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Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love.
Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed.
Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?
About the Author
Karen Barnett is the author of Beyond the Ashes, Out of the Ruins, and Mistaken. Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she’s not writing novels, she loves speaking at women’s events, libraries, and book clubs. You can learn more at KarenBarnettBooks.com.
Read an Excerpt
Beyond the Ashes
The Golden Gate Chronicles
By Karen Barnett
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2015 Karen Barnett
All rights reserved.
Sacramento, California July 6, 1906
I refuse to attend another wedding. I'm through." Ruby King Marshall juggled two glasses of punch in her gloved hand as she shepherded her blind cousin through the overcrowded ballroom. Each doting couple waltzing around the polished floor reminded Ruby of her loss, like a needle thrust into her heart. Widows and weddings—shouldn't it be bad luck?
Miriam gripped Ruby's elbow, leaning forward to be heard over the dozens of nearby conversations. "Then I'm relieved mine was last December. I'd have been sad if you'd missed it. And don't forget Anne Marie's next month." A tiny smile flirted at the corner of her lips.
Ruby glanced out the ornate windows, the quiet evening beckoning. Only her cousin—and best friend—would have the audacity to make light of the situation. Newspaper stories of San Francisco's earthquake refugees weighed on Ruby's heart. "With everything that's happened this year, it seems inappropriate to turn a simple wedding into a grand social occasion."
Miriam adjusted her smoky-hued spectacles. "We're not suffering here in Sacramento, Ruby. Besides, love is always worth celebrating. Our hurts remind us to delight in life's joys."
Ruby focused on the sparkling ring on Miriam's finger to prevent her gaze from wandering to her cousin's thickening waistline. She must be at least four months along. Ruby drew up her shoulders, pulling her elbows close to her body. What have I become?
Miriam leaned close to Ruby's ear, squeezing her arm. "Elizabeth told me you received a letter from your brother. How is he?"
Ruby escorted Miriam to a corner table and waited as she took a seat. "He sounded rather discouraged. He'd lost another cancer patient." Ruby sat, scooting her chair closer to her cousin's so she could be heard. "With all he suffered after the earthquake and fires, I thought he might come home and set up practice here."
"You just want him where you can keep your eye on him."
"Is it so wrong? He must be lonely, working long hours at the hospital and coming home to a bachelor apartment." Ruby's gaze wandered back to the bride, the gown heavy with Irish lace and ivory buttons—a near duplicate of the dress Ruby had sewn for Miriam last year. "He mentioned having some good news, but you know Robert—he insisted on remaining vague about the topic."
"With six sisters, I imagine he clings to his privacy."
Two gray-haired matrons approached the table, smiles brightening their faces. Mrs. Frederick Compton's lemony-yellow silk gown shimmered in the glow of the hall's electrified chandeliers, her sister's mauve dress fading in comparison. Mrs. Compton's gaze flitted over Miriam and settled on Ruby. She clucked her tongue. "Oh, Ruby, dear. We're so pleased you chose to attend. How are you?"
Ruby clenched her hands in her lap. "I'm fine, Mrs. Compton. How kind of you to inquire."
The woman waved her handkerchief at someone across the hall and turned to her sister. "There's Reverend Greene, Claudia. We must speak to him about the library benefit." She nodded to Ruby. "Please excuse us, dear."
The second woman ignored Ruby and Miriam, apparently content to be pulled along in Mrs. Compton's wake, a peacock feather bobbing atop her silver curls. A high-pitched voice floated back to the table. "Poor child. So young to be widowed."
Miriam pressed a handkerchief to her nose. "Someone needs to speak to Mrs. Compton about her cologne." She muttered the words under her breath. "Worse than smelling salts."
A warm flush crept up under Ruby's collar. "I dislike coming to these functions. This is the fourth wedding in as many months and at every one, I'm petted and cooed over like a child with a skinned knee. I'm tired of being the center of everyone's pity." Ruby thumped the cup down, punch sloshing over the edge and onto her gloves. "Oh!"
Miriam lifted her shoulders. "At least women speak to you. It's as if they believe I don't hear, either."
"I wish they'd ignore me as well." As soon as the careless thought passed her lips, Ruby winced. She placed a hand on her cousin's wrist. "That was thoughtless of me. I apologize."
"Please don't guard your words around me, Ruby. I know you better than that." Miriam flicked her fingers through the air dismissively. "Why would I care if some stranger speaks to me, anyway? I'd rather listen to you—even if you're being ridiculous."
