For sweet romances filled with unexpected twists and turns, pick up a novel by Janet Dean. An author, wife, mom, history buff, and so much more, her historical romances touch on some deep spiritual and emotional issues while conveying a beautiful story of grace and second chances.
Courting the Doctor’s Daughter was the first Love Inspired book I ever read. When I first purchased it (on a whim) it seemed so small compared to my other books, but it packed a fantastic story between those small pages…and lots of conflict. I am tickled to have Janet visiting today and absolutely love the cover of her newest novel The Substitute Bride coming out in February 2010. She has a wonderful excerpt of The Substitute Bride available on her website at:
Believe me – if you read it, you’ll HAVE to buy the book in February just to see what happens to poor Elizabeth Manning.
Alright, let’s see what Janet has to share with us today. (AND if you leave your email address along with your comment, your name will be placed in a drawing to win Janet’s book Courting the Doctor’s Daughter.
I found writing the scene in Courting Miss Adelaide where hero Charles Graves reconnects with his faith very emotional. Charles grew up with an abusive father, a church-going man who beat his family. That hypocrisy and what Charles saw as God ignoring his childhood prayers kept him trapped in the past and estranged from God.
In the scene Charles and ten-year-old William are in the small town’s doctor’s office after the boy brought in his battered foster mother for treatment. Charles recognizes signs that indicate William was also abused by his foster father. As he talks to William about the fear, the self-blame and the need to forgive, Charles is finally able to release his own anger and forgive his father, freeing him to reconnect with God.
(Here’s the excerpt – compliments of Janet & Steeple Hill)
Head down, William drooped in the chair, the slump of his shoulders telling Charles plenty. His hair and clothes were disheveled and stained, probably from Frances’ blood. Hands clasped tight in his lap, he didn’t look injured, at least not on the outside.
Charles sat on his haunches and laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder. William flinched. Charles should have known better than to touch him. “I’m Charles Graves, William, a friend of Emma and Miss Crum.”
Frightened eyes turned to him, and then darted away. William seemed to shrink into himself, trying to be invisible.
Charles’ heart tumbled. He knew the signs. Charles removed his hand, giving the boy some distance. “I’ve been in a bit of a fight, but I’m fine. And Mr. Drummond is in jail.”
William turned somber eyes on him. “He is?”
“Yes. And that’s where he’s staying.” Charles patted his stomach. “I’m starving. Are you hungry?”
William shook his head.
“How about some milk? I bet Doc even has a cookie or two.” Charles put out a hand. “Come on. Let’s raid the ice box.”
Mary blinked damp eyes. “I’ll check on Frances.”
Charles and William walked down the hall to Doc’s kitchen. Dishes, glasses, half-full cups of cold coffee covered every surface. Addie would have a heyday in here. Nice to know another bachelor in town would fail Addie’s neatness test.
Charles found two clean glasses in a cabinet and filled them with milk. Then pulled out a chair for William at the small drop-leaf table, and sat beside him. For the second time today, had no idea what to say.
If only he could find the right words, the words he would have wanted, needed to hear as a boy. “I’m sorry about Mrs. Drummond. She’s a good woman.”
Turning his glass in his boy-size hands, William nodded.
“It took courage to get her to the doc’s.”
William’s lips pressed in a tight line, but he kept his eyes averted. Still, Charles could see tears well up in pools, though not a single one dropped onto his tanned cheeks.
Charles pushed his untouched glass aside and leaned his chin on his hands. “I know what it’s like, William.”
The boy didn’t look at him, didn’t speak.
“I know the fear, the anger. What it’s like to try to keep the peace … and fail.”
“How?” he said softly, head down, spirit wounded.
“I grew up in a home with a Pa like Ed Drummond.”
William’s head snapped up. Charles waited, letting the words connect them, seeing the moment the boy understood.
“I remember how the hair on my neck would rise, how my gut would knot.” Charles swallowed against the old familiar lump in his throat. “How I wanted to run, but knew running would only make it worse. It was the same for you, wasn’t it?”
Slowly, William nodded.
Charles lifted William’s chin with a palm. “I want you to know something else.”
The boy’s tear-filled eyes, the color of the sea on a cloudy day, met his.
“It wasn’t your doing. None of it was your fault, William. You were never the reason for what was said or done. Never.”
Charles said never again and again and again. Until a sob tore from William’s throat. The tears spilled over now, slipping down William’s cheeks in little rivulets, leaving trails on his dirty face. As he wept, William’s breath came in gulping hitches.
Charles rose and knelt before the boy, pausing only a second, and then pulled William tight to his chest. For a moment, William held himself stiff, his heart knocking against Charles’s torso, and then he burrowed into Charles’s arms.
“I was afraid.”
“I didn’t know how to make him stop hurting her,” William spoke into Charles’s shirt.
Old feelings of inadequacy and helplessness roared through him. “Stopping Ed wasn’t a job for a boy. It was a man’s job.”
“I … I always made him angry.”
Ah, familiar words from his past. “Ed Drummond’s sick, William. Sick in the head and in the heart. Like my pa. His anger had nothing to do with what you did or didn’t do. It was him.” Charles shifted William in his arms and caught his gaze then repeated, “It was him.”
William’s gaze tumbled away from Charles. “I hate him.”
“I know about hate.” All too well. Hate lived in him still, gnawing at him, dumping the past on his every today. As surely as he held William, hate held Charles in its clutches.
Suddenly, he knew what else needed to be said to the boy, to himself, the boy he used to be. “When we can, you and I need to forgive. Hating eats us up inside, keeps us from trusting all the good people.” Good people like Addie.
The harsh lines in William’s face eased, leaving his expression solemn, but perplexed.
He ran his hand through the boy’s silky strands. “Forgiving won’t be easy.”
Though Addie had told him he should, until that moment, Charles hadn’t truly comprehended the importance of forgiving. He had to forgive his mother for staying, and then his father for inflicting wounds that might have mended on the outside but underneath, festered still. Until he could forgive, he’d be stuck, unable to move beyond his past.
And so would William.
“What Ed did was wrong, bad,” Charles said, “You’ll never forget, but you can forgive him because he’s ill.” His words an echo of what Addie had tried to tell him about his own father.
William swiped at his eyes. “Why’s he sick?”
“That’s a tough one. I don’t know.” Would he ever know? Did it even matter?
“Will I … will I be sick like him?”
Charles remembered that first day at the schoolhouse, how William had taken Emma’s hand and comforted her. This very night, the boy had rescued Frances instead of running. Everyone started out in life with the capacity for good and evil. Some people, like William, served good, while others, like Ed Drummond, served evil.
“No. You’re going to be your own man. You can choose what kind of man that will be.”
As William clung to him, tears ran down Charles’s cheeks. Together they wept for two innocent boys, for William and for the boy Charles had once been. They’d both faced an enemy far bigger than them.
“You’re a good boy,” Charles crooned, cradling William in his arms. “A good boy.”
The words resonated in Charles’ head. He had been a good boy, no matter how much he’d heard otherwise. He and William had both done the best they could. And they both could choose a new future.
Not only must he forgive his family, Charles knew he must make things right between him and God. Because he knew without a doubt God had saved him—then and now.
Charles turned his head upward.
God, I’m hoping You can forgive me for my anger at You, for questioning Your will.
Forgive me for trying to kill my father, for holding onto bitterness, for not worshiping.
Help me make a fresh start. A fresh start with You.
The dark oppressive load slid from Charles’s shoulders and in its place came a long-awaited sense of peace. It filled him with surging hope, warm acceptance, calming certainty. And then, he knew without a doubt. He, Charles Graves, a man who didn’t deserve it—
God loved, truly loved him. God had heard. God had answered. God had forgiven.
Pepper here: Oh Janet, that was absolutely beautiful. What a great reminder of God’s grace and his overabundance of second-chances for us. Thanks for being a guest here today and for allowing readers a chance to see the ‘heart’ and ‘faith’ behind your writing.
God’s words of faith for today:
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
The one thing everyone is looking for, just like William in Janet’s novel, is peace. From the fall of Adam and Eve, our world has been rife with conflict, brokenness, anger..etc, but as Jesus states in John 16, “I’ve conquered the world.” Our Lord, Jesus, is the only promise for perfect peace. Nothing else will satisfy.
As the angels proclaimed on the night of Jesus’ birth ‘peace to men on whom his favor rests’ – peace from God is still offered today, and as his children, we can truly find rest no matter how great the storm.