Saturday, January 21, 2012


An Interview: 

What inspired you to write this story? 
I feel very strongly about the breakdown of the family and fatherlessness and how there is much dysfunction and despair because of it. I wanted to tell a story to shed some light on the situations that many face and hopefully bring some type of reversal to the current dynamic in whatever small way I could. I wanted to challenge men, fathers especially, to be who they were created to be ... its certainly a challenge I face myself daily. A challenge that I often fail at but keeping picking myself up to start again.

Did you model any of the characters after people you know?
I used many things to model the characters ... people I know, other literary figures, actors, biblical characters, celebrities ... the characters are a combination of all of these. I wanted them to be new and familiar at the same time, universal.

Why did you choose the Dallas/Ft Worth area as your primary setting?
First of all, the south has a certain reputation for is deep spiritual roots (bible belt and all). I patterned the book in part after GONE WITH THE WIND (another book set in the south) ... not in the sense of a love story but in the sense of "here is civilization that is about to cease to exist, come see it before its gone". In the case of my novel it is a spiritual civilization on the brink. Dallas just seemed to have everything I needed to make the story work from both a symbolic and technical standpoint.

Do you have plans to write more books?
i have an idea or two floating around ... nothing concrete yet.

What sort of research did you do for the historical portions of your book? What did you like best about the research? The least?
My co-author and I researched deeply into ancient history for some aspects of the book ... I learned a lot of things ... some things I'd rather forget but most of it was enlightening. What I liked best was that it confirmed for me mostly what I already knew, there really is nothing new under the sun.

Where can we find out about more opportunities for a free copy of this book? 
Follow @ChristianSpkrs on Twitter. 

Aaron L.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Love Blooms in Winter by Lori Copeland

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:

  • Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to
Karri | Marketing Assistant |Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


This new romance from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God’s miraculous provision when none seems possible. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more adventure than Tom Curtis is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter with God in charge.

 1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.

 Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.

Product Details:

    • List Price: $13.99
    • Paperback: 304 pages
    • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0736930191
    • ISBN-13: 978-0736930192


Dwadlo, North Dakota, 1892

  The winter of ’92 is gonna go down as one of the worst Dwadlo’s ever seen,” Hal Murphy grumbled as he dumped the sack of flour he got for his wife on the store counter. “Mark my words.” He turned toward Mae Wilkey, the petite postmistress, who was stuffing mail in wooden slots.

  “Spring can’t come soon enough for me.” She stepped back, straightening the row of letters and flyers. She didn’t have to record Hal’s prediction; it was the same every year. “I’d rather plant flowers than shovel snow any day of the week.”

  “Yes, ma’am.” Hal nodded to the store owner, Dale Smith, who stood five foot seven inches with a rounded belly and salt-and-pepper hair swept to a wide front bang. “Add a couple of those dill pickles, will you?” Hal watched as Dale went over to the barrel and fished around inside, coming up with two fat pickles.

  “That’ll fix me up.” Hal turned his attention back to the mail cage, his eyes fixed on the lovely sight. “Can’t understand why you’re still single, Mae. You’re as pretty as a raindrop on a lily pad.” He sniffed the air. “And you smell as good.”

  Smiling, Mae moved from the letter boxes to the cash box. Icy weather may have delayed the train this morning, but she still had to count money and record the day’s inventory. “Now, Hal, you know I’d marry you in a wink if you weren’t already taken.” Hal and Clara had been married forty-two years, but Mae’s usual comeback never failed to put a sparkle in the farmer’s eye. Truth be, she put a smile on every man’s face, but she wasn’t often aware of the flattering looks she received. Her heart belonged to Jake Mallory, Dwadlo’s up-and-coming attorney.

  Hal nodded. “I know. All the good ones are taken, aren’t they?”

  She nodded. “Every single one. Especially in Dwadlo.”

  The little prairie town was formed when the Chicago & North Western Railroad came through five years ago. Where abundant grass, wild flowers, and waterfalls had once flourished, hundreds of miles of steel rail crisscrossed the land, making way for big, black steam engines that hauled folks and supplies. Before the railroad came through, only three homesteads had dotted the rugged Dakota Territory: Mae’s family’s, Hal and Clara’s, and Pauline Wilson’s.

