Sunday, July 31, 2011

Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration by Cindy Beall

Tour Date: Wednesday, August 3rd

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Catherine Miller, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker, and a mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, speak openly about their difficult journey through Chris’ infidelity and pornography addiction that nearly destroyed their marriage and ministry. Through God’s grace they have inspired thousands of couples and have returned to full-time ministry where Chris serves as the Oklahoma City Campus Pastor at

Visit the author's website.


Life changed forever for Cindy Beall when her husband, a respected pastor, confessed to pornography addiction and numerous affairs. Through her remarkable story and with biblical, practical insight, Cindy helps husbands and wives grieve, heal, as they trust God’s power to resurrect something new out of the debris of betrayal.

Foreword by Craig Groeschel, bestselling author and senior pastor of

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943153
ISBN-13: 978-0736943154


When the Walls Come Tumbling Down

You never forget the day that changes your life forever. The day that turns your heart and your family upside down. But when that day begins, you don’t realize it’s anything out of the ordinary.

It was February 19, 2002, and my husband of nine years, Chris, and I were just getting settled into our new home in Edmond, Oklahoma. He had come out six weeks earlier on his own to begin his ministry with as the worship pastor of the Edmond Campus. I had stayed behind in Memphis to wrap up the sale of our home there. But now we and our almost three-year-old son, Noah, were happily back together under one roof.

On this morning, while Chris was at the church, I was doing the usual stuff that nesters do. I unpacked boxes, fought with bubble wrap, and put away our belongings in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the rest of the house. I was enjoying the process and thought how good it was to prepare our new home for this new life we had prayed about so fervently.

And then Chris came home unexpectedly at 9:30.

I was about to ask why he was back from work so soon, but the worried expression on his face stopped me from saying anything. He asked if we could talk. The request sounded so formal and distant that my heart raced as I quickly and silently got Noah settled in front of our TV with a Blue’s Clues video and inched my way along a narrow path around stacks of boxes and toward Chris. My mind was spinning in anticipation of what might come out of his mouth.

Had one of our parents died or been in an accident? Had the church changed their mind about adding Chris to the staff?

Chris motioned me to the newly purchased sofa, and we sat down together. I tried to look into his handsome green eyes for reassurance. But those amazing, clear eyes that had captivated me the day we met years before were now downcast. I waited for him to reassure me that all was well in this new life. But instead of words of comfort, the man I had prayed for as a young woman, long before I knew him, was about to share news that would alter the course of our lives in unimaginable ways.

The Prayers of a Young Woman

I first prayed for my future husband while I was serving as a summer missionary on a Native American reservation in Wyoming. Although this ministry experience would become one of the best challenges and inspirations in my life and faith journey, the day I had to say goodbye to my mom at the Austin, Texas, airport was an unhappy one. The cute denim jumper with the cheery sailor collar I wore did little to dress up my sadness at having to leave her and my home to be 1200 miles away for 11 weeks. It felt like a world and a lifetime apart.

The first couple of weeks proved to be difficult. My tear-stained cheeks initially put a damper on the adventure. But eventually I understood that I needed this time to grow up and learn to rely on God.

And I did.

I learned a lot about the woman I would become. I not only learned to lean on God but also discovered that I had a voice and something to say and something worth sharing. I learned that not all things make sense when you follow Christ. And I realized it’s okay to not have an answer for everything. In fact, it’s actually more authentic and appealing when you don’t.

In the midst of my time of learning about God, about others, and most definitely about myself, I had a longing in my heart for true love. The kind of love that would lead me to say to someone special, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” And I wasn’t the type of girl who had to have a boyfriend on her arm at all times. For one thing, I was taller than most guys my age. This is hardly an asset for a young girl’s dating potential. I also possessed an independent spirit, and I liked the freedom I was experiencing during this stage of life.

Still, this longing for true love grew. I would be turning 21 soon, and although there isn’t a guideline or time frame that says young women should fall in love by this age, I definitely wouldn’t have pushed the opportunity away. If       it was the right guy, you understand. My right guy.

One particular July night during that summer mission, I stared out at the beautiful mountains bathed in sunset’s glow and began praying for others and for my future husband. At that moment, the idea popped into my head—thank You, Holy Spirit—that maybe I should pray for my husband’s salvation. So I did.

I prayed that my future husband would have the character, personality, talents, passions, and even the looks that matched up with the list I made about the man of my dreams. I didn’t think I was asking for much. Just the moon, the stars, and everything in between. Why not, right?

I first saw Chris Beall at a barn dance in November 1991. We couldn’t take our eyes off each other. He wasn’t the best dresser, nor did he have a model-perfect smile, but he held my gaze with those intoxicating green eyes. I was smitten almost immediately.


