Surrender the Wind is the story of Seth Braxton, a patriot of the American Revolution, who unexpectedly inherits his loyalist grandfather’s estate in England. Seth is torn between the land he fought for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister Caroline, who was a motherless child taken to England at the onset of the war.
With no intention of staying permanently, Seth arrives to find his sister grieving over the death of her young son. In the midst of such tragedy, Seth meets Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal Seth’s heart. After a brief courtship, they marry and she takes her place as the lady of Ten Width Manor, enraging the man who once sought her hand and schemed to make Ten Width his own.
From the Virginia wilderness to the dark halls of an isolated English estate, Seth and his beloved Juleah inherit more than an ancestral home. They uncover a sinister plot that leads to murder, abduction, and betrayal--an ominous threat to their new life, love, and faith.
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Surrender the Wind
By Rita Gerlach
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2009 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDevonshire, England Winter, 1783
Juleah Fallowes stepped out of the carriage and gazed up at the full moon above a dark, spear-like chimney that belonged to Ten Width. Her deep brown eyes, flecked with russet, drifted over to a candle set against the blackness of the ivy-covered walls that glowed from inside Benjamin Braxton's bedchamber window. A chill swept through her—from the wind and from a sense of what she might find beyond the frosted glass.
The lantern outside the door sputtered against the winter night. She gathered the sides of her hood closer to her cheeks and entered the dark foyer where a servant met her. Benjamin's physician, Doctor Yates, donned his hat and nodded to her. She pushed back her hood, and her hair fell in auburn twists about her face and shoulders. The long ride from Henry Chase had left her chilled, and she hesitated to remove her cloak. When she caught the way Yates's eyes roved over her blushed face, it gave her more reason to keep her womanly figure concealed.
"There is nothing I can do, Miss Juleah." He grazed her arm with a sinewy hand and withdrew it slowly. "He shall not last the night." Grave, he looked into her eyes one more time and strode out the door to his horse.
When the door finally closed, Juleah shed her dove-gray cloak, mounted the stairs, and entered the room. Benjamin lay in his bed. Propped up against high pillows, he made slight efforts to breathe. Caroline, his granddaughter, Juleah's closest friend since childhood, sat by his bedside and looked up at Juleah's approach. Her jade eyes were teary, and her face pale as the lace cuffs on the faded dress she wore. At first, her expression was one of grateful relief, but then changed to fatigued sorrow.
Caroline hurried away from the bedside. "Oh, Juleah. I'm glad you came."
"I am here for as long as you and Squire Braxton need me." She squeezed Caroline's hand.
With despairing eyes, Juleah saw the bluish lips and heard the faint gurgle of liquid that filled Benjamin's lungs. He coughed, and Caroline rushed back to him and held a cloth to his mouth that caught the blood-streaked mucus. She washed his lips with a moist sponge and spoke quietly in an effort to soothe him. Waves of steel-gray hair fell back from his forehead along the pillow, his eyebrows winged upward above hazel eyes.
The clock on the mantelpiece sped past the half hour. Juleah stood at the window and pressed her back against the grooves in the jamb in a poor attempt to abate the churning in her belly. She gnawed her lower lip, while watching Caroline lean over to lay her cheek against Benjamin's hand. Juleah was troubled that he lay dying in a drafty bedchamber on a grim, wintry day at twilight, to face the sort of emancipation most men fear, with only his granddaughter to comfort him. His sons were all gone, and his grandson lived in the wilderness of America. Wind rattled the panes, shook off the hoarfrost that encrusted the trees, and rushed down the fireplace flue. Frigid gusts blew over the coals of the fire and scattered wispy breaths of silvery ash onto the flagstone hearth.
"How cold and lonesome a tomb will be," Benjamin muttered.
Juleah turned to see sorrow flood her friend's eyes.
"Do not speak so grim, Grandfather," Caroline said.
