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Jaded and cynical, Ben found it hard to trust, though Lorabeth's sweetness soothed his battered soul and taught him joy. But he would have to face the...
Jaded and cynical, Ben found it hard to trust, though Lorabeth's sweetness soothed his battered soul and taught him joy. But he would have to face the demons of his past to find a glorious future in Lorabeth's arms!
Her mother had died of boredom. Tedium. Monotony. Lorabeth Holdridge looked up from the worn Bible on her lap to her father, sitting with his eyes closed in prayer. She was convinced that no one could spend every night of their life in this manner without a little piece of their dreams drying up and dying week by week, month by month, until finally there was nothing left alive and their spirit simply left their body.
Beneath her backside, the hard wooden chair deliberately kept her from being too comfortable or allowing her mind to wander. Her father would consider it sinful, but her imagination had been her escape to alluring places ever since she'd been old enough to know there was more to life than this.
She glanced at her seventeen–year–old brother. She'd been waiting to make waves until she was sure he could take care of himself without her here. Until she knew he'd be okay. Simon stifled a yawn behind his hand and raised dark eyes, dull from boredom, to hers.
She crossed her eyes.
The corner of his mouth twitched in an effort to keep a smile from forming.
Ambrose Holdridge reached over and thumped Simon on the knee. He gave Lorabeth a stern look that told her he knew she was the instigator of this disruption.
A knock sounded on the back door. It wasn't unusual for a caller to arrive of an evening, a parishioner needing prayer or a bit of advice.
"Continue in my absence," their father said, and left the room.
As soon as Lorabeth heard voices in the kitchen, she whispered, "I'm dying here, Simon."
"You'll meet a man," he began.
"Where? Where will I meet a man when Istay at the Chaneys' all week, then obey Father's demands and come home on Friday evening so I can clean, do laundry and tend the garden all weekend? Sundays I play the piano for church, prepare your dinner, bake and iron. Monday morning I head back to the Chaneys' until the next Friday night. My only moments to myself are late at night after the Chaney children are asleep."
"You convinced Father to let you take that job," he said.
"And I love it. I do," she said earnestly. "I'm not complaining about the work. It takes me away from… from this." But she'd been functioning at this frantic pace for nearly two years. Now that she'd seen how other people lived and the freedom they enjoyed, she could no longer wait.
Only three chairs remained around the hearth. Her older sister Ruthann had married and now lived in Florence with her husband and new son. Her younger brother Jubal had married and was farming a few miles away.
"I've prayed hard for that husband, Simon." She curled one hand into a frustrated fist. Though Lorabeth slept very little, when she did, she often dreamed of a man with a wild untamed spirit like hers. Someone handsome, Lord, she constantly entreated, but not taken with himself. Someone filled with life and vitality who would slash open new horizons and show her the world she craved.
"I know how badly you wanted to attend university," Simon said with regret in his eyes.
Her father had staunchly refused. University was too worldly for a pure young woman, held too many risks and offered far too much exposure to unseemly conduct. She had responsibilities to the family and to the work of the church.
"I'd be happy for you if you got to go," she assured him. She'd always gone through the motions and done what was expected, but she'd never really felt alive or content until she'd worked in the Chaneys' home, until she'd lived in the midst of their family. But glimpses weren't enough. Hearing their laughter and watching her employers with their children exposed the aching emptiness that had existed hidden inside Lorabeth her entire life. The memory of her mother, thin and pale on her sick bed, begging Lorabeth not to settle for less than her dreams had been nagging at her every waking moment.
For months she'd been thinking that perhaps there was an answer besides the elusive husband she'd been praying for. Perhaps there was a way to take those last few steps away from her father's suffocating control.
"I have a plan," she said, keeping her voice low.
"You'll be left on your own for now, but before long you will leave, too. You'll find someone special. All the young ladies in church are taken with you."
He grinned. "What's your plan?"
The back door closed and footsteps sounded on the wooden floor in the hallway. Promptly, brother and sister sat back and composed themselves.
Lorabeth closed her eyes and waited with her heart pounding.
Her father's chair creaked. "Mrs. Jenkins brought eggs," he said.
"I need to speak with you, Father," she said. Carefully, Lorabeth worked out the correct words in her head.
He fastened his stern gaze on her. "Can it not wait, daughter?"
"I have waited," she told him. A lifetime. Her memory dredged up images of her mother, more weary, more downtrodden as each year passed and hope steadily ebbed away. "This is the only chance I have that I'm not baking or doing laundry or sitting in church."
He raised a censuring eyebrow. "A virtuous woman looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness."
That same Proverbs Thirty–one woman had a husband who praised her and children who rose up and called her blessed, but Lorabeth bit her tongue instead of pointing out that this was not her own household.Arguing that she was quite inconveniently the last Holdridge female left would only be hurtful, and she would never hurt him. "It's just that this is my only opportunity to speak with you," she said as respectfully as she knew how.
"Very well. What's on your heart?" Ellie Chaney hadn't asked Lorabeth to work any more days than she already did, but Lorabeth's future depended on her belief that the woman would be glad to have her living with them full–time. She chose her words and said, "Mrs. Chaney is expecting another child soon."
Her father lifted the same dark eyebrow. "She could use more help on weekends." "What about your duties at home?" her father predictably asked. "It's well and good that you are able to help the doctor's wife with her children, but not at the cost of your own family."
"I'm twenty–one years old, Father," she pointed out. "Ruthann was living away from home when she was nineteen."
"She had a husband of her own to care for.You do not." As if she needed that pointed out. Her neck and cheeks warmed at his reminder. She composed her thoughts before speaking aloud. "I believe I'm old enough to make important decisions for myself."
His fingers twitched on the Bible he held on his knees. With her heart racing, she anticipated his objections.
Simon darted a look at his father. He seemed to be waiting as breathlessly as Lorabeth.
"I do want your approval and your blessing, of course," she added. "And I don't wish to leave you without help. I'm sure I could arrange to come over one or two mornings a week to do laundry. Perhaps I could mention to the Widow Hinz that though the pies she brings you are welcome, bread would be more practical."
The woman who had taken over as proprietress of the bakery after her husband's death five years ago supplied the Holdridge men with pastries each week.
"And of course I'll still be in church on Sunday mornings." She was proud of herself that her voice hadn't been pleading or begging, though her heart was on callused knees in supplication.
Simon studied his father for another minute, but clamped his eyelids shut when Ambrose glanced in his direction.
"As you say, Lorabeth, you are a grown woman," Ambrose began. "I can see that you've given this matter much thought."
She nodded. "Yes, sir." "I've trained you up in the way you should go. Now that you are older, I must trust that you will not depart from those ways."
Her relief was like a weightlessness that started at her feet and worked its way upward. His consent was all she'd hoped for. "I won't, Father."
"I will talk with Dr. Chaney to remind him of the enormity of his responsibility while you are living under his roof."
"He's a wonderful man, Father. And Mrs. Chaney is a remarkable woman. I'm completely safe in their home."
"I would be more confident if he attended services on a more regular basis."
"He's a doctor. He's often called away to help people.
Mrs. Chaney is always in church with her children and her brothers."
Her father nodded. "Very well, Lorabeth. You have my blessing to live in the Chaneys' home."
She wanted to jump up and hug him, skip and dance around the parlor, shout her joy to the rafters—sing, even! But she held it all inside, a warm tingling expectation that buoyed her young woman's heart and sang hallelujahs through her veins until her limbs quivered.
"Now we shall continue with our prayer time," Ambrose directed.
Lorabeth felt like a butterfly that had emerged from its cocoon inside a glass jar and the lid was finally being unscrewed.
Oh, thank You, Lord! Thank You that by next week I will be free! Thank You I can buy some pretty things for my room at the Chaneys'. Help me find time to stop at the library. Oh, and please help Simon find a good wife.
Lorabeth closed her eyes and smiled with her heart.
Lorabeth could hardly contain her excitement the following morning. She hummed a cheerful tune as she snipped flowers from the tidy garden and arranged them in a vase to place before the pulpit, then picked up her pocketbook and Bible. Simon held open the back door and she met his eyes as she passed him.
"I've seen the doctor's home," he whispered. "It's big. Do you have your own room?"
"I do. The quilt on the bed was one of Mrs. Chaney's wedding gifts. It's red and blue, Simon. She wears colorful dresses and she laughs and plays with the children. The doctor reads them bedtime stories from books of fables written by a man named Aesop. I wish you could see it all. I wish I could take you with me."
She took her place beside her brother as they walked the width of their yard behind their father to the United Congregational Church next door.
"They truly are good people?"
"Truly," she assured him.
He gave a nod and touched the back of her hand.
"Don't worry about me, Lorabeth. This is my last year of school and then I plan to apprentice to one of the tradesmen in town."
He was a thoughtful young man, and she appreciated his effort to set her mind at ease regarding his welfare.
This morning she didn't mind arriving an hour before service or straightening the hymnals on the backs of the pews or dusting the organ and the windowsills.
Her father handed her a sheet of paper listing the hymns they would be singing that morning, so she took a seat at the organ and practiced the chords and notes she could play without music. She turned to the pages anyway, because her father thought it looked prideful and careless to have the music memorized.
When the people began filtering into the building, she watched for the Chaneys. Eighteen–year–old Flynn, Ellie's younger brother was the first family member she saw, and he was carrying three–year–old Anna on his arm. Her red–blond hair had been threaded with blue ribbon and fashioned into two braids.
Lorabeth noted that her father was occupied in a conversation before hurrying to the aisle where the Chaney family had begun to settle. Five–year–old Lillith greeted her with a hug, so Anna leaned from her uncle's arms to do the same. Nate and David, ten and eight, had their heads together as though they were concocting a scheme, but David looked up to notice her and both boys grinned ear to ear. Nate was the spitting image of his brown–haired father while David had Ellie's violet eyes and delicate chin.
Finally she reached Ellie. Caleb was holding his wife's elbow to guide her into their row. Lorabeth had to hurry to the pew ahead and lean over the back to speak to her employer. "Ellie! No, don't get up."
"Good morning, Lorabeth." Ellie stood for a hug anyway, a challenging task because of the girth she carried out front. Her friends were predicting twins. Her lilac–colored dress made her eyes look almost purple. Her delicate appearance belied a strength of character Lorabeth had grown to appreciate. "You're positively glowing this morning."
"I have exciting news," she explained. "My father has given his blessing for me to stay with you permanently. I can be there with you even on Saturdays and Sundays from now on."
Ellie's smiled dimmed slightly.
Lorabeth's breath hitched in her chest. "This is such a surprise," Ellie said. "I don't know what to think."
Posted November 25, 2012
I thought this was by an author who did some 'Love Inspired' books. This isn't exactly Christian in my opinion. It has some sex scenes in it and it was a bit detailed but it was in wedlock. They had a scene where they were pretty close to slipping up. It was kinda detailed there too. Ben wasn't really a Christian and I would have thought her father would have said no because of it. I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers. The story line was good and the characters were great! If the intimite scenes weren't so detailed it would be a better book in my opinion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 30, 2009
It isn't my typical romance novel (hot and heavy) but it was the sweetest. The characters were so lovable. Sometimes when you read a story and the character wants to fight his or her love for the other it gets irritating with the bickering within themselves. This was so easy to read and it just flowed. It was so endearing. I loved it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 21, 2007
Lorabeth Holdridge starved for a life without censor or deprivation. She longed to experience freedom away from the strict confines of her home with Reverend Holdridge always stuffing the bible down her throat. She wanted freedom to go to go to the library to pick out more exciting reading material, take a walk at night, and if she ever had the chance she would love to take a trip on a train. Benjamin Chaney was a veterinarian who led a horrible childhood. Even the dreams tragically awoke him from sleep every night. With a mother working as a prostitute, and no father in sight Ben could only think he was anything but a decent man. Especially when he committed murder trying to save his eldest sister Ellie from being raped. All charges were dropped because the man was killed in self defense but still, the blood was on Ben's hands. He couldn't just forget about the past, Ben believed it molded him into the man he was today. Eventually feelings began to blossom between Lorabeth and Benjamin. There was only one thing to do, get the Reverend to give his blessings on the marriage. The Reverend was a very strict man and Ben was quite sure he would refuse, to wed the couple. Could Ben win him over with the life he has made for himself? Would the truth behind Ben's past enough to make the Reverend refuse to give his daughter's hand? I loved this story! I don't know how much more I can say. The book was a lengthy sort but the story line flowed effortlessly, and I finished it in two days. There were so many amusing parts that had me laughing out loud. The little girl Lillith's dialect was perfectly written. You will have to read to find out what a mammoth cloth is. I have to say this is my favorite Historical Western Romance so far. The sensory details of this story won my heart. I would catch myself holding my breath and smiling all throughout this book.I gladly award Ms. St. John 5 hearts for her remarkable tale of the old fashioned kind of love.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2007
THE PREACHER¿S DAUGHTER is a touching book that it ultimately about the healing power of love and forgiveness or others as well as oneself. Lorabeth Holdridge is the preacher¿s daughter, and she has led a very strict and sheltered life. At 21, Lorabeth longs to live and have some freedom, but her father refused to allow her to attend University and the husband she prays for has not come along yet. However, Lorabeth has a job working for Ellie Chaney, the local doctor¿s wife, and her family. When she convinces her father to let her move in with the Chaney¿s as live-in help, Lorabeth is hoping it will be the change she needs since life in the large, loving Cheney household is a breath of fresh air to her. Benjamin Chaney is the town¿s young veterinarian and Ellie¿s younger brother who was raised by her. He¿s more comfortable with animals than with people since he has closed off a part of himself due to childhood horrors and a tragic event in his past. When Ben meets Lorabeth, he is instantly intrigued with her since she¿s open and expressive and everything he longs to be but is not. As the two get to know each other, it¿s not long before they fall in love, but Ben must deal with the serious issues of his past before he can be the man he wants to be for Lorabeth and they can have the happy ending they both want and deserve. The character of Benjamin Cheney was introduced in two of Ms. St. John¿s previous books (THE DOCTOR¿S WIFE, Harlequin Historical # 481 and THE LAWMAN¿S BRIDE, Harlequin Historical #835), but it¿s not necessary to have read those two books first since important events are subtly ¿re-capped¿ to make this a stand-alone book. THE PREACHER¿S DAUGHTER is a very sweet story and captures the feel of life in Kansas in the late 19th Century very well. It¿s an entertaining, feel good read that I recommend to historical romance readers and especially to those, like me, who are always on the lookout for a good western historical! Ms. St. John¿s newest book fits the bill.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2007
In 'The Preacher's Daughter', Cheryl St. John has written a moving story about a man, Benjamin, who has believed that the traumatic events of his childhood will keep him from being a man 'good enough' for any woman. Especially the preacher's daughter. Lorabeth wants him to realize that love can overcome all of the obstacles he believes are keeping him from loving her the way they both yearn for. This book weaves a believable story of how, with the love of family, anything is possible, even the dreams you've given up on.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 16, 2011
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Posted January 26, 2010
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