Ruby's skin crawled. Her cousin had an uncanny habit of seeing right through people. "What do you mean?"
"With the exception of gossips like those, most people aren't fussing over you. Hardly anyone gives a thought to the accident any more. You're the one who's stuck fast."
Ruby swallowed against the lump rising in her throat. Who'd have expected the mere thought of Charlie's death would bring tears, two years later?
"It's good you came tonight. You're alone too often." Miriam touched Ruby's sleeve.
"I'm not alone. I have Otto." The little black and tan dachshund sported tiny gray hairs on his muzzle. How many more years before she lost him, as well? Ruby tightened her fingers around the cup's delicate handle. "And if you say you've found the perfect man for me, I'm going to march out the door." In her haste, she splashed punch onto the white tablecloth for a second time. "Drat! I'm going to need another napkin."
Miriam's gentle laugh trilled. "You wouldn't walk out on me. We promised as girls to always speak the truth to each other." She passed a linen square to Ruby and gestured toward the refreshment table. "Now, would you like a refill? Or have you spilled enough for one evening?"
"I think I'll pass for now."
"I do know some nice fellows, but I wouldn't dream of trying to match you up."
Ruby pushed back the cup. "Everyone keeps telling me to move on, and I'm too young not to marry again. I don't feel young. I feel like I'm a hundred years old and my life is over. I can't even look at another man without seeing Charlie's face." She stared down at her hands.
Miriam spoke, her voice hesitant. "You're only twenty-seven, Ruby. If you won't marry again, then it's time to decide what you will do."
"What do you mean?" Ruby lifted her head.
"You were always the one with the plans and dreams. You arranged every step of our lives when we were children." Miriam's hand settled on the bump in her midsection.
"Exploring haunted attics and searching for lost Indian camps?" Ruby fingered her lace cravat. "Most of my schemes led to disaster, or have you forgotten? I got us into some pretty good scrapes."
"And then you planned a way out."
I never planned a way out of widowhood. A familiar ache twisted in her stomach. According to her early dreams, she should be the one expecting the baby. "I think God laughs at my schemes."
"Perhaps. But it never stopped you from making them."
Ruby's throat squeezed as she stared at the centerpiece, the riotous flowers overflowing with ridiculous joy. "I gave up dreaming when Charlie died."
"Then maybe it's time you started seeking God's plan for your life. Find a new sense of purpose for yourself." Ruby's cousin landed her cup squarely in front of her. "It doesn't have to be marriage. It's the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. You're free to make your own choices."
Shivers ran down Ruby's arms. The thought had been close to her heart as well. "I keep reflecting on the situation in San Francisco. I saw an article in the Evening Bee stating the need for aid workers. Thousands are still homeless. Robert mentioned they were short-staffed at the hospital, too. I suppose many of the nurses fled the city after the disaster." She closed her eyes and pictured her own nurse's cap gathering dust on the upper shelf of the wardrobe. How would it feel to pin it on again? To bring hope to the sick and the dying? Her heart fluttered, like the wings of her mother's peach-faced canary beating against its wire cage.
Miriam placed her hand atop Ruby's. "Perhaps God is calling you back into nursing."
God calling? Ruby pushed the difficult thought away. She made her own decisions, she didn't require divine guidance. "It isn't the dream I had for my life."
"God has a plan for you, Ruby—but it might be profoundly different than your own."
Ruby sighed. Her cousin would not by swayed once she'd taken to an idea. It explained why she'd always been such an excellent conspirator. "I'll think on it, I promise."
"I'll pray God provides you swift counsel."
Elizabeth, Ruby's seventeen-year-old sister, wove through the crowd, a smile dancing across her face. She hurried to the table, clasping her fingers in front of her. "Have you heard? Hattie and Ernest are engaged. Ruby, Hattie hopes you will help with the gown."
Not again. Ruby grabbed for the cup, desperate to distract her nerves. It clattered across the table and dumped the remainder of its contents on the linen cloth.
Miriam giggled, pressing a hand to her mouth. "Ask and ye shall receive."
