Fishing for Love (Regency Short Story Romance)

Image courtesy of EA at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of EA at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Percy walked out into the dewy grass and paused to smell the fresh summer air. He thought he saw a shadow in the distance and since he was headed that way he stepped forward to follow.

As he grew closer he noted the cloaked figure of Lady Annette Wallington. Daughter of a neighboring earl who passed away six months ago, and his closest friend all these years as they were neighbors.

She sat beneath the sprawling oak tree, on a blanket she must have carried with her. Percy gave a soft whistle to let her know he was coming and not startle her. It was a jaunty little tune they had made up one summer and was unique to them.

He saw her hood fall away from her face as she turned to look at him. Her expression grave.

“Good morning, Annette. What brings you out this early in the day?” He settled down with his fishing pole and tackle to bait his hook.

“I needed to get away from the house.”

“At this time of the day?”

“Even now it is an untenable place to live.”

“Why?”

“My uncle is to be wed to Miss Sophorina Dimplewile in a fortnight and demands that mother and I vacate the premises prior to that date.”

“This is shocking news. You are all still in mourning.”

“He has gone to half-morning and declares it is a prudent move.”

“Sophie was one of your bosom friends from finishing school?”

Was being the operative word.”

“There’s a huge age gap there. He’s only two years younger than your father.”

“I know.”

“So where will you go?” He cast his hook into the stream before looking at her again. He was concerned by the dark circles under her eyes, and wrinkles on her forehead.

“I know not. We have been ill-provided for. There is no Dower House and even his smaller properties he has denied us residence at.”

“He will not find you a place?”

“He says he washes his hands of us.”

“You and your mother have run that house and you especially have overseen the estate on his behalf and made it profitable, yet he refuses you aid?”

A tear trickled down her cheek and he propped his rod up so he could scoot backward to sit next to her.

“And Sophie is in agreement with his treatment?”

“It seems that becoming a countess brings with it a distaste for the lower orders.”

“Meaning you?”

“Apparently. With a heritage and education of a lady, but no season, and having worked in trade as an estate manager, they deem me ‘unmarriageable.’”

“They see you as employable in that role?”

“Right. Who would employ a woman as estate manager?”

“I would.”

She stared at him and shook her head. “You are the dearest of friends but even you cannot take on a single female into your home without scandal falling on both of us.”

“Ah, but a Duchess has more influence than a Countess, doesn’t she?”

“There are not many Dukes on the marriage mart and those who are, are ancient.”

“But there are heirs to dukedoms available.”

“And the only one of them I could ever have any affection for was you, Percy.”

Lord Percival smiled. “I’m glad to hear it. It would be poor form for me to duel with another peer for your affections.”

“You are being silly now. Everyone knows you will never marry and have no need to do so. Your brothers have provided a bevy of heirs.”

“Where did you ever get the impression I was opposed to marriage?”

“You’ve never been serious with a woman before and have never talked about it.”

“Not every man boasts of his conquests with women, although to be honest, I have none. But my heart has been engaged for an age. It has never seemed a prudent time to broach the matter with the one who holds my heart.”

She smiled at him. “Oh, Percy, I’m so glad for you. I pray she will be worthy of you. Who is she?”

“You don’t know?”

Her brow furrowed. “No.”

“Let me see if you can guess.”

She warily nodded her head.

“She was a devoted daughter and works hard. Her beauty takes my breath away and even the thought of her brings a smile to my face. I’ve known her for many years and she dances divinely. She has never had a season due to unfortunate circumstances. She has unwittingly held my heart for years as I have waited for her to grow, I hope, to return my affections.”

She smiled and a tear trickled down her cheek. “I’m so happy you have found love, Percy. I cannot guess though who this deserving woman would be.”

“No? More clues then?”

“Yes, silly man.”

“She is a wonder with numbers and reads and is able to converse on a wide variety of subjects from gothic novels to crop rotation. She is light on her feet and has lips so kissable that I have yet to taste.” He watched her face turn a rosy hue.

“Please, tell me you have proposed so I may wish you happy.”

“But you have your own problems. My happiness should never supersede your distress.”He sighed.  She looked up through the trees as the early dawn glow filtered through the leaves and dappled her face with odd patches of light.

He frowned at her cloak and reached up to the catch at the top to peek at what she wore underneath. “You came here in your night rail?”

“I was suffocating in my room and left in a hurry so as not to wake my maid who would have tattled to my uncle.”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. You do know you could cause a scandal being alone with me. It is beyond the pale to be alone with me dressed in such a way. Did you even wear slippers?” He moved aside part of the cloak to reveal naked toes. He raised his eyebrows. “Well, Anne, you do know there is only one thing to be done now and it will make everyone happy.”

