This book focuses on Brad and Ashley Hanes, young newlyweds who are facing their first season of winter. Opposite work schedules, differing views on finances and when to start a family, and Brad’s selfish and immature habits are forcing the young couple apart, causing them to question why they ever got married in the first place. It will take a whole lot of help—mostly from their nosy but well-meaning neighbors—for Ashley and Brad to pull their marriage out of the winter blues and into a hopeful spring. As usual, the residents of Deepwater Cove will pop in and out of the story to delight readers. They’ll encounter Cody and see his continued independence and growing friendship with Jennifer; Patsy and Pete’s escalating romance; and Charlie, a recent widower who is taking on the challenges and excitement of his golden years with zeal.
The series is based on the marriage principles found in Gary Chapman’s non-fiction book The Four Seasons of Marriage. Similar in tone and light-hearted, quirky humor as Jan Karon’s Mitford series, Fannie Flagg’s books or Steel Magnolias. Each book has a study guide that talks about the four seasons of marriage and the healing strategies depicted in that volume’s story.
About the Author
Catherine Palmer is the Christy Award-winning, CBA best-selling author of more than forty novels – including The Bachelor’s Bargain – which have more than 2 million copies in print. She lives in Missouri with her husband, Tim, and two sons.
Gary Chapman is a counselor, the bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages® series, and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. He travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations. For more information, visit 5lovelanguages.com.
Read an Excerpt
Winter turns to Spring
By CATHERINE PALMER GARY CHAPMAN
TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC.
Copyright © 2008 Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman
All right reserved.
Chapter One Brad Hanes walked across the parking lot toward Larry's Lake Lounge with one goal in mind-and she would be sitting at the far end of the bar. Yvonne Ratcliff, the tavern's entertainer, had a rich, earthy voice that welled out, filled the crowded, smoky room, and strummed every sinew of Brad's body.
Aware that his wife wasn't fond of Yvonne-or the other regulars at Larry's-he had debated letting his coworkers from the construction site go on without him. In December, the water's surface at Lake of the Ozarks reflected the ice-gray sky. The wind whipping across the town of Tranquility bit right through his denim jacket. It wouldn't be a good night to stay out late, Brad knew. Still, nothing sounded better than a few brews, some laughs with his friends, and a couple of hours shooting pool while listening to music.
"You sure Ashley won't mind us hanging out at Larry's for a while?" Mack Lang, another member of the construction crew, ambled alongside Brad. "My number-two ex wanted me home for dinner at six every night on the dot. She about suffocated me with all her rules and regulations."
"Nah." Brad shook his head. "Ashley's probably not even at the house. She started that sideline business selling necklaces, remember?"
"Them homemade beads?"
"Yeah, and with Christmas just around the corner, she's working day and night to fillorders."
"Still clocking in at the country club, too?"
"Sure. Ashley's not giving up that job." As he and his friend neared the tavern, Brad reflected on his wife-her black-and-white waitress outfit clean and pressed, her long red hair wound up in a bun, and her pale neck stacked with beaded necklaces she'd made.
Ashley would know her husband planned to go to Larry's this evening, though she'd asked him a hundred times to steer clear of the place. She complained that Brad drank too much, came home smelling like a dirty ashtray, and always went off to work the next day with a headache. Some of what she said was true, though he argued that he didn't see anything wrong with having a few beers with his friends.
"She probably wouldn't even notice if I did come home," Brad said, a surge of frustration filling his chest. "I'm a plain guy, you know. I don't ask much of a wife-a clean house, the laundry done, and three squares. With the necklace production going full steam, Ashley can hardly stay focused enough to tie her own shoes. She never fixes my supper anymore. I have to scrounge up a can of soup or a box of macaroni. Pretty pitiful after a long day building condos in the middle of a Missouri winter."
"Welcome to the club," Mack said. "I hated marriage, but I hate being a bachelor, too. I guess you'll have to find your fun wherever you can. Speaking of which ... sounds like Yvonne is on stage."
