Alice Chesterfield is a woman pursued. Having survived an attack that left her scarred and her father dead, she is never free from the fear and memories of the man who is responsible.
Texas seems to be an answer to Alice's prayers, and when she has the opportunity to relocate to a ranch near Dallas, Robert Barnett captures her attention. Unlike any man Alice has ever known, Robert doesn't worry about the obstacles that stand in their wayand he hardly seems to notice the scar she bears.
But there are storm clouds gathering; devastating information about her family comes to light, threatening Alice's peaceful sanctuary. Disillusioned, Alice must learn to place her trust in God as she seeks a measure of peace for her future...and for her heart.
About the Author
Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 90 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Belgrade, Montana. Learn more at www.traciepeterson.com.
Read an Excerpt
A Moment in Time
By Tracie Peterson
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2014 Peterson Ink, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Denver, Colorado November 1893
Alice Chesterfield could feel the intensity of the man watching her. Not just any man. She knew very well who it was and why he continued to hound her steps. Gathering her brown wool skirt in hand, Alice did her best to avoid the muddier spots in the road as she crossed to the small fabric store on the opposite side. Her heart pounded wildly. Her breathing seemed to catch in her throat.
Would he follow her there? Would he dare? She had been plagued by this stranger—this man who'd been responsible for upending her world—for over a year now. The wind picked up just as she reached the door of the establishment and chilled her to the bone. At least she told herself it was the wind that caused her shivers. Forcing herself not to look back, Alice raised her chin and slipped inside.
Stay calm. Don't let this disturb you any more than it already has.
A small bell over the door heralded her entrance. The warmth of the room was welcome, but it did little to help the icy fingers that seemed to run down Alice's spine. Reaching her gloved hand out to touch a bolt of blue cotton broadcloth, she closed her eyes and drew a deep breath.
"May I help you?"
Alice jumped at the voice and opened her eyes to find a matronly woman standing at her right.
"We don't have much in stock, as we're closing our doors on Friday."
Alice nodded. So many of the smaller businesses had folded since the banking crisis struck earlier in the year. "I'm looking for needles. The mercantile was out and suggested you might have some."
The woman shook her head. "Sold the last of them on Monday. I have some pins and plenty of thread, but as you can see for yourself, my shelves of fabric are pretty much exhausted. I can give you a good price on this broadcloth."
"Yes, well ... thank you. I don't really need any fabric." Alice steadied her voice as she glanced out the window to see if the man was still there. He was.
"I haven't seen you in here before." The woman frowned. "I would have remembered you ... your scar."
Alice put her gloved hand to the scar that ran from ear to chin on the right side of her face. "I ... well ..." She didn't know quite what to say to the woman's open rudeness.
"Such a pity it should have happened. Your old man do that?" She watched Alice carefully. "I used to be married to a man who carried a knife. Thought nothin' of threatening me with it from time to time. Eventually he threatened the wrong man, and now I'm a widow."
"No," Alice said, shaking her head. "I'm not married." She glanced over her shoulder at the man who continued to wait for her on the other side of the street. "I was attacked—a year ago."
The woman didn't miss a thing. "That the man?" she asked, nodding her head toward the stranger.
Alice realized this woman might well be her salvation. "Yes. At least he was responsible. He calls himself Mr. Smith, and he's been following me since I left home."
"Well, I won't brook any nonsense," the woman stated, moving back behind the counter. She pulled up a shotgun. "Like I said, I was married to a man who got his way at the end of a knife. I just won't have it."
"I wonder," Alice said, moving toward the counter, "is there another way out of here?"
"Of course there is." The woman pointed. "You go ahead through that curtain over there, and it will take you through the storeroom and into the alley behind my store. I'll keep an eye on the no-account, and you get on home."
Alice looked at the older woman with gratitude. "You are a blessing from the Lord."
"Bah, I don't know about that," she said, squinting her eyes to study the stranger. "I do know about mean-tempered men, however. Now, get on with yourself."
"Thank you." Alice hurried through the curtain and made her way to the back door. The alley was a muddy mess, but she didn't care. Picking her way through the ruts left by numerous delivery wagons, Alice slipped between buildings and disappeared.
She all but ran the rest of the way home. It wasn't that Mr. Smith didn't know where she lived, but she would feel a lot better once she was safely behind the locked doors of the Wythe house.