It would be a few more months before anything actually began between us. He started frequenting the Baptist Student Union on our campus for our Wednesday lunches. Within a few weeks, at one of those lunches, he asked me for a dinner date the following Monday. I didn’t have to agonize with anticipation for five days. Instead, he came to my church on Sunday and invited me out to lunch with a group of friends. There was so much excitement and “I can’t believe this is really happening” in the air that by Sunday evening, we found ourselves sitting on the balcony of my apartment eating mint chocolate chip ice cream and talking about life, family, and mostly about Jesus. And I found out something special about Chris that evening: He’d been a Christ follower for less than a year, and the date that he gave his life to Christ was July 7, 1991—the summer that the Holy Spirit led me to pray for my future husband’s salvation.

Big sigh.

I knew with every part of my being that Chris Beall was the one for me. I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I knew it in my knower and felt it in my feeler. But what I didn’t know was that the very next day he made a down payment on my wedding ring.

Ten months later, on January 9, 1993, we became husband and wife.

We were so madly in love with Jesus and each other that we were certain we’d conquer it all. We never would have guessed that the road we’d travel together over the course of our marriage would be anything but bliss.

Love was completely blind in our case. It’s a good thing, because little did I know that around year nine, we’d get our sight back.


I sat down next to Chris on our new couch, and as he began speaking, my throat went dry and my eyes stung with hot tears. Even though shock was making it hard for my mind to make sense of the words and phrases and sentences, my heart and soul took it all in with great sorrow. Chris wasn’t communicating the news that someone we loved was hurt. He was confessing that he, the person I loved most in the world, had hurt and betrayed me in the deepest way.

Chris had been unfaithful.

I was now trembling head to foot as my mind continued to spin with disbelief. I felt nauseous as the confession continued. He had been unfaithful with more than one woman. In fact, he had been with many women in many different places over the course of the past two and a half years.

While I listened, the very real physical pain of a heart breaking took me by surprise. And as I struggled to keep breathing, Chris forced himself to speak the last part of his confession through trembling lips: One of the women was pregnant, and he was pretty sure the baby was his child.

He kept his eyes on me. He didn’t look away for a minute, even when my face clearly changed. His eyes were tender, and I could tell he was devastated by watching me. He didn’t reach out for me right away. He seemed to be in shock that he was actually confessing. Then, as the reality set in of what his news was doing to my heart, he began to cry.

Many angry thoughts could have rushed through my mind at that point, but the unfathomable absurdity of this surreal, frozen moment in time triggered one thought over and over, “You have got to be kidding me!”

He was definitely not kidding.

He sat there just waiting for me to respond. I was stunned and couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. I sifted through emotions and terms for emotions. It was none of them specifically and all of them collectively. Bewildered. Stunned. Shocked. Overwhelmed. Befuddled. Floored. Jolted. Nauseated. Sickened. Disturbed. Crushed. Dismayed. Paralyzed.

Ticked off. And that’s putting it nicely.

The truth is that I still can’t tell you to this day how I felt in those first few moments. What I can tell you is that I was keenly aware that my world as I knew it was forever changed. I woke up that morning a relatively comfortable housewife and stay-at-home mom, and within a couple of hours I became a seriously damaged woman with a marriage on the brink of destruction.

We had both made vows to forsake all others for the rest of our lives. I had kept my vow. He had not. Even when the distance between us grew, I kept mine. He had not. Even when other men showed interest in me, I kept mine. He had not. Even when days came where I didn’t even want to spend time with him, I kept mine. He had not.

When the Walls Fall Down

I was deeply wounded by the truth about the lies that poured from my loved one that morning. I ached not only for me but also for the new church that had hired and embraced Chris. For our son. For our families. For our friends. As the walls of the life we had built came tumbling down, hard realization after hard realization, I felt them crush the foundations of our shared life and the dreams of this new chapter we were entering.

Can you relate to that kind of letdown? Destruction? Betrayal? When the walls have fallen down with such force that you could not breathe beneath the pressure of the debris or see beyond the dust of the rubble?

My spirit was broken that morning. My heart was shattered. Thoughts of moving forward in life or taking positive action would have sounded absurd had anyone been there to suggest them. I could barely conceive of moving my body from that place on the couch. In fact, the only reason I was able to stand up and move was that the impulse to step away from Chris was so strong. I wanted to be as removed from him physically as I felt from him emotionally in that moment. I had never, ever felt so alone.

If you are feeling alone, know that I am here to journey with you, and so is God. He already desires to make you whole, even as the pieces of your known existence seem to be scattered to every corner of the universe. If the walls have tumbled and you cannot recognize truth from lies in the remains, know that God’s grace and power to transform your life are right there in the midst of the debris.

Hold on to your belief in redemption.

I kept mine. Please keep yours as we walk together toward healing.

Your Healing Journey

Has your spouse ever caught you off guard with a heartbreaking confession? If so, what was your initial response?

Have you ever had to make a confession that you knew would break your loved one’s heart? What finally helped you break your cycle of lies?

Have you ever received news that altered your life in a dramatic way? What was it, and how did you handle it? If you are able, take yourself back there mentally and allow God to bring healing as you grieve what you lost and as you journey through this book.