Benjamin turned his head to her. "I suppose, child, you'd rather me think of heaven, that it must be warm and bright and make one forget the cares of an earthly existence."
She nodded. "Indeed, I would."
"Then for your sake, I shall make every effort to do so." He reached his hand over and she took it. "I have asked you and Juleah to sit with me, with the intention you must hear what is about to take place. You both are to witness all that I say and promise you will stand upon it when I am gone."
"I will, Grandfather." Caroline pressed his hand against her cheek, and her eyes sparkled from the tears she forced back. Juleah felt sorry for her and dreaded the idea she, too, would lose her parents someday.
Benjamin's gaze shifted to Juleah. "And you, my girl? Do I have your word?"
"You do, sir," she answered, her heart in her throat.
Carriage wheels crunched over the gravel in the drive, and she leaned closer to the window. Below, Philip Banes, Benjamin's long-time lawyer, stepped out, careful to avoid the muddy snow. She drew away and went downstairs to meet him.
From the dimness of the entrance, Juleah watched Caroline's serving girl, Claire, open the front door and, with a quick curtsey, show Banes inside. At the foot of the staircase, Juleah waited, while Banes handed over his cloak and slapped his leather gloves inside the bowl of his hat.
"This had better be important—and worthy of my time. I shall double my fee for the trouble."
She stepped up to him and looked at Banes squarely. "He is dying, Mr. Banes. Please keep that in mind and show compassion for his suffering."
While Claire trailed behind them, she led Banes up the staircase to Benjamin's bedchamber. Banes hesitated before going further inside, glanced around the room, then rested his eyes on Juleah. Firelight flickered across the dull oaken floor and reached the tips of his buckled shoes.
"The squire usually offers tea, Miss Juleah. Today I hope he offers a glass of brandy to warm my arthritic bones."
"Claire, please bring Mr. Banes a pot of tea." She stirred the coals in the hearth with a poker and prayed his time at Ten Width would be short-lived.
Banes touched the serving-girl's elbow. "I'd prefer warm brandy."
Straight as a rod, Claire shook her head. "Aside from tea, sir, all we have is cider. I'll warm that for you."
She turned to go, but he stopped her with a wave of his hand. "If you do not have something stronger, I'll have nothing at all. I had hoped I would not have to drink the expensive elixir within my flask and could keep it for the frigid journey home."
"As you wish, sir," Claire said.
A rancid scent of approaching death mingled with the breath of the fire and the intrusion of wind. Benjamin's rattled breathing arrested Banes, and Juleah saw him wince.
"Dear me, Miss Juleah. How thin and pale Benjamin has become. And Miss Caroline looks poorly."
Juleah drew him aside. "Please, Mr. Banes, do not worsen Caroline's distress any more than it is by commenting on her appearance at such a moment."
Banes gave her a curt nod and set his portfolio on the table near the hearth, beside a high-backed chair once a deep indigo, now faded to gray.
"You are right, Miss Juleah. But I've never seen Benjamin look so bad," he whispered. "Indeed, it won't be long now."
She pressed her mouth together hard. If only Banes would keep such comments to himself. A naked branch rapped against the window. Her skin went cold, as if a hundred icy fingers tapped up and down her body.
Banes put his hand over his heart and approached Benjamin's bedside. "I am here at last, sir."
Benjamin fixed his eyes forward. "The roads were poor?"
"Frozen, hard as stone. Pitted with potholes the size of stew kettles." Banes moved to the hearth. "You must excuse me, Benjamin. It is needful for me to sit by your fire. The cold has gone straight to my bones."
"My life had been a small flame, giving little warmth." Benjamin's voice quivered. "Soon the wind will blow upon my soul, and my body will turn into something like the gray, gritty ash in my hearth."
Juleah saw the pained look on Caroline's face, equal to the regret she felt that Benjamin would speak so bleakly. Grieved to see her friend suffer, she reached over, took Caroline's arm, and looped it within hers. They sat together close in silence.