Ruby blew a long breath through her gritted teeth and shook her head. "Please give Hattie my regrets, Elizabeth. I'm going to San Francisco."CHAPTER 2
San Francisco, California July 23, 1906
A beam of sunlight pierced the stained glass window in Dr. Gerald Larkspur's study, casting a rosy glow on the stationery in his hand. He eyed the dainty feminine script marching across the page in ordered lines. Gerald lowered the letter, staring at Dr. Robert King over the stacks of medical files littering his desk blotter. "Your sister wants to come to San Francisco now? Does she understand the city is in shambles?"
His friend leaned on the oak desk. "Ruby wants to help with the relief work. She's had extensive nursing training. My sister even assisted our father in surgeries, back when we were children." Robert frowned. "Never seemed fair, since he wouldn't let me step foot over the threshold. Sure, she was six years older, but I was a boy. If anyone should be man enough to handle the sight of blood, you'd think it would have been me."
Gerald passed the letter back to Robert as he fought a smirk, picturing his young medical partner as a petulant child. "Sounds like she was 'man enough.'"
The paper crinkled as Robert tucked it into his inside pocket. "Trust me, Ruby has a strong spirit. She put up with my antics, after all."
"I can imagine."
Robert leaned forward, placing both palms against Gerald's desk. "I know it's asking a lot. With your mother living here, and your cousin's family, and me—maybe I should put Ruby off the idea."
Gerald rested his chin on his palm, the paper's rosewater scent lingering on his skin. Another woman in the house? So much for the quiet bachelor life. "I can't see why not. What's one more?"
Robert grinned. "Abby's already set up an extra bed in her room."
"I see." Gerald opened the nearest file, and flipped through the pages. "You two were so confident I'd say yes?"
His young partner straightened, tugging on the hem of his gray vest. "Not confident, just optimistic. You're always reaching out to help others. You've taken the rest of us in, after all."
The chair squeaked as Gerald rose to his feet. The scent of vegetable stew scented the air, his stomach rumbling in response. The noon meal must be nearly ready, one advantage of having three women—soon to be four—in his house. "Does your sister know about Abby?"
Robert's gaze lowered. "I haven't informed my family, yet. I'm certain Ruby will be pleased."
A chuckle rose in Gerald's chest. He clasped Robert's shoulder with a firm hand. "In the same way you were sure I'd consent? Your understanding of human nature never fails to amaze me."
* * *
San Francisco, California August 1, 1906
I hope Robert received my telegram. Ruby clutched her wrap with one hand and the ferry rail with the other, stunned at the sight before her. She thought the newspaper stories had prepared her for the devastation, but as the boat pulled up to the dock, prickles crawled across her arms. Even three months after the earthquake and subsequent firestorm, San Francisco looked like the parlor stereoscope images of Pompeii. Skeletal buildings dominated the skyline, either half-destroyed or half-built—Ruby couldn't decide. Stacks of building supplies lined the piers.
The ferry eased to a stop, the passengers collecting their belongings. Ruby lifted her bag and clumsy wicker basket and clutched the items before her as she joined the stream of passengers jostling their way to the front. At the plank, a porter reached for the basket.
"No, I'll hold this. Thank you." She offered the carpetbag instead, and the man grasped it with a nod before assisting her to the dock.
Ruby froze as the crowd pushed past her. The stench of ashes lingered in the air. Beyond the hundreds of voices, she could hear a cacophony of hammers and saws.
"Miss?" The porter held the bag toward her, a frown dragging down his bushy moustache.
Ruby transferred the awkward container to her left hand and reached for the bag with her right, trying not to stare at the man whose face resembled a walrus minus tusks. She stumbled a few steps forward before lowering the rectangular carton to the ground and grappling with her wrap, pulling it tight around her shoulders. She swiveled her gaze from side to side, overcome with the image of the city as a giant anthill, carelessly kicked over by a mischievous child.
She didn't belong here. A wave of emotion swept over her. Charlie, why'd you have to buy the fool horse, anyway? Ruby stepped close to the basket, brushing it with her shoe tips. She shouldn't have allowed Miriam to bully her into making new plans. It wasn't her place to save the world. She should be home where life remained predictable and secure. And boring.
Ruby tucked a stray curl under her hat before grasping the wicker handle and hoisting it up over her arm. She straightened her posture, willing confidence into her steps. She'd come to help the people of San Francisco. And poor Robert, slaving away in this broken carcass of a city. No more talk of weddings and babies. Robert was clearly too immersed in his work for such nonsense. It still seemed remarkable her impish baby brother would grow up to be a doctor like their father. If only she'd been a boy.
A shout from the distance drew her attention.
