Passed over for promotion and dumped by her boyfriend, Nina O’Malley is further frustrated when her editor assigns her one of the “soft” stories she despisescovering a gala benefit supporting the AIDS Memorial Quilt. More determined than ever to prove she deserves a promotion to the NY office, Nina decides to write a series featuring a local quilting group raising money for AIDs research.
At the event, she runs into her high school nemesis: Greg is a widower and the adoptive father of Jazarah, an HIV positive girl from Ethiopia. Unlike Nina, Greg has faith in a loving God, and he trusts in God’s plan for his life.
Greg and Nina grow closer, and as Nina interviews the quilt families, she begins to question the choices she has made and her lack of faith. Nina suddenly finds herself facing two possible dreams, two paths for her life.
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Threads of Hope
Quilts of Love Series
By Christa Allan
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2013 Christa Allan
All rights reserved.
After three years, it finally happened.
Janie Bettencourt announced her promotion. She would be moving from Houston to New York to become Senior Editor of Trends magazine.
The promotion Nina O'Malley had hoped would be her own.
And, as if that news wasn't enough to justify Nina adding banana splits as main dish items on her diet, ice cream became its own food group after Janie added that joining her would be staff photographer Brady Lambert.
The Brady who, years ago, promised her the moon. The Brady who, later, spun out of her orbit and splashed down in Janie's. The Brady Lambert whom Nina had hoped would be her own.
When was she going to learn to wait for the other shoe to drop before assuming she could celebrate?
Earlier that morning, when she'd spotted an email message from Elise Johnson, the Executive Editor, Nina allowed herself the luxury of dreaming. Elise's personal emails were infrequent, at least in her in-box, and generally, no frills, as if she'd be charged by the word count. So, she wasn't at all offended when she read the brief request: "My office. Nine o'clock. Important matter to discuss. EJ." In fact, she was elated. And she remained so for the next fifty-four minutes, not counting her elevator time to the seventh floor where she was ushered into Elise's office.
In less time than it took for Nina to arrive in the starkly modern office of the executive editor, disappointment introduced itself. Later, when the elevator door swished open to reveal Janie, Nina felt like a contestant on a game show who'd guessed wrongly and seen what she might have won.
The weight of Elise's remarks might have pushed Nina to the second floor almost as efficiently as the elevator: Structurally correct writing, but lacked style and passion. More initiative and less predictability. Network. Move out of your comfort zone. Elise challenged Nina to convince her that she'd be making a mistake not to promote her. "We're considering other markets like Atlanta and Nashville, perhaps Los Angeles. One of those could be yours. Show me what you can do."
By the time Janie gathered the staff and squealed her news, Nina had power walked to Starbucks and returned caffeinated and composed. She smiled in Janie's direction, grateful Janie couldn't read her thoughts to know her angelic face came from imagining a subway door closing on one of her size 6 Ferragamo shoes.
Just as the image was becoming crystal clear in Nina's mind, a tidal wave of a voice in her head crashed over that picture and left behind the sound of her mother's words: "You're being so petty, my dear. God doesn't like ugly, you know." Nina mentally shushed her mother who, even more than twenty miles away, could still inject an admonition into her daughter's nerve center of guilt.
Sheila Hudson O'Malley married Nina's father Patrick not long after they graduated from high school and then stayed home to mother two children into semi-adulthood. What would she know about fickle boyfriends and dashed career dreams? "Sure, mother. Easy for you to say," Nina muttered as she diverted her attention from the fawning frenzy over Janie to rearrange the clutter on her desk. She hoped to unearth her iPad from underneath what looked like an office supply store explosion of paper that had landed there.
"Were you talking to me?"
Nina paused between lifting legal pads to turn toward her cubicle-mate, Daisy Jeffers, who had scooted her desk chair past her partition, and now stared at her. As usual, her dark hair sprouted from the top of her head like sprinkler arms. She was always one strong wind short of being propelled above ground level.
"No. I was talking to my mother." Nina resumed her excavation.
"Well, I'm assuming the one in your head since I don't smell Chanel No. 5 in the vicinity. And, anyway ..." she bit into her apple.
Now that Nina found her iPad lurking in her desk drawer under a stack of folders and three expired restaurant coupons, she focused on Daisy. "Are you aware how absolutely annoying that is?"