"I cannot help but think of Elizabeth," Benjamin said.
"First wives are the most missed." Banes held his hands out to the fire. "How long has it been?"
"Fifteen years next month. She was the jewel in my crown."
With ascending sorrow, Juleah looked up at the ceiling. She traced the cracks with her eyes to distract herself from the conversation.
Benjamin sighed and looked over at his granddaughter. "I had to bring you back with me when the rebellion started. You understand, don't you, Caroline?"
She gave him a weak smile. "Of course, Grandfather."
"You were far too young to be exposed to the brutality of war and had no mother or older sister to care for you."
"You spared me much suffering."
His frame began to shudder. "I tried to convince your brother to leave with us, but he turned his back on me and strode away angry. It was the last time I saw him. You must tell him how sorry I am."
She nodded. "I will. I promise."
"Where is the current Mrs. Braxton?" asked Banes, laying out more papers. "Shouldn't she be present?"
Juleah cringed that Banes would ask. She knew it would exasperate Benjamin's suffering to speak of his present wife. She remained silent, turned, and met Caroline's eyes.
"She is not available, Mr. Banes," Juleah said. "There is no need to say anything more about her."
Banes drew out his spectacles and curled the stems over his ears. "Most unusual, indeed."
Benjamin gathered the blanket in his fist and squeezed. "I sent her back to Crown Cove, where she belongs."
Banes's eyebrows arched. "Sad that she is not at the side of your deathbed, Benjamin. A devoted wife can ease a man's passing. At least you have these two young ladies here."
Uneasy with the conversation and concerned for Benjamin's feelings, Juleah looked over at the old man. By his expression, she knew that the terrible feeling of not knowing what lay ahead had seized him. He returned her gaze, and her heart stretched out to comfort him.
"What shall it be, Juleah? Suffering and eternal separation from perfect love? Or blank oblivion?" Tears stole up into the corners of his eyes.
"Neither, sir. Rest easy. You are not forsaken." She knew nothing else to say.
"You are good, Juleah. You've been a sister to Caroline and a daughter to me."
Banes cleared his throat. "May we proceed to the business at hand?" He pulled a writing table up against his knees and spread the parchments out. "I made the changes you requested in your letter. I had no idea your grandson had come into your favor. When did this happen?"
"Seth has never been out of favor with me. It is I who am out of favor with him." Benjamin's eyes were misty and he turned them back to Caroline. "I repent that my allegiance to the king separated my family. The bulk of my estate is Seth's. What I've promised you and your son shall stand, Caroline. You must help Seth make the right decision. You must write to him and urge him to come."
Caroline gripped his hand. "I'll do everything in my power to convince him, Grandfather."
Banes stood from his chair, with document in hand. "Do not allow your hopes to rise high, Benjamin. Why would he quit his life in America for here?"
"His inheritance will not require he stay."
"He will face prejudice and even harbor some of his own."
Banes rubbed his eye with his finger and sighed. Once more, he dipped the nib into the ink and tapped the shaft against the rim of the bottle. The quill scratched over the parchment. Mingled with the vines that rapped outside the window and the fire that crackled in the room, the sound dominated.
"Shall I read it back?" Banes asked.
Benjamin nodded and shut his eyes in preparation to hear his final wishes, his firm treaty before God and man.
"In the name of God, amen. I, Benjamin Braxton of Ten Width, in the Parish of Clovelly, in the County of Devonshire, squire, being weak in body but sound and disposing in mind and memory, thanks be to God, for the same do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament as following. First, I commend my soul into the hands of God Almighty, my Creator, hoping through the merits of Jesus Christ my Savior, to receive free pardon and remission of my sins, and my body I do commit to the earth. As touching my worldly estate, as God hath been pleased to bless me with, I do dispose of the same as follows. I bequeath unto my grandson, Seth Braxton, and to his heirs and assigns forever my estate at Ten Width where I now dwell. If my grandson, Seth Braxton, has no descendants, or refuses this inheritance set forth, my estate is to be bequeathed to my great-grandson, Nathaniel Kenley."