"Ruby!" Robert pushed through the crowd, arms extended.
Ruby dropped the bags and fell into his arms. "I am so relieved to see you. This place is such a mess."
He laughed. "This is nothing, Sis. You should have seen it a month ago." He pulled her into an embrace so tight it lifted her off her feet.
Robert's touch crumbled the last of her resolve and tears stung at her eyes. "It's a joy to see your face." She squeezed his arm. "I can't believe I'm actually here. We've been so worried about you. It's been months since we received your last letter. Mother is irate." A shiver rushed through her and her voice trembled. "Why haven't you written, you lout?" She dug into her pocket for a handkerchief.
Her brother laughed, pressing a silk square into her hand. "I'm fine, Ruby. I've been a little busy." His face lit up in a huge boyish smile. "Just wait until you hear all my news. You'll forgive me in a heartbeat."
"Never. There can be no excuse for keeping us all wondering. I'm sure you're not at the hospital every hour of the day. Certainly you could have spared a moment to write."
He pushed his chocolate-brown derby to the back of his head, a familiar puckish grin lighting his face.
She took a step back and studied him. Shadows under Robert's eyes showed the effects of the disaster and his difficult work—these she'd expected—but his expression also contained a spark of unspoken delight. He didn't look the part of a lonely, overworked bachelor.
Robert stepped to one side, revealing a well-dressed man and woman standing directly behind him.
Ruby dabbed at her reddened eyes, a wave of heat crawling up her neckline beneath the collar of her traveling jacket.
The man flashed a disarming smile, his Bristol-blue eyes causing Ruby's breath to leak from her chest. Fine lines around his mouth spoke of a life filled with either worry or laughter.
Ruby glanced down, awash with emotions after the long, exhausting trip. She certainly wasn't going to swoon over a man, even if his eyes were a dead-ringer for her Charlie. Especially because of that.
Robert clasped a hand on the man's shoulder. "Ruby, this is Dr. Gerald Larkspur, my mentor and friend. I've written to you about him, right?" He turned his attention toward Dr. Larkspur. "Gerald, may I present my sister, Mrs. Ruby Marshall?" Ruby reached her hand out to the doctor, noticing too late she still clutched the damp handkerchief.
Dr. Larkspur took her fingers, with only a quick glance at the fabric crushed between their palms. With his other hand, he touched the brim of his black hat. "It is an honor to meet you, Mrs. Marshall. But your brother does himself a disservice. I can't be called a mentor any longer. He's left me in the dust, I'm afraid. I keep reminding him, we're partners now."
Ruby bobbed her head, giving herself a second to string words together into a polite greeting. "Dr. Larkspur—the honor is mine. My brother has spoken most highly of you." She retrieved her hand and tucked the handkerchief into her sleeve, casting a final glance at the man's eyes. Not exactly like Charlie's. A tad darker. She pushed the memory from her mind.
Ruby directed her gaze at the young woman hovering near her brother's other arm. Mrs. Larkspur, perhaps? The woman glanced up at Robert, her sweetly freckled cheeks sporting a light blush. Ruby's stomach crawled up into her throat. Oh, no. Please, no.
"Ruby," her brother turned back to her. "I'd like to introduce you to someone very special."
Ruby fought the urge to cover her ears and run screaming back to the ferry.
Robert cleared his throat, his eyes warming as he gazed at the young woman. "This is Miss Abby Fischer. Abby is Dr. Larkspur's cousin ..." his words rushed toward her like an engine roaring down the track, "... and my fiancée."
Excerpted from Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett. Copyright © 2015 Karen Barnett. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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
Beyond the Ashes is a wonderful, historical romance set in San Francisco in 1906, after the devastating earthquake and the fires that followed. The main storyline follows Dr. Gerald Larkspur and Nurse Ruby King Marshall as a budding romance seems to be flowering. On the other hand there are many obstacles, including the handsome and charming Reverend Patrick Allison. What I enjoyed most about this story is its complexity and numerous subplots, the aftermath of the earthquake being fertile ground for many twists and turns in the story. The early twentieth century was also a prime time of advances in medicine and in machines, such as the X-ray machine and the automobile. Socially, old customs and attitudes seem to be easing toward more freedom and independence for women. All these things together make a very interesting and compelling novel. Spiritually, this book has much to offer. A major theme is trusting in God and accepting His plans for our lives. We see characters struggling with this, as we all do or have done at times in our lives. Although, Beyond the Ashes is the second book in The Golden Gate Chronicles. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. If you like historical romance, I think you will find this book to be a good one.
