I haven’t had a chance to finish Uncertain Heart, by Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar.Â The weekend reached up and grabbed me and hasn’t quite stopped wringing me out yet.Â Even so, I am about halfway through the book and quite enjoying Sarah’s independent spirit.Â The story is both lighthearted and serious.Â Boeshaar does an excellent job of balancing the tension.Â Even though I haven’t made it to the last page, I feel comfortable recommending this story.
I know this is book two in the Season’s of Redemption series, but it stands well as a story on its own.Â I did not read the first book in the series and I don’t feel like I am lacking anything necessary to wholly comprehend this storyline.Â I am always more apt to recommend a series if the books can be readÂ independently.
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!
and the book:
Realms (October 5, 2010)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***
Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach and speaks at writersâ€™ conferences and for womenâ€™s groups. She has taught workshops at such conferences as: Write-To-Publish; American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); Oregon Christian Writers Conference; Mount Hermon Writers Conference and many local writers conferences. Another of Andreaâ€™s accomplishments is co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on both its Advisory Board and as its CEO.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 5, 2010)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 1866
Stepping off the train, her valise in hand, Sarah McCabe eyed her surroundings. Porters hauled luggage and shouted orders to each other. Reunited families and friends hugged while well-dressed businessmen, wearing serious expressions, walked briskly along.
Mr. Brian Sinclair . . .
Sarah glanced around for the man she thought might be him. When nobody approached her, she ambled to the front of the train station where the city was bustling as well. What with all the carriages and horse-pulled streetcars coming and going on Reed Street, it was all Sarah could do just to stay out of the way. And yet she rejoiced in the discovery that Milwaukee was not the small community sheâ€™d assumed. There was not a farm in sight, and it looked nothing like her hometown of Jericho Junction, Missouri.
Good. She breathed a sigh and let her gaze continue to wander. Milwaukee wasnâ€™t all that different from Chicago, where sheâ€™d visited and hoped to teach music in the fall. The only difference she could see between the two cities was that Milwaukeeâ€™s main streets were cobbled, whereas most of Chicagoâ€™s were paved with wooden blocks.
Sarah squinted into the morning sunshine. She wondered which of the carriages lining the curb belonged to Mr. Sinclair. In his letter heâ€™d stated that he would meet her train. Sarah glanced at her small watch locket: 9:30 a.m. Sarahâ€™s train was on time this morning. Had she missed him somehow?
My carriage will be parked along Reed Street, Mr. Sinclair had written in the letter in which heâ€™d offered Sarah the governess position. I shall arrive the same time as your train: 9:00 a.m. The letter had then been signed: Brian Sinclair.
Sarah let out a sigh and tried to imagine just what she would say to her new employer once he finally came for her. Then she tried to imagine what the man looked like. Older. Distinguished. Balding and round through the middle. Yes, thatâ€™s what he probably looked like.
She eyed the crowd, searching for someone who matched the description. Several did, although none of them proved to be Mr. Sinclair. Expelling another sigh, Sarah resigned herself to the waiting.
Her mind drifted back to her hometown of Jericho Junction, Missouri. There wasnâ€™t much excitement to be had there. Sarah longed for life in the big city, to be independent and enjoy some of the refinements not available at home. It was just a shame the opportunity in Chicago didnâ€™t work out for her. Well, at least she didnâ€™t have to go back. Sheâ€™d found this governess position instead.
As the youngest McCabe, Sarah had grown tired of being pampered and protected by her parents as well as her three older brothersâ€•Benjamin, Jacob, and Lukeâ€•and her older sisters, Leah and Valerie. They all had nearly suffocated herâ€•except for Valerie. Her sister-in-law was the only one who really understood her. Her other family members loved her too, but Sarah felt restless and longed to be out on her own. So sheâ€™d obtained a position at a fine music academy in Chicagoâ€•or so sheâ€™d thought. When she arrived in Chicago, she was told the position had been filled. But instead of turning around and going home, Sarah spent every last cent on a hotel room and began scanning local newspapers for another job. Thatâ€™s when she saw the advertisement. A widower by the name of Brian Sinclair was looking for a governess to care for his four children. Sarah answered the ad immediately, she and Mr. Sinclair corresponded numerous times over the last few weeks, sheâ€™d obtained permission from her parentsâ€•which had taken a heavy amount of persuasionâ€•and then she had accepted the governess position. She didnâ€™t have to go home after all. She would work in Milwaukee for the summer. Then for the fall, Mr. Withers, the dean of the music academy in Chicago, promised thereâ€™d be an opening.