Hard times in the financial world had altered the stately beauty of the upper-class estates that lined the road. Many of the wealthier Capitol Hill residents had closed their houses and moved away. With silver devalued and the mines shut until further notice, Denver had suffered a tremendous blow to its economy. No one knew that better than the stuffed shirts of this elite neighborhood.
Reaching the red stone and brick house she'd come to call home, Alice hurried up the back steps and burst into the kitchen, not even bothering to remove her muddy boots. Thankfully, there was no one there to chide her. The housekeeper and butler had resigned their positions the month before, and due to the financial situation, Mr. Wythe had not seen it possible to fill their jobs.
Alice didn't really mind. At eighteen, she was willing to work to get what she needed. She'd certainly never had a maid to wait on her hand and foot, even when her father was alive. Instead, she was the one required to work. Mrs. Wythe—Marty—had been kind enough to let Alice stay on with them. She'd hired Alice, without references, as her personal maid, and over time the relationship had developed into something more. Now, despite Marty's being able to pay only a small pittance, Alice remained for the comfort and assurance that she was cared for by someone.
"I thought I heard you in here," Marty declared, coming into the kitchen. "Were you able to ..." Her words trailed. "What happened? Was it Smith again?"
Alice knew it would be impossible to hide her fear. "He fell in step behind me almost from the start. I tried to lose him in the shops, but he watched me too carefully. Finally, I just accepted that he would trail me wherever I went and pretended not to care. With the help of a woman at Bennett's Fabrics, I managed to get away unseen."
Marty crossed her arms in contemplation. "Of course it won't stop him. I think it's time we speak with the authorities."
"But what will we tell them that I haven't already explained?" Alice asked. "They know all about him but don't care. They said they were much too busy with the increase in crimes. People are desperate."
Marty narrowed her eyes. "That's no excuse. Of course crime is increasing with so many people suffering financial ruin. Even so, it's not right that a young woman can't feel free to walk down the street without being accosted. Next time, I'll drive you myself, and we'll see if Mr. Smith is inclined to reacquaint himself with my shotgun."
With her muddy boots discarded, Alice put them on the back porch and then hurried to clean up the mess she'd made on the floor. Marty had already retrieved the mop and pail. Alice took them from her and smiled. "I'm supposed to be the hired help."
Marty laughed. "Those days are long gone, as you well know. I can't help but wonder when Jake will walk through the door and tell me the bank has closed its doors. He knows his job there hangs by a thread. Mr. Morgan told him the banks were falling into failure like dominoes lined up in child's play." She shrugged. "I don't know what to expect from one day to the next. But then, I suppose no one does."
Alice nodded and worked to clean the floor. "I know I've said it before, but I think it's time you stop worrying about giving me any money for pay. I'm blessed just to get to eat and have a bed to sleep in. You should just put that money aside for emergencies. That's what I've been trying to do."
"Yes, well, I was going to address that subject with you. My money is pretty well dried up. I could write to my sister and brother-in-law in Texas. They still haven't paid me for the ranch, but I know they're most likely hurting, too."
Shaking her head, Alice opened the door and emptied the bucket outside. There was an icy bite to the air and she shivered. Looking quickly around, she saw the unmistakable outline of a man near the stable. She hurried back into the house and slammed the door closed. Locking it, she looked to Marty. "He's out there."
"Not for long." Marty took off and returned momentarily with her shotgun. "I think I should have a little talk with him."
"But it's nearly dark," Alice protested, "and Jake, I mean Mr. Wythe, isn't home yet. What if Mr. Smith decides to call your bluff?"
Marty smiled. "Who said I'm bluffing?"
Alice put her hand on Marty's arm. "Let's just pray instead. He'll leave soon enough, and if you threaten him, he'll just come back later."
"I don't appreciate being made a prisoner in my own home," Marty replied. "Even if you could give him what he wants, he needs to know he can't push people around."
Alice thought back to the man's demands. The night he'd sent his men to waylay her father, it had seemed they were to be victims of a simple robbery. But the attack turned out to be more than expected. One man had sliced Alice's face to motivate her father, and when her father protested, he was shoved to the ground, hitting his head and dying almost immediately. Alice was hospitalized and was sick for weeks afterwards with a fierce infection. When she regained consciousness and eventually her health, Alice prayed that would be the end of the ordeal. Mr. Smith, however, had appeared not long after the incident to ask about an envelope that should have been in her father's satchel.
