Now Hope briefly returns to her hometown to help her pregnant younger sister, Faith, escape, too. They need somewhere to go, a sanctuary. Where but The Birth Place? Faith can have her baby in safety and Hope can revisit old friends. Like Lydia—and the handsome Parker Reynolds.
But Parker, the birth center’s administrator and a widowed single father, isn’t pleased to see Hope back in Enchantment. He’s even less pleased when Lydia offers her a job. Hope doesn’t understand his animosity. In fact, she almost wonders if he has something to hide…
Originally published in 2003
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By Brenda Novak
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
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Chapter OneThe Birth Place Enchantment, New Mexico June, 1993
Lydia Kane had keen, shrewd eyes. Hope Tanner stared into them, drawing strength from the older woman as another pain racked her. The contractions were coming close together now - and hard, much harder than before. Her legs shook in reaction, whether from pain or fear, she didn't know. She didn't feel as though she knew much about anything. She was barely seventeen.
"That's it," Lydia said from the foot of the bed.
"You're getting there now. Just relax, honey, and breathe."
"I want to push," Hope panted. Though the baby wasn't overdue, Hope was more than anxious to be finished with the pregnancy. Lydia had put some sort of hormonal cream inside her - on what she called a cervix. The older woman said it would send her into labor. But the baby was proving stubborn. The pains had started, on and off, at sundown, and only now, when it was nearly four o'clock in the morning, were they getting serious.
More of God's punishment, Hope decided. She'd run away from the Brethren, refused to do what her father said was God's will, and this was the price she had to pay.
"Don't push yet," Lydia said firmly. "You're not fully dilated, and we don't want you to tear. Try to rest while I see what that last contraction did."
Hope stared at the ceiling as Lydia checked the baby's progress. She was tired of all the poking and prodding, but she would never say so. Lydia might think her ungrateful. After being alone for most of her pregnancy, wandering aimlessly from town to town, Hope wasn't about to do anything to anger the one person who'd taken her in. Lydia was so decisive, so strong. As much as Hope loved and admired her, she feared her a little, too. Lydia owned the birth center and had to be sixty years old. But she wasn't a soft, sweet grandmotherly type, certainly nothing like Hope's own patient mother. Tall and angular, with steel-gray eyes and hair, Lydia often spoke sharply, seemed to know everything in the world and had the ability to make other people - and apparently even events - bend to her will. She took command like Hope's father, which was an amazing concept. Hope hadn't known women could possess so much power.
"Is everything okay?" Hope asked, weak, shaky, exhausted.
"Everything's fine." As Lydia helped her to a few more ice chips, the pendant she always wore - a mother cradling an infant - swayed with her movements and caught Hope's attention. Hope had long coveted that pendant. She craved the nurturing and love it symbolized. But she knew she'd never experience holding her own child so close. Not this child, anyway.
After mopping Hope's forehead, Lydia went back to massaging one of her feet. Lydia claimed that pressing on certain points in the foot could ease pain - she called it reflexology - but if reflexology was helping, Hope certainly couldn't tell. To her, its only value seemed to be in providing a slight distraction.
"It shouldn't be long now," Lydia assured her, but she kept glancing at the clock as though she was late for something and as eager for the baby to be born as Hope.
"I'd transfer you to the hospital if I was the least bit worried," she continued in the same authoritative voice.
"This is dragging on, I know. But the baby's heartbeat is strong and steady and you're progressing. First babies often take a while."
Lydia had once mentioned that she'd been a midwife for more than thirty years. Certainly after all that time she knew what she was talking about. But Hope was inclined to trust her regardless of her professional experience. It was men who always failed her -
Another contraction gripped her body. Biting back a tormented moan, she clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. She didn't know how much more she could take. It felt as if someone had a knife and was stabbing her repeatedly in the abdomen.
Except for the music playing quietly in the background, the place was quiet. Parker Reynolds, the administrator, and the other midwives and clerical people who worked at the center were long gone. They'd left before Lydia had even induced her. She and Lydia were the only ones at The Birth Place. With its scented candles, soft lighting and soothing music, the room was meant to be comfortable and welcoming, like home. But this room, with its turquoise-and-peach wallpaper, Spanish-tile floor and wooden shutters at the window, was nothing like the home Hope had known. She'd grown up sharing a bedroom with at least three siblings, oftentimes four. If there were candles it was because the electricity had been turned off for nonpayment. And the only music she'd been allowed to listen to was classical or hymns.
"Good girl," Lydia said as Hope fought the impulse to bear down.