Daisy swallowed. "You mean her?" Still holding her half-eaten apple, Daisy bent her arm over her head and motioned in the general direction of the newly promoted.
Nina flipped open the leather cover to find her interview notes. "Not Janie. You. Can you wait until before or after your thoughts, not between them, to eat? It's so maddening waiting for you to finish chewing ..." She paused.
Her mother's voice. She heard her mother's voice, the one that forever seemed marinated in exasperation, spill out of her own mouth. She looked up at Daisy. "You just got a whiff of Chanel No. 5 didn't you?" Nina gave way to the defeat and disappointment and flopped into her chair.
Daisy pinched her nose for a moment and grimaced. "A serious overdose." Not an unexpected reply from someone who smelled as if she'd spritzed herself with bottled spring rain, newly mown summer grass, and a hint of an autumn bonfire. She tossed her apple core into her stainless steel eco-lunchbox, wiped her hands with her cotton napkin, and rolled herself closer to Nina. Almost ten years younger than Nina, Daisy exuded a wisdom beyond her age. As a child, she slept in a car for weeks until her single mother found a homeless shelter for them. Daisy figured living on the streets was poverty's answer to accelerated learning. Nina suspected Daisy's minimalist approach to the externals in her life—clothing, furniture, car—balanced the burden of her emotional life.
"It's just not your time," said Daisy. "There will be a season for you, too."
Nina felt as if she'd just been patted on the head and told to run along and play. "I'd like to wallow in my pity party a bit longer before you start breaking it up with your New Age-y philosophies," she responded.
Daisy smiled. A reaction Nina found more annoying than the smattering of applause earlier that followed Janie's news.
"Well, I wouldn't be a worthy friend if I didn't at least try to save you from yourself. And, anyway, how much of a party is it if you're the only one with an invitation?"
"Speaking of invitations ..."
Nina was as startled to see Janie materialize as Daisy appeared to be when she heard her voice. Daisy slowly swiveled her chair and looked up at the leggy blonde who leaned against the gray dividing wall separating their desks from the receptionist's. "Whoa. How did you do that? Is magically transporting yourself part of the new job description?"
Janie tilted her head, placed her forefinger on her cheek, and became a perfect model for "deep in thought." Except for the smirk. She dropped the pose and looked at Nina. "I suppose having my finger on the pulse of the magazine is a requisite for effective management. Wouldn't you agree?"
Daisy and Nina exchanged eye contact then stared at Janie.
"So ... anyway ... back to invitations." Janie reached into the pocket of her flouncy skirt and silenced the pinging on her cell phone. "I'm having a cozy going-away dinner at my condo in two weeks. Of course, you're both invited. Bra and I are hosting it together."
"Bra," which she pronounced like "hey" was her special name for Brady, used only when not in his presence. The first time Janie uttered it in the office, it sliced through any thread of expectation Nina held for a future with him. She suspected the affectation was Janie's unseen electric collar around Brady, but instead of confining him, it zapped a warning to any women on the prowl contemplating new territory. Or one like Nina, who hoped for an open gate.
Over time, most of the staff became adept at avoiding eye-rolls when Janie blathered on about Bra. Though Daisy refused to abandon the idea that she might one day write a story about Bra and Janie's relationship. She hoped Victoria's Secret would think it a grand tale of a woman who referred to her lingerie in third person.
Now, faced with the prospect of swallowing food while enduring Brady and Janie, Nina rifled through her mental file of excuses. She barely had time to consider the choices when Daisy said, "We wouldn't dream of missing an opportunity to send you off on your new adventure." She glanced at Nina. "Would we?"
What Nina wanted to do at that moment was send Daisy twirling back across the partition. Instead, she mumbled something about making sure she'd be free, grabbed her iPad, and hoped when she swiped her calendar she'd find an event so monumental it would be impossible to attend the dinner. But no. No White House interview, no late night talk show appearance, and no undercover expose planned. Just a reminder to drop off her clothes at the cleaner and buy a case of dog food. Pathetic. My life needs a makeover. She stared at the socially vacant month of April. "Well, I do have two things I'm committed to that day ..." Nina avoided looking at Daisy and told Janie she didn't see any reason why she shouldn't be able to finish in time to attend the dinner.
