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Promise Me

Promise Me

3.8 141
by Richard Paul Evans

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The #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box and master of the holiday novel presents a breathtaking story of the transcendent power of love.

Beth Cardall has a secret. For eighteen years, she has had no choice but to keep it to herself, but on Christmas Eve 2008, all that is about to change.

For Beth, 1989 was a year marked by tragedy.


The #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box and master of the holiday novel presents a breathtaking story of the transcendent power of love.

Beth Cardall has a secret. For eighteen years, she has had no choice but to keep it to herself, but on Christmas Eve 2008, all that is about to change.

For Beth, 1989 was a year marked by tragedy. Her life was falling apart: her six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was suffering from an unidentifiable illness; her marriage transformed from a seemingly happy and loving relationship to one full of betrayal and pain; her job at the dry cleaners was increasingly at risk; and she had lost any ability to trust, to hope, or to believe in herself. Then, on Christmas Day, as she rushed through a blizzard to the nearest 7-Eleven, Beth encountered Matthew, a strikingly handsome, mysterious stranger, who would single-handedly change the course of her life.

Who is this man, and how does he seem to know so much about her? He pursues her relentlessly, and only after she’s fallen deeply in love with him does she learn his incredible secret, changing the world as she knows it, as well as her own destiny.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The bestselling Evans is back with another earnest tale set around a certain holiday in December, but this time he's got something up his sleeve. Beth has everything, a loving husband, an adorable daughter ("a joyful combination of lunacy and grace"), and a great job where she works with friends. But when her daughter becomes mysteriously ill, and she discovers that her husband is dying, her perfect life falls apart. She is soon impoverished and embittered, and still can't discern the source of her daughter's illness. Then she meets a handsome stranger, who diagnoses the illness and convinces the wary Beth to trust again, only to disappear with the home equity loan he pushed her into getting. Devastated once again, Beth's resolve is tested when he returns with a truly unbelievable story. Believing him means altering the entire course of her life. Evans combines his usual holiday themes with a bizarre twist lifted straight from science fiction. Readers will undoubtedly feel attached to Beth, even as they struggle to understand the bizarre relationship she finds herself entering into.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"Another magical novel. . . . The unexpected twist propels the novel forward, making the book impossible to put down. . . . Evans’ many fans will enjoy this inventive, heartwarming tale."

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Simon & Schuster
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Promise Me

  • There are days that live in infamy, for individuals as well as nations. February 12, 1989, was my personal equivalent of Pearl Harbor Day or September 11.

    Beth Cardall’s Diary

    My life was never perfect, but up until February 12, it was pretty darn close. At least I thought it was. My husband Marc had been out of town for several weeks and had arrived home at around three in the morning. I heard him come into our room, undress and climb into bed. I rolled over, kissed him and put my arms around him. “I’m glad you’re home.”

    “Me too.”

    I wasn’t really cut out to be a salesman’s wife. My idea of marriage is someone to share the weekdays with as well as the weekends. Most of all I hate sleeping alone. You would think that after five years I would have gotten used to it, but I hadn’t. I never did.

    Marc was still asleep when the radio-alarm went off three and a half hours later. I shut off the alarm, rolled over and held to his warm body for a few minutes, then kissed him on the neck and climbed out of bed. I got myself ready for the day, then woke our six-year-old daughter Charlotte, made her breakfast and drove her to school.

    It was a routine I had grown accustomed to over the last six months, ever since Charlotte started the first grade and I went back to work. With Marc on the road more often than not, I had become rather independent in my routine. I dropped Charlotte off at school, then went straight to my job at Prompt Cleaners—a dry cleaner about a mile and a half from our home in Holladay, Utah.

    Marc made enough for us to live on, though not by much, and money was always tight. I worked to build us a financial cushion and for extras, as well as to get myself out of the house when Charlotte was at school. I’m not really a career gal, and I doubt working at a dry cleaner qualifies as such, but being cooped up in the house all day alone always made me a little crazy.

    I had been at work a little over an hour and was in the back pressing suits when Roxanne came back to call me to the phone. She waved at me to get my attention. “Beth, it’s for you. It’s Charlotte’s school.”