  But in ’87 life changed, and formerly platted sites became bustling towns. Pine Grove and Branch Springs followed, and Dwadlo suddenly thrived with immigrants, opportunists, and adventure-seeking folks staking claims out West. A new world opened when the Dakota Boom started.

  Hal’s gaze focused on Mae’s left hand. “Jake still hasn’t popped the question?”

  Mae sighed. Hal was a pleasant sort, but she really wished the townspeople would occupy their thoughts with something other than her and Jake’s pending engagement. True, they had been courting for six years and Jake still hadn’t proposed, but she was confident he would. He’d said so, and he was a man of his word—though every holiday, when a ring would have been an appropriate gift, that special token of his intentions failed to materialize. Mae had more lockets than any one woman could wear, but Jake apparently thought that she could always use another one. What she could really use was his hand in marriage. The bloom was swiftly fading from her youth, and it would be nice if her younger brother, Jeremy, had a man’s presence in his life.

  “Be patient, Hal. He’s busy trying to establish a business.”

  “Good lands. How long does it take a man to open a law office?”

  “Apparently six years and counting.” She didn’t like the uncertainty but she understood it, even if the town’s population didn’t. She had a good life, what with work, church, and the occasional social. Jake accompanied her to all public events, came over two or three times a week, and never failed to extend a hand when she needed something. It was almost as though they were already married.

  “The man’s a fool,” Hal declared. “He’d better slap a ring on that finger before someone else comes along and does it for him.”

  “Not likely in Dwadlo,” Mae mused. The town itself was made up of less than a hundred residents, but other folks lived in the surrounding areas and did their banking and shopping here. Main Street consisted of the General Store, Smith’s Grain and Feed, the livery, the mortuary, the town hall and jail (which was almost always empty), Doc Swede’s office, Rosie’s CafĂ©, and an empty building that had once housed the saloon. Mae hadn’t spotted a sign on any business yet advertising “Husbands,” but she was certain her patience would eventually win out.

  With a final smile Hal moved off to pay for his goods. Mae hummed a little as she put the money box in the safe. Looking out the window, she noticed a stiff November wind snapping the red canvas awning that sheltered the store’s porch. Across the square, a large gazebo absorbed the battering wind. The usually active gathering place was now empty under a gray sky. On summer nights music played, and the smell of popcorn and roasted peanuts filled the air. Today the structure looked as though it were bracing for another winter storm. Sighing, Mae realized she already longed for green grass, blooming flowers, and warm breezes.

  After Hal left Mae finished up the last of the chores and then reached for her warm wool cape. She usually enjoyed the short walk home from work, but today she was tired—and her feet hurt because of the new boots she’d purchased from the Montgomery Ward catalog. On the page they had looked comfortable with their high tops and polished leather, but on her feet they felt like a vise.

  Slipping the cape’s hood over her hair, she said goodbye to Dale and then paused when her hand touched the doorknob. “Oh, dear. I really do need to check on Pauline again.”

  “How’s she doing?” The store owner paused and leaned on his broom. “I noticed she hasn’t been in church recently.”

  Dale always reminded Mae of an owl perching on a tree limb, his big, dark blue eyes swiveling here and there. He might not talk a body’s leg off, but he kept up on town issues. She admired the quiet little man for what he did for the community and respected the way he preached to the congregation on Sundays.

  How was Pauline doing? Mae worried the question over in her mind. Pauline lived alone, and she shouldn’t. The elderly woman was Mae’s neighbor, and she checked on her daily, but Pauline was steadily losing ground.

  “She’s getting more and more fragile, I’m afraid. Dale, have you ever heard Pauline speak of kin?”

  The small man didn’t take even a moment to ponder the question. “Never heard her mention a single word about family of any kind.”

  “Hmm…me neither. But surely she must have some.” Someone who should be here, in Dwadlo, looking after the frail soul. Mae didn’t resent the extra work, but the post office and her brother kept her busy, and she really didn’t have the right to make important decisions regarding the elderly woman’s rapidly failing health.

  Striding back to the bread rack, she picked up a fresh loaf. Dale had private rooms at the back of the store where he made his home, and he was often up before dawn baking bread, pies, and cakes for the community. Most folks in town baked their own goods, but there were a few, widowers and such, who depended on Dale’s culinary skills. By this hour of the day the goods were usually gone, but a few remained. Placing a cherry pie in her basket as well, she called, “Add these things to my account, please, Dale. And pray for Pauline too.”