What happens when we bottle up our emotions and choose not to deal with them? Do you know people who do this ? Has this been you? How can you become more able to share or express your emotions?

Discuss ways you can remain committed to your marriage even when you don’t feel like it or when circumstances have caused a lack of connection between you and your spouse.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Harvest of Hearts by Laura V. Hilton (Book 2 of The Amish of Seymour)

Tour Date: August 2, 2011

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

A Harvest of Hearts (Book 2 of The Amish of Seymour)

Whitaker House (September 6, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling, Whitaker House, for sending me a review copy.***


Laura V. Hilton is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author, breast cancer survivor, homeschooler, and book reviewer. Although for her formal education she studied business, books have long been Laura’s passion. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Laura reviews Amish fiction for the ACFW ezine Afictionado and is as a staff reviewer for the Christian Suspense Zone. At last count she’d published over 1,000 reviews on her blog: A stay-at-home mom, Laura and her family live in Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.


Ready to make a fresh start and leave Lancaster County, Matthew Yoder moves to Seymour, Missouri, as part of a swap of Amish men; he’s placed with the Stoltzfus family. Shanna Stoltzfus has run away from home to follow her dream of becoming a nurse, despite her father’s threats to shun her. When her classmates embark on a medical mission trip that she can’t afford, Shanna turns to home and the Amish community she abandoned for help. She meets Mathew meet and a fast friendship blossoms, even though Shanna flirts with the people and practices of her Englisch life. When tensions escalate between Shanna and her father to the point his health is in jeopardy, Shanna is forced to face some tough issues as to where she truly belongs.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 6, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742565
ISBN-13: 978-1603742566


Shanna Stoltzfus felt something brush against her hair, just above her left ear. She swatted at it. When she touched flesh, she jumped, her attempts to pray forgotten, and raised her head from the steering wheel to see maple-stained fingers, complete with calluses and a small cut.

The hand pulled back. “Is something wrong? Are you hurt?” a deep voice asked.

She looked up into incredible gray eyes belonging to a drop-dead-gorgeous Amish man. He grasped his straw hat in the long fingers of his right hand. His light brown hair shone with natural blond highlights. She’d paid big bucks for streaks like those. He also had a strong, clean-shaven jaw. Nice. Too bad he hadn’t been around when she’d been Amish. She definitely would have noticed a hunk like this. Might even have considered staying.

“Lost, maybe? I can direct you back to the main road. Where did you want to go?”

“Anyplace but here. Mexico sounds good.” She swallowed her trepidation and aimed what she hoped was a wry smile at him. When she reached for the door handle, he stepped out of the way. “You must be the houseguest Mamm mentioned in her letters. Matthew Yoder from Pennsylvania?” She swung her legs out of the car and extended a hand. “I’m Shanna.”

“Shanna.” He seemed to freeze. A little smile played on his lips. “Shanna,” he repeated.

She didn’t know quite what to think. He said her name as if it meant something special. Then, he blinked. “I’m Matthew, jah.”

He held out his hand, but before his hand could touch hers, she fixed her gaze on his brown fingers. He hesitated and then rubbed his hands together, as if to check to see if the stain was still damp. Then, he pulled back. “Shanna.”

His tongue seemed to trip over her name this time. Or maybe he’d heard some negative things about her. Her stomach churned. She shouldn’t be here. But where else could she go?

“I guess they are expecting you?”

“No. Not really.” Shanna stood and looked up at him. The top of her head barely reached his jaw.

His gaze skimmed over her. She wondered what he thought as he studied her faded jeans, T-shirt, and flip-flops. She looked down at her toenails. Good, they were painted with pink polish. Except the paint on one of her big toes had a huge chip. She wished she could reach for the bottle and repair the damage. As his gaze traveled back up, she repressed the urge to smooth her hair. It wouldn’t have done much good, anyway. She’d driven the whole way with the windows down, so it would be hopelessly tangled.

His forehead wrinkled, and there was no hint of recognition in his eyes when they returned to her face.

“You have no idea who I am, do you?”

Matthew raised his eyebrows and his gaze met hers. “No. Should I?”

Unexpected pain shot through her. Daed had made good on his threat to reject her. “Figures. He probably forbade everybody to say my name. I’m surprised he allowed Mamm to write. Or maybe he doesn’t know.”

Confusion flashed across Matthew’s face. “So, you think your mamm lives here, and she isn’t expecting you?” He shook his head, his lips curling into a sympathetic half smile. “This is the home of Levi and Deborah—”

“Stoltzfus. Yes, I know. I’m their oldest daughter.”

Matthew’s smile slipped, and he blinked, cutting off her view of those gray eyes for a brief moment.