Brad tried not to react to the comment, undoubtedly a reference to the growing attraction between himself and the singer. He hadn't realized it was so obvious.
Yvonne-or Why-vonne, as she pronounced it-had a beautiful voice, and she was easy on the eyes, too. She had a kid, she'd told Brad, but childbearing hadn't hurt her figure any. With her long brown hair, black-rimmed green eyes, and skintight jeans, she could do things with her voice that kept every male eye in the place riveted.
But Yvonne's focus was always on Brad. Every song she belted out was aimed straight at him, and when she took her usual place at the end of the bar, he couldn't do anything but amble over and buy her a drink or two.
Reaching for the door, Brad heard Yvonne launch into a familiar song about the joys of being a redneck woman. But as he pulled on the handle, another sound sent shivers up his back. The high-pitched wail began as a sharp "Yow!" and then ebbed into a pathetic "wow, wow, wow." Brad turned toward the noise, and it started again.
"Yow! Wow, wow, wow." After a moment, the sequence ended with a softly muttered "ow."
"What in the-?" Brad took off his ball cap and scratched his forehead as he studied the rapidly filling parking lot.
"Sounds like a baby crying," Mack said as the two men took tentative steps in the direction of the wails.
"No way. Who would leave a kid out in this cold? Things like that happen in big cities, not here."
"Yi! Why, why, why, why?" the voice howled. "Nee-ow-rah. Boo-rah-rah."
"Hey!" Brad called out. "Who's there?"
Though it was only a little after five in the afternoon, the light was so dim he could hardly see. He dropped his cap onto his head again and adjusted the brim.
"Lookit." Mack elbowed him. "Over there."
At the corner of the brick wall that edged Larry's Lake Lounge sat a cardboard box. And it was moving.
Colder than the evening breeze, a chill zipped down Brad's spine. He and Mack neared the box. Brad noted blue and red lettering that indicated it once had held beer cans. As he peered inside, a pair of large brown eyes looked up at him.
"Wow!" The tiny mouth displayed two rows of sharp white teeth as it cut the air with a piercing "Woe, woe, woe!"
"Holy moley," Mack said. "It's some kind of critter."
Relief flooding his chest, Brad hunkered down beside the box. "What are you anyhow?" he asked the lump of dusty gray fur. "You a raccoon? Or a kitten? You're putting up a mighty big fuss; that's for sure."
"Don't touch it," Mack warned. "You could get bit and die of rabies."
"Yi! Yi! Yi!" The creature tried to turn around, bumped into the side of the box, and then lifted its head to howl. "A-woo! Oooo! Yow, yow, yow."
"Rabies," Brad muttered. He reached into the box and slipped his hand under the soft, downy belly. Cupping the animal, he made a cursory examination. Ears, eyes, tail, snout, fuzzy legs, and four paws.
"It's a puppy," he pronounced. "And the talkingest one I've ever met."
"Yawp." The little head darted forward and a small pink tongue licked Brad's nose.
"Agh, not that!" Brad wiped away the moisture with the back of his hand. He flipped the puppy over and determined he was holding a male. "Who left you here, fella? You must be freezing."
"Brother," Mack said in disgust. "You gotta be some kind of jerk to dump a puppy in weather like this."
Brad knew that Missouri country folks often didn't have the means to get their pets fixed. That meant thousands of mixed-breed, unwanted puppies and kittens were abandoned on the roadside each year. Animal shelters and city pounds usually picked them up, but many starved, were killed by larger predators, or got hit by cars.
"At least they put him near a public place," Brad observed. "I guess they figured he'd find a home."
"He ain't finding a home with me."
The jukebox started up inside the tavern. Yvonne must have finished her song set and would be taking her usual place at the bar. Married nearly a year now, Brad knew he shouldn't give the woman a second thought. The sultry songbird was older than Brad by several years, and she had been around the block a few times. She told him she had tried to make it in the Nashville music scene but found the going too rough. She had sung backup at one of the big shows in Branson for a while too. But eventually she came home to the lake area-single, sexy, and looking for a good time. That siren call was getting harder to resist by the day.