  Nodding, he continued sweeping, methodically running the stiff broomcorn bristles across the warped wood floor.

  The numbing wind hit Mae full force when she stepped off the porch. Her hood flew off her head and an icy gust of air snatched away her breath. Putting down her basket, she retied the hood before setting off for the brief walk home. Dwadlo was laid out in a rather strange pattern, a point everyone agreed on. Businesses and homes were built close together, partly as shelter from the howling prairie winds and partly because there wasn’t much forethought given to town planning. Residents’ homes sat not a hundred feet from the store. The whole community encompassed less than five acres.

  Halfway to her house, snowflakes began swirling in the air. Huddling deeper into her wrap, Mae concentrated on the path as the flakes grew bigger.

  She quickly covered the short distance to Pauline’s. The dwelling was little more than a front room, tiny kitchen, and bedroom, but she was a small woman. Pauline pinned her yellow-white hair in a tight knot at the base of her skull, and she didn’t have a tooth in her head. She chewed snuff, which she freely admitted was an awful habit, but Mae had never heard her speak of giving it up.

  Her faded blue eyes were as round as buttons, and no matter what kind of day she was having, it was always a new one to her, filled with wonders. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be. She had good and bad days, but mostly days when her moods changed as swift as summer lightning. She could be talking about tomatoes in the garden patch when suddenly she would be discussing how to spin wool.

  Mae noted a soft wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and smiled. Pauline had remembered to feed the fire this afternoon, so this was a good day.

  Unlatching the gate, she followed the path to the front porch. In summertime the white railings hung heavy with red roses, and the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. This afternoon the wind howled across the barren flower beds Pauline carefully nurtured during warmer weather. Often she planted okra where petunias should be, but she enjoyed puttering in the soil and the earth loved her. She brought fresh tomatoes, corn, and beans to the store during spring and summer, and pumpkins and squash lined the railings in the fall.

  In earlier days Pauline’s quilts were known throughout the area. She and her quilting group had made quite a name for themselves when Dwadlo first became a town. Four women excelled in the craft. One had lived in Pine Grove, and two others came from as far away as Branch Springs once a month to break bread together and stitch quilts. But one by one the women had died off, leaving Pauline to sew alone in her narrowing world.

  Stomping her boots on the porch, Mae said under her breath, “I don’t mind winter, Lord, but could we perhaps have a little less of it?” The only answer was the wind whipping her garments. Tapping lightly on the door, she called, “Pauline?”

  Mae stepped back and waited to hear the shuffle of feet. Pauline used to answer the door in less than twenty seconds. It took longer now. Mae made a fist with her gloved hand and banged a little harder. The wind howled around the cottage eaves. She closed her eyes and prayed that Jeremy had remembered to stack sufficient firewood beside the kitchen door. The boy was generally responsible, and she thanked God every day that she had him to lean on. He had been injured by forceps during birth, which left him with special needs. He was a very happy fourteen-year-old with the reasoning power of a child of nine.

  A full minute passed. Mae frowned and tried the doorknob. Pauline couldn’t hear herself yell in a churn, but she might also be asleep. The door opened easily, and Mae peeked inside the small living quarters. She saw that a fire burned low in the woodstove, and Pauline’s rocking chair sat empty.

  Stepping inside, she closed the door and called again. “Pauline? It’s Mae!”

  The ticking of the mantle clock was the only sound that met her ears.

  “Pauline?” She lowered her hood and walked through the living room. She paused in the kitchen doorway.

  “Oh, Pauline!”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Mile In His Shoes

A Mile In His Shoes, from the directors of Angels in the Outfield, is a heartwarming tale of a  young man with Asperger's who is given the chance to "do" something with his life.

Mickey Tussler (Luke Schroder) is a farm boy who helps his dad with feeding the animals, takes care of his pig Oscar and practices throwing apples.  His parents, especially his father, are very protective of him.