With solid research, Karen Barnett brings 1906 San Francisco to life—the ruins, the refugees, the camps, and the rebuilding. Gerald and Ruby are characters you feel for, burdened by fears and failures—yet reaching for life and hope. Beyond the Ashes also explores the fascinating history of the early cancer researchers, and their frustrations and dangers. This is a wonderful, romantic read with a fresh feel and top-notch writing.
With her second novel in The Golden Gate Chronicles, Karen Barnett continues to surprise and delight, giving us a story that delves deeper than many Christian novels into real life faith struggles and questions. The challenges the lovable but very human Gerald and Ruby face challenged my own desire for things to wrap up with a tidy little bow--yet I was glad they didn't, for such is life. And as in Out of the Ruins, this story managed to both stretch and encourage my faith, reminding me that we receive no guarantees of life being easy or going the way we want it to...yet we do receive the absolute guarantee that the Lord will never leave or forsake us, and He does hold our lives very tenderly in His hands. With fascinating, well-researched historical details--from the stitching on a wedding dress to what was cutting-edge medicine in the early 1900s--and wonderfully real characters, Karen gives us a treat of a book once again.
Ruby is the sister of Robert the main male character from book one. After losing her husband and seeing all her friends married and happy she decides to go live with Robert to free herself from all her well-meaning friends and family who want to see her remarry and to also find purpose for her life. What she did not expect was to find her brother engaged and not only living in the same house as his fiancé but also living with his single Doctor friend. Gerald would be happy to remain a bachelor living alone in his house but due to the earthquake his home is not his own and now his friends single sister makes it even fuller. As much as he tried to ignore her he can’t help but find himself attracted to her but when side effects from his research threaten his health he wonders what God has in store for him. What I liked: I really enjoyed this book. I liked all the characters. Ruby had been dealt a blow with the death of her husband and coming to live and work with her brother is a new start for her. When she starts to have feeling for Gerald she fights it because she is scared to death to lose someone else and by facing this fear she also starts to gain her faith in God again. Gerald puts all his effort into his work and research but as he and Robert lose more patience’s and see possible health issues due to the x-ray machine they are using for research he starts to wonder if what he is doing is really helping people. Plus the more time he spends with Ruby the more he want a wife and family yet he worries his health could be in jeopardy. I found this very real and down to earth. The post-earthquake setting lets readers see how much changed and how the city is working to rebuild and the conditions some people had to live and work in. The family dynamics with Robert and his fiancé’s upcoming wedding add some humor to the sometimes darker story. What I didn’t like: The overall plot of this book was kind of sad. As much as I enjoyed it I just wanted the book to be over as I really don’t enjoy reading about sickness. The ending was okay but still left me feeling somewhat sad for the characters. Overall this was an enjoyable book and a good sequel to the first book in the series. I highly recommend reading the first book as this book follows right after it. I have enjoyed learning about the 1906 earthquake and how the city dealt with and rebuilt after.
This is book 2 in The Golden Gate Chronicles, I have not read the first one and had no trouble understanding what was going on in this book. If you read the first book you will learn more about the sub characters in this book, however it is not necessary to keep up with this one. Ruby Marshall struggles with many fears. Automobiles, weddings, a chance of love again and even trusting God. When she thinks to escape to help her brother she never expected to meet Gerald Larkspur. Will she be able to love again or is this situation more than she can bear? Ruby is a very independent, educated, kindhearted woman. Can she conquer her fears or will fear win out? Gerald Larkspur seems to be fighting time, sickness, the board and even just finding a place of solace. When Ruby enters his life has God finally brought someone he can see as a wife? Yet when circumstances become unclear can he really ask her to expect the unexpected? Gerald is an independent, well educated doctor trying to find a cure for cancer while helping his family and his community. I was given a copy of this novel by the author and net galley for my honest opinion.
