Just when five modern couples have lost hope of renewing their love, they are given a second chance. The ex-wife reads his work of fiction for an eye-opening revelation. The missing fiancée is returned to her home. A desperate wife gets one last Christmas with her husband before they divorce. The busy housewife wakes up to the drift occurring in her marriage. The low-key mom suddenly encounters her son’s high-profile dad. When life is pulling them apart, readers will discover the way faith and love can work together to reunite two hearts meant to be one.
|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
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About the Author
Joyce Livingston has done many things in her life (in addition to being a wife, mother of six, and grandmother to oodles of grandkids, all of whom I love dearly). From being a television broadcaster for eighteen years, to lecturing and teaching on quilting and sewing, to writing magazine articles on a variety of subjects. She's danced with Lawrence Welk, ice-skated with a Chimpanzee, had bottles broken over her head by stuntmen, interviewed hundreds of celebrities and controversial figures, and many other interesting and unusual things. But now, when she isn't off traveling to wonderful and exotic places as a part-time tour escort, her days are spent sitting in front of her computer, creating stories. Joyce became a widow in 2004. In 2008, she married her Sunday school teacher, Pastor Dale Lewis (who had also lost his spouse), and became a pastor’s wife, serving daily with him in his ministry. Four of her books have been named Contemporary Book of the Year in the Heartsong Readers Poll, and she was voted Favorite Author of the Year 3 times. In addition, her Heartsong book, One Last Christmas, won the coveted Contemporary Book of the Year award given by The American Christian Fiction Writers organization. In addition to writing for Barbour, Joyce also writes for Love Inspired. Her first venture into a larger women's fiction book is THE WIDOWS' CLUB, also published by Barbour Publishing, soon to be followed up with a second book, INVASION OF THE WIDOWS' CLUB. Joyce feels her writing is a ministry and a calling from God, and hopes readers will be touched and uplifted by what she writes. What's on the horizon for Joyce? More and better books that she hopes will please her readers!
Kim O’Brien grew up in Bronxville, New York. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and a master’s degree in fine arts from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She worked for many years as a writer, editor, and speechwriter for IBM. She is the author of eight romance novels and seven nonfiction children’s books. She’s happily married to Michael, has two fabulous daughters, Beth and Maggie. She is active in the Loft Church in The Woodlands, Texas. Kim loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her Facebook author’s page.
Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a Romantic Times Book of the Year winner as well as a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than fifty novels with almost two million copies in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and Book of the Year by Romantic Times magazine.
Kathleen is a paralegal, a proud military wife, and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River. Connect with her through social media at www.kathleenybarbo.com.
Read an Excerpt
Five Couples are Given a Second Chance at Romance
By Andrea Boeshaar, Gina Fields, Joyce Livingston, Kim O'Brien, Kathleen Y'barbo
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Kim O'Brien
All rights reserved.
Wren Nickelson's index fingers pecked laboriously at his computer's keyboard:
"You're crazy to even think about buying this ancient, falling down, gutted-out hunk of rock!" Joe told his twin brother, George, as the two of them ambled through the eerie gray-stone castle.
"The price is right," George replied cheerfully. "The state of Saxony is only asking one German mark." He chuckled. "That's just over half a US dollar. For a castle! My very own castle!"
Joe threw him a pathetic look. "Such a deal. It'll cost seven million in repairs!" George shrugged nonchalantly. His brother didn't know that money was no object. He had more than enough in his Swiss bank account. ...
Wren sat back and gazed at the last sentence he'd written. Running a hand through his dark brown hair, he wondered if the Swiss bank account idea was too farfetched. Guess it is, he decided. Better make that seven million available through grants or ... or God's provision. Yes! That's it!
With renewed vigor he reworked the initial chapter of his first novel. Then he reworked the initial chapter of his very first novel. After another hour had passed, he decided there wasn't much else he wanted to change at this point. He liked his characters, George and Joe. Rather, he liked their names. Simple. Common. Strong. Not at all resembling his own name — Wren. Unique, yes. But odd. Disappointing.
His name was Welsh and meant "ruler," and his mom, bless her heart, had determined upon his birth that her beloved son would someday be a great leader. Instead, he'd become a mail carrier and aspiring novelist. But worst of all, he'd become a broken man whose wife had divorced him more than a year ago, stating that she couldn't live with him or his "religion."