Coach Authur "Murph" Murphy (Dean Cain) was sent to find a promising new pitcher for his semi-pro baseball team when his car runs off the road and gets stuck.  While trying to get a signal on his cell phone, Murph meets Oscar the pig and then Mickey.  Mickey isn't supposed to talk to strangers, but Murph convinces him that he is a friend and Mickey takes Murph to his house to use the phone.  While Murph is on the phone with AAA, he notices out the window that Mickey, who is throwing apples to the pigs, has a great pitching arm.  Once back on the road, Murph finds out that the pitcher he came to scout for is no longer available, but he believes that God has already opened another door.

I watched this with my 4 younger children (ages 14, 11, 9, & 5) and we all enjoyed it!!  It's a good story with lots of heart.  There was one "bad word" (bullsh*t) and I was surprised by that.  Fortunately, my youngest made a noise about the time it was said (it's when they notice some paint on the catcher's glove and the glove gets taken from him).  Anyhow, other than that and one scene of violence (not much is actually scene, but it is alluded to) it was a GREAT movie... very wholesome.  I love that it showed a little about Asperger's (and autism)... I wish it had explained it a little more, but as it was, it opened an opportunity for me to talk to my children about both Asperger's and Autism.

I would definitely recommend A Mile In His Shoes to my friends, especially those who like baseball/sports whether they are Christians or not.  It has more of an underlying Christianity rather than an in-your-face Christianity, so it'l a lot less likely to offend someone (if you care about that).   Here's a trailer, check it out for yourself!!

 “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sinners and Saints by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley

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 authors are:

Victoria Christopher Murray
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
(Chapters written by alternating author)

and the book:

Touchstone; Original edition (January 10, 2012)

***Special thanks to Shida Carr of Simon & Schuster for sending me a review copy.***


Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of nine Essence bestselling novels, including The Ex Files, Too Little, Too Late, and Lady Jasmine. Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year, she splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Visit the author's website.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley is an award winning former television and radio reporter, as well as the author of twenty-one books which have appeared on the Essence bestseller list more than twenty times. She is married with three small children and lives in Texas.

Visit the author's website.



Bestselling and award-winning novelists Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley bring their favorite heroines together in a novel that will delight their legions of fans.

Jasmine Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams are not your typical first ladies. But they’ve overcome their scandalous and drama-filled pasts to stand firmly by their husbands’ sides.

When a coveted position opens up—president of the American Baptist Coalition— both women think their husbands are perfect for the job. And winning the position may require both women to get down and dirty and revert to their old tricks. Just when Jasmine and Rachel think they’re going to have to fight to the finish, the current first lady of the coalition steps in . . . a woman bigger, badder, and more devious than either of them.

Double the fun with a message of faith, Sinners & Saints will delight readers with two of their favorite characters from two of their favorite authors.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.00

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451608152
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451608151


Chapter One

How in the world was Jasmine going to keep her promise to God now?

Two years ago, she had promised Him that if He saved her daughter when she was kidnapped, if He brought her home safely, then she was going to live a life devoted just to Him. Jasmine had vowed that with Jacqueline’s return, she was going to live the life that God had for her as Hosea’s wife, as Jacqueline and Zaya’s mother. She wasn’t going to want for anything more than what God had given her, because surely, He had supplied her with enough.

God had done His part.

And for the last two years, Jasmine had done her part, too.

She’d lived a low-key life, thrilled that her greatest dramas were debates about fashion choices every morning with her seven-year old daughter.

But how was she supposed to keep her promise to God now? After what her husband had just told her?

“So, hold up,” Jasmine said, slipping into the chair across from Hosea. “I thought you were just going to the convention as the keynote speaker.”

Hosea nodded.

“So, explain this to me again.”

With a sigh, Hosea folded the newspaper he’d been reading and placed it on the table. He stuffed his mouth with a forkful of pancake, chewed for a moment, then said, “The call came in from a friend of Pop’s, Pastor Earl Griffith. He thinks I need to submit my resume.”

“To be the head of the American Baptist Coalition?”

Hosea nodded.

“But we’re not Baptist.”

His eyes danced with his amusement. “Get out of here.”

“You know what I mean,” Jasmine said, waving one hand. “I just don’t get it. Why would they call you?”

They didn’t call me. Only Pastor Griffith.Seems like there’re a couple of men in the running, though according to Griffith, the front-runner is Pastor Adams, Lester Adams from the Southern region.”