"To my granddaughter, Caroline Braxton Kenley, I discharge the sum of £250 a year during her natural life, to be paid on the first of January after the date hereof. My will is that my grandson, Seth Braxton, shall pay the said principal sum of £350 to my great-grandson, Nathaniel Kenley, so soon as he shall come of the age of one and twenty years. To my wife, I leave £100 yearly for her natural life."
Banes rose and brought the quill and parchment over to the bedside. "I need your signature, Benjamin." He helped him grip the shaft between his fingers.
Juleah sensed within herself the wretched reality of her own mortality and all those she loved. It troubled her, as she watched, with her hand firm in Caroline's. She rallied against it, took a deep breath, and whispered a prayer. "I am the resurrection and the life." Caroline heard her, and laid her head on Juleah's shoulder.
Benjamin's hand trembled, and he brought the tip of the quill down above the parchment. A moment and he hesitated. Then he scrawled his name along the bottom.
Excerpted from Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach Copyright © 2009 by The United Methodist Publishing House. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This 297 page story is full of emotional turmoil, jealousy, revenge, and sweet love. This is a Christian novel that is acceptable reading for all age groups. Very hard to put down and highly recommended.
This was a very interesting book to me. I loved the time period it was set in (post American Revolution) and the scenario (a patriot has to go to England to claim his inheritance and deal with all the hard feelings of the English there). There are a lot of elements to the storyline - mystery, murder, kidnapping, death, deception and love. But something about the book just didn't read smoothly to me. Like maybe there were too many elements to the book and so they weren't all able to develop fully. The romance between Seth and Juleah didn't develop it just happened as did the love story between Caroline and Michael Bray. I liked the overall book, it was really unique, the ending was great and can I just say that the cover is beautiful. A good historical romance from an era not much written about.
This author is what Vladimir Nabokov calls an enchanter. If he were giving his "Lectures on Literature" today, he would cite SURRENDER THE WIND as the 21st Century's example of a classic novel, side by side with the 19th Century's "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens and "Madame Bovary" by Gustav Flaubert. But, Rita Gerlach moves into the present, beyond Dickens and Flaubert with her unique voice, electric pacing and concise plotting. Supreme suspense hovers through every twist and cranny in the events that unfold. The exceptional editing of Abingdon Press Editor Barbara Scott has empowered Gerlach to mesmerize her readers as she transposes them to the post-revolutionary period between England and the United States. A structural counterpoint of VIRTUE and VICE permeates her work in phrase and action. Often words associated with love are used to describe despair. For instance, the play of dualism on the word "embrace," with the opposite perception of entrapment intended, is repeated: "High in the heavens the moon broke free from the embrace of clouds." And later: "The sea crashed against the hull, lifted the ship and brought it down again into the sea's dark embrace." This is no mere gift of language. This is literary genius. Further proof of the author's astounding mastery of literary craftsmanship is the application of Faubert's own test. In July 1852, he wrote, "A really good sentence in prose should be like a good line of poetry, something you cannot change and is just as rhythmic and sonorous." Numerous passages of Rita Gerlach's novel can be printed as free verse and read in exactly the same way: "The wind rose and rushed through the darkness as the skiff mounted and fell over the swells." Like Dickens and Flaubert, her minor characters stand out-not just for the roles they play in her plot but for their very human qualities. Literary devices such as assonance, alliteration, metaphors, similes and symbolism abound throughout her magical imagery. From the prologue through every scene thereafter, the reader feels the villain lurking, waiting, conniving, ready to pounce with meanness and passion, as he eventually does. But most of all, the historical love story of Juleah and Seth set against the terrible retribution of Darden's unrequited love joins the greatest love stories of all time. When American patriot Seth Braxton travels to Devonshire, England, to claim Ten Width, the estate his grandfather left him, he falls in love with his sister's best friend, the beautiful and independent spirited Juleah, but terrible happenings--murders, kidnappings, the burning of his estate, a shipwreck and the British mistrust of an American interloper--plague them. Can Seth and Juleah survive Darden's sinister plotting? The stage is set, and SURRENDER THE WIND is everything the author promises it will be.
