I received GATHERING SHADOWS in 2014 from the publisher (the other two novels in the series followed). That was the year my husband began getting sick and these stories along with a great many other WONDERFUL works I hoped to read went on a shelf that became my To Be Read (TBR) list. I’ve finally gotten to this novel and I’m so glad I did.
Sanctuary is picturesque and inviting, but it’s a sleepy little Mennonite town chock full of secrets. Nearly every resident is hiding something, it seems.
St. Louis TV news reporter Wynter Evans hopes to propel herself into the anchor’s seat at her station with a human interest story on unusual Missouri towns. However, her station manager has told her to stay away from Sanctuary.
Those plans change when she is handed a photo of an Old Order Mennonite family living in Sanctuary whose teenage son closely resembles what Wynter’s brother, who had been kidnapped as a child, could look like now. Wynter is also hiding something…her real name.
What I like so much about Nancy Mehl’s writing is that she makes difficult, painful, even horrific incidents come alive on the written page that do happen to actual living people. This is true of Wynter/Emily Evans when she deals with a painful past that has come crashing into her present life and confronts implied threats that are confusing and don’t add up to any real leads in the case. I felt her frustration, disappointment, fear, and anguish.
This is a page turner. When I finished it, I immediately picked up the next one in the series, DEADLY ECHOES.
Floridians learn to live with hurricanes and tropical storms, as well as alligators, turtles, lizards, and snakes. We also get foxes, hawks, possums and deer encroaching on our territory. or are we encroaching on theirs? There is even the occasional black bear in someone’s back yard. It’s all part of the exotic beauty and mystery of Florida living…and I love the mystery and adventure of it.
It’s not all palm trees, manicured lawns, swimming pools, and beaches, though it’s that too. I’m very proud of the swimming pools we have in the condo complex I live in. We also have a natural pond with wild ducks who claimed it as their habitat long before the units were built. They stayed after people bought units and to this day walk around like they own the place. We have Watch For Ducks signs posted, and we brake our vehicles to a stop when a line of ducks waddle-marches across the asphalt. I walk my dog to the pond several times a week. It’s peaceful and lovely, but don’t take away my swimming pools.
Floridians braced for mega-Hurricane Dorian, and wisely, I might add. It was a monster storm that thankfully veered to the east a few miles into the Atlantic as it went up the Florida coast. It’s 110 mph winds churned over the seas as it traveled north. We truly dodged a bullet.
Now tropical storm Humberto is doing it’s thing out in the Atlantic and it’s brought cooler weather to northeastern coastal Florida. The morning was breezy when I walked my little dog Sophie. I met a neighbor walking her dog and she smiled, waved, and said, “Wonderful, a break from heat.” As the day progresses, the sun is breaking through fluffy, marshmallow clouds and it’s glorious. This is what I love about Florida. It’s a mix of wild and tame…fierce and luxurious.
I had business in Jacksonville Beach today, so I drove from my home in Jacksonville to the beach (two different municipalities). After my business was concluded, I drove around a bit…all the way to Atlantic Beach on Third Street and then back to Jacksonville Beach. The day was gorgeous.
I was starving. I hadn’t eaten anything except a couple of pieces of toast with margarine and marmalade for breakfast. So, I pulled into the parking lot of Graffiti Junktion for a burger and fries. The fries were phenomenal. Can’t beat them.
I’d ordered a double cheeseburger which comes with cheddar and I love cheddar. I wanted it grilled medium, and it came exactly medium. I also ordered grilled onion on the burger. It was delish. Needless to say, when I was finished, I was stuffed to the max.
It’s a sports bar and they have a full bar. I sat in the dining room, but some other patrons ate at the bar. There are screens with different games on all over the place but no sound. They’ve got really great classic country-rock and rock playing softly that brought me back to a different time.
I ordered Diet Coke with lemon. My waitress brought me a fresh one when mine was about two-thirds finished. Later she asked me if I wanted one to go. This is the south and that’s hospitality.
With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on the Bahamas as a Cat 5 this Labor Day weekend, I decided to finish reading this emotional novel of devastation, hope, and love.
The author skillfully achieves a sense of foreboding from the very beginning. Hero and Gulf Coast river bar pilot Josh Bergeron attempts to board a cargo ship in rough water and his foot slips off of the rung of the metal ladder. I am mostly a detective story reader and/or action-adventure. The most exciting parts of this novel for me were Josh’s scenes out on tumultuous seas.
Later in the story, we learn that heroine Maggie Marovich’s father, also a bar pilot and Josh’s mentor was swept away and lost during Hurricane Katrina. She left the Gulf Coast, never to return, but now her sister Cammie’s horrid accident and hospitalization forces Maggie back to their childhood home as another hurricane looms.
As a Christian reader, I appreciated the Bible verse that kept repeating: “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” Job 13:15
All of the characters were highly likeable and well developed in this emotional romance story. I’m not a romance reader and didn’t absolutely and totally fall into their lives. My favorite character was Aunt Ruth. I do recommend this novel to romance readers who enjoy a realistic, exciting clean read.
This beautifully crafted retelling of the biblical story of the Book of Ruth, brought forward to and set in the racially turbulent American south of the 1950s, stays true to the essence of the original.
The story gripped me from the beginning when Annabelle Cross and her two daughters-in-law lose their husbands off the coast of California when their fishing boat capsizes. Following the biblical narrative, one daughter-in-law leaves Annabelle to return to her parents, but native Hawaiian born Connie stays and they both travel to Annabel’s home in Tennessee. Most of the locals are happy to have Annabelle home again, but a few whisper that Connie is mixed-race mulatto.
Figuratively speaking, I wanted to bite my nails when one of Annabelle’s close relatives, a powerful local man who might have be involved in some shady deals, dearly wanted for her to be forced to leave Tennessee and to take that daughter-in-law with her.
Where the biblical Ruth picked wheat, Connie struggles with mourning for her dead husband and hides her pregnancy as she does the back-breaking labor of picking cotton. Alton, who owns the fields (her “Boaz”) takes note and has compassion for her. I loved the relationship of Connie and Alton growing from mutual respect to a deep love.
As storms line up in the Atlantic and stream across the Pacific ~~ this is hurricane week on this blog.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. ~ Isiaha 43:2, New American Standard Bible [NASB]
Hurricane Survival Tips ~ the basics
At Least Two Weeks Before The First Anticipated Hurricane:
Create an emergency kit for your home for the duration
One gallon of drinkable water per person for seven days
Pet food and water for seven days, one leash per dog, pet carriers, litter for two weeks
Enough non-perishable food for seven days (manual can opener)
paper plates, paper towels, plastic cups, antibacterial wipes
Battery operated radio, extra batteries
Battery operated lanterns, battery operated candles (not match lit)
Freezer packs (and freeze them while you have power)
Sanitation items (moist wipes, plastic bags for garbage)
Personal hygiene items
If you need to sandbag your doors or garage, purchase early. They will sell out. Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware will sell them.
In case you have to go even though you thought you wouldn’t
In a sturdy backpack(s). Each family member over 13 should carry a sturdy backpack, preferably water resistant.
Important documents (identification, insurance policies, bank account records either stored electronically or in a waterproof container), phone chargers, small battery operated radio
first aid kit…with all prescription medications, as well as non-prescription, toothbrush, tooth paste, sanitary needs, antibacterial wipes
extra underwear and socks in a plastic bag
Telephone book with important numbers, personal calendar
Pet license and vaccination records
A few hundred dollars in cash or traveler’s checks
A cooler(s) to load into the car with food, freezer packs packed with above mentioned food for three days. Don’t forget manual can opener
Days before the hurricane:
Trim all trees near the house
Park your car in a secure garage or away from trees
Know your evacuation route, and if authorities ask you to leave, do so immediately.
If evacuating, load all of the above into your vehicle in the order of importance. Make sure you have the emergency-supply backpack(s) you’ve packed for each person who will carry on.
Whether leaving or not, turn your refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings, have freezer packs that you leave in the freezer if the power goes off. If evacuating, have additional freezer packs in a cooler with the food you are taking.
Bring in all light weight, loose objects from your yard indoors (patio furniture, garbage cans, etc.)
What to bring to a shelter:hat to bring to a shelter:
A blanket or sleeping bag for each person, pillows
Food and water for three days, eating utensils
Additional safety and hygiene items
Your emergency-supply backpack(s) with prescription and non-prescription meds, important papers, etc.
Flashlights and batteries, games, toys, crossword puzzles, books, magazines
Pet friendly shelters:
Know where they are located. Do not assume all shelters take pets.
Bring your vaccination records
All dogs must be collared and leashed and you must have enough poop pickup bags for three days, seriously!
All cats must be in a carrier and have a litter box and litter, also sturdy plastic bags for three days to scoop out litter and dispose of it, seriously!
Bring food, water, bowls, any meds the animals take
Note: The stench of pet waste is nausiating and is a health hazard. Bring what you need to take care of it.
On a lighter note…If you’re in search of a good novel to read during or after your hurricane experience.
It’s hurricane season! Check out COURTING DANGER. A murderer is terrorizing a beach town and so does a fierce hurricane. The case has national security implications giving former US Army Ranger, Dr. Dimitri Garmonin a chance to work with the FBI. It could help him gain funds needed to expand his small Behavior Analysis Unit. He’s unmoved by the chic FBI agent but is intrigued by spunky, newly installed Det. Katerina “Kat” Andruko with whom he shares a Slavic heritage. #99cents all summer.
Consider MAGNOLIA STORMS. Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina and she’s moved inland, away from the sea. Both her single-parent sister and Josh Bergeron, the ship pilot Maggie once loved, refuse to leave the Coast. Now a hurricane’s heading directly toward them. Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?
Facts About Hurricanes:
The word “hurricane” comes from the Taino Native American word, hurucane, meaning evil spirit of the wind.
A giant tropical storm is classified as a ‘hurricane once winds go up to 74 miles per hour. That would be Category One hurricane. The highest category considered by the US National Hurricane Center is a Cat 5 with sustained wind speeds greater than 157 miles per hour.
Hurricanes form over warm ocean waters near the equator. The warm, moist air above the ocean surface rises, causing air from surrounding areas to be “sucked” in and these winds begin to swirl.
The Galveston Category 4 storm of 1900 is perhaps the worst ever seen in the US. The storm landed at 140 mph and brought a 16 foot storm surge. An estimated six to eight thousand people perished. The city’s trolley tracks ripped from their moorings and smashed through buildings like battering rams. Perhaps the most heart-breaking story is that despite the desperate and heroic efforts of ten nuns, all of the nuns and 90 of the 93 children in St. Mary’s Orphanage perished.