Wren didn't completely understand Nancie's reasoning for ending their twelve-year marriage. What he did know, however, was that the woman who meant almost everything to him didn't love him anymore, a fact that still crimped his heart and seared his soul. Now he was a court-ordered weekend dad, and for the longest time, he had felt lonely and depressed over the divorce ruling. But amazingly enough, without Nancie and his two daughters — Alexa and Laura — around, he suddenly found the time to do the very thing he used to only dream about doing.
It was like God's blessing of encouragement, sent from heaven just for him. He'd lost so much — his house, his family — but the Lord had given him an outlet for his emotional pain. And for the past four months a Monday evening creative writing class and imaginary characters had kept him company. He was only too glad that Risa had suggested they take the class together. He probably wouldn't have done it on his own. But she was rapidly becoming a good friend, and that congenial push was all he had needed.
Maybe he'd even be able to upgrade his computer soon.
Wren shook himself from his reverie and glanced at his wristwatch. It was past midnight, and he had to be at the post office by 7:00 A.M. He stood, stretched, and decided to call it a night.
* * *
Nancie Nickelson gently shook her two girls awake. "Time to get up. Mommy has to go to work."
Alexa, eleven years old, and Laura, age seven, groaned. After all, it was six in the morning.
Stifling a yawn of her own, Nancie walked across the girls' bedroom and opened the shades. Slivers of early-morning May sunlight quickly cut the darkness.
"Is it gonna be a nice day today, Mumma?" Laura asked, brushing blond bangs out of her eyes. "Maybe Mrs. Baird will take us to the park again."
"Yes, maybe she will." Nancie smiled at her youngest, recalling the fun Ruth Baird, the girls' babysitter, had described to her yesterday when she'd picked up the girls. Having three children of her own and committed to motherhood, Ruth was the perfect day care provider. And Nancie ought to know: She'd been through half a dozen babysitters in the past eighteen months before finding Ruth at the end of March.
"Come on now, girls. Get up and get dressed. Everything's ready for you — even breakfast."
Nancie left their bedroom, reflecting on her hectic lifestyle. Laying out clothes and loading backpacks were tasks she ordinarily did each night after Alexa and Laura went to bed. Next she routinely would wash dishes and tidy up their compact two-bedroom apartment before pouring herself into homework and studying for classes at the college she attended on weekends. When her fatigued body refused to accommodate her pace any longer, she collapsed into bed.
After five or six hours of sleep, Nancie would force herself out of bed before sunrise and begin a new day, which would be just as busy as its predecessor. She started off each day by preparing coffee for herself and toast and cereal for her daughters. By seven o'clock the rush was on, first to Ruth's house, just a few blocks away — her daughters walked to school from there — then to the sales department of a large manufacturing company, where Nancie had landed a terrific job.
And this morning promised to be as hectic as any other.
"Don't forget, your father is coming to pick you two up this afternoon," she reminded the girls after they arrived at Ruth's.
"Aren't you ever gonna be done with school?" eleven-year-old Alexa asked, her deep brown eyes glowering with something akin to resentment.
"I've got two years left to go. You know that."
"Seems like forever," the girl groused before turning and entering the Bairds' home.
"Good-bye, Alexa," Nancie called after her.
There was no reply, and Nancie felt terrible.
"She'll be all right," Ruth assured her, standing at the front door with a baby on her hip. Wisps of light brown hair blew onto her cheek, and with her free hand, she brushed them back off her face.
"This has been happening more and more often," Nancie confided. "Last night Alexa and I had a full-fledged argument. Sometimes I feel like she hates me." Sudden anger rose inside Nancie as she wondered what Wren was telling the girls. Would he stoop so low as to poison their minds against her? Nancie couldn't be sure. She knew her ex-husband was a Christian and that he wasn't ambitious by any stretch of the imagination. But Wren loved his daughters, and Nancie had an inkling he might be working behind her back, trying to get custody of them.
"Nancie, divorce is always hard on kids," Ruth said gently. "Alexa and Laura only get to see their father on weekends, and it's hard for them to get bounced between you two."
"They're not being 'bounced,'" she said, sounding defensive to her own ears. She toned down her voice. "It's a schedule like any other, and children are very adaptable. As for Wren, I think he's up to something."
"Like what?" Ruth tipped her head curiously.
"Like ... oh, never mind," Nancie said hotly. "You're on his side. You Christians all stick together."