    Roxanne—or Rox, as she liked to be called—was my best friend at work. Actually, she was my best friend anywhere. She was thirty-eight, ten years older than I, small, five feet one, pencil-skinny and looked a little like Pat Benatar—whom you wouldn’t know if you didn’t do the eighties. She was from a small southern Utah town called Hurricane (pronounced Hurr-i-cun by the locals), and she spoke with a Hurricane accent, a slight, excited drawl, and used terms of endearment like rappers use curse words and with nearly the same frequency.

    She’d been married for eighteen years to Ray, a short, barrel-chested man who worked for the phone company and sometimes moonlighted at a guard shack in a condominium development. She had one child, Jan, who was a blond, sixteen-year-old version of her mother. Jan was also Charlotte’s and my favorite babysitter.

    I love Roxanne. She’s one of those people heaven too infrequently sends to earth—a joyful combination of lunacy and grace. She was my friend, sage, comic relief, confidante, Prozac and guardian angel all rolled up into one tight little frame. Everyone should have a friend like Roxanne.

    “You heard me, darlin’?” she repeated. “Phone.”

    “Got it,” I shouted over the hiss of the steam press. I hung up the jacket I was working on, then walked up front. “It’s the school?”

    Roxanne handed me the phone. “That’s what the lady said.”

    I pulled back my hair and put the receiver to my ear. “Hello, this is Beth.”

    A young, female voice said, “Mrs. Cardall, this is Angela, I’m the school nurse at Hugo Reid Elementary. Your little Charlotte has been complaining of headaches and an upset stomach. She’s here in my room lying down. I think she probably needs to come home.”

    I was surprised, as Charlotte was feeling perfectly fine an hour earlier when I dropped her off. “Okay. Sure. I’m at work right now, but my husband’s home. One of us will be there within a half hour. May I talk to Charlotte?”

    “Of course.”

    A moment later Charlotte’s voice came softly from the phone. “Mommy?”

    “Hi, sweetheart.”

    “I don’t feel good.”

    “I’m sorry, honey. Daddy or I will come get you. We’ll be there soon.”


    “I love you, sweetheart.”

    “I love you too, Mommy. Bye.”

    I hung up the phone. Roxanne looked over at me from the cash register. “Is everything okay?”

    “Charlotte’s sick. Fortunately, Marc’s home.”

    I dialed the house and let the phone ring at least a dozen times before I finally gave up. I groaned, looked at Roxanne and shook my head.

    “Not home?” Roxanne asked.

    “That or he’s still sleeping. I need to pick up Charlotte. Can you cover for me?”

    “Can do.”

    “I don’t know what’s going on with Marc’s schedule. I might not make it back.”

    “Don’t worry about it. It’s gonna be a slow day.”

    “Thanks. I owe you one.”

    “You owe me a lot more than one, sister,” she said wryly. “And someday I’m gonna collect.”

    Charlotte’s elementary school was only six blocks from the dry cleaner, just a few minutes by car. I parked my old Nissan in front of the school and walked to the office. The school secretary was expecting me and led me back to the nurse’s office. The small, square room was purposely dim, lit only by a desk lamp. Charlotte was lying on a cot with her eyes closed, and the nurse was seated next to her. I walked up to the side of the cot, stooped over and kissed Charlotte’s forehead. “Hi, honey.”

    Charlotte’s eyes opened slowly. “Hi, Mommy.” Her words were a little slurred and her breath had the pungent smell of vomit.

    The nurse said, “I’m Angela. You have a sweet little girl here. I’m sorry she doesn’t feel well.”

    “Thank you. It’s peculiar, she was fine this morning.”

    “Miss Rossi said that she seemed okay when she arrived but started complaining of a headache and stomachache around ten. I took her temperature a half-hour ago but it was normal: 98.3.”

    I shook my head again. “Peculiar.”

    “It could be a migraine,” she said. “That would explain the nausea. She threw up about ten minutes ago.”

    I rubbed Charlotte’s cheek. “Oh, baby.” I looked back. “She’s never had a migraine before. Maybe a little rest will help. Thank you.”

    “Don’t mention it. I’ll let Miss Rossi know that she’s gone home for the day.”

    I crouched down next to Charlotte. “Ready to go, honey?”


    I lifted her into my arms, then carried her, clinging to my shoulders, out to the car. She didn’t say much as I drove home, and every time I glanced over at her, I was surprised by how sick she looked. I pulled into the driveway hoping that Marc was still home, but his car was gone. I carried Charlotte inside and lay her in our bed. She was still lethargic. “Do you need anything, honey?”