At this point Hope didn't care if she caused herself physical damage. She felt as though the baby was ripping its way out of her, anyway. She just didn't want to displease Lydia. The ultrasound she'd had several weeks earlier indicated she was having a girl, and Lydia had promised that her daughter would go to a good home. Hope didn't want to give her any reason to break that promise. Mostly because Lydia had painted such an idyllic picture of her baby's future. Her baby would have a crib, and a matching comforter and bumper pads, and a mobile hanging above her head. She'd have doting parents who would give her dance lessons, help her with her homework and send her to college. When the time was right, they'd pay for a lovely wedding. Her daughter would marry someone kind and strong, have a normal family and eventually become a grandmother. She'd wear store-bought clothes and listen to all kinds of music. She'd feel good about being a woman. Better than anything, she'd never know what she'd so narrowly escaped.
Hope wanted sanctuary for her child. She wanted it more than anything. After her daughter arrived and started her princesslike life, it wouldn't matter what happened to Hope.
She would already have given the only gift she could.
She would have saved her daughter from the Brethren.
"The deal's off," Lydia stated flatly, entering her office cradling Hope's new baby.
Fear nearly choked Parker Reynolds at this announcement. He glanced briefly at his father-in-law, U.S. Congressman John Barlow, who'd been waiting with him, before letting his gaze fall on the baby they'd come to collect. "Is something wrong?" he asked. "Is Hope okay?"
"Mother and baby are both fine, but -" she split her gaze between them " - it's a boy." A boy ... Parker's heart pounded in his chest like a bass drum. A boy could change everything. "Does Hope know?"
"I haven't told her yet, but -"
"Perfect!" his father-in-law interrupted. "You were worried how it would look to have Parker and Vanessa receive a newborn baby so soon after Hope gave birth. Now they won't have to relocate, and you won't have to hire a new administrator. There's no chance of anyone putting two and two together."
Torn, Parker shoved his hands in his pockets and turned toward the window. After two miscarriages, his wife had never been able to get pregnant again. Now her health was too bad to continue trying. She was ill and miserable and so depressed she couldn't get out of bed even on good days. She claimed that having a baby would make all the difference, that it would give her the will to survive.
He believed it would. He believed it was his responsibility as her husband to save her somehow. But because of Vanessa's health, there wasn't an adoption agency anywhere that would work with them. This was his only chance....
Excerpted from Sanctuary by Brenda Novak Copyright ©2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love a romance with a great story to it. This was one of those. The story line is not one that I have read before but I know it happens in real life. The flow of this book really hits the mark and it is a page turner/can not put down book. Hope, her sister Faith are people you would love to meet, they are strong, determined woman despite want they have gone through yet they are not afraid to want what everyone wants, love, respect and a family. They do not let their past define who they are. Lydia and Parker are likeable even if they think what they did in the past is unforgiveable as well. We all want Sanctuary!
I enjoyed the story very much.
Ten years ago, knowing she had no one to turn to for assistance, a pregnant Hope Tanner escaped from her polygamous hometown Superior, Utah. She gave birth across the border at The Birth Place clinic in Enchantment, New Mexico. The Birth Place¿s head Lydia Kane arranged the adoption of her baby that Hope never touched once the child left the womb. Over the years she never forgot her loss though she knows she did the right thing for the sake of the infant. Hope helps her pregnant sister Faith escape Superior by taking her to The Birth Place, a place that gave her a haven during her darkest moments. Feeling good about seeing people who have her hope when she needed it, Hope realizes how much she cares about these folks. However, administrator Parker Reynolds acts displeased and almost belligerent when he sees Hope, making her wonder who his son Dalton is. The fifth novel in the Birth Place series (all by different authors) is a solid contemporary tale with a gender bender twist. Usually the lead female hides the child from the unknowing father, but in this case the adopted dad tries to conceal the lad from his biological mother. The story line is character driven as the widower Parker and the mother of his son Hope fall in love. The secondary cast from his son and in-laws, to the clinic¿s staff and her sister add depth to the understanding of the motives especially the fears of the prime couple making for a fine time for readers. Harriet Klausner
Sanctuary written by Brenda Novak is well researched book about Polygamy and the effects of Polygamy on it¿s followers both in the sect and those who have left the sect. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. Her characters are all very believable and you can actually see the various characters in these real life situations. I find the subject of Polygamy to be a timely subject in the era of Big Love the new HBO series. Being a Mormon it strikes a familiar cord with me even though the main church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints discontinued the use of Polygamy amongst it followers in 1890 when the US Government outlawed it so Utah could become a state. Brenda tastefully treats any intimacy between her characters in a discreet and tasteful way. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a good entertaining and educational read. Brenda is an awesome writer.