"That's not true. I'm not on anyone's side. But I care about the girls."
Ignoring the comment, Nancie gathered Laura into her arms and kissed her good-bye. She couldn't dally any longer — she had to get to work. And tomorrow she was supposed to give a speech on women's rights for her sociology class, so she'd have to do some last-minute preparation on her lunch break. It was going to be another long and busy day. She didn't need to start it off this way.
"I love you. You be good for Mrs. Baird," Nancie told Laura, squelching the hurt caused by Alexa's aloofness.
"I will," the child promised sweetly.
Straightening, she smiled at the woman whose lifestyle seemed so opposite to her own. But Nancie had made her decision, and being a "domestic engineer" would never suit her again. Actually, it had never suited her. She'd always wanted more out of life than staying home and raising kids afforded. Now she had it. And in a couple of years, after she finished college, she'd have it all.
"Bye, Ruth. Thanks."
"Have a good day."
With a parting nod, Nancie walked back to her car. Climbing inside, she started thinking about Alexa's recent antagonistic behavior and then wondered why Wren didn't just say something if he wanted custody — not that she'd give in to the request of course. But he could at least quit being such a coward and tell her face-to-face what was on his mind. But no, instead he used sneaky, dirty, underhanded tricks to drive a wedge between a mother and her daughter.
"Well Wren, you're going to have a fight on your hands if you're trying to take my girls away from me," Nancie muttered angrily, pulling away from the curb. "A fight like you've never known ..."
* * *
With two leather satchels strapped across his chest, Wren walked his mail route and thought about his novel, Castle in the Clouds. He hadn't told another soul he was writing it. The project was his secret outlet, much like a very private diary. It gave him a welcome sense of purpose, and amazingly, he felt as though his heart was on the mend. Maybe one day he would even get the book published!
Smiling to himself, he mulled over his plot. The story line wasn't at all complex. A divorced man, George, buys a castle in Germany, fixes it up, then kidnaps his ex-wife, Nan. Alone together within the confines of the castle walls, she has no choice but to face the fact that she's always been in love with him. The divorce was a horrible mistake. An American missionary, the pastor of a church near the castle, is summoned, and George and Nan are remarried. They send for their two adorable daughters, who had been with a babysitter in America ... and then they discover the treasure buried within one of the castle's walls. However, George's evil twin brother, Joe, devises a scheme to steal it away from the happy couple and their young daughters.
Wren continued on his way, still pondering his great American novel until he finally finished his route. Once back at the post office, he punched out and then headed to pick up Alexa and Laura from the babysitter's house.
Wren couldn't say he minded the girls staying at the Bairds' home while Nancie worked. Ruth and her husband, Max, were wonderful Christian people. So far Nancie hadn't complained about their "religion" and Wren hoped she never would.
He pulled his older model Ford minivan alongside the curb in front of the Bairds' red brick house. Climbing out from behind the wheel, he headed for the driveway. Halfway there, he spotted Ruth and five kids — two of them his — coming down the sidewalk.
"Daddy!" Laura cried, running toward him.
Right behind her, Alexa smiled and waved.
Smiling broadly, Wren felt like he was in a Kodak commercial, celebrating the moments of his life. He wished he could forever etch in his memory the delighted expressions on his daughters' faces as they raced to greet him. As he opened his arms wide, the girls rushed into his embrace.
"Hi, Daddy!" Laura said, hugging him around the waist.
"Hi, baby." Wren placed a kiss on her blond head. Her hair felt feathery soft against his lips and smelled like sunshine.
"We're just getting home from school," Alexa informed him as Wren kissed her forehead.
"Guess I've got good timing today, huh?"
"Can we have pizza tonight?" his youngest asked.
Wren chuckled. "Sure."
By now, Ruth and her brood had reached them. "Happy Friday, Wren."
"Thanks. Same to you."
Ruth instructed Alexa and Laura to wait over by their father's car. "I think you should know," she began, once the girls were out of earshot, "that Nancie was a little upset this morning. She and Alexa still aren't getting along well."
"Nancie thinks you're up to something."
Wren blew out a weary sigh. "Well, thanks for the warning. I'll try to talk with her Sunday evening, but I doubt it'll do any good."
"We'll be praying for you."
"I appreciate it."
Ruth's baby began squirming in his stroller, wailing for freedom.
"How much do I owe you this week?" Wren asked.