"Wow!" The sharp yelp startled Brad. The pup had curled up in the crook of his elbow. "Ick, ick, ick."
"What are you talking about now, you little yapper?" Brad murmured as he stroked the matted fur. Pressing his small head against the man's palm, the dog expressed his delight in human touch. Brad grinned. "What do you want, boy? Huh?"
"Uh-oh," Mack said. "You're starting to sound like a sucker."
"I'm not taking him home. But still ... he can't be more than a couple of months old."
"I bet he's barely off his mama's milk. We had dogs when I was growing up. You shouldn't take 'em from the mother too soon."
"I always wanted a dog. My dad ran off strays with a shotgun."
Though the puppy appealed to some tender place inside him, Brad knew things were going so badly with Ashley that it would be a mistake to arrive home with a puppy. She'd probably pack up her beads and run back to mama and daddy. Which might be a good idea after all.
Brad wasn't looking for a relationship with Yvonne or any of the other attractive young women who made Larry's their regular watering hole. He didn't want Ashley to leave him, either. But how long could two people go on this way? Chilly silence interspersed with arguments. Blame. Name-calling. Accusations.
Sex was a rare occurrence in the marriage too, and that didn't sit well with Brad. Before their wedding, Ashley couldn't get enough of him-and vice versa. Lately, they hardly had time for a kiss. With him working days and her working nights, they were rarely even in bed at the same time. You couldn't expect a twenty-two-year-old man in the prime of life to forgo that kind of pleasure. Pleasure? No, it was a need.
"Brrrp ... brrrp ..."
Brad glanced down to find that the puppy was snoring softly. "Great. He went to sleep."
"What did you expect? Probably been out here freezing most of the day." Mack gave a snort. "Might as well take him home. You know you want to."
"I don't want a dog. But how can I put him back in that cardboard box? We'll walk out of Larry's in a couple of hours and find him frozen stiff."
Brad couldn't imagine abandoning the dog to the ice-cold air and stepping into the warmth of the bar without wearing guilt like a chain around his neck. He wanted to head inside, settle down next to Yvonne, and smell that perfume she wore. She'd start flirting with him, and he'd buy her a few drinks. Then she would saunter back onto the stage and sing to him until he was so woozy with beer and temptation he could hardly stumble to his car.
He had a feeling it wouldn't be long before he gave in. Why-vonne the Con, most of the men called the sensuous songstress. It was no secret that Yvonne used her looks and her wiles to get what she wanted out of a man. But at this point, Brad hardly cared. He wanted the same thing. A little fun. No strings. No expectations. No responsibilities. It all sounded good to him.
"Brrrp ... brrrp ... brrrp."
His hand on the puppy's head, Brad studied the front of Larry's. Three or four couples had gone inside since he first picked up the pup.
"Someone else will find the dog and take it home," Brad told his friend. "We're not responsible for the mangy little mutt. Come on."
Without allowing himself time to think, he set the puppy back inside the box and yanked open Larry's front door.
"Yow!" The terrified shriek tore through Brad's brain and went straight to his heart. "Yow-wow, yow-wow! Owoooooo!"
With a muttered curse, Brad bent over, scooped up the dog, tucked it under his jacket, and headed for his car. He could hear Mack laughing behind him.
"Sucker!" his friend called. "I'll tell Yvonne hi for you!"
Gritting his teeth, Brad opened his car door. This was a mistake. A big, big mistake. He and Ashley didn't have room for a dog in their small house. They didn't have a fenced yard. No one could look after the puppy while they were at work. The whole thing was a very bad idea.