Jasmine frowned. “I’ve never heard of him.”

“Out of Houston. But Pastor Griffith doesn’t think Adams is the man. Seems that the last four presidents have been from the South and Griffith and a couple of other pastors on the board think that the Coalition needs someone from the North, someone more progressive, to really move the organization forward.”

“And they think that can be you?”

“Not they, darlin’. I told you—Griffith called me.”

“But you said there were others who agreed with him.”

Hosea nodded. “Apparently, they don’t have anyone from the North who they think can go up against Adams. I guess they think my name could win this.”

“That makes sense to me.”

“It doesn’t matter how much sense it makes, darlin’. I told Pastor Griffith that I’m not interested.”

As if she didn’t hear any of Hosea’s last words, Jasmine whispered, “Wow.” Old thoughts, familiar desires came to her mind—of power and prestige and money. How much money would a president receive?

She didn’t know a lot about the American Baptist Coalition, but she knew enough. Like the fact that they were the largest African American religious organization, and wielded major political clout. And as much as black folks loved religion, the head of the ABC would have a boatload of power—and so would his wife.

Talk about being the first lady!


I’d be the first lady of like . . . the world!


“Huh?” Her eyes were glassy with images of her future and it took her a moment to focus on Hosea.

His admonishment came before he even said a word. It was in the way his eyes narrowed and the way he’d already begun shaking his head. “Don’t even think about it.”


“You know what. I’m not gonna do it,” he said slowly, as if he was speaking to one of their children. “I’m gonna go to the convention and speak, just like they asked. But I’m not gonnarun for that office. The little I know about Lester Adams, he’s a good man. They’ll be fine with him.”

“How could he be the one if I’ve never even heard of him?”

“Like you know every pastor in the country.”

“I’m not talking about knowing every pastor. I’m thinking that Pastor Griffith is right. The head of the ABC should be someone who’s known and who can add to the Coalition. Think about what you bring as the pastor of one of the largest churches in the country. Then, there’s your show.” She nodded. “Pastor Griffith is right,” she repeated. “It has to be you.”

His head was still shaking. “No. I don’t want the drama.”

“Who said anything about drama?”

“Any type of election—political or religious—is always about drama.” He stood and placed his plate in the sink. “And then there’s you, my wonderful wife. As much as I love you, darlin’, anytime you’re involved in anything, drama makes its way into our lives. No, I don’t want any part of it.”

“So, you’re just gonna let this huge opportunity pass us—I mean, pass you by?”

“Yup, because it’s not an opportunity that interests me. The church, the show, and most importantly you and the children are enough for me.” He leaned over and kissed her forehead. “Speaking of the church, I’m gonna get dressed and head over there. I have a meeting in a couple of hours.”

“Okay,” she said, dismissing him with words, though she’d already dismissed him in her mind. Jasmine stayed as Hosea left her alone in the kitchen.

You and the children are enough for me.

Until a few minutes ago, she would’ve agreed with her husband. But this conversation was a game changer.

Hosea was right—their lives were without drama, but it had gotten kind of boring. Every day it was the same thing—getting the children off to school, then working on the women’s committees at the church, then coming home to meet the children, then helping Mrs. Sloss with dinner, then . . . then . . .then . . .

Not that she had complaints; she loved her life, her family. But she would still love everyone, and maybe even a little bit more if Hosea were the head of the ABC .

Oh, no. She wasn’t going to sit back and let this opportunity pass Hosea. He needed this position, even if he didn’t know it.

Standing, she moved toward their bedroom, the conniving wheels of her brain already churning. She stood outside the door of their master bathroom, listening to her husband praise God, the spray of the shower, his accompanying music.

“I trust you, Lord!” He sang the words to one of Donnie McClurkin’s songs.

“Babe,” she said, interrupting his praise time. “I’m gonna run over to Mae Frances’s apartment, okay?”

“Don’t you have a meeting at the church?”

“Yeah, but it’s not till this afternoon and Mae Frances just called and she really needs me to help her with something.”Jasmine paused. It had been a long time since she’d manipulated the truth to get somethingshe wanted. But it wasn’t like she was going back to being a total liar again—she just needed to get this done and after Hosea was in his rightful place, she’d go back to being on the side of righteousness.