Janie clapped her hands. "Wonderful! Check your emails because I'm sending e-vites with all the information and directions—" A piano riff sounded from her pocket. She pulled out her cell phone, then excused herself with an, "I have to answer this one." The rhythm of her stiletto heels click-clacking on the wood floors accompanied her departure.
"Commitments? Since when did you have commitments?" Daisy could have replaced "commitments" with "children" and sounded no less surprised.
It was, after all, a word Nina had iced, figuratively speaking, along with others like engagement, marriage, wedding gown, and honeymoon. If only Nina could remember to forget some commitments in her life as much as she forgot to remember others, she wouldn't have to place her dreams in the freezer.
"I consider feeding Manny and wearing clean clothes important responsibilities. Especially since they both cost more than I ever anticipated." She had adopted her hybrid dog with the dachshund body and poodle hair from the local animal shelter almost a year ago. When she brought him home, she named him Manhattan and thought it clever and optimistic. Today, it just seemed ridiculous. The little runt developed severe food allergies and now required a special diet. She didn't expect him to be so high maintenance. Expectations did not seem to be working in her favor lately.
"If that works for you, then stay with it," said Daisy as she scooted her chair back to her desk. She closed her laptop, gathered her environmentally-safe assortment of bags, and wiggled her metro-nylon backpack out of the bottom drawer. "I have two more people to interview for the yoga feature, so I'll let you get back to that one-woman pity party I interrupted."
"Thanks." Nina clapped, Janie-like. "It saves me from sending an e-vite."
"You actually smiled. One small step—"
Nina grabbed a sheet of paper out of her printer and waved it in front of her. "I surrender. I surrender. No more words of wisdom."
Daisy laughed. "Okay, but the terms of surrender include walking to the stairs with me. You've been sitting so long I'm surprised you're not numb. But, the bonus is you'll make sure I actually leave. And leave you alone."
"That, my dear, is motivation enough," said Nina. She waited until the glass doors of the office shut behind them before she asked Daisy if she noted Brady's conspicuous absence from the Janie show.
"Probably not as much as you did." Daisy's eyes swept over Nina's face, and Nina knew desperation hovered there. "You need to let go of him in both places," Daisy said as she pressed her hand first to her forehead and then to her heart. "Remember, 'There's a season for everything.'"
Nina sighed. "Is that some mantra you chant?"
Daisy pushed open the door to the stairwell. "No, but that's not a bad idea." She paused, shifted her backpack, and said, "By the way, it's not new age-y talk. It's old age-y. Very old, as in Old Testament. King Solomon."
"So, you're telling me I'm in a very long line of people who know what it's like not to get what they want? I suppose that's some comfort," said Nina drily. Comfort and God hadn't been synonymous for her since before her brother was hospitalized. It wasn't so much that she gave up on God. She just chose not to give in to Him.
"The real comfort is, the line didn't end there," said Daisy. "See you tomorrow. Take care of yourself."
Nina watched Daisy and couldn't help but notice that, despite the baggage she carried, Daisy floated down the stairs as if she carried no weight at all.
Excerpted from Threads of Hope by Christa Allan. Copyright © 2013 Christa Allan. 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
I really liked this story. The characters were very relatable and likeable. One thing I got out of the book was that sometimes the answers to our prayers doesn’t look like what we think they will, and that God can surprise us with the answers. I would recommend this book. I won this book in an online giveaway and was not required to give a review.
Threads of Hope by Christa Allan This quilts of love story is based around the Aids Quilt. Each section is made and assembled at a location where others help and tag who contributed. Nina O'Mallery is hoping this will be her big break-the story with her investigative skills will come out and allow her to be granted the NY job. She and Aretha will be going to this huge $400 a ticket gala event. Her boss will also go but not to work. Greg Hernandez life has been a long and troubled one as his wife has lost many babies along the way. He is a vet. He is involved in the project and helps many others with the Aids quilt. His daughter is also HIV+ and there is a bit of talk about the drugs she takes to maintain her life. Project is called 'we care' and Nina will cover those who help put the quilt together-Greg's crew. It took me a bit of time to get into this book as there is a lot of work drama but once I got through that and into the real story it is a good one. Not only will Nina have a choice there are many things she will have to consider along the way. Not only her career but her faith in God is up for grabs. Love how Nina sticks up for herself and her idea when the boss is ready to hand the story to another reporter.... What happens next is on the fast track and she learns about her brother's death from her parents. She has the answers now and why she stopped praying to God... Love the ending and how the quilt panels are made, and all the information about them. Also a sample chapter of A Healing Heart, next in the Quilt of Love series. To me this whole series is a panel in itself with a story behind every panel. I received this book from Abingdon Press in exchange for my honest review.