Now, if only Mr. Sinclair would arrive.
In his letter of introduction he explained that he owned and operated a business called Sinclair and Company: Ship Chandlers and Sail-makers. He had written that it was located on the corner of Water and Erie Streets. Sarah wondered if perhaps Mr. Sinclair had been detained by his business. Next she wondered if she ought to make her way to his company and announce herself if indeed that was the case.
An hour later Sarah felt certain that was indeed the case!
Reentering the depot, she told the baggage man behind the counter that sheâ€™d return shortly for her trunk of belongings and, aft er asking directions, ventured off for Mr. Sinclairâ€™s place of business.
As instructed, she walked down Reed Street and crossed a bridge over the Milwaukee River. Then two blocks east and she found herself on Water Street. From there she continued to walk the distance to Sinclair and Company.
She squinted into the sunshine and scrutinized the building from where she stood across the street. It was three stories high, square in shape, and constructed of red brick. Nothing like the wooden structures back home.
Crossing the busy thoroughfare, which was not cobbled at all but full of mud holes, Sarah lifted her hems and climbed up the few stairs leading to the front door. She let herself in, a tiny bell above the door signaling her entrance.
â€œOver here. What can I do for you?â€
Sarah spotted the owner of the voice that sounded quite automatic in its welcome. She stared at the young man, but his gaze didnâ€™t leave his ledgers. She noted his neatly parted straight blond hairâ€•as blond as her ownâ€•and his round wire spectacles.
Sarah cleared her throat. â€œYes, Iâ€™m looking for Mr. Sinclair.â€
The young man looked up and, seeing Sarah standing before his desk, immediately removed his glasses and stood. She gauged his height to be about six feet. Attired nicely, he wore a crisp white dress shirt and black tie, although his dress jacket was nowhere in sight and his shirtsleeves had been rolled to the elbow.
â€œForgive me.â€ He sounded apologetic, but his expression was one of surprise. â€œI thought you were one of the regulars. They come in, holler their orders at me, and help themselves.â€
Sarah gave him a courteous smile.
â€œIâ€™m Richard Navis,â€ he said, extending his hand. â€œAnd you are . . . ?â€
â€œSarah McCabe.â€ She placed her hand in his and felt his firm grip.
â€œA pleasure to meet you, Mrs. McCabe.â€
â€œMiss,â€ she corrected.
â€œAhhh . . . â€ His deep blue eyes twinkled. â€œThen moreâ€™s the pleasure, Miss McCabe.â€ He bowed over her hand in a regal manner, and Sarah yanked it free as he chuckled.
â€œThat was very amusing.â€ She realized heâ€™d tricked her in order to check her marital status. The cad. But worse, sheâ€™d fallen for it! Th e oldest trick in the book, according to her three brothers.
Richard chuckled, but then put on a very businesslike demeanor. â€œAnd how can I help you, Miss McCabe?â€
â€œIâ€™m looking for Mr. Sinclair, if you please.â€ Sarah noticed the young manâ€™s dimples had disappeared with his smile.
â€œYou mean the captain? Captain Sinclair?â€
â€œCaptain?â€ Sarah frowned. â€œWell, I donâ€™t know . . . â€
â€œI do, since I work for him.â€ Richard grinned, and once more his dimples winked at her. â€œHe manned a gunboat on the Mississippi during the war and earned his captainâ€™s bars. When he returned from service, we all continued to call him Captain out of respect.â€
â€œ I see.â€ Sarah felt rather bemused. â€œAll right . . . then Iâ€™