    “No.” She rolled over to her stomach, burrowing her head into my pillow. I pulled the sheets up to her neck. I walked out of the room and tried Marc’s office extension but only got his voicemail. I called Roxanne to let her know that it didn’t look like I would be back to work today.

    “Don’t worry, baby,” she said. “I’ve got your back.”

    “I love you,” I said.

    “Me too. Give Char a kiss for me.”

    Charlotte lay in bed the rest of the afternoon, sleeping away most of it. Around one I gave her some toast and 7-Up. A half-hour later she threw up again, then curled up in a ball complaining of a stomachache. I sat on the bed next to her, rubbing her back. For dinner I made homemade chicken noodle soup, which she managed to keep down.

    Marc didn’t get home until after seven. “Hey, babe,” he said. “How was your day?”

    I guess I needed someone to take the day’s anxiety out on. “Awful,” I said sharply. “Where have you been?”

    He looked at me curiously, no doubt wondering what he’d done wrong. “You know how it is when I get back in town, it’s one meeting after another.”

    “I tried your extension.”

    “Like I said, I was in meetings. If I had known you were trying to reach me . . .” He put his arms around me. “But I’m here now. How about I take you and Char out for dinner?”

    My voice softened. “Sorry, it’s been a hard day. Charlotte’s not feeling well. I had to pick her up from school. And I already made chicken noodle soup for dinner.”

    He leaned back, his concern evident on his face. “She’s sick? Where is she?”

    “In our bed.”

    He immediately went to see her. I turned on the burner beneath the soup, then followed Marc to our bedroom. Charlotte squealed when she saw him. “Daddy!”

    He sat on the bed next to her. “How’s my monkey?”

    “I’m not a monkey.”

    “You’re my monkey. You’re my little baboon.” He lay down next to her, his face close to hers. “Mommy says you’re not feeling well.”

    “I have a tummy ache.”

    He kissed her forehead. “It’s probably from eating all those bananas.”

    “I’m not a monkey!” she said again happily.

    I couldn’t help but smile. It was good to see her happy again. Charlotte adored Marc and missed him terribly when he was gone, which was at least two weeks out of every month. To his credit, Marc always did his best to be with us. He called every night to ask about my day and say goodnight to Charlotte.

    “Did you eat dinner?”

    “Mommy made me chicken soup.”

    “Was it good?”

    She nodded.

    “I think I’m going to get myself some soup if you didn’t eat it all.” He raised his eyebrow. “Did you eat it all, you little piggy?”

    She laughed. “You said I was a monkey.”

    “That’s right. So you stay in your bed and don’t climb any more trees.”

    She giggled again. “I’m not a monkey!”

    “I’m just making sure.” Marc kissed her forehead, then got up and walked out of our bedroom, gently shutting the door behind him. “What’s wrong with her? She looks like she’s lost weight.”

    “I don’t know. She came down with a headache then threw up at school.”

    “Does she have a fever?”

    “No. It’s probably just a little migraine or something. It will probably be gone by tomorrow.” I put my arms around him. “I’m glad you’re home finally.”

    “Me too.” He kissed me. “More than you know.” Then he kissed me again. We kissed for several minutes.

    I pushed him back. “You did miss me,” I said playfully.

    “So, is the little one sleeping in our bed tonight?”

    I knew why he was asking and it made me happy. “No. She’ll be sleeping in her own bed.”

    “Good. I’ve missed you.”

    “I’ve missed you too,” I said. “I hate a cold bed.”

    “Me too.” He kissed me one more time, then stepped back. “So you made soup?”

    I brushed the hair back from my face. “Yes. It should be hot by now. Would you like some bread? I baked one of those frozen loaves.”

    “I would love some.”

    We walked back to the kitchen. Marc sat down at the table and I went to the stove. The soup was lightly bubbling. I turned the stove off, then ladled him a bowl. “So how was Phoenix? Or was it Tucson?”

    “Both. They were both good. The economy’s hot right now, so these hospitals are pretty loose with their budgets. And the weather in Arizona is fantastic, blue skies and in the seventies.”

    “I wish it was here. You shouldn’t have to breathe air you can see.”

    “Yeah, I had a coughing fit the moment I entered the valley. We need a good snowstorm to clear it out.”