Beyond the Ashes brought out lots of different emotions. It was heartfelt, sad, inspirational, humorous, and romantic. It was also full of friendships, family, sacrifice, service, and love. I loved the setting of post-earthquake San Francisco. It's not an historical setting I've read about before. It's also not one that I had thought much about until now. It was such a terrible catastrophe and yet the city dug in to rebuild, not only structurally, but also many people who never would have befriended each other or been unified in a cause were brought together. It was still a tough situation with illnesses and poor housing for so many. I also thought the x-ray research for cancer was rather interesting. I hadn't thought of the time and effort that would have gone into that, and, more importantly, the risks and opposition that would be faced for undertaking such research. I felt for these doctors and patients, as well as the old-fashioned doctors who had trouble letting go of the ways they had always known and how they must have felt threatened by young doctors and new research. Beyond all these details were these characters that I came to love. Ruby with her vivaciousness for facing her fears, speaking what's on her mind, and wanting to be in control. Abby with her calming presence and simpler wants, while also having her own passion for specific things. Robert and his dreams and friendship. Gerald for his stubbornness, humor, intellect, and open mind. I loved how Ruby and Gerald challenged, attracted, and inspired each other. They were a great couple. I also enjoyed getting to know the other characters. The romance wasn't easy in coming, nor in being resolved. Ruby and Gerald both had a tough road and some things to work through before they could find their happily-ever-after. If you enjoy Christian historical romance, then I'd definitely recommend Beyond the Ashes. The inspiration was nicely woven throughout, I loved the characters, felt immersed in the setting, and the romance was perfect. It was well worth the read. Content: Clean Source: I would like to thank Abingdon Press and Litfuse for my complimentary copy, which did not affect my review in any way.
_______________________________________________ *My Thoughts* Wow, wow, wow! Confession time: This cover was such a stunner, I didn't even stop to read the description before signing on for this tour. I'm not a bit sorry I did either! This was kind of a tough read for me. My dear grandmother passed away from a return battle with cancer when I was 6 months old. Though I never knew her in the sense that some of my cousins had, I've always felt that piece of me is missing. It's like a hole in your heart that you learn to live with but never quite get over. That is the reason this was so near to my heart. It was a hard thing to "witness" in my mind the pain and heartache of losing so many patients to the deadly disease and even harder when it came to Gerald. Another thing that made it hard to stick with...I made a mistake. Something I call a "rookie reader" mistake. I was reading the ebook, typed in the location to find my spot and...landed at the end pages of the book. You wouldn't think one sentence could change the entire outlook a book. It can. That one deadly sentence kept the guess out of the book but I still loved it! In my minds eye, if I essentially ruin the book for myself and still loved it, starting from the beginning should be a real treat! Ruby is my kind of girl!! This red haired girl was a can-do spitfire in her finest form! As if being a widow wasn't hard enough, in the midst of her pain, she did her best to help and to heal. One of my favorite "strong women"! I'm completely impressed with Karen's ability to take horrific tragedies and still show God's light at the end of the tunnel. This first work of art is my first book that I've read of Karen's but it cannot be the last because it is such a gem! ____________________________________________________ *My overall thoughts* Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett is a gem among the ashes for sure! Karen takes a hard tragedy and turns it into something of beauty, shining God's light along the way! An intricate web of beautiful characters, a broken city, and enough spunk to keep you on your toes! __________________________________________ *My Rating* I give Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett... 5 stars!! *I received this book from litfuse, the publisher, and the author in exchange for an honest review, which I have given. All thoughts were my own and I was not compensated in any other way. http://bookreviewsforchristians.blogspot.com/2015/07/litfuse-review-beyond-ashes-by-karen.html
Deb’s Dozen: Widowed Ruby’s off to San Francisco—will she find her heart’s desires? Ruby Marshall became a widow when one of those new-fangled automobiles startled the horse her husband, Charlie, was riding and threw him to his death. The boundaries of her life in Sacramento are too tight, so she goes off to San Francisco to help her brother, Robert King, with his cancer research. The year is 1906 and the city is in the throes of rebuilding after the disastrous earthquake and fire that devastated the area. She arrives at the ferry dock where her brother is to meet her only to discover that Robert’s fiancée, Abby Fischer, is with him as is his partner, Dr. Gerald Larkspur. Abby is a total surprise to Ruby—Robert’s told his family nothing of his plans. Totally in shock, Ruby almost faints once and almost again when she sees the transportation home—Gerald’s red automobile. And to top that off, they’re living at Gerald’s home, not Robert’s apartment as she’d expected. What a start to her new life in San Francisco. But Ruby is built of strong stock and she surmounts the obstacles. Abby is delightful and Gerald seems a nice gentleman although he reminds her of her Charlie. As a nurse, Ruby quickly fits in at the hospital helping Gerald and Robert and working with Abby in the homeless camp. Beyond the Ashes is the second novel in Karen Barnett’s Golden Gate Chronicles. You may want to read the first, Out of the Ruins (see my review), to read the events of the earthquake and fire and how Abby and Robert met and fell in love. Barnett has obviously done her research: the setting, the problems of the time, the medical research in the early 1900s—all are accurate and compelling. Barnett also has the gift of creating believable, complex characters who soon seem like you’ve known them forever—they’ve become friends because you’ve found yourself transported back in time to that era. And Otto the dachshund, Ruby’s dog, delighted me. Our first mini-dachshund’s name when we got him was Otto—quickly changed to Cocoa! She writes the dog perfectly. You’ll love The Golden Gate Chronicles—and enjoy getting to know Ruby and Gerald and Patrick and Abby and Robert. Five Stars! Abingdon Press and the Litfuse Publicity Group gave me a copy of Beyond the Ashes in exchange for my candid review.
