don't think so. But what about the big-deal stuff? the stuff that really matters?"

The woman's eyes were wide open now.

Jill slid into familiar territory, her tone confident. "The big-deal stuff is definitely in the plus column. Jack and I talk openly about everything, and I mean everything. We always have. We like each other. Physical intimacy is very good. We attend church together. We go on dates regularly. We spend time with mutual friends. He loves his work. I love mine. Our son is a mature young adult. As far as I know, that covers it. And trust me, I know a lot about marriage."

The brows disappeared behind Miss Sullen's bangs. "You sure sound like you do."

"Well, I've studied it for years. I speak at women's conferences about it and teach it to a women's Sunday school class. Have for years." Instantly her jaw locked again. Her cheeks flushed. The gush of boldness ebbed, like water circling a drain. She heard its sickening slurp.

"So," the woman said, "you're like an expert."

"Um, sort of." The doubts were piling up faster than last night's snow. She wasn't about to explain that not only did she speak on the subject, she hosted a syndicated radio show devoted to it. And not only that—she had even written a book about it.

"Then you know what this is about."

Jill met the young woman's dark eyes, more somber than sullen, wiser than thirtysome years awarded. Her black cashmere sweater did not quite reach the top of low-rise jeans. Her tall boots were of soft leather. Silver bangles clinked on her wrists; a huge diamond flashed on her left hand.

Jill said, "How do you know?"

"My husband is fifteen years older. We met at the beginning of his crisis."


As in midlife crisis.

On any other day up until this day, Jill would have asked the woman a gazillion questions and taken notes. She must be a gold mine of information. She was the prototype of the Younger Woman whose path crossed the Older Guy's as he bounced around in a confused state of dipping hormones or dying career or diminishing whatever.

But right now Jill was not pulling out her pen and pad. Right now she was imagining Jack grinning at a beauty half his age.

"Then again—" the woman slid her headset over her ears—"maybe he just has the flu." She picked up her book and began reading again.

Jill leaned her head against the seat back and closed her eyes. "Midlife crisis and divorce." She whispered the dreaded words as if tasting a kumquat. Their unfamiliar acidic flavor settled on her tongue. Did she have to get used to it?

Tears stung.

I vote for the flu.

* * *

Agonizingly long hours later at the Los Angeles airport, Jill greeted Gretchen MacKelvie curbside with a quick squeeze. "Hi."

"Where's Jack?"

"Home. Flu."

Gretchen held her at arm's length. Taller than Jill's five-two by several inches, she was large-boned with long, wavy brown hair and full lips. "Flu."


Gretchen's left eye narrowed; the other flashed neon green. Her ski-slope nose twitched. She had perfected the matronly glare long before she'd turned forty-two. "What's up with the incomplete sentences, Miss Jaws?"

Jill glared back at her. "It's either flu or midlife crisis. I'm going with flu."

"Jill! What happened?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He just didn't feel like coming." She shrugged off Gretchen's hands. "Is that your rental? The security guy's heading for it."

"Like I care. Stand still and talk to me."

Ignoring her friend, Jill rolled her luggage hastily toward the car, calling out to the guard. "We're here! We're coming."

"You can't park there, ma'am."

"Got it!"

Nodding, he strode past.

Gretchen muttered to herself, aiming her key ring at the car. "Can't even park for five minutes. Curses on terrorists everywhere." The trunk popped open. Together they loaded the cases. "What do you mean he didn't feel like coming? I just saw him on Sunday. He was looking forward to his vacation."

"Yeah, well, evidently his vacation wasn't this one."

"Is it because of his car accident on Tuesday night?"

"That was no big deal. Few stitches on his head. He put on his Cubs hat and went back to work the next morning. The thing is, he said he ..." Lockjaw set in again. Jill forced the words through clenched teeth. "He said he wants a divorce."

Gretchen gasped.

Jill slammed the trunk lid shut. "He got sick. Hormones, midlife gear switching, flu, whatever. He'll get better."

"No. Way. You're spinning this, aren't you? You're making it palatable. Next you're going to say God works all things together for good."

"Well, He does. Meanwhile, you and I have our own work to do."

"Jillian Galloway, this is huge. A divorce? Oh, my gosh! Why aren't you bawling your head off?"

"I already did, somewhere over Colorado."

"Malarkey. Your mascara isn't smudged, not even a tiny bit."

"Fixed it over Nevada."

"Oh, Jillie."

"Ladies!" The security guard neared again, making a show of flipping open his ticket pad.

