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I know, I'd said it once before, to get out of trouble, but this time it's true. I was drawn to a church, and this one hymn, about saving a wretch like me, touched me. So did the reverend, speaking about love, redemption, mercy and grace. It was nothing like the church my mother dragged me to as a kid, trying to keep me from the family life of petty crime. Next thing I knew, tears were rolling down my face as I felt...healed. But does my stiff-necked parole officer...
I know, I'd said it once before, to get out of trouble, but this time it's true. I was drawn to a church, and this one hymn, about saving a wretch like me, touched me. So did the reverend, speaking about love, redemption, mercy and grace. It was nothing like the church my mother dragged me to as a kid, trying to keep me from the family life of petty crime. Next thing I knew, tears were rolling down my face as I felt...healed. But does my stiff-necked parole officer believe me? No! How can I convince Brandon Fairchild that this conversion—and the feelings I'm having for this good-looking man—aren't just a con game?
Francie Calhoun learned to pick pockets when she was five, mark cards at eight and hotwire a car years before she could get a driver's license.
At the age of sixteen, with all the adults in her family living at the expense of the great state of Texas, Francie was pretty much alone.
Life hadn't improved a whole lot since then. Eight years had passed, eighteen months of which she'd spent in prison. She could see no hope until after a twelve-hour shift waiting tables she stopped in front of a church for absolutely no reason except she was so tired she couldn't take another step.
She had hesitated outside the church, but was finally drawn inside against her will. She stepped through the wide doors and looked around the sanctuary. The entire audience was standing and smiling, their voices joyfully joined in a hymn — something about saving a wretch like me.
The words fell upon her like spring rain, soothing her nerves and refreshing her soul. She slipped down a side aisle and found a place on the end of a bench.
"Here's where we are," the woman next to her said with a smile as she handed Francie a book and pointed at the verse of the song they were singing.
"Thank you." Francie nodded at the woman.
As she sang uncertainly, trying to fit the words with the unfamiliar music, Francie could feel pain and anger rolling out of her.
For the next thirty minutes she joined the singing and prayed, hands clasped in front of her and eyes closed just as she saw the lady do.
Then the Reverend Mr. Jonah Miles stepped to the front of the platform. He wasn't an impressive figure: thin and bald, wearing a white suit that seemed too big for him. But when he began to speak, his deep, assured voice wound a spell around the audience. He seemed to grow taller.
He spoke of love and redemption, mercy and grace. It wasn't at all like the hell-fire-and-damnation stuff her mother had taken Francie to with the hope her daughter would be a good girl if the preacher could fill her with fear. That had failed terribly.
But the message of the Reverend Mr. Miles entered Francie's heart and healed it, filling in deep cracks and crevices left by a hard and lonely life, a troubled existence.
"Here, child." The nice woman handed Francie a tissue. It was only then she realized tears were streaming down her cheeks.
Almost an hour after he'd begun to preach, the Reverend Mr. Miles asked anyone who had been saved to come forward. Francie thought she might have been but wasn't sure enough to join the crowd headed toward the front.
After the last hymn was sung, she left, filled with such wonder and buoyancy that she knew she'd be there the next evening.
But, when she went back, the church was dark and empty and the Reverend Mr. Miles was gone.
When she met Brandon Fairchild, her new parole officer, the next week, he was skeptical of Francie's conversion.
"Miss Calhoun, I don't believe for a minute that you've changed." Mr. Fairchild looked up from the file he held in front of him. "As I look through your life of crime, I see a history of con games and manipulating the truth, as well as that robbery conviction. A lot of deception, three convictions and not a word of remorse."
"I am sorry for everything I did, Mr. Fairchild. I truly am," she said to his frowning countenance.
He closed the folder, took off his reading glasses, and stared at Francie with eyes as cold as the metal furnishings of his small, gray cubicle. "Is that all you have to say?"
At the moment, she couldn't think of anything more. Odd, because usually she was never at a loss for words. Attempting to explain what had happened to her the other night to this disapproving man seemed impossible. Francie looked down at her hands and took a deep breath before returning her gaze to her parole officer.
He certainly was handsome. Rumpled blond hair and a face that would have made her artistic aunt Tessie long to paint it. Unfortunately, Aunt Tessie was serving eight to ten for forgery and fraud.
His white shirt displayed broad shoulders, while the loosened tie and open collar button showed a muscular neck. About thirty, he was good-looking enough to tempt a woman to do what she shouldn't, and pretty enough to make every sensible word — and a lot of foolish ones — flee Francie's brain.
In spite of that gorgeous exterior, he was cold. His hard gray glare froze her to the bone. She'd never convince him she was telling the truth.
Again, her smart mouth deserted her. Francie swallowed before she mumbled, "I went to church last Friday."
"And it changed me." That was good. She sat up and met his eyes. "I'm going to try to be a better person." She shook her head. "No, I'm going to be abetter person."
He leafed through a few pages of the folder. "I see you were redeemed once before, four years ago."
"That wasn't real. That was a con. Besides, I was never charged with anything that time." Her appearance and sincerity had always been her ace in the hole. Thin, with curly black hair, innocent blue eyes and freckles, she looked young and guileless and could almost always talk her mark out of pressing charges. Too bad she wasn't having any luck convincing Mr. Fairchild.