Absolutely amazing! Beyond the Ashes, By: Karen Barnett This is book two in The Golden Gate Chronicles series. I was drawn into this wonderful historical fiction romance right from the start. I was laughing and crying so much while reading this book. You will definitely need your sweet tea and some tissues while you read this captivating book. I didn’t want to put this book down. The characters and the settings were so real. I felt as though I was there in that time period experiencing the devastation, pain, heartache and love with them. Their will to help others that are in desperate need. I love the faith and struggles with faith that is entwined throughout this story. An excellent read! Be sure to order your copy today! 5 stars!
I chose to read Beyond the Ashes because I had never read any of Karen Barnett's novels, and I'm very glad that I did. Readers will find a lot of realism in this story, dark themes contrasted with spiritual insight and the promise of hope - all elements that I appreciated. Although a sequel to Out of the Ruins, this story can stand alone. This historical romance, set in 1906 shortly after the San Francisco earthquake, has a lot going for it - one of the main things being the historical detail. The city was coming back stronger than ever, great losses overshadowed with new life. Karen's writing is solid and the depth of her research shows, especially when it comes to the medical knowledge in the early 1900s. From the squalor of refugee camps, to Cliff House's grandeur, to the realism of medical procedures and treatments, Karen did a great job at vividly conveying the realism of the time - even through the humor of Ruby's driving lessons! It's funny how, once Gerald opened his house up to family members in need, the number of guests keeps growing - Robert and Abby from the previous book, among others, and now Ruby, Robert's sister. The characters are well developed and very human in their weaknesses, fears and hopes, but it took a while for me to warm up to Gerald and Ruby. My favorite character was Patrick, a minister with a pastor's heart for people, who worked in the refugee camps and spread the gospel through serving people's needs. I hope we see more of him in this series. Another strength is the medical element and I found Gerald and Robert's joint X-ray research into the treatment of cancer fascinating, as they worked with "long hours, limited funds, and dying patients." For me, the best parts of the novel are when Ruby and the other characters were actually working with patients, and the narrative outside of those sections often seemed a little slow. One of my favorite scenes was when Ruby read from the book of Job to the dying Dee, who commented, "That's my God." I love the truthfulness of this quote: "God doesn't always choose the easy road for us. But He always chooses the best path." Past experience made Ruby strive for control, fearing that God wouldn't answer her prayers for protection if she trusted Him completely - and that is something to which many of us can relate. Eventually, through Gerald's influence, Ruby realizes that her only need is God. A spiritual journey like this is what I love about Christian fiction, but I longed for more insight as to how Ruby reached that point. At times the plot seemed a little uneven, slow in places, certain things not fully explained or developed. However, the plot picked up speed toward the end. The conclusion was more abrupt than I like, but the way for book #3 is obviously paved. Gerald and Ruby still face trials and their future is uncertain - but isn't that reflective of life? I'm fully invested in their story and look forward to the next book. Recommended to fans of historical fiction. Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
This was a very enjoyable story set right after San Francisco's huge earthquake in the early 1900's. It was fascinating to learn more about what was going on in the city during that time, not only the makeshift homes and camps many people lived in because theirs were destroyed, but also the research being done on the use of x-rays on cancer. It was interesting to learn about their work. I liked revisiting the characters I enjoyed from book one and it was fun getting to know Gerald better and meeting Ruby. I liked both of them and could relate to Ruby's struggle to let God be in control. She'd already lost a husband and didn't know if she could trust God for her future. I admired how both of them were so selfless in caring for people, especially Gerald. I did get frustrated with how he wouldn't take care of himself, though. There were quite a few sweet romantic moments, including some humorous ones. This was a well-written story with a good mixture of history and romance. I'm looking forward to book three. I highly recommend it! I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
The beauty of Beyond the Ashes extends well beyond its lovely cover! I loved this dramatic, emotional story and the spiritual messages that are woven through its tapestry. Set in 1906 San Francisco, Karen Barnett transports readers to this historic city in the months following a devastating earthquake. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the city and its atmosphere as the community worked to rebuild and recover. I also enjoyed the medical details that were given regarding the research and procedures that were being used to fight cancer. This vivid imagery, coupled with excellent characterization, brought the story to life for me. Barnett deftly expresses the feelings and emotions of her characters, and I loved experiencing their journeys. Beyond the Ashes is a captivating story, and I look forward to reading more of The Golden Gate Chronicles! I received a complimentary copy of Beyond the Ashes through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an unbiased review. I appreciate the opportunity to read this story and share my thoughts.