He plopped the puppy onto the passenger's seat. Maybe someone in the neighborhood would take the animal. He slid in and started the motor. Jaw tight, he drove out of the parking lot and onto the short stretch of road that led down to Deepwater Cove. This was not what he wanted to be doing. Maybe Ashley was right and he shouldn't spend so much time around Yvonne and the other bar patrons, but why should he have to go home and watch TV alone all night?
The pressure of four paws warmed his thigh, and Brad looked down to find the puppy settling comfortably on his lap. No, he thought. He didn't want a dog. Or a wife, a home, a job, a steady paycheck.
At one time, those things had seemed like impossibly lofty goals. His chaotic childhood had made such dreams seem unattainable. But he had found Ashley, won her heart, bought a house, married the woman he loved, and settled into his work and a life he had expected to be wonderful.
Now things were coming apart fast, and he shouldn't be taking home a dog. The mutt would require a long-term commitment, and that was exactly what Brad had been wanting to escape.
"Brrrp ... brrrp ... brrrp ..."
The puppy's gentle snoring calmed Brad's nerves as he pulled into the driveway. Leafless branches widened the view during the winter months, and Brad saw moonlight glitter on the lake like dancing fireflies.
The dog barely stirred as Brad climbed out of the car and carried him toward the house. Ashley had left every light on, as usual. The girl blamed him for their money troubles, but the real fault lay at her feet. All those beads. And plastic bags. And boxes. And postage. Did she have any idea how much cash she ran through every month on her little necklace business?
Once inside, Brad saw that the house was pretty much the way he had left it early that morning. Ashley hadn't washed a dish, swept, vacuumed, or even put away the groceries she must have bought during the day. He studied the array of canned vegetables, cake mixes, and jars of spaghetti sauce on the kitchen counter.
Ashley's parents ran a hot dog and ice cream shop in Camdenton, and that was about the only food she knew how to fix. Her friend Esther Moore had been teaching her to cook real food, but Mrs. Moore had passed away at Thanksgiving. Now Brad couldn't even mention the old woman's name without Ashley dissolving into a puddle of tears. And his wife had abandoned all efforts to learn to prepare tasty, hearty meals from scratch.
Still cradling the exhausted puppy, he rooted around in the freezer until he found some turkey casserole left over from who knew when. He heated it in the microwave, placed a small helping on a saucer, filled a bowl with fresh water, and set everything down on the floor.
Without pause, the little critter stepped onto the saucer, waded right into the warm casserole, and began to wolf it down. Unable to keep from laughing, Brad grabbed a fork, seated himself beside the dog, and dug into what was left in the container. Now and then, the dog would look up and wag his tail before returning to his dinner.
That's what's missing around this house, Brad thought. A little appreciation. A few kind words of affirmation. The least Ashley could do was thank him for the hours of work he put in every day on the construction site. Besides that, many afternoons he did avoid the bar to come home and work with Esther's husband. Charlie Moore and Brad were finishing a new addition to the house and spiffing up the rest of the place. They'd been painting, repairing cracks in the ceiling where the roof had leaked, caulking the bathtub and sinks, and weatherproofing the windows and doors.
At least the puppy noticed what he had been given and was grateful. After a long drink of water, the mutt clambered into Brad's lap and joined him in polishing off the rest of the turkey casserole. Oddly enough, Brad didn't mind the little black snout rooting around the corners of the glass dish.
"We're two of a kind, huh, pal?" he told the dog. "Someone dumped you into a box in the parking lot. And I'm left here night after night in an empty house by the lake. We both got abandoned by people we thought loved us. Stinks, doesn't it?"
The puppy sat down in the empty baking dish and leaned against Brad's chest. "You planning to take another nap? Well, I guess I'll join you. Might as well. Nothing else to do around here."
Brad picked up the dog and set the pan in the sink along with the other empty plates, glasses, and pots. Then he dropped down onto the sofa. After unlacing his work boots, he kicked them off and stretched out on the saggy cushions. The remote control was out of reach, and he considered rising to get it. But the puppy had already made a nest in the crook of Brad's arm.