“What would that be?”

“You can marry me.”

Her book dropped off her lap as her jaw fell open. She recovered with a shake of her head. “But what of the one you love? I would never deprive you of that because of my imprudence.”

“If you said yes, I would hope she would be delighted.”

“You speak in riddles.”

“And you have not had enough rest. You are not thinking clearly.”

“Your pole! You have a bite.”

Percy reached out to grab his rod and tried to bring the fish in. Just as he was to bring it out of the water, it escaped leaving a naked hook. He set the pole down and came to sit next to her again. “Anne. It’s always been you I have loved and longed for. Please say you return my affections?”

“Me?”

“You, my love.”

“You love me?”

He nodded.

“I. . . I . . .I don’t know what to say.”

“Perhaps that you love me and want to be my bride, my best friend and mother of our children? And that you will help me run my estate?”

She gave him a soft smile. “I do love you and always have. You are the reason I didn’t mind missing a season. I couldn’t have borne seeing you in the arms of other women. I never dreamed . . .”

“Maybe you should start dreaming then. I’ve had plenty of dreams about you and would love to make every one a reality.” He watched her face grow pink. Or was it a trick of the light? “Say you’ll be mine, Anne?”

“I have no fortune.”

“Having you will be all the fortune I need.”

“You are certain?”

“Never more sure of anything than this. I love you, Anne. Please say you’ll marry me?” He leaned forward and their lips met in a tender moment of bliss. He pulled back and watched her eyes flutter open.

“If I marry you, will I get more of those?”

Percy smiled. “As many as you want, every day of our lives together.”

She leaned toward him and kissed him. He savored the moment but pulled back. It would be no good to tarnish his bride’s name.

“Yes, Percy. I will wed you.”

He couldn’t hide his grin if he had tried. “Soon? Would you like to beat your Uncle to the altar?”

“But the banns . . .”

“I’ll get a special license. We could be wed within a few days. Could you manage to be ready by then, with whatever you need and moving to my home?”

“I could be ready tomorrow should you but ask.”

“Do you need me to speak to your uncle?”

“I am of age and do not need his permission. I will inform him on the day of our wedding lest he, or Sophie try to ruin my joy.”

“I’ll bow to your wisdom on that.”

“I’m glad you decided to come fishing today. I’m sorry I’ve kept you from catching anything.”

“I caught myself a beautiful bride. You smell better than the fish too.”

She giggled as she pulled him toward her for another kiss. “Guess I reeled in a good catch myself.”

“Glad to be caught, Anne. I’ll be the one who didn’t get away.” He leaned down for his kiss, grateful that somehow today, his fishing was better than ever.

Mistakes

I have a tendency to be a klutz. I do weird things but not on purpose. They just happen. Words come out wrong. I might get confused and do something silly or stupid. Sometimes I am unaware of this.

Apparently this is quite funny to most people.

Sometimes I can laugh too.

But one part of depression involves mood and the other part involves thoughts. 

And sometimes the thoughts can beat me up pretty bad. I’m never quite sure what mistake is going to come to haunt me and my brain will ruminate on it. Yeah, obsessive thoughts can be part of depression as much as anxiety and physical pain. Lovely illness isn’t it?

And there can be a nice way to make fun of something . . . and then there can be a way to subtly humiliate and demean while making the joke. The first I handle pretty well. The second is adding salt to the wound.

Sure, even a paper cut can be brutal when you add that to it. Or maybe some lemon juice. Yeah. Ouch.

So maybe a mistake is small but the pain cuts deep.

And then there are the grace-givers. Those who can laugh at my mistake but say “You know, once I did this . . .” and make me feel normal again. Like I’m not the only human being on earth who does clumsy things. Or friends who are willing to speak truth and say, “Hey, Susan, that was pretty minor, but you sure are beating yourself up over that.”

So I’m grateful to the grace-givers. I’m thankful for those who know how to laugh with me instead of at me and at the same time let me know that as a fellow wanderer on this planet, I’m okay. Not perfect, but good enough because of who God made me to be.

Sometimes I wonder if God allows these instances to keep me humble. I don’t think he accepts the disrespect of some, but he keeps track so I really don’t have to. Still, it can hurt when little things become opportunities even a week later to rip a scab open for the purpose of making themselves feel better.

I’ve been a victim of verbal abuse in my past and now strive so hard to be the opposite. To be an encourager. But as my pastor told me, enouragers are sometimes those that are in desperate need of the most encouragement themselves. But in reality, like many other spiritual gifts (giving, mercy, faith, helps . . .) there is a level to which we are commanded to live out these characteristics in our faith. Gift or not.