They hurried around to the car doors and climbed inside.

Within moments Gretchen eased the car into the traffic. She sighed heavily. "Don't you ever get tired of squeezing the lemons? We do not need any lemonade, sweetums. Not today."

Jill disagreed. She would have said so, but her jaw was too busy forming itself around a wail.


Excerpted from DESERT gift by SALLY JOHN Copyright © 2011 by Sally John. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 39 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 11, 2011

    Interesting reading....

    Whew! This was a sometimes challenging book to read. Ultimately, I enjoyed it....but there were moments....Jillian, a marriage communication "expert" and her husband have been married more than 20 years when he blurts out that he wants a divorce - right as they are leaving to go on a part work (to promote her new book on, you guessed it, husband/wife communication), part vacation. He pushes her out the door with this new information and off we go on a journey of self discovery, re-learning how to relate to each other - Jillian becomes more and more aware of how she is perceived, and that good intentions do not always make wonderful results. I know I found myself relating more to her than her husband (who frustrated me - he spends years being a doormat, and then boom! 'I'm mad at how you've been treating me and we're done', instead of *saying something* as time passed) in this conflict.

    I thought the recipe idea that is mentioned in Jillian's book is cute and that this would probably be a good book for those needing to be reminded that a: how we see ourselves is not always how others do, and b: just because a couple has been married for a million years, does not always ensure long term success - like every other relationship, it takes constant work, healthy communication, and concentrated effort. But will be worth it in the end!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013


    She walked in eying and sat down in the towel he gave her. "Bullying. Its gettibg old.." she sobbed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013



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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Very good

    A very good book. I was surprised by the twists in the story but I enjoyed reading every one. I did not care for the recipe tie-in's such as "Crunchy casserole..." but it is worth the read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012


    Can i be dep. Ot med cat? A black shecat meows

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012


    U can join, but idk about depuy or med. Cat

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2012


    Enjoyed this read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012


    Galaxy Shuttle hovers over the sand. Hookfang shoots at him. They belly land. The rescue team ambushes the team of cons at the oil rig. Braver and Laster get stuck in quicksand. Blacker gets clobbered by the breast force. Greatshot tackled cons. Dezaras shoots a circut scramble arrow at Greatshot. "Greatshot! Look out!" Yells Blacker. Jaruga shoots missiles. The missiles hit and destroys the arrow, but Blacker's hand gets in the cross fire. His hand flys off. "Reatreat!!!!!" Yells Deathsaurus. The cans (sorry, cons) reatreat. The rescue team lift Blacker and carry him into Galaxy Shuttle and blast off for base.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    great Christian fiction

    Sally John has done it again!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012


    *moans and kisses back, frenching him*

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2012


    Easy read and written well. Recommend.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011


    DESERT GIFT by Sally John is an interesting inspirational fiction Chicago and Los Angles. It is well written with depth and details.This is Book 2 in Side Road Series,but can be read as a stand alone. See "Ransomed Dreams".The characters are charming,engaging and will capture your heart. This is the story of Jillian Galloway and her journey after her world crashes down around her.When her husband of twenty-four years asks her for a divorce,her life is turned upside down and she wonders if everything she has built her life on is a sham. This is the story of life's unexpected detours,faith,trust,second chances,anguish,healing,emptimess,lies we tell ourshelves,the truths we sometimes overlook and the knowledge that God is always at work and right on time. This is a powerful story about married couples,their journey from the beginning to the end,their laughter,tears and the reassurance that life somethimes is not what it seems. It shows us God's love,understanding,hope and forgiveness.Desert Gift is a must for it shows us that we can find second chances and hope even in the desert. This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher. Details can be found at Tyndale House Publishers and My Book Addiction Reviews.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2011

    Desert Gift

    Desert Gift by Sally John is a great novel. It shows lots of good descriptions and has a great plot. The characters are well developed and play their role in the book. Jill Galloway, a radio show host, has a big horrible surprise. Her husband tells her that he's tired of their marriage and wants a divorce. Her husband doesn't new wife, he just says he's done with marriage. Funny thing is Jill has a book about marriage, so how much will she sell? Hardly anything because she's divorced. Jill goes to a desert where her parents are and thinks over there about her mistakes. This is an amazing book. I recommend it to all married couples.