"Brrrp ... brrrp ... brrrp ..."
Chuckling, Brad wrapped his hands around the filthy little fur ball and closed his eyes. Ashley would have a fit when she walked into the house sometime after midnight. But at least he wasn't at Larry's. He hadn't even popped open a beer. And he certainly wasn't gazing at Yvonne Ratcliff with thoughts that embarrassed even himself.
Excerpted from Winter turns to Spring by CATHERINE PALMER GARY CHAPMAN Copyright © 2008by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman.Excerpted by permission.
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
While this book in some ways pulled on my heart more than the others and reminded me of some painful things in my past, the storyline and ending was still very good and kept me reading each day looking forward to what would happen next. I was glad to have read all four books in this series and this one being book # 4 did not disappoint.
Brad and Ashley Hanes are each considering ending their marriage. They are tired of constant fighting over bills and habits. They rarely do anything meaningful together. ----------------- Their neighbors want to help the couple, but they have their own relationship issues. That is everyone except elderly widower Charlie Moore, whose spouse Esther just died. As he grieves his loss, the Hanes see someone who has lost his long time companion both want the same long time from each other as the arguments seem trivial, but will either take that first step towards intimacy or will each assumes it is too late.---------- The final novelization of the Four Seasons of Marriage is an interesting contemporary look at a couple struggling with seemingly overwhelming issues and major differences re how to deal with them. The story line is well written as winter roars like a lion but spring with its renewal promise including marital vows and love is coming. In some ways Charlie steals the show as the Hanes in spite of their fights seem too sweet. Still this is a fine entry in a solid series that reflects on marriage through the parable of the seasons of life.---------
She limps around.
Read "My gone explanation" at axel res 1. -Lunapaw
Congrats on becoming leader! You deserved it. I am not trying to sound demanding, but I would like my ceremony soon, since I have been here since Feburary. I do hope the deputy is chosen soon! How are you choosing, experience, activity, or what?
to all!! this is Oakpride! my nook is broken, and if i can get a new one, it'll be a few months:/ i'll check in if and when i can!!
Geez. Someone's snarky. And... theres noone here... so...
A pregnant dark brown tabby shecat with piercing blue eyes pads in. "Hello, RainClan," she mews. "My name is Rainflower of ThunderClan. We are having a battle against Ethereal, and we need allies to help us win. Unfortunately, l cannot fight-" she gestured toward her swollen belly. "But you all can. If you will please help us, go to 'quiet river' fourth result and ask for my leader, Amberstar." She pads away.
A pretty tabby pads in her blue eyes shining "may i join?"
Standing by Dawnflight, Thornshadow looked at Rainshadow. Nor did I," he murmured. (Gtgts bbl.)
A soft wind, fingering its way through the sky, brushed over MintPetal's body smoothly. It pushed her fur forward, her flower ruffling gracefully, a sweet herbal scent coiling around her. Her graceful eyes suddenly were milky, as if she was soaking the beauty of the world. Calm, deep, bottomless. Those pale teal eyes suddenly bored over the tom who met her presence, and she moved nimbly over to the group of cats. So gracefully, she seemed almost devine. It was when she spok that each syllabal seemed smooth, milky, and unearthed. Chilling. Smoky. "Greetings. I have heard news of a clan needing an herbal master." MintPetal blinked, "I assume it is here."
Ravenpaw and Vampirepaw padded up to emberstar. "Hi we just joined yesterday! Willowpool said that we needed to ask you for mentors" ravenpaw moewed
I am 20 moons.
Please go read 'My Gone Explanation' at 'syl' result one (result two for Nook HDs). Thanks.. <p> ~Thornshadow
He wraps his tail around his paws, watching the Clan.
They beamed, cheering for the new deputy. "Thak you very much." Echoflight purred. Lionspeed was speechless.
Camp is now at rainy cloud
There is no rainy cloud for me! :(
She watched from the nursery and cheered.
He greeted Darksilence