July Thunder

July Thunder

5.0 1
by Rachel Lee

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Deputy Sheriff Sam Canfield is a man shouldering too many burdens. He defied his demanding father to become a cop and marry the woman he loved, never for an instant regretting his choice. Then his wife's tragic death left him a shell of the man he once had been.

Schoolteacher Mary McKinney k ows about the pain and regret that haunt Sam. The death of her son

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Deputy Sheriff Sam Canfield is a man shouldering too many burdens. He defied his demanding father to become a cop and marry the woman he loved, never for an instant regretting his choice. Then his wife's tragic death left him a shell of the man he once had been.

Schoolteacher Mary McKinney k ows about the pain and regret that haunt Sam. The death of her son seven years ago destroyed her marriage and left her with her own sorrow and guilt. Now she wants—she needs—to free Sam from his demons…to help heal the rift between father and son. But in doing so, she'll put her own vulnerable heart in jeopardy.

It's July in Whisper Creek. And as a blazing wildfire sears the land, the heat of emotion rages through its residents. But when the flames die down, will there be a place left to rebuild lost hopes and dreams?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Readers looking for a contemporary romance focused almost entirely on character development will enjoy this saccharine story, which explores the relationship between a widowed deputy sheriff and a divorced schoolteacher in the small Colorado town of Whisper Creek. Sam Canfield and Mary McKinney meet after a car accident leaves her without a vehicle. Although they share a mutual attraction for one another, they are both hesitant to become entangled in a relationship since Sam still mourns the death of his wife and Mary hasn't been able to forgive herself for her son's death. However, they embark on a rocky relationship that heats up when a brush fire threatens their community and Sam's estranged father, a fire-and-brimstone pastor, arrives in town. The plot is minimal, and Lee's prose, though evocative, is sometimes excessive (such as when Sam contemplates the vulnerability of the soft skin inside Mary's upper arm). Lee (Under Suspicion) thoroughly explores the themes of forgiveness and tolerance religious and otherwise and fleshes out the story with a small but endearing cast of secondary characters. Although Sam's and Mary's healing occurs in a relatively short period, the intensity of their relationship and emotions will win over the most hard-hearted readers. (Feb.) Forecast: Lee also pens romantic comedies under the pseudonym Sue Civil-Brown, but her primary readership comes from her mainstream contemporaries. This quiet romance will appeal to fans of Debbie Macomber's Buffalo Valley series and Linda Lael Miller's Springwater Seasons series. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Lightning struck the same day Elijah Canfield arrived in Whisper Creek, Colorado. It struck at precisely the same hour, and within a few minutes of Elijah's arrival. No one took note. Not then.

    The lightning struck a forest as dry as tinder. It hadn't rained in months, and the snowfall of the past winter had been light.

    Had anyone been around just beforehand, they would have known it was coming. The charge built in the ground until boulders hummed like angry beehives. Animals scurried away, their coats prickling and trying to stand on end, racing through charged air that felt as if it were full of cobwebs. It was as if the mountain came alive with anger, as if its very spirit rose to the heavens in outrage. The world hummed and buzzed with fury.

    No one saw it happen. The bolt came out of a nearly cloudless sky, unexpected, unlikely.

    In an instant, with a single thunderous clap, the lightning struck, picking as its target a tall, dead pine. The pine rent with another crack, lost in the rolling explosion that echoed off surrounding mountains, then burst into flame. Thin wisps of black smoke rose from the burning pitch, blown away immediately by a brisk breeze, concealing the evidence that otherwise would have been visible for miles.

    But the wind did more than conceal. It lifted and carried tongues of flame with it, scattering them almost merrily among the other trees. Some died before they found sustenance. A few licked happily at dry branches and grew.

    But no one was there to see.

    Just as no one was there to see when Elijah Canfield pulled his car up to The Little Church in the Woods some forty miles away. Elijah was a minister, and the church was to be his new home. It was a small congregation and a small church, but it was a congregation that thirsted for the message that Elijah brought with him; the same way the flames thirsted for the dry limbs and needles of the pines. Elijah brought thunder and hoped his words would strike as lightning.

    And flames began to devour the mountain.

Chapter One

Sam Canfield regarded the beautiful day with disfavor, then wondered if that wasn't just getting to be a bad habit. It had been three years since his wife's death, and common sense told him he should be getting past his dislike of beautiful sunny days. Especially beautiful sunny days when there was no snow on the ground.

    After three years, he told himself, it should no longer seem like a personal affront when the sky wasn't filled with low, leaden clouds that wept. So maybe he had just developed some bad habits.

    Still, he wasn't happy to see a sky so blue it hurt to look at it or feel the warmth of a summer day, a day the locals would call "hot," even though they would be lucky to see eighty.

    He locked the door of his snug little house behind him, closing it on the memories within that had haunted his nights for a long time. This morning, for some reason, closing that door didn't feel like a betrayal. At once, the realization filled him with guilt.

    Was he healing? Part of him thought it was about time, and part of him wondered how he could even think of letting go.

    Sighing, he got into his patrol car and headed for his job as a sheriff's deputy in Whisper Creek. Another day, another dollar, he told himself. But this morning the words didn't sound quite so ... despairing. This morning they just sounded cynical.

    It occurred to him to wonder if he would even like the man he had become, assuming he bothered to look closely, then he dismissed the question. When life dealt you lemons, you made lemonade. He wasn't at the lemonade stage yet, though. He wondered if he would ever be.

    And he wondered why he should even bother.

    Morning roll call, such as it was, was quiet as usual. A dozen deputies, just waking up, got ready to go out to their cars and patrol the remote byways of the county and the quiet streets of the town. The kinds of crimes that plagued major cities were rare here. Domestic violence and brawls topped the list of problems, followed by relatively rare robberies and burglaries. That was one of the reasons Sam had moved here from Boulder. A quieter life. A less dangerous job. Because he and Beth had planned to start a family.

    The thought darkened his soul, but he was making a decent effort at shaking the mood off when Earl Sanders, the sheriff, stopped him on his way to the Car.

    "Hey, Sam," Earl said. "How's it going?"

    "Great," Sam replied. He wouldn't admit to anything else. Earl had held his hand through some of the darkest nights of his life, a friend at every turning, and Sam was determined not to lean on him any longer.

    "We're still on for dinner tomorrow night, right? Maggie's swearing she'll kidnap you if you don't show up under your own Steam."

    Sam summoned a smile to his stiff face. "I'll be there." He couldn't blame Earl for checking. He'd accepted more than One invitation to dinner with the Sanders family only to beg off at the last minute because he couldn't bear the thought of being immersed in their happiness for several hours. "I promise."

    "No excuses."

    "Not a one."

    "Good." Earl's smile suggested doubt, but he wasn't going to say so. "I wanted to ask you.... Didn't you say your dad was a minister?"

    Sam wondered which of his drunken binges had caused those words to tumble out of his mouth. He never talked about his family, made a policy of pretending he had none. Which he didn't, not really. But more than once in the last few years he'd gotten...


Excerpted from July Thunder by Rachel Lee. Copyright © 2002 by Susan Civil-Brown. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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July Thunder 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a book that tugs at your heart strings until the end. you can have a tear at the end of the book.