    Around February the snow in Salt Lake is as dirty and gray as the underside of an automobile, and, too often, so is the air. The Salt Lake Valley is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west, so when a winter low-pressure front moves in, the pollution is caught inside until a big storm blows it out.

    “I wonder if I’m coming down with something like Charlotte. Yesterday I got up early to work out, but I didn’t have any energy. I ended up going back to bed.”

    “You’re probably not getting enough sleep. What time did you come in this morning?”

    “Around three.”

    “I really wish you wouldn’t drive so late. It’s not safe.” I set the bowl of soup and a thick slice of warm bread in front of Marc. “Do you want butter for your bread?”

    “Yes. And honey, please.”

    I fetched the butter dish and a plastic honey bear bottle from the cupboard and set them both on the table next to Marc, then I sat down next to him at the table, my elbows on the table and my chin in my hands. “If Charlotte’s sick tomorrow, can I leave her home with you?”

    “I can’t in the morning. We’ve got a company sales meeting at nine, then afterwards I’m meeting with Dean to try to keep him from cutting my territory.”

    “How about the afternoon?”

    “I can pull that off.” He squeezed some honey onto his buttered bread. “Do you think she’ll still be sick?”

    “Probably not. But just in case.”

    He took a bite of his bread, then followed it with a spoonful of soup.

    “How’s the soup?” I asked.

    “You make the best chicken noodle soup I know. It’s almost worth getting sick for.”

    I smiled at the compliment. “Thanks.”

    “So how are things going at the cleaners?”

    “Same-old same-old.”

    “Rox been committed yet?”

    “Not yet. But they’ll eventually catch up with her.”

    “You know, all this traveling isn’t getting any easier,” he said. “It’s lonely on the road. I really missed you this time.”

    “Me too. I hate the life of the wife of a traveling salesman.”

    “That sounds like a country song,” he said. “Or an Arthur Miller play.”

    “I hope not. At least the latter.”

    He smiled and took another bite of soup. “Me too. The latter.”

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    Meet the Author

    Richard Paul Evans is the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box. Each of his more than thirty novels has been a New York Times bestseller. There are more than thirty million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated into more than twenty-four languages. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Mothers Book Award, the Romantic Times Best Women’s Novel of the Year Award, the German Audience Gold Award for Romance, two Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Awards, the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife, Keri, and their five children. You can learn more about Richard on Facebook at Facebook.com/RPEFans, or visit his website, RichardPaulEvans.com.

    Brief Biography

    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Date of Birth:
    October 11, 1962
    Place of Birth:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    B.A., University of Utah, 1984