"I wish I had what he wanted. I wish I could find a way to rid us both of his threatening presence."
"Men like that are never satisfied. Your father was delivering gold certificates for the bank. Mr. Smith believes they should be his, but we know that isn't the case. However, since no one knows where those certificates got off to or even where the envelope might be, Mr. Smith will have to accept his plight. You can't get blood from a turnip."
Alice put her hand again to her face. "But you can get it out of people. I would never forgive myself if harm should come to you or Mr. Wythe."
Marty placed the shotgun on the top of the wooden worktable. "No harm is going to come to anyone. Not if I can help it. Now, as you pointed out, it's getting late. Let's get the stew from yesterday heating. When Jake gets home we're bound to hear all the worrisome news, and Mr. Smith will be nothing more than a minor thorn in our flesh."
* * *
Jake ate like a starved man and Marty once again felt guilty that they were still in Colorado instead of Texas, where Jake would rather be. Her husband longed to return to ranch life, but Marty stood in the way of that happening. Though they both had been born and raised on Texas ranches, Marty and Jake had opposite feelings toward those settings. Jake's parents had been forced to sell off the family ranch when the drought of the '80s had caught up with them. It had ripped a part of Jake's heart away, and he had mourned the loss ever since.
While I couldn't leave Texas quick enough.
Marty toyed with her bowl of stew. She had been widowed in Texas, and although she once owned a ranch and could have made all of Jake's desires a reality, she'd kept the truth from him—until recently. Even now when he talked of returning to Texas so he could get work with friends or maybe even at her brother-in-law's ranch, Marty cringed and changed the subject. She had hoped that in selling her ranch to her brother-in-law, the matter would be closed for good.
She smiled at her husband, pretending her past mistakes didn't haunt her. She had asked for his forgiveness and the Lord's, as well. But she just couldn't seem to forgive herself. Especially now.
"Has Mr. Morgan said anything more about closing the bank?" Marty asked.
Jake looked up from the piece of bread he'd been about to break in half. "No. He's hangin' on like a man breakin' in a new bronc." His Southern drawl rang clear, as it often did when Jake let down his guard.
"There's a chance he might be able to pull through?" she asked, trying not to sound too desperate.
"There's always a chance," Jake said with a look of seeming indifference. Then he offered her a smile.
It was one of the first she'd seen in days. "You seem hopeful."
He shrugged. "I guess there's not much else we can be. I figure we have to have hope. I know God hasn't forgotten us down here. Someone reminded me today about the depression of '73. Things were bad then, too, and we fought our way outta that one."
"Mr. Brentwood at the orphanage mentioned that, as well," Marty countered. "Apparently his father was some type of investor back then and lost most everything. He managed to rebuild his business, however, and that was what gave Mr. Brentwood the money to start the orphanage." Marty had taken to volunteering at the orphanage frequently, especially since the economical problems had forced Brentwood to let go of so many workers. "He also reminded me that God sometimes allows things to happen that we can't begin to understand in order to benefit us later."
"We can be assured that God will never forget us," Alice agreed, "although sometimes it does seem He's distracted."
After losing the butler and housekeeper, Marty had insisted Alice join them for meals and be an extended member of the family. At first the girl had been uncomfortable with the idea, but she was gradually getting used to it.
For several minutes the conversation waned. Marty finished her bowl of stew, and though she could easily have eaten more, she settled for what she'd eaten. Jake would need another serving, and there wasn't much left.
"I hope you won't mind," Jake said, putting his spoon in the empty bowl, "but I arranged with a man today to take some of the furniture from the house. He'll be by tomorrow to crate it off."
"Let me refill that for you, Mr. Wythe," Alice said, jumping up.
"Thanks. I have to say it makes a mighty fine meal on a cold night." He smiled at the younger woman and then looked back to Marty. "Anyway, like I was sayin', he'll be here tomorrow."