This is a fascinating time period and setting. The descriptions of the early use of x-ray technology to treat cancer patients makes me so grateful for the advances in technology and the sacrifices of the pioneers in the medical field to push the research forward. Ruby and Gerald were both a little difficult to like in the beginning- he was overworked and overwhelmed, she was uptight and grieving. But as a doctor and a nurse, they both have hearts to serve, and their compassionate care for the earthquake victims and patients in the hospital create a bond and show their strength of character. The principle of trusting in the Lord, no matter what life brings, is one that Ruby struggles with, and one that Gerald relies on as his health declines. Even though they are faced with serious trials ahead, the book ends on a note of hope and peace. (Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Abingdon Press for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
In evolution of the medical field has always fascinated me and I love how we can see just how far we have come from such times as the early 1900s when a cure for cancer was still being sought after in a variety of ways. In the Golden Gate Chronicles by Karen Barnett, Beyond the Ashes is the second novel to debut in this series. Dr. Gerald Larkspur is working diligently with Robert King to find a way to save those who are succumbing to the effects of cancer. Trying their hand at the merits of radiation, they have had some success are the prolonging of their patients lives, but unfortunately not saving them without the barbaric practice of limb and organ removal in an attempt to save them. Now they face the challenge of either proving their successes or risk losing the funding the hospital board has been providing. Robert is engaged to Abby, Gerald's cousin and while preparing for their upcoming wedding, he has invited his sister Ruby Marshall to come stay with them. While still undergoing to rebuilding efforts since the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco has many places they can use Ruby's nursing skills including working at the hospital with them. She is still recovering for the loss of her husband who faced an accident with a horse and automobile that took his life before they could start a family of their own. Now looking for a potential fresh start, she is hoping a change of location might do her so good as well as reuniting with her brother in San Francisco. She is not looking to lose her heart again. I received Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett compliments of Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review outside of a free copy of the novel and the opinions contained here are my strictly my own personal opinions. I absolutely loved being back in San Francisco during the rebuilding of the city's massive earthquake. The sense of realism you gain from Karen's research is amazing, from the unsanitary conditions from the evacuation camps that are prevalent within the city, to the rarely understood effects of using X-rays to combat cancer treatments. For me, this took me back to the BBC series, London Hospital, where you can see the early stages of medical treatments, as the impact of those experimenting with radiation and perfecting X-Ray usage. I absolutely love when a novel can take you back in time, and not only enjoy an amazing story but learn a bit about history at the same time and thus the reason for my 5 out of 5 stars. I can't wait for the sequel, Through The Shadows which readers get a sneak peek at in this novel as well as Discussion Guide questions, perfect for book clubs!
Beyond the Ashes is Book #2 in the Golden Gate Chronicles by Karen Barnett. Set in the early 1900's, this book is just past the 'quake and details some of the infant steps of rebirth. We're again with Dr. Gerald Larkspur, and his friend and associate Dr. Robert King. In this book, Gerald and Robert's practice and research collide in their own lives. Without spoiling the story for others, I can say that one of the themes of the book is relevant to everyone; finding God's will for life rather than your own plans and hopes, and allowing God to be God of your future. I enjoy Karen's writing style. She has brought this era to life for me. I look forward to the next book in the series.