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  • Posted July 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not sure

    Jillian is a well known speaker and author on the subject of marriage communication. Jackson is a physician for Huffman Medical Group, he asked his wife Jill for a divorce after 24 years of marriage. He has fallen "out of love". Their son Conner, aged 23 is currently living in Europe. Jill's books reveal much about their marriage and the more she tries to reconcile the more he drags his feet. The memories are fresh in her mind, her thoughts consume her. The question remains, Can she get back what she needs and deserves in this life, and will it come with a price?
    The scene worked but I felt the characters lacked depth and I had a very hard time connecting with them. The novel started out great but quickly dropped off and sadly did not hold my interest to the end. My faith was challenged somewhat. It is an ok read but not sure if I would recommend it to others.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    Excellent book about marriage!

    Jillian Galloway, a marriage expert with her own radio show, is about to go on her book signing tour in California when Jack, her husband of 24 years, announces he wants out of their marriage. The news leaves Jillian spinning - for not only is her marriage crumbling apart, but it leaves her profession in question. How in the world does a marriage expert's marriage fall apart? Jill goes back to her childhood home and reconnects with her parents, her sister, and some old friends. She also meets some new friends who challenge her in her faith.

    I really liked this book. I'm not married, but it was nice to read a Christian fiction book that brought in principles for a godly marriage - food for thought for the future! I found myself swept up in Jillian and Jack's story, and I really empathized with them. I also really appreciated the way the author had the couple honestly deal with marital problems, and not just "neatly wrap things up" the way fiction sometimes can. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's married, or would like to be someday.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    Is Your Perfect Marriage Safe from Divorce?

    Desert Gift Book One in Side Roads Series By Sally John Is Your Perfect Marriage Safe from Divorce? By KitKatDoe on 7/9/2011 Author Sally John's new series Side Roads debuts with a captivating novel Desert Gift. At first glance, it appeared to be another broken marriage novel, but as I read through it, Ms John kept me guessing with characters that were down to earth, believable, and definitely ones that every day people could relate to. The conversations could be right out of anybody's kitchen table; sadly enough the books steers to what appears to be a probable divorce. Suspenseful characters draw you in all the way through, and keep you guessing until the very end as to the outcome of the marriage. The book shares God's heart toward His children during difficult times, and the loves demonstrated by friends and family during crisis. This is definitely a must read novel. This was a book I reviewed for Tyndale House Publishers.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    Fantastic Book!

    The Desert Gift by Sally John is the second book in the Side Road Series. It is an intriguing story that opens with Jillian Galloway, noted marriage and relationship counselor, author and radio show host being told by her husband that he wishes to have a divorce. Jillian is absolutely blindsided and shocked when she hears this and to make matters worse, she was on her way out the door to start her biggest book tour ever! While her world rapidly crumbles around her, Jillian heads to her parent's home in the California desert. Her journey is one of seeking the truth, finding herself and finding God while she walks the side roads of her life. Can she face the truth of her past? Will her marriage be saved? I found this book to be an insightful tale of one woman's struggle to navigate the bumpy roads when the storms of life fall upon her. The story is thoughtful, intriguing and captivating and it grabbed me by the heart and didn't let go till the very end of the book. I love reading a book where the characters are realistic, engaging and where their interpersonal relationships are deeply explored. This was the case with The Desert Gift. Ms. Sally John has done a fabulous job with this book! I can't wait to read book 1 of this series, Ransomed Dreams and book 3 of this series that is due out in Spring of 2012! Many thanks to Tyndale Publishing for providing me with the opportunity to review this book. My review is an honest expression of my feelings regarding this book.

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great read

    I have read Sally's book Ransomed Dreams and did a review on it last year. So this book Desert Gift is just as good if not better.

    Jullian Galloway's world was about to be upset as she and her husband Jackson who is a doctor were about to take their first vacation in years. They have one son and he is in Europe
    art and both of them have a very busy life. She is a talk show host on the radio about how to have a good and lasting marriage and had just published a book on the subject. But the morning they were supposed to leave for California for a tour of her book and a vacation, Jackson told her he was not going and that he wanted a divorce. This hit Jullian like a bullet as she could not understand why.

    She went ahead to California and left him at home, but she was so unhappy but he was so relieved that she was gone. He didn't really understand what had come over him either but he just wanted to be away from her. Jullian loved her radio show and really had the "big head" " over it and Jackson was a well liked surgeon so he felt the same way about himself.

    I could understand why a couple needed some time alone as my husband and myself just celebrated 50 years together, and sometimes I wish he would go fishing or something for a week or two and I am sure he feels the same way as he loves outside and I like to be inside so we really don't have a lot in common.

    I want to thank Tyndale Publishers for sending me this book and the review is my own.

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