"So that conversion was a con? Would you explain the difference this time?"
"This isn't a con." She leaned forward and gave him the sincere look she'd perfected after years of practice.
"You have to understand. This is real."
He smiled but there was no humor in his expression. "Oh, I see. This one is real."
"Please believe me. I had a real experience that healed me, inside." She pressed her hands on her chest.
But he shook his head.
Excerpted from The Path To Love by Jane Perrine Copyright © 2005 by Jane Perrine. 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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Posted June 21, 2005
Frances 'Francie' Calhoun is a twenty-four year old ex-con. Her entire family has a history of committing larceny. Her mother left when she was six. Her father, aunt, and uncle are still in prison. But Francie is determined to go straight! She has an apartment in the low rent district, she has a waitress job in a diner, and is in school working on an associate's degree. If Francie is not working, her nose is in a book studying. ....................... When Francie's parole officer retires, she is assigned to Brandon Fairchild. Unlike his predecessor, Brandon gets involved with his parolees. He insists on inspecting their homes, work places, schools (if they attend classes), as well as having them appear in his office every two weeks. However, after years of dealing with ex-cons, Brandon no longer believes most of what his parolees tell him. So when Francie shows up for her first appointment with him and claims to have found the Lord, he doesn't believe her. After all, her records clearly show that she has pulled that scam before. He challenges her to begin her transformation by trying 'the fruit of the Spirit'. ..................... Of course, Francie has never heard of such a fruit and her research begins. She is going to prove to Brandon that she is not pulling a con. She really HAS changed. In doing so, Francie not only changes her own life, but the lives of those around her. ..................... As for Brandon, the more he learns about Francie, the more he is surprised and impressed. An attraction grows, one that Brandon cannot ignore. Ethics state he must transfer her case to someone else. But if he does, would Francie believe it was due to something SHE had done? Would she totally lose focus and fall off track? .................................................................... ...................... **** This light romance clearly shows that change is possible for anyone. Francie is a wonderful role model for everyone. She is caring, hard working, and tries to see good in everyone. The character of Brandon shows that even Christians have blind spots and are never perfect. No matter how long they have been with the Lord, they will always have room to grow and lessons to learn, even from those who are new to the true path. Author Jane Myers Perrine has created a cast of loving characters that readers will easily be able to identify with and understand. Even the secondary characters have depths all their own. I found this to be a wonderful story and recommend it to all. ****Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2005
Charming Francie Calhoun is one of the most delightful heroines that I¿ve met in a long time, even if she is an ex-con. No wonder that Brandon Fairchild, her parole officer, is attracted to her. Francie is attracted to Brandon as well, but the two of them are just about as different as any pair could be. You¿ll find yourself rooting for them to find a way to overcome their problems and find happiness together. In THE PATH TO LOVE, Perrine brings a heartwarming story of a young woman finding God as well as finding a place in the world with people to love and encourage her despite her past.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2005
How can Francie Calhoun, a girl who ¿learned to pick pockets when she was five, mark cards at eight and hotwire a car years before she could get a driver¿s license¿ find redemption and true love? It isn¿t an easy path she travels. She¿s an ex-con working as a waitress who stops in a church one night on her way home from work, drawn inside by the music she hears. Her nerves are soothed as she joins in the singing. She listens to the preacher speak of a kind, loving and forgiving God and her soul is refreshed. She knows she wants to do better with her life. Now, she knows why she must do so. She¿s helped further by her initially cynical parole officer, Brandon Fairchild. At first, Brandon can¿t believe that Francie really wants to become a better person, but he becomes a believer by watching her, step by step, bringing herself into her new life. With Brandon¿s help, and her own faith, Francie improves her existence, and that of those around her. Francie¿s innate optimism, her sense of humor and irony, her humanness, her ability to find the right path and her determination to stay on it makes this a book I couldn¿t put down. Literally. Francie is a true bad girl gone good, flawed, but so appealing that I had to follow her to the end of her story. So does Brandon, who has to fight his attraction to Francie and the fact that he wants to see her in a capacity that has nothing to do with his job. In order for their relationship to work, Brandon has to jettison some baggage of his own before he can commit to a woman with a less-than-perfect past. Francie¿s search for ¿the fruit of the spirit¿ is woven skillfully throughout the story, and I was rooting for her to find what she is so determinedly seeking. Francie¿s upbringing gave her few chances to better herself, and she is just begging for a chance. Brandon wants to help, but he¿s fighting his attraction and the cynicism born of his experience with other ex-cons. But once he realizes that Francie is sincere, he does everything he can to help her and their love grows. This story has several twists and turns and a very interesting subplot that moves it quickly and effortlessly to its conclusion. This story is so well written, its characters so well drawn and real, that it is a total enjoyment from beginning to end. Ms. Perrine¿s gift for subtlety and storytelling is obvious from this, her first Steeple Hill release. I hope to be able to read her books for years to come. I came away from this book with a renewed sense of optimism and hope. After all, if Francie can do it, anyone can!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2012
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Posted June 2, 2011
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