“Oh, okay. Is Nama all right?” he asked, referring to Mae Frances by the name their children called the older woman.

“She’s fine. You know Nama. I’ll call Mrs. Whittingham and tell her that I may be a little late for my meeting.”

By the time they said their good-byes and Jasmine grabbed her purse, she already had a plan. But she’d need some help, and Mae Frances, her friend who knew everyone from Al Sharpton to Al Capone and his offspring, was just the person to help her.

“Sorry, Pastor Adams,” she said to herself as she rode down in the elevator. “Whoever you are, you can be the president of the ABC once Hosea and I are done—in, say, ten or twenty years.”

She stepped outside of their Central Park South apartmentbuilding and into the New York springtime sun. Slapping on herdesigner glasses, she laughed out loud.

Oh, yeah, today was gonna be a really good day.

Chapter Two

Watch out, Michelle Obama!

Rachel Jackson Adams smiled in satisfaction as shesurveyed her reflection in the bathroom mirror. She’d had toleave the prestigious American Baptist Coalition regional dinnerand step inside the restroom to compose herself. After all, shewas about to be the first lady of one of the most prestigiousorganizations in the country. She couldn’t very well be actinga plumb fool because she was overcome with excitement.But Rachel had wanted to do a backflip, front flip, toe touch,cartwheel, and anything else she could think of to express herjoy.

Rachel fluffed her honey brown curls, then lightly refreshedher MAC Oh Baby lip gloss. She had come such a long way. Hermother was probably dancing in her grave at the sight of Rachelas not only a first lady, but a soon-to-be prominent one at that.Rachel had worked hard to garner the respect of the parishionersat Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church. She’d grown up inthat church, so everyone knew her dirt—all of it—and it hadtaken God himself to get these people to respect her. And whileZion Hill had grown tremendously, it still wasn’t considereda megachurch, and outside of Houston there were few whohad even heard of it. As the first lady of the American BaptistCoalition, her status would go to a whole new level. Shoot, if shehad to be first lady, she might as well be the top first lady.

Rachel savored the thought as she dropped her lip gloss backinto her clutch and stepped back into the corridor.

“I was beginning to think you’d fallen in,” her husband ofeight years said before leaning in and lightly kissing Rachel onthe cheek.

Lester Adams wasn’t her true love—that title belonged toher thirteen-year-old son’s father, Bobby Clark. But Lester wasgood for her. Her love for Lester was that agape love they talkedabout in First Corinthians. It brought out the best in her. Well,for the most part anyway. Life with Bobby had been filled withdrama—Rachel admitted much of that was her own doing, but itwas drama-filled nonetheless. And although Bobby still remaineda part of Jordan’s life, Rachel had finally gotten him out of hersystem and was focusing all of her attention on making hermarriage work.

“What took you so long?” Lester asked, snapping Rachel outof her thoughts.

“Sorry,” Rachel said with a slight smile, “but you know I’mabout to be the preeminent first lady, so I had to make sure mymakeup was on point.” She tossed her hair back. “Come to thinkof it, I think I’ll change my name to Lady Rachel so I can havethe title to go along with the position.”

Lester narrowed his eyes and glared at his wife. “Rachel,” hebegan in that voice she hated—the one that he always used whenhe was chastising her.

“What?” Rachel shrugged, already getting defensive.

“I don’t have the position yet,” he said matter-of-factly. “Theregional board just nominated me tonight. There’s still a nationalelection.”

Rachel waved him off. “That’s just a formality. Did you hearthose election results? You beat Pastor Johnson seventy-three totwenty-five percent!”

Lester sighed. “Pastor Johnson also got his sixteen-year-oldstepniece pregnant.” As soon as Lester said it, he looked like hewished he could take the words back.

The smile immediately left Rachel’s face. Lester was no sainthimself. He’d had his own little pregnant-woman-on the-sidedebacle. But thank God, they’d worked through that crisis.“I’m just saying,” Lester quickly continued, like he wanted toprevent Rachel’s mind from traveling down that rocky memorylane, “Pastor Johnson wasn’t that hard to beat. I still have to runagainst whomever they nominate from the North region, andrumor has it they’re bringing out their top dogPastor HoseaBush.”