“You know, you have beautiful eyes.” She stepped closer, then turned to shut the car door. “My things are in the back. But I guess maybe we should leave them there until we find out if I’m allowed to stay. Mamm said I would be welcome, but Daed has the final say, you know.” She bit her lip and tried to force her fear of the imminent confrontation out of her mind. It didn’t work. And since her little brothers and sisters hadn’t gathered around to welcome her, she wondered if her family was even home. She looked around for the buggy, or some sign of life other than the handsome Matthew. She didn’t notice any.

“Jah. Probably should wait.” He blinked again when she turned to face him.

“Well, shall we?” She walked past him, around the front of the car, and toward the porch. At the top step, she hesitated and glanced back. Matthew stood where she’d left him, watching her. He didn’t even try to hide it by looking away. A shiver worked through her, but she ignored it. He’d probably never met anyone like her before. Daed always said she was too outspoken. She sighed. “I guess I should ask. Where is Daed?”

He motioned behind him. “In the shop.”

“Good.” Postponing her reunion with him would at least give her time to see Mamm and her little sisters before she was kicked off the property.

If that happened, Shanna hoped this gorgeous Amish man wouldn’t witness her humiliation. She felt ashamed enough of her modern clothes, now subject to his intense gaze. She was so under-dressed, she might as well have shown up at a formal event wearing boxer shorts and a paint-spattered T-shirt.

Did Mamm still keep her Amish clothes hanging in her bedroom closet?

She scowled and turned toward the house. It would take more than a good-looking man to get her to change into Amish clothes. She hadn’t been able to wait to leave the Amish life behind, and she wasn’t about to return to it.

Well, she would stay for the summer, if permitted. But no longer than that.

And if Daed wouldn’t let her? She’d deal with that when the time came.


Matthew stared at the front door, through which the green-eyed beauty had disappeared after only the briefest look back, as if checking to see if he followed her. And he probably would have, if his feet hadn’t felt rooted to the ground.

He mused over their brief conversation and allowed a smile to play on his lips as he grappled with the sense that he’d glimpsed into his future.

“Shanna,” he whispered her name again.

He hadn’t meant to touch her hair. He’d noticed the open window, and he’d simply reached in to touch her shoulder. But she’d moved, and instead of the soft tap he’d intended, his knuckles had buried themselves in her soft, golden tresses.


Even worse, he hadn’t wanted to pull back.

Matthew swallowed, lifted his legs to see if they would still move, and turned toward the shop. He couldn’t remember what he’d needed to go to the house for, anyway. No point in looking like a bigger fool in front of her.

When he pushed the shop door open, Levi looked up from where he stood, hunched over and sanding a wooden chair. “Did you get the key?”

Matthew shook his head. “I forgot what you sent me for.” Ach, this was worse, having to admit to his mindlessness. Heat rose up his neck. “Um, there’s a girl…your daughter. She was in her car. Said something about staying.”

A look of hope flashed across Levi’s face. His shoulders straightened, and a bright smile lit his face and eyes. He put down the sandpaper and moved toward the door, then stopped, his shoulders slumping. “Probably not for long.”

Matthew couldn’t quite read any of the other emotions that flashed across the older man’s face.

“Is she shunned?” Matthew asked hesitantly.

Levi shook his head. “Nein, not formally. But I’d hoped denying her a place in the family would bring her back home.” His expression hardened. “And maybe it would have. But my frau….”

He didn’t need to say more. Matthew nodded in agreement. Shanna had mentioned letters in which her mamm had said she’d be welcome. Deborah must have gone behind Levi’s back and kept in contact with her daughter.

It was none of his business, but he decided to ask, anyway. “Will you allow her to stay?”

He hoped Levi would say “Jah,” the fascinating creature could stay. But another part of him wanted a decidedly firm “Nein.” He hadn’t been around her more than five minutes, and already she’d messed with his insides.

“I don’t know.” Levi scratched his head. “I’ll have to think on it.”

Matthew chuckled. “Maybe in the barn loft.”

Levi’s mouth curved up in a grin. “Might be best.”

“I’m teasing.” Matthew moved toward the door. “I’ll go get the key you wanted. Sorry I forgot it earlier.”

“Jah.” Levi picked up the sandpaper and went back to work. “And I’ll think on it. Gives her a few more minutes with her mamm, anyway, in case I decide not to let her stay.”


After hugging Shanna, Mamm resumed peeling apples at the counter, where a recipe for apple turnovers was propped against the flour canister. Shanna picked up a knife to help with paring, as she had countless times before. Mamm chatted nonstop, talking about Shanna’s sisters, who were at friends’ houses today, and about the garden. Not one mention had been made about whether she was permitted to stay. A piece of apple skin dangled from the peeler, ever lengthening as Mamm worked the apple around and around. It had always been a challenge for Shanna to try to pare the entire apple without breaking the strip, like Mamm did.

She’d never succeeded.

Yet another sign of failure. Another reason why she’d never be an Amish frau.

That, combined with the old-fashioned clothes and her intense dislike of the wringer washer. She’d hated that thing ever since getting her hair stuck in it as a young girl. She had always been afraid that the contraption would pull her whole head through the rollers, try to press it flat, as it did the garments, and leave it abnormally shaped.

That was almost reality. Spiritually, she was abnormally shaped. God had never intended her to be Amish. It must have been a fluke for her to have been born into an Amish family.

Shanna pushed the thought away. Why was she even thinking about this stuff? She’d settled it long ago, for pity’s sake, so that she could enroll in college to earn her nursing degree. So that she could live and work in the real world. And wear real clothes. And…well, there were many other benefits of being Englisch.

Yet those scrubs she had to wear to her clinical rotations could hardly be considered real clothes.

Her stomach felt as if a whole flock of Canada geese had landed in it, honking, with wings flapping, as they did when they passed through during migration. It had to be the fault of that young man—the one who’d come out to her car and caused her heart to flip-flop like the bottoms of her sandals.

Matthew Yoder.

A good Amish name, for someone who appeared to be a good Amish man.

As if she’d summoned him by thinking his name, the door opened, and Matthew strode into the room, heading straight for the key rack that hung on the wall. Not that there were many keys hanging there. Why would they need them, when they had absolutely nothing worth stealing? Well, Daed’s tools were valuable. But he was out there with them now, so Matthew would have no need to unlock the shop.

She watched as Matthew lifted down a long skeleton key. The barn key. One of the doors there led up to a loft she’d never been allowed to enter. She didn’t know what Daed kept in there, just that he’d built stairs to replace the ladder leading up to it.

Matthew palmed the key, then turned toward the door, moving with an even stride. Not once did he look in her direction.

Had Daed said something to dispel the friendliness he’d shown her earlier?

Mamm turned around. “Ach, Matthew. I didn’t realize that was you. Kum meet Shanna. She’s our oldest. Attends college up in Springfield.”

Matthew hesitated by the door, then turned, his gaze skimming over her. “Welkum, Shanna.” His tongue didn’t trip over her name so much this time. And he didn’t indicate they had met in the driveway.

“This is Matthew Yoder from Pennsylvania,” Mamm continued. “He came down in the swap I mentioned in my letter, where we traded buwe with a community in Lancaster. Matthew is looking for farmland hereabouts.”

“I hope you can find some,” Shanna said. Farmland wasn’t readily available in this part of Missouri, as far as she knew. But then, she didn’t keep track of such things. She wasn’t in the market for land.

Matthew grinned. “I have my eye on a piece not too far from here. Belongs to an Englischer, so the haus would need some work to be made suitable.”

She knew that would mean taking out the electrical lines, removing the screens from the windows, and installing a woodstove, among other things. All silly rules. Why no screens? Okay, she knew the answer: to keep God’s view unobstructed. But, really. He could see through screens! And keeping the bugs out would hardly prevent people from going to heaven. Shanna shifted her feet to hide her shrug.

“The barn isn’t adequate, so we’d need to have a barn raising to replace that, too,” Matthew went on, as if he hadn’t noticed her reaction. “But that’s if I get the property. I’m praying on it.”

“Might not want to pray too long. Someone might buy it right out from under you,” Shanna quipped.

“Then, that would be God’s will, ain’t so?” Matthew looked into her eyes and held up the key. “I’d best get this out to Levi.”

Mamm put the apple she’d just peeled in the bowl beside her. “Tell him that Sha—his daughter is home.”

So, Daed had forbidden them to mention her name. Nausea roiled within her, and bile rose in her throat. Why was she subjecting herself to this? She shouldn’t have come. Maybe one of those pay-by-the-week establishments in Springfield would have room. If she could afford it.

Matthew’s gaze stayed locked on her. “Ach, he knows. I’m sure he’ll be up in a bit.”

His expression told her nothing. The Canada geese resumed their wild flapping in her stomach. She wasn’t sure if it was more due to the compassion in those beautiful gray eyes or the news that she’d be facing Daed long before she was ready.

Mamm picked up another apple. “Don’t worry yourself. He’ll let you stay.”

Shanna wasn’t too sure.

A thump sounded on the front porch. Then another.

Shanna clutched her stomach, afraid she’d be ill.

The next second, Daed stood in the doorway.

Wolfsbane, Discarded Heroes #3, by Ronie Kendig

Tour Date: August 1

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Wolfsbane, Discarded Heroes #3

Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (July 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Camy Tang and Ronie Kendig for sending me a review copy.***


Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat, married a veteran, and they now have four children. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Nightshade, Discarded Heroes #1, has earned recognition as a finalist in Christian Retailing's 2011 Retailer's Choice Awards as a finalist and with The Christian Manifesto's 2010 Lime Award for Excellence in Fiction. Ronie lives in the Dallas/Ft Worth her family and their pets, Daisy, a Golden Retriever and Helo, the Maltese Menace.

Visit the author's website.


Embark upon a danger-laden mission within the pages of Ronie Kendig’s riveting Wolfsbane. Demolitions expert Danielle Roark thought escaping from a brutal Venezuelan general was a challenge. Now she’s charged with espionage and returned to the jungle where a new nightmare begins. Will Dani survive or become just another political pawn destined to be lost forever? Former Green Beret Canyon Metcalfe is disgusted with the suits on Capitol Hill. Still wrestling with the memories of a mission gone bad, he and Nightshade launch a mission to find Dani. Can Canyon rescue Dani, armed with nothing but raw courage?

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (July 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602607842
ISBN-13: 978-1602607842


The Invitation

Judicial Building, Virginia Beach

Blood dripped into his left eye.

No. Not blood. Sweat. Hands tight against his hips and fists balled, Captain Canyon Metcalfe blinked away the sting. Another salty drop slid down his temple. Eyes ahead, he focused on his reflection in the massive mirror. Between it and him sat an eight-foot table harboring a panel of three Army investigators from Criminal Investigation Command sent for his one-year evaluation. More like interrogation. And he knew they weren’t legit. Nobody got a review once they were out. This wasn’t about legitimacy. This was about them insuring he’d kept his mouth shut.

Canyon watched his reflection as a bead skidded over his forehead and nose. Felt warm and moderately sticky. So much like. . .

It’s not blood. Not blood.

“Captain, do you have anything to add?” Major Hartwicke lifted the inches-thick file in her manicured hands and stared at him.

“You understand, Captain, if you reveal anything about what has happened here, you will face a full court-martial and dishonorable discharge.”

The voice from twenty-one months ago forged his response. “No, sir.”

Behind the one-way mirror a ghost of a shape shifted. Or was that a shadow? No, he was pretty sure he’d seen the human outline. So, there were more eyes monitoring this so-called review. They’re testing me. No surprise. As a matter of fact, he’d expected them to drag him out of bed in the middle of the night, haul him into the woods, and try to beat a confession out of him.

Innocence didn’t matter. Justice didn’t matter.

Only one thing mattered: silence.

Hartwicke pushed her chair back from the table and stood. “Captain, I don’t understand.” She motioned to the two investigators with her. “We’ve told you the CID believes there is enough. . .ambiguity in the charges and proceedings from thirteen March of last year to question the guilty verdict.” She tilted her head. “In fact, this panel believes you may be innocent.”

“You are not innocent in this brutal crime, Captain Metcalfe. No matter your role, you are guilty. As the officer in charge, you bear that responsibility. Do you understand?”

The eyes of the government held no boundaries. They saw everything. Knew everything. One way or another. Always waiting to throw him away for good. Just as they’d done with the villagers.

Her shoes scritched against the cement floor as she stepped nearer. “Why are you doing this?” she whispered. “Why would you throw away your career?”

Throw away his career? Was she kidding? It’d been ripped from his bloodied hands in a colossal mistake twenty-four months ago. Canyon ground his teeth together. Do not look at her; do not respond. She didn’t deserve a response if she thought this was his choice.

A chair squawked, snapping his gaze to the second investigator who moved from behind the table, his gaze locked on Canyon. What did they want from him? He’d kept the dirty little secret. Lived with it. Relived it night after painful night. Living when she died.

Brown eyes cut off his visual escape. “Captain Metcalfe,” Major Rubart said in a low, controlled voice. “I don’t know what they”—he rolled his eyes to the side to indicate the one-way mirror—“told you or what they used against you as a threat in retaliation for talking, but I think you know something.”

Despite his every effort not to, Canyon looked at the mirror.

“You know the truth about that fateful night, don’t you?”

The words yanked his eyes to Rubart’s. Did this officer really want the truth? Or was this another test? What Canyon wouldn’t do to tell, to right the wrong, to relieve the burden. . . But that’s just what they wanted him to do—relieve his mind and prove they were right, that he could be coerced into talking. That he was weak.

He flicked his attention back to the glass and the shadow moving behind it.

“You disappoint me, Captain.” Air swirled cold and unfeeling as Rubart eased away. “Your sister says you’ve not been the same since you returned from that mission.”

“My sister puts her mouth before her brain.” And for that, Canyon would have a long talk with Willow.

“Do you understand what your silence means?” A bitter edge dug into Rubart’s words as he glared at Canyon, who stared through the man.

“What I understand is that you’ve abused a relationship with my impressionable sister to extract information for the military.”

Rubart’s lips tightened. “Your silence means the people of Tres Kruces receive no justice.”

The thick-bladed words sliced through Canyon’s heart.

Quiet tension tightened the air.

“Willow says you’ve wanted to be a Green Beret since you were twelve.”

“Ten.” Canyon bit his tongue on the automatic correction. He wouldn’t do this. Wouldn’t cave under the pressure. He’d endured far worse.

“How can you let them rip it from you? Everything you love and worked for with blood, sweat, and tears?” After several slow, calming breaths, Rubart gave a single nod. “Enough evidence exists to open a full investigation that could reinstate you with full honors, full rank. Just give us one word, one inclination that you’ll work with us, and it’ll be as if you never left.”