Marty tried to hide her frown. She knew this was probably a sign of things to come and didn't like it. If Jake felt it necessary to sell furnishings, he'd probably had his salary reduced once again. She tried to force a smile. "I think that sounds wise. We certainly don't need so much stuff. With winter nearly upon us I thought perhaps we should close off the third floor all together. Alice can sleep in one of the second-floor bedrooms. It should help dramatically with the heating."
"I agree," Jake replied as Alice placed the bowl of stew in front of him. "Thank you, Alice. Next time, though, I can just fetch it myself."
Marty turned to Alice. "Jake and I were just talking about closing off the third floor. It's hard enough to heat the downstairs bedrooms, and we figure it will save on the overall heating of the house. You can take one of the second-floor bedrooms in the same wing as ours. That way we can also close off the other unused rooms."
Excerpted from A Moment in Time by Tracie Peterson. Copyright © 2014 Peterson Ink, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Alice Chesterfield was left alone when an attack left her father dead and her face scarred. She lives in fear that the man responsible will return and harm her and those she has come to care for--Jake and Marty Wythe. When the Wythe’s decide to return to their home in Texas due to a depression, Alice joins them in the hope that she can leave her past behind. Alice soon finds herself attracted to Marty’s handsome and kind nephew, Robert Barnett. Will Alice make peace with her past in order to embrace a beautiful future? A future that could involve Robert? Tracie Peterson is one of my favorite authors for three main reasons. 1) She creates these amazing, real characters you can immediately relate and sympathize with. 2) Her stories are always fast paced and not for a second boring. 3) Whether joy, anger, sadness, glee, or laughter...she has the ability to make her readers feel. I’ve never read a Tracie Peterson book that I didn’t like, and A Moment in Time was no exception. Alice was kind, heartfelt, giving, and completely unaware of her own beauty. Robert was a tad annoying at times, but still somehow lovable, funny, and kind. I immediately connected with the characters, but especially with Alice and Marty. They both had deep set fears that stemmed from loss and betrayal, but had a solid, growing relationship with God. A lot of this story was about faith and I really appreciated the little gems it contained. It was also slightly suspenseful at times, just enough to keep you excited. Tracie Peterson has done it again with her latest addition to this beautiful series. If you enjoy historical fiction, then I recommend you read the Lone Star Brides series asap! It was heartfelt, relatable, fast paced, and compelling. Now the only question I have is when is book three coming out? **I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are completely my own.
Over all I enjoyed the book. However, I too wished there was more to Alice and Robert's story. They went from just meeting to being in love without any account of how that occured. I was hoping for more focus on their story.
While the story in this book is overall good, the characters are too hokey. The characters accents drive me crazy. Being from Texas, I found their dialogue to be utterly annoying. Some colloquialisms are fine in a book, but the author went overboard in this case. Additionally, being a Christian farmer's daughter myself and growing up around ranches and farms I have never, ever heard anyone say in real life that they are "branded for Christ." Oh dear goodness! We don't talk like that! It was just so sappy. I thought that the sermons that were in the book were narcissistic. Perhaps pastors preached that way back then (certainly many do now), but it didn't have to be in the book. The sermons focused more on what I should be doing rather than on what Christ has done for me. There were a few times in the book where the author made it clear that Christ is the way to heaven, but many times she also made it sound like we have to be better to earn it. I think the story could have been better told had it toned back the poor theology and pretend Texas slang (we don't talk like that!!). I received this book for free from Bethany Publishing House in exchange for my honest review.
I've read many of Tracie's books and usually enjoy them, but this book disappointed me. There was more of a focus on characters from other books in the series. I felt that the story didn't start until half-way through the book, and there was very little interaction between Alice and Robert. I found their love story very unrealistic.
A Moment in Time focuses on Alice Chesterfield, a woman who lives in fear and feels that no man will ever be able to love her because of her scarred face. Alice is such a kind and likeable character. She truly tries to be nice to everyone and does not want to cause problems for anybody. As she begins to have feelings for Robert, she doubts that he would ever be truly attracted to her. Robert Barnett is a strong and handsome hero, who sees past what is on the outside and is immediately drawn to Alice. But, everyone expects Robert to wed his childhood friend, Jessica. Robert must search his heart and discern what God wants for him. Alice and Robert are such great characters. The attraction and gentle romance between them is wonderful. I also really enjoyed that the story contains a lot of Marty and Jake, from the first book. It is so nice to see what is going on in their lives. Their relationship continues to grow and thrive, after a shaky start, through this book. I highly recommend this series to fans of historical fiction and I have since realized that this series is linked to an earlier series that Tracie Peterson wrote called Land of the Lone Star. Now I look forward to reading that series as well.