“That jack-legged TV preacher?” Rachel asked with a frown.

Lester shook his head. “Pastor Bush is not jack-legged. He’swell established, comes from a highly respected family, and heleads one of the largest churches in the country.”

So? He’s. Not. You,” Rachel said, reaching up and adjustingLester’s bow tie. Lester had been an extreme nerd when theywere in high school—which is why Rachel had never given himthe time of day. But he’d pursued her relentlessly and eventuallyhad worn her down. He was willing to be a father to her twokids and he loved her unconditionally. So she agreed to givetheir relationship a try, but not before having him shave off thatred mop of a hairstyle he wore and introducing him to Proactiv.She’d revamped his wardrobe, taught him how to have a littleswagger, and now, even she had to admit, he had it going on. Notto mention the fact that he was an awesome preacher. “Lester,sweetheart,” Rachel said, taking her husband’s hands, “you heardthat emcee tonight. For the past sixty years, the president of theABC has been a Southerner. That’s not about to change. I don’tcare how prominent this Rev. Tree is.”

Lester let out a small chuckle. “Pastor Bush,” he corrected.

“Tree, Bush, Leave, whatever,”she said, flicking her hand.“The bottom line is, that position is ours. God said so.”

He laughed again. “Oh, God said so, huh?”

Rachel nodded emphatically. “He sure did. And if God said it,then it’s so.” She grinned widely.

“Look at my baby,” Lester said proudly. “And to think, youthreatened to divorce me for entering the ministry.”

“Well, that’s because I’d spent my life as a preacher’sdaughter. I wasn’t trying to be a preacher’s wife. But I’ve gottenthe hang of it now.”

“You do make a great first lady,” Lester said, kissing heragain. “And can I say it again—you look lovely in that dress.”

“Thank you. And I’m going to make an even better first ladyon a national level.” She tightened the belt on her royal blueDiane von Furstenberg silk dress. Her attire tonight was justone indication of how far she’d come. Just a few years ago, shewould’ve shown up to an event like this in the latest Baby Phator Apple Bottoms style that she could find. And although she stillloved her some Kimora Lee Simmons, she didn’t have to wear iteverywhere.

“Congratulations, Rev. Adams,” an elderly man said as hewalked past them.

Lester stopped and smiled. “Thank you, sir.”

“I can’t wait until you officially claim that presidency,” theman said as he stepped on to the elevator.

“From your lips to God’s ears,” Lester replied as he wavedgood-bye.

Rachel waited for the elevator door to close. “See, everyoneknows you’re the man for the job. And I’m the woman that needsto be next to the man for the job.”

“Since when did this kind of stuff excite you?”Rachel’s hands went to her hips. “Since I did my homework.Do you know that the last wife of the ABC president wasinvited everywhere? To White House dinners, commencementceremonies, the Grammys—she even cohosted on The View!”

“But wasn’t she a TV journalist anyway?”

Rachel frowned. Lester and all this negativity was about towork her nerves. “That’s beside the point. Everyone knows theABC president is one of the most powerful men in the country,so that means the ABC ’s president’s wife would be one of themost powerful women.”

“I’m just saying, don’t get ahead of yourself.”

“Whatever, Lester.”Rachel rolled her eyes. She’d beeneuphoric since they announced he’d won the election an hourago. Of course, she always knew he would, but hearing itconfirmed was the icing on the cake.

As thoughts of hanging out with Michelle Obama danced inher head, Rachel once again smiled.

“Rachel, I see your mind working.”

“Just trying to determine where I’ll get my dress for yourinduction ceremony.” Maybe she could get Kimora to design hersomething personally.


She put her finger to his lips. “Shhhh,” she said, draping herarm through his. “Let’s just savor the moment tonight. Let’s goback in, mingle with the people, and enjoy ourselves. My dadand Brenda have the kids, so the night is all ours. Tomorrow,we’ll talk about the national election.” Rachel decided to justchange the subject because she didn’t care what Lester said,he would win the national election. And if this Reverend Bushproved to be a problem, well, Rachel might just have to revertto her old bag of tricks—just for a moment—to make sure thathe wasn’t a threat. She wasn’t going to let anything, or anyone,stand in the way of claiming what was destined to be hers.