He settled up with her, then pocketed his wallet. As he strode toward his dilapidated vehicle, the irony struck him. Nancie got "liberated" and he got stuck with the day care bill. Perhaps he ought to talk to her about picking up the tab each week. Or even every other week. Wren grimaced at the thought of an encounter with his ex-wife. He wouldn't win. He never did.
Climbing in behind the wheel of his minivan, he wondered what his character George would do if Nan stuck him with the sitter's bill week after week. Wren smirked. George wouldn't take it for a minute. He'd confront Nan and tell her that she had to at least pay half. George wouldn't let a woman push him around. George was a man's man.
"Dad, tell Laura to move over," Alexa whined from the backseat.
Wren twisted around to settle the matter. "Buckle up, girls ... and no more bickering."
"I hate little sisters," Alexa spat. "I hate everything."
Wren couldn't help the easy quip, but it worked. After a roll of her eyes, Alexa smiled.
"Okay, who's hungry?" he asked, slipping the key into the car's ignition.
"I am!" Laura cried.
"Me, too," Alexa admitted grudgingly.
"Well, so am I." Wren grinned and stepped on the accelerator. "Let's go find some food!"CHAPTER 2
Mary Wollstonecraft, an eighteenth-century feminist. Lucretia Coffin Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton — both pioneer activists in women's rights. Betty Friedan, the founder of the NOW organization ..." Nancie paused, hoping for a dramatic effect. "What would these leading feminists think of us today? Women are still slaves in their own homes. Slaves to piles of laundry, dirty diapers, and their husbands' smelly socks ..."
Nancie paused again as an image of Ruth Baird flitted through her mind. What would she do if she didn't have Ruth watching her daughters? Her conscience pricked her. Ruth, after all, said she liked staying home and taking care of her kids — and Alexa and Laura, too. She really ought to be fair to everyone.
Taking the pencil from behind her ear, Nancie added the word "some" and began practicing her speech from where she'd left off. "Some women are still slaves in their own homes. ..."
After she rehearsed her speech several more times, she finally felt confident enough to give it in class the next day. And then she'd get her semester grade. School would be over for the summer. Nancie sighed with relief. She needed the break. Working full-time and carrying a twelve- credit load at the weekend college was beginning to take its toll. She felt tired constantly. Crabby. Tense.
Well that's Wren's fault, she decided, crawling into bed. Her muscles groaned their relief as she settled between the soft sheets. If he'd stop trying to sabotage the court order, I'd have less on my mind.
Nancie wondered if that's really what he was trying to do — get custody of the girls. Wren had always been mild-mannered, easygoing, and sincere — part of the reason she'd married him. And divorced him. After twelve years she'd grown bored living with a spineless amoeba. The man lacked drive and aspiration when it came to bettering himself in the business world, although he was certainly the epitome of a mail carrier: neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail ...
However, Nancie had wanted — expected — more from her husband than mere faithfulness to a job. She'd envisioned his climbing the ladder of success, but he'd never been interested in advancement.
And then he'd found religion. It happened right after she'd given birth to their youngest. Nancie had had a troublesome pregnancy, and both she and Laura developed some problems after the delivery. Wren's fear for his wife and child had led him to what he termed "the saving knowledge of Christ," and he wasn't the same man afterward. He began taking the Bible literally and attempted to obey its every word.
When Nancie grew concerned about the change in Wren, she talked to her friends at the department store where she'd been working part-time, and they helped her see the real light. Her husband was adopting a philosophy right out of the dark ages, and he'd soon demand that she become some subservient creature. And to think Wren once had had the audacity to tell her the Bible said women should be "keepers at home" and "obedient to their own husbands." When Nancie heard that, it was all over. She had a right to her own life, for pity's sake! As for her children, she loved them with a mother's fierce, protective love, but she knew she could manage her career, college, and raising them, too. Wren knew it as well.
Excerpted from Forever Yours by Andrea Boeshaar, Gina Fields, Joyce Livingston, Kim O'Brien, Kathleen Y'barbo. Copyright © 2012 Kim O'Brien. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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.
Table of Contents
ContentsCastle in the Clouds,
One Last Christmas,
A Wedding Renewal in Sweetwater, Texas,
Major League Dad,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Overall this was a collection of cute, fun, easy reads, very representative of the Christian Romance genre. The second story out of the was by far my favorite with a story line unlike any I'd read before.