I honestly did not care for this book much. It was slow moving at parts (especially in the beginning, which seemed to have a lot of boring scenes that dragged on and didn't hold my interest). I've read many books by Tracie Peterson before and loved quite a few of them. This one seemed as if it was written in a rush, with sloppy and clipped sentences, while conversations would drag on forever at times. Also, by the synopsis above you'd think the book is all about Alice and Robert, wouldn't you? Well just about the same amount if not more of the book followed a different character, especially in the beginning. I feel that Alice was a weak lead role and the whole book just kind of felt like you were reading a history book that told what was and had happened but had very little depth to it. Also, the romance between Alice and Robert was barely there. They meet one minute and there's a cute moment between them, but then the book goes on to focus on some other things, and when it comes back to them they're in love with each other, though neither one tells the other and there's a major lack of communication between them. Now there were some parts, when they FINALLY got to Texas (about a third or more into the book), that were somewhat interesting and kept me wanting to read more, so if I overlooked the other things it was an alright story. I hate to be too harsh but there it is, my honest opinion. It wasn't an overall horrible book, but not one I'd recommend unless you really think you'd like it. I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: I am a huge fan of historical fiction so when I saw that Bethany House was offering this as an advance reader copy for its reader I jumped on the opportunity. I felt that the book was a little slow moving in the beginning and I wasn't sure which character the book was going to follow. The author in my opinion spent too much time in the Denver setting then she needed to before she had them move to Texas. In addition, I felt that in the first part of the book there were two different story lines going on rather than one. She focused on Marty's story and Alice story rather than just one.. It seemed like the book was going to be more about Marty Wythe rather than Alice Chesterfield which is not what I understood it to be from reading the summary that was provided by Bethany House. Once I got half way through the book I really started liking the book and couldn't put it down. I was excited to see what Tracie was going to do with all the characters. In the end I was happy with the way she ended the book and was glad that I read it. I am actually very interested in reading the first book in this series to learn more about Marty and her husband Jake who were also another main characters in this book. This book was a good read and I would recommend it to other christian readers to take a look at. I wouldn't say it is my favorite book from Tracie but it was still a decent read.
Great story that continues from Series #1...
I enjoyed this book almost as much as the first book in the series. It was inspirng to see the emotional Alice went on. This book made me smile, laugh, & cry. It was clean, no filthy parts. I will read other Tracie Peterson novels.
Colorado and Texas, 1893 "There will always be someone less fortunate than you," his mother had told him on many occasions, "and you must remember that what you do for them is serving the Lord himself." While A Moment in Time can be read as a stand alone novel, it does finish up the story of Marty and Jake Wythe from book one before progressing into the real depths of the story of Alice Chesterfield and Robert Barnett. It begins in Colorado where the last book was set and soon makes the move to Texas for the story of Alice and Robert. The setting goes from high society life to ranch life, which is my overall preferred setting. The story deals with the depression, as we learned in the previous book, and the effects Alice suffers because of the physical scar she carries. I love the way Tracie Peterson's writing flows so smoothly you feel as if you're part of the story. She has quickly become a favorite author of mine because of this very fact. This story is about trust as Marty deals with some deep seeded trust issues and Alice's level of faith is astounding. As much as she has been through in her young life she still clings to her faith like a lifeline. A Moment in Time portrays God and the Christian faith in such a beautiful way and is where, I believe, Tracie Peterson's biggest talent lays. For readers that like a little mystery it has that as well. The romance between Alice and Robert is beautiful and heart-warming which is the perfect kind of romance, I think. The book overall left me completely satisfied as a reader. The fact that it is an historical book is just icing on the cake. Historical romance readers will absolutely adore this story written in Tracie Peterson's traditional style and I highly recommend it! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review and no monetary compensation was received.
it's always nice to get to go back to reconnect with characters from earlier stories, but it's also good that they get their own story as well. The trouble with these books is that you sit down to read "a little while" and soon it's two hours later! Enjoyed hearing Alice's story and you will too.