Everything in Canyon wanted that back. Wanted the career he’d felt called to, the adrenaline rush of battle, the humanitarian work of helping villages after a tragedy or an insurgency. . .

Screams howled through the fires. He glanced back. Where was she? How had they gotten separated? He spun, searching the debris and crackling embers.

A scream behind him.

He pivoted. Two feminine forms raced into a hut. “No,” he shouted. “Not in—”


His body lifted, flipped as he sailed through the taunting flames and grieving ashes.


Canyon blinked back to Major Rubart.

“Just give us some indication you’ll help. We’ll mete out the details later. Just don’t let it go at this. You know this is wrong. Don’t let them win.”

Irritation clawed its way up Canyon’s spine, burrowing into his resolve. He saw through the tactic. “Are we done, sir?”

Rubart’s cheek twitched. “You’re going to walk away?”

“In a three-to-one decision, you are hereby discharged. Your actions will be mentioned in limited detail in our final report to the congressional oversight committee. Should you speak openly about this again, you will find yourself in a federal prison for the rest of your life. Do you understand the ruling, Captain Metcalfe?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I cannot express this enough—this favor we are extending you will be revoked completely if you ever again speak of Tres Kruces.”


He met Rubart’s gaze evenly. “Decision’s been made.”

“You can’t mean that.” Hartwicke’s voice pitched. “Think—”

“Dismissed, Captain,” the third investigator barked from his chair at the table.

Canyon saluted, then pivoted and strode out. He punched open the door. As he stomped across the parking lot, he wrangled himself free of the dress jacket. He jerked open the door of his black Camaro and snatched off the beret. Flung it into the car. Slammed the door shut. Shuffled and kicked the wheel.

Voices behind pushed him into the car. Letting the roar of the engine echo the one in his head, he peeled away from the curb. Screaming tires fueled his fury. He accelerated. First gear. Second. He sped down the streets. Third. Raced out of Fort Story as fast as he could. He shifted into fourth.

They’d stolen everything from him. What did he have now? The last twelve months had been a futile attempt to plaster meaning to the disaster of a thing called life. Can’t serve. What was the point? They had him on an invisible leash. Shame trailed him like the dust on the roads.

As he rounded a corner, a light glinted—yellow. Speed up or slow down?

Slow down? I don’t think so.

Canyon slammed into fifth and pressed the accelerator. The Camaro lunged toward the intersection. A blur of red swept over his sunroof as he sailed through and cleared it.

Ahead, a sign beckoned him to First Landing State Park. The beach. Something inside him leapt.

Sirens wailed.

He glanced in the rearview mirror and growled. Banged the steering wheel. One more violation and he’d lose his license. Two seconds of fantasy had him on his bike screaming off into the sunset.

Yeah. Right. A high-speed chase. Wouldn’t his mother love that? She’d give him that disappointed look, and in it, he’d read the hidden message—“what would your father have said?”


His foot hit the brake. He eased the gears down and brought the car to a stop along the pylons that led to the beach. Less than a mile out, blue waters twinkled at him.

He eyed the mirror as a state trooper pulled in behind him. Lights awhirl, the car sat like a sand spider ready to strike.

Canyon roughed a hand over his face. This was it. Career gone. License gone. He gave his all for his country, and all of it had been systematically disassembled in the last two years.

Hands on the steering wheel, he let the call of the Gulf tease his senses. He should’ve taken a swim instead of unleashing his anger on the road. He was a medic. He knew better than to endanger lives. How stupid could he get?

What was taking so long?

He glanced back to the mirror, only. . .nothing.

Huh? Canyon looked over his shoulder. Where. . .?

An engine roared to the left. A Black Chrysler 300M slid past him with a white-haired old man inside.

But where was the cop? Again, he double-checked his six.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

With more care and attention this time, he pulled back onto the road and drove to the ocean. He parked and stared at the caress of the waters against the sand that lured him out of the Camaro and to the warm sand. Rolling up his sleeves, he made his way down the beach.

On a stone retaining wall he stood and watched a couple of surfers ride a wave. Canyon squatted. Hands fisted against his forehead he struggled through Rubart’s promise—they’d give him his career back if he ratted out the very people who’d made the nightmare go away.

He wanted to. Wanted to set the record straight. Knew they’d done wrong, but blowing this thing open meant they’d pin every drop of blood and blame on his shoulders. He’d go down in a blaze of disgrace. It was bad enough he’d had to tell his mom he was put out of the military for “medical” reasons. She didn’t buy it. She was smarter. But she didn’t press him.

Maybe. . .maybe he should let the panel dig into the tsunami-sized disaster and find the truth.

But he couldn’t. They’d promised to make his life a living hell.

That happened anyway. Everything that felt right and just died. Just like her.

Canyon closed his eyes against the pull of memories and allowed his mind to drift. To everything he felt for her. To all the things he’d done wrong, could’ve done better.

I’m sorry.

Lot of good that did. She died.