THREADS OF HOPE by Christa Allan is another Quilts of Love inspirational romance. "Threads of Hope" tells the inspiring story of a "AIDS" Memory quilt. It is also, the story of love, faith,healing,and hope. A sweet tender story that will have you reading straight through the pages as you follow Nina O'Malley,Greg,her high-school nemesis,Jazarah, a HIV-positive girl from Ethiopia, and their quilting group. A powerful story! Received for an honest review from the publisher and Wynn-Wynn Media, LLC. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: SWEET REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Threads of Hope by Christa Allan is a Quilts of Love novel where "every quilt has a story." This story that will touch your heart---it's about second chances, love and choices. Who doesn't love that, right? Nina O'Malley is a journalist waiting for her BIG break in New York. She longs to cover the big news stories but is stuck with an assignment given by her nemesis editor for a gala fundraiser. She reluctantly covers a "soft" story when she runs into an old high school nemesis at the gala benefit supporting the AIDS Memorial. Nina expects Greg to make her life difficult like he did in high school but his kindness surprises her. But finding out he's related to her editor indirectly causes her to have a collision with a camera and her ex-boyfriend later! As Nina begins researching for her series featuring the benefit and a local quilting group that is raising money for AIDS research, she begins to have a change of heart about "soft" stories. But when a sudden promotion opportunity in New York opens up, Nina has to choose between the man she is falling in love with or her career... I received a free copy of this book from Abingdon Press for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Who hasn't felt the sting of being passed up for a promotion by someone who has worked for the company less than you have? But what's even worse is having the man you were dating dump you and go out with the person who just got "your" promotion as well! Meet Nina O'Malley, journalist for Trends magazine who has once again had to paste on the gracious smile of sincerity when dealing with Janie Bettencourt, who just score the Senior Editor position and is now moving from Houston to New York for the job. The job that should have been hers. Her boss, reminded her that she needed to get out of her comfort zone more and network. To add some passion and style to her writing despite the fact all she got handed were smaller stories from her editor. It seems like Nina just needs to realize that she is the only one holding her back and begin to take the initiative to change the things in her life that she wishes were different. Right now the only thing that waits for her at home is her dog, Manny and her roommate Aretha. Even her only friend in the office Daisy Jeffers seems to be making a move out of the office. Nina finds a note from her to Janie asking her if there are any positions available in New York. Seems like the only people that aren't leaving Nina are the ones that have no other place to go. In the novel, Threads of Hope by Christa Allan, from the Quilts of Love series, takes the reader in the life of Nina O'Malley that has a permanent seat in the "pity party for one." Unless she can break out of her rut, she will stay in the same job, doing the same thing while everyone else around her moves on and moves ahead. Even her love life is suffering, so what's a woman to do? That is just the premise behind this latest novel. It seems that even growing up, Nina was only part of the popular girls click because she was able to help them with their homework. When she refused to do the work for them, she soon found out who her real friends were after all. Nina's about to find out that she needs to be more upfront with what she wants and follow it up with action. I received Threads of Hope by Christa Allan compliments of Abingdon Press Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review and received no monetary compensation for a favorable one. I could see so much of myself in Nina's character and even found our childhood situations very much alike. It often takes a good hard knock in your life to make you take the initiative and break out of your situation. The fact that Nina settles for so many things makes you look at her life and see the easy way out. She settles instead of simply trying harder and even standing up for herself because she fears what others may say. She avoids confrontation at all costs and looks for excuses to get out of things that may have a risk involved such as dinner with her family every Sunday. She wishes deep down inside to say the things she wants but instead just offers the customary, "I'll be there." This is an interesting look at how Nina breaks out and what is the catalyst for her doing so. I can't spoil it for you, but if you can relate to this situation you'll definitely want to pick this one up. I rate it a 4 out of 5 stars.