Perhaps I need to give this book another try after reading the review describing it as the work of "a literary voice of the finest merit" and destined to take its place along side Dickens and Flaubert (really?). The synopsis of this book sounded interesting but I found myself not able to get halfway through the prologue. In those few short pages, I discovered the hero had dark hair with "a hint of bronze within its blackness", keen blue eyes, and a strong jaw; yet was left wondering why he was late joining his "ragtag band of patriots" and their purpose gathering on a Virginia hillside. He is clever enough, however, to jam his hat low on his brow and then, immediately toss back a lock of that dark hair that had fallen across it. I also learned that in a "cool autumn twilight", men will immediately begin to perspire heavily (until the sweat turns cold). And that a "cruel light " spreading across a man's face and eyes "blazing with sordid pleasure" means that man will soon put a horse with a "mortal wound" out of its misery. And who the heck could keep straight all those British officers with burning hatred in their eyes and sneering lips? In other words, too much unchecked description and not enough exposition. I honestly would expect an author who displays "astounding mastery of literary craftsmanship" (according to that very glowing review) and is blessed with the "exceptional editing" of her publisher NOT to use the phrases "run for his life" and "as fast as his legs could carry him" within the same paragraph. Or have a hero who has both "unaffected energy" and is exhausted. And yes, my review would have not been so snarky (or perhaps even written) if not for the over-the-top rhapsodies of that other review.
Very impressed with this author. Please make more like this available.
Loved it and will read it again
This book took me by surprise. I thought it was going to be another typical historical romance but it had many twists and turns! Definitely very entertaining. Kept me turning the pages late into the night.
I loved this book,It was beautifully written very descriptive ,i could imagine it perfectly.it was suspensfull and i loved it. and i got it for .99 cents. i wish it had more to the series,but there is just one.
I got this book because it was free and looked interesting. Well it was very interesting! Kept you guessing throughout the book. A captivating story of love and deception! I felt the emotions that were put into the characters. A must read!
Hitorical fiction, written like they might have talked post Revolutionary War period. Love story & mystery. It was pretty good.
So many twist and turns in this book....kept me on the edge. Loved it
Great book, tho it is the usual boy chases girl till girl caught him... it then gets interesting! Lotsa mystery and action! Loved it!
This is the first novel I've read by Rita. As a lover of historical fiction, it was a great time period to read in this story. Seth Braxton has fought in the American Revolution and is heading to the country he just fought against. His sister Caroline was sent there to live with her grandfather in England when her father and brother went to war. She is now a widow with a young son. Caroline's dear friend, Juleah, has been a great comfort during the time of Caroline's husband's death and the illness of her grandfather. Before their grandfather dies, the 3 of them are reunited. Seth and Juleah take to each other immediately and he sees the care Juleah has taken with his sister. She in turn sees how kind and loving even an American can be. Of course what would any story like this be without a villian? He comes in the shape of Seth and Caroline's step brother and Juleah's former intended, Darden. Rita takes on into the beautiful English countryside of Devonshire, over the high seas back to America and through Virginia. It is a wonderful setting that engages the reader's imagination. If you like historical fiction, this would make a nice summer read!
I found this to be a good book that included love, war, murder and mystery. (dw)
Loved this story. one of my fav stories. would more by this author definatly.
I'm glad I got this book for free. It dragged on and on. It only got good at the very end. The love story was lacking. I only gave it 2 stars because I did enjoy the action that this book did provide.
This was one of those books you just couldn't put down, from start to finish a good read..
Nice book, sometimes predictable, but a good read