But not everyone else is there yet and I suppose that’s where I need to be the grace-giver to those who pour salt on my failures. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to do it so I avoid them. Sometimes letting my wounds heal is better than letting someone else pick at them for their own entertainment.

So if you are a grace-giver.  Thank you. Your words give life and healing that I for one, am grateful for.

Silenced (Book Review)

Book - SilencedSilenced is the fourth and final book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series. I find this terribly sad because I wanted Reef to have his own story! Boo hoo.

Kayden McKenna is probably the most walled up emotionally of the family. Things changed between her and Jake Westin during the last adventure when his past was revealed. It stripped away Kayden’s defenses as her heart warms to the tragic past Jake had hidden from them all.

Kayden however is thrust into solving a crime with Jake after she discovers the body of a dead climber and realizes that it had to be murder. Asking questions in small Alaskan villages amongst the tight-knit climbing community seems to have put her, and Jake, in the crosshairs of the killer who is teasing them and stringing them along. But is there one murderer to track?

Jake is head over heels in love with Kayden but doubts she would ever return the affection. As they work side by side and face an enemy from his past, will either of them be alive long enough for him to tell her how he really feels?

Stalkers and uncovering the ugly sins of others has consequences, even for those who have done nothing wrong and Jake and Kayden have to work together to uncover the killer(s). Fascinating story that kept me guessing while giving an inside look into the world of rock climbing (that I will never engage in!). I’m only sad it is the final story in the series, but look forward to seeing what Dani comes up with next to keep us from sleeping at night.

What Would Success Look like for You?

I had a chance to chat with my brother, John Pollard, this past weekend and he asked me an insightful question in regards to my book, Pesto and Potholes, coming out next spring:

What would success look like for you? 

Wow. Of course I would love it if my book sold well and I even made something to compensate me for my efforts to write it. Let’s face it, New York Times Bestselling Author is a nice moniker to claim but for inspirational romance and a debut novel, probably not likely. I can market and do book signings but ultimately, there is a lot of that which is out of my control. I can make people aware of my work, but I can’t force them to fork over their hard-earned cash to purchase a copy.

But I hope you will anyway. 

I told John (my younger and much wiser brother by the way) that ultimately my version of success would be hard to measure. This is totally opposed to any leadership training I’ve had or taught. Objectives are to be measurable!

How do you measure success without it?

The fact is, you can’t.

So what would success look like? Success to me would be people putting down my book and not just been entertained by a story, but encouraged in their walk with God. That they would be affirmed in their pursuit of obedience to Him. That maybe they would draw closer to our Lord because of the example of the characters in the story.

Renate - God loves you

Emotional impact.

Spiritual affirmation and encouragement.

Heart change. 

I can’t measure these things.

But God can. So while I have to rely on book sales and the reviews of readers to clue me into whether my efforts have paid off, God can track the truth with those who don’t write a review, or borrow the book from a friend. Because the reality is, in this life, we rarely are aware of the ripple effect of our words and actions.

And maybe that’s a good thing. It will make heaven all the sweeter when we learn how God used our pain, suffering and art to touch the hearts of others.

It’s months away . . . there’s Thanksgiving to get through. Christmas and a new year . . . so stay tuned here and at my fan page as I navigate this journey. And thanks. Thank you for reading, for praying, and encouraging this fellow traveler in this rocky road we call life.

 

 

 

A Secret Life (Book Review)

ASecretLife_ecoverWorld War II novels are popular but A Secret Life, by Lee Carver, stands apart in the world of fiction. 

As war breaks out around them, Karl Von Steuben, fears for his family’s safety. With dual American/German citizenship and a secret Jewish heritage on his mother’s side, the Christian family finds their faith and lives in danger. Kidnapped and forced into the German army rips Karl away from his privileged life and any hope of escape. He could never shoot an American and looks for an opportunity to cross the lines of war, risking being caught as an enemy. When the opportunity arises, he assumes a dead American soldier’s identity and crawls to the Siegfried Line carrying with him the secret hiding place of gold ingots melted from the jewelry of death camp prisoners. A battle injury robs him for a time of his memory, real name and history.
Eventually he gains awareness of the horrible truth but more secrets have to stay buried lest he be branded a war criminal in spite of the valuable aid he provides to the American side of the war effort. Eventually he is discharged and shipped to America under his assumed name. Alone in a foreign land, he rediscovers the faith of his past and the truth of God’s unmerited favor in a beautiful Atlanta nurse, Grace. The only problem is, Karl’s real name, identity and family fortune lies oversees in post-war Germany. Claiming them and owning the truth of who he is could give him the life he longs for with his new wife, but at the same time jeopardizes their marriage. Would Grace, and his adopted country, ever forgive him?
The twists and turns of this complex tale also covers the story of Karl’s family and their struggle during the war. Historically grounded and well researched the characters and their struggles come to life on the page. The heart-rending truth of the horrors of war and the choices that have to be made are well told without being gory. It’s a beautifully told tale of love, faith and difficult choices.