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    Promise Me 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 141 reviews.
    MNicole More than 1 year ago
    This book pulled me in from the start and pulled at my heart strings as I started to care about the main character, Beth, and all she was going through. As a young Mom with a daughter I just kept reading and reading and wanted everything to be okay!! This story made my heart go leaping. Ah! You'll just have to read for yourself and see what I mean- don't want to give it away. What a brilliant twist. But can I just say that after reading this I MUST go traveling to my own dream destinations! I love books that make me want to live life to its fullest and this book did just that. Thank you Richard for another amazing story that stuck with me days and days after.
    Karen_from_NC More than 1 year ago
    Richard's books are always a treat for me. They are the kind of books that make you want to find a cosy corner with a comfortable chair and your blankie and just sit and drink the story in. They are always a great read but sometimes they leave me wanting more. Not this time. Promise Me hit all of my buttons, and it hit them hard. This time I had to read until I finished the book and I didn't let anything interrupt me. I can't comment on the story because I might ruin it for others. I will say it is excellent and probably my favorite. But I may need to go back and read some of his previous books just to make sure!
    DGlad More than 1 year ago
    I very enthusiastically loved PROMISE ME. I fell in love with the main character, Beth Cardall. Her life has a few twists and turns that at one point I even got goose bumps! I was so intrigued by the story, I couldn't put the book down. I was curious and interested right from the prologue. Promise Me is my all time favorite Richard Paul Evans book. I promise it will be yours.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    "Promise Me" was a really beautiful love story. I was so happy and had such a great feeling at the end of the book. This is a page turner that you will not want to put down. I read it in about three hours. It is one of my favorite of Evans' last three or four books.
    donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
    Evans delivers as usual. Unbelievable? Yes! Kind of shmaltzy? You bet. But it delivers hope, love and escape, all in his little gems of books. Short, but such an emotional, warm ride.
    coffee_luvr More than 1 year ago
    I have read a couple of this author's books and they have all been very heart warming. This one was especially enjoyable and had a twist that was unexpected. Loved this story and will be sure to share it with my family and friends.
    TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
    Gold Star Award Winner! 1989 was not a good year for Beth Cardall. The novel starts out in the present day when Beth gazes at two necklaces she received way back when, but has never worn. She always thought she had the good life. Though her husband traveled often for work, she thought he was loving and faithful. But when she was cleaning out his clothing pockets for a trip to the dry-cleaners (where she works), she found a note that hints that he has secrets. When she accuses Marc of infidelity, she's shocked to find out that it's true. She kicks Marc out and then has to face an unexplained illness with her daughter. Young Charlotte is getting thinner and thinner and can hardly keep food down. Through countless doctor and hospital trips, she is still undiagnosed. Marc returns to the picture, but this time terminally ill. He is diagnosed with cancer, and Beth is determined to make his final days comfortable. Soon, she's newly widowed, dealing with the mystery illness of Charlotte, and the looming possibility of losing her job and thus her house. It's on Christmas at the end of the year that she meets the mysterious Matthew. The story moves forward from meeting Matthew and how he slowly works his way into her and Charlotte's lives. Matthew seems to come from somewhere else. He miraculously diagnoses Charlotte's illness. He slowly builds up Beth's trust in people again, and in the end, he reveals his true identity, much to Beth's total shock and disbelief. It's at this point that I went "WOW" and didn't see it coming. It's not the holiday season without a Christmas story from Mr. Evans. I don't know how he does it, but each book I swear is better than the last. And this one really surprised me. I've never read one of his books where I didn't anticipate how it was going to end. But this one kept me guessing up until the final chapters. I loved it! It may have been a sad ending (in a way), but it was the right ending, and brought the story full circle, like it should. Whether PROMISE ME is your first foray into Mr. Evans' work, or a continued tradition, it will leave you with that warm fuzzy feeling like his works always do.
    Kajsa More than 1 year ago
    Every year I wait for October like it's Christmas...because that's when I buy an RPE book for myself, and decadently spoil myself while I read it! ;) This year Richard has outdone himself with one of the most moving books I've read. I became wrapped up in Beth and her life, immediately. I was shocked with her, angry and hurt for her. And then a miracle comes into her life...and well, the unfolding of that miracle is both surprising and profound. Like all RPE's books, Promise Me is about love, hope and redemption (intermingled with the readers laughter and tears). This book carries within its pages even more, a message and a promise to myself that I hope I will remember for the rest of my life. Amazing!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is delightful start to finish. It grabs you right in the beginning, and they suspense and mystery that builds up kept me reading straight though the book. As Evans' books always are, this one is sweet and uplifting, but its twist is what really distinguishes it from the rest of his novels.
    mary76mh More than 1 year ago
    A beautiful story, couldn't put the book down. One of Richard Paul Evans best books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have read several of Richard Paul Evans' books and this is by far my favorite. In fact, I can honestly say it's one of the best books I've ever read. It should be made into a movie. I read the book from cover to cover in a matter of hours. I could not put it down. It has an interesting twist near the end that keeps you wanting to read the entire book until you find out what happens at the end. I highly recommend you purchase this book. You won't be disappointed.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Count me as one of the folks who could not go along with the plot; too unbelievable! But I know some people really enjoyed it; good for them!
    iblog4books More than 1 year ago
    What a sweet, poignant story! There's a unique plot twist that totally floored me, but Promise Me lived up to every expectation I have from a Richard Paul Evans story. [4.5 stars]
    quaintinns More than 1 year ago
    I felt this book was not as good as Evans others. Starts out with Beth, whose husband travels for work and discovers he has secrets. She kicks her husband to the curb and then faces a disaster when her daughter has an unexplained illness. Her husband returns but he is terminally ill with cancer and Beth steps up to the plate to be his caregiver in his final days. After he dies she still is dealing with her daughter’s illness and possibility of losing her job and her house until she meets Matthew and he diagnoses Charlotte’s illness and Beth slowly builds her trust in people again and reveals his true identity which was a little sad and not what I was expecting but a good story.
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    TammyK1 More than 1 year ago
    Intriguing from the very start, I could not put this one down. WONDERFUL!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Grat holiday read! Love the author!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago