Friday, June 05, 2009

Bittersweet Memories by Cecelia Dowdy

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:


Bittersweet Memories

Heartsong Presents (June 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Cecelia Dowdy is a world traveler who has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. When she first read Christian fiction, she felt called to write for the genre.

She loves to read, write, and bake desserts in her spare time. She also loves spending time with her husband and her young son. Currently she resides with her family in Maryland.

The three books in this series are: John's Quest(Maryland Wedding Series #1), Milk Money (Maryland Wedding Series #2), and Bittersweet Memories (Maryland Wedding Series #3).

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $2.97
Publisher: Heartsong Presents (June 2009)
ISBN: 9781602603547
Binding: Mass Market
Pages: 176 pages


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


PROLOGUE
Karen burst through the church doors, tears streaming down her face. “Pastor Smith, I can’t believe Lionel is still missing!”

The reverend and his wife, Candace, pulled the hysterical woman into a hug, patting her back. After they released her, Candace stroked Karen’s hair. “Honey, thanks for coming as soon as we called. The police detective is in the boardroom, waiting to talk to you. Are you sure you’re up for this?”

Karen wiped her eyes, struggling to gather her thoughts as the events from the past couple of weeks played through her mind like a nonstop movie. Her fiancé, Lionel Adams, had been fired as church treasurer after being accused of stealing thousands of dollars from their megachurch. And it was rumored that the assistant treasurer, Michelle James, who had recently resigned, had aided him with the theft.
Like the rest of the congregation, Karen had been shocked when the allegations against Lionel were announced at church two weeks ago. And since Lionel had left town the day before, she hadn’t been able to contact him to find out what was going on.

Karen turned toward Candace, her trembling lips attempting a smile. “I’ll—I’ll do the best I can to—to answer his questions.”

The threesome began walking slowly down the hallway, toward the boardroom. A moment later, the pastor stopped outside a closed door, placing his hand on Karen’s shoulder. “Karen, Michelle is missing also.”

Karen gasped, stepping away from the pastor. “That. . .that can’t be true.”

He nodded. “Unfortunately, it is.” Speaking softly, he said, “The church leadership team is concerned for both her and Lionel’s welfare. We want to find them, but we can’t ignore what’s happened.”

Candace took her hand. “Honey, we have to do all we can to locate them. What if there was foul play involved? Don’t you want to make sure Lionel is safe?”

Tears rushed from Karen’s eyes, and she wiped the moisture away. Her head pounded as she leaned against the cool wall, the contact bringing relief to her heated skin.

“Are you okay?” asked Pastor Smith.

Pulling herself away from the wall, she silently prayed, God, give me strength. “I–I’m okay now.”

The pastor’s kind dark eyes offered comfort. “The detective is in here. We called you to be questioned first since you know Lionel so well.”

Karen glanced at Candace. “Nobody told the congregation exactly how much money Lionel may have stolen. We just know it was thousands of dollars. How much cash was
missing?”

The woman released Karen’s hand and looked at her husband, frowning. In a calm voice, the pastor paused before speaking. “Fifty thousand dollars.”

Karen’s head started spinning. With a muffled sob, Karen turned away, wiping her eyes. “Lord, please help me deal with this pain.”

“We’ll take this one day at a time,” Candace said. “The Lord will see us through.”
Karen looked back at the closed door, hesitating. “Is it okay if I go to the restroom be–before talking to the detective?”

“Of course,” Candace said with an understanding smile.

Leaving the couple, Karen walked to the bathroom, pushed the door open, and entered the room, desperately seeking a private moment with the Lord. Her heart skipped a beat when Tara Baker, the church secretary, dressed in an immaculate cream-colored suit and sporting stylish hair and polished fingernails, stepped out of the stall. Spotting Karen, her dark eyes widened.

While the secretary wordlessly washed her hands, Karen regarded her own worn jeans and faded T-shirt before touching her hair, which she’d pulled into a ponytail in her
haste to get to the church. She suddenly felt rumpled and dowdy. “I always thought Lionel and Michelle were up to no good,” Tara finally mumbled, drying her hands with a paper towel while glaring at Karen.Karen gritted her teeth, shocked at the rudeness of a woman who’d once flirted with Lionel.“I find it hard to believe that you had no clue what your fiancé was doing behind your back,” Tara said then turned on her heels and strode out of the restroom.

Waves of pain floated through Karen’s head as she struggled to blot out the secretary’s words. Turning her focus to the Lord, she prayed, “God, please help me. Help us to find Lionel and Michelle. And keep them safe. Amen.”

Somewhat soothed, she rejoined the pastor and his wife. Pastor Smith gestured toward the now-open door. “Karen, I’m so sorry about this.”

Karen gave him a halfhearted smile then entered the room, praying for strength. The detective sat in a chair near the front of the room.

The minister spoke, his voice full of kindness, “Detective Ramsey, this is Karen Brown.”

“Good morning, Karen,” greeted the detective.

“Good morning,” Karen mumbled, taking a seat near the detective. She turned to her minister. “Can you stay here with me, Pastor Smith?”

The clergyman touched her arm, gazing at the detective. “Is that okay with you, detective?”

Ramsey shrugged, opening his notebook. “If she wants you to stay, that’s fine.”
Pastor Smith settled into the empty chair beside her.

The investigator asked his first question. “Do you know where Lionel is?”

“I. . .” She paused, chewing on her lower lip. “The day before the church announced he was fired, he told me he was going to go out of town to visit his cousin. I haven’t talked to him since, and th–that was two weeks ago.” She paused, gripping the arms of the chair. “I—I haven’t been able to contact him since he left.” She took a deep breath. “He won’t answer his cell phone. I figured he wanted some time alone and I would see him when he returned for his hearing.”

The detective looked up from the notes he was writing. “Where does his cousin live?”
As Ramsey’s questions went on and on, Karen felt overwhelmed with worry, fatigue, and nausea. Hot tears flowing down her cheeks, she prayed, Lord, will I ever feel normal again?

Her head pounded with pain, and she began rubbing her temples.

Pastor Smith touched her elbow. “Are you all right?”

“My head. . .hurts.”

“Detective, is it okay if we stop the questioning for a few minutes while I get Karen some aspirin?”

“I don’t mind at all,” said Ramsey.

Karen heard Pastor Smith’s retreating footsteps as she closed her eyes and rubbed her aching head. Her pain worsened as she leaned back into the chair. And then the world faded out.



Here is my review of this 3rd installment in Cecelia's Maryland Wedding Series:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Cecelia Dowdy and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Bittersweet Memories" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

“Bittersweet Memories” by Cecelia Dowdy is the story of Karen Brown, whose fiancé has just abandoned her and run off with another woman and $50000 of their church’s money. Rather than contend with the ugly comments from church staff and members, Karen runs home to Mom in Annapolis to lick her wounds and build a new life. What she finds is her mother’s neighbor, a blunt plumber who already knows Karen’s story. How can she possibly heal, now?

Cecelia Dowdy has a gift for weaving a creative story. Sometimes her dialogue is a bit stiff and too perfect, but the appeal for me is that this story tackles one of the most difficult issues facing the church today – a lack of love for each other! For the most part, the characters are likeable, although I found Karen to be a bit childish and obnoxious in the beginning. Still this is an enjoyable read that will hopefully get people thinking about how they are showing their own love for their church family.

2 comments:

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful review. Also, if you don't mind, would you fill out the A Letter To The Reader form in the back of the novel and snail mail your thoughts to Barbour Publishing? The editorial staff loves receiving feedback from readers! Thanks again and I hope you have a blessed day!

Cecelia said...

Hi, Stacey
I hope you are well.

I have a new, 99-cent novel out, Raspberry Kisses
http://amzn.to/17sJgZZ

I could also gift you a copy in exchange for an honest review.