 

 

Whatever Happened to Compassion?

I’m fed up. I pray that I never know enough to be a jerk about it. I want to be fully cognizant that the more I learn the less I know about myself, the people around me and the world I live in.

Why would this be my beef right now?

Because some people blamed Robin William’s death on his wife. Some tortured his grieving daughter on twitter. A church wants to boycott his funeral but a comedian has offered to pay for them to go protest ISIS instead.

As I do have a snarky side I’ll refrain from commenting further on that one. 

Because some people rejoice at the challenges facing pastor Mark Driscoll.

Because some people are more concerned with dumping ice than reaching out to someone with ALS personally.

Because some people are more concerned with the size of someone’s waist than with the state of their heart.

Because when I was on vacation and met a homeless man, some preferred to ignore him rather than expressing compassion for his plight.

What’s the point in learning if we lose our heart? What’s the point in memorizing Scripture and being able to defend our faith in Jesus Christ if we never live out our faith? Yes, Scripture is clear. Learn sound doctrine. Defend the faith. But even more than that we are to let our actions speak louder than our words. We are to bear fruit.

fruit checker

To listen to another’s hurts and encourage them.

To treat people with respect–from your wife to the homeless man on the street to the pastor you only know through social media. Or has that our standard of truth nowadays?

I have strong opinions on many things – but if expressing them as an expert would throw up a roadblock to Christ, I try to refrain.

After all, God can be glorified in the life of someone who is:

  • Democrat or Republican.
  • A Packer or Bears fan or yes, even a Vikings fan
  • Sends their kids to public school, private school or home-schools
  • Vaccinate or choose not to
  • Seeks traditional medicine for cancer or seeks alternative options.
  • Whether you worship singing hymns or contemporary music

I’ve often said I am a champion navel-gazer. (for those who are confused, I’m talking about my belly button). Part of that though is my personality which enables me to write and serve in ministry like I do. It’s part of God’s unique design that I am introspective. But I hope I am never so self-absorbed to ignore the pain of another.

I probably swing too far the other way.

But the reality is, none of us can save anyone from the pain and challenges of life. We might speak words of love and encouragement. We might give money or food or meet other needs. But ultimately the deepest struggles we all face are at our core, spiritual. And knowledge can only go so far to heal those hurts.

We all need compassion. Understanding. Love.

We do not need condemnation, harsh words, hatred spewing out.

And part of me fears that I’ll come off as judgemental in even writing this post. After all, don’t the narcissists and self-righteous “know-it-alls” among us deserve compassion too? Sure, but not for those behaviors. Pity maybe.

Lord help us. There are people suffering in this world who desperately need us and not our deep-seated opinions. Give us humble broken hearts for those who hurt. Make us quick to listen and slow to speak. And help us recognize the divine opportunities you put in our path to be “Jesus with skin on” to those we meet. 

Stranded (Book Review)

StrandedDani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series has me hooked and apparently others too since I had to wait for others to finish her novels before I could get my hands on them at the library. Stranded is book number three and filled with adventure while looking at . . . well, not giving away spoilers!

Darcy St. James had been the pesky reporter in book #2 (Shattered). She had helped prove Reef’s innocence while falling in love with the McKenna family . . . and particularly Gage. She had given up investigative reporting until an urgent call from her old partner compels her to join the staff of a cruises ship as a travel reporter to uncover some mystery.  But when Darcy arrives, her friend suddenly disappears and the intrigue deepens.

Gage McKenna has been contracted to lead expeditions for the cruise line and is shocked to find himself coming face to face with Darcy. The fact that she’s a reporter doesn’t make it easier. The fact that she’s investigating a hidden crime for trouble she’s unaware of, deeply concerns him.

Eventually Gage and most of McKenna clan are involved in solving this mystery . . . and keeping Darcy safe. The deeper the trouble goes, the more Gage is forced to admit two things–he desperately needs God and he’s in love with the pesky reporter. But can he find her, alive in time to tell her so?

Beautiful scenery and adventure are hallmarks of Dani Pettrey’s writing in this series and her characters become much-loved as you follow their stories, love and faith. I don’t think this book would disappoint anyone seeking a romantic suspense that will keep you guessing.