He hopped off the wall and strolled to where the waters stroked the sand. He let out a long breath and ran a hand over the back of his longer-than-normal hair. He’d tried to leave the tragedy behind. Move on. But who could move on after something like that? Even the government was scared of Tres Kruces. Nice PR disaster with the whole world as witnesses.

Canyon drew out the small vial. Shouldn’t do this. The back pain was gone. The heart pain permanent. He popped two pills into his mouth and swallowed.

His hand closed around the Emerson in his pocket. Canyon drew it out and eyed the gleaming metal. He’d used it to cut her tethers the first night his team had come up on the backwater village. Flipping the blade to the ground, he tamped down the fireball in his gut. He saved her that night only to end up killing her thirteen months later.

She was gone. His career was gone. The government had a shackle around his neck. What was there to live for?

He retrieved it and swiped the sand from the blade on his rolled cuffs. The silver glinted against his forearm. He pressed the metal against his flesh. Wouldn’t be the first attempt. Maybe he’d succeed this time. Drew it along his arm—

“Never did understand how they stand up on a piece of wood.”

Canyon jerked at the deep voice. He returned his Emerson to his pocket and eyed the old man a few feet away. Looked like the same man from the 300 earlier. What was he saying? Something about wood. . .?

Canyon followed the man’s gaze to the water, the surfers. Ah. Surfboards. “They’re not wood.”


“Polyurethane and fiberglass or cloth. Depends on the board.” He might be off-kilter, but he wasn’t stupid. The man had a military cut and bearing. “What’s your game?”

A slow smile quirked the face lined with age. White hair rustled under the tease of a salty breeze. “Recycling soldiers.”

Why wouldn’t they leave him alone? Believe he’d keep his trap shut when he said he’d keep his trap shut? “Sorry, I don’t have anything to say.”

“Yes, that was quite apparent.”

Hesitation stopped Canyon from trudging back to his car. This man had been at his evaluation? Where. . .? “You were behind the mirror.”

“While you said little, your actions said much more, Captain Metcalfe.”

A knot formed in his gut. “In case you missed the point, I’m no longer a captain. Go back to your leeches and tell them I’m done.”

“Is your career worth cutting your wrists, Captain?”

The knot tightened. “My career was everything,” he ground out. “It’s who I am.” He swallowed. “Was.”

“Yes.” The man smiled. “You wanted to finish what your father started.”

A blaze scorched his chest. “Who are you? What do you know about my father?” Who did this guy think he was?

“Major Owen Metcalfe lost his life trying to free his spec-ops team from a POW camp during Vietnam.”

Canyon jerked his attention back to the water. Focused on the undulating waves. The way they rolled in, rolled out. Just like breathing. In. . .out. . . “How. . .how do you know about my father?” The only reason Canyon knew was because the government tried to use it against him in his trial.

Slowly, the man turned toward him, his smile growing.

Only then did Canyon recognize him. “General Lambert.” He took a step back. “I didn’t. . . You’re out of uniform.”

“Yes, thank goodness. I’ve put on a few pounds since they issued the last uniform.” Lambert laughed and pointed. “Walk with me, Captain.”

What possessed Canyon to indulge him, he didn’t know. But he found himself walking the quiet beach, curious that the general would seek him out. Was it yet another trap?

“So that you will understand me, I have read the full file on Tres Kruces.”

Of course. He’d fallen right into the general’s trap, hadn’t he? “This conversation is over.” He pivoted and started back to his car.

“If my memory serves me correctly, the vote was three to one.”

Canyon hesitated. Cursed himself for hesitating. Just walk away. That’s what they’d done to him.

“What would you say the value of that single dissenter is worth?”

“Nothing. I still lost my career, everything.”

“What if that dissenter held the power to change everything? What would you say it was worth then?”

Eyeballing the man, Canyon tried to think past his drumming pulse. “My life.”

Lambert grinned. Nodded. “Good. . .good.”

Good? How could he say that? What use was a dissenter now anyway? But that unflappable grin and knowing eyes—this man knew something.

“You.” Canyon stumbled back as if hit by a squall. “It was you. You were the dissenter.” He slid a hand over his head and neck. “General, I— It has to stay buried. Or I go down hard and fast. I’m not playing with this fire.”

Hands in his pockets, Lambert smiled up at him. “I am not here in any official capacity related to the U.S. government.”

Dare he hope that this nightmare was over?

“How do you like working as a physical therapist?”

Canyon shrugged. “Not bad. It’s work. I help people.” He hated it.

“That’s what’s important to you, helping people, is it not?” When Canyon shrugged again, Lambert continued. “Thought so. I have a proposition for you, Captain. One that will get you back in your game.”

Wariness crowded out hope. “What game is that?”

“The one you do best. The one that allows you to serve your country, use the medic skills crucial to saving lives, and be part of a winning team.”

“They benched me, said I was done, no more or they’d—”

“What do you say?”

A wild, irregular cadence pounded in his chest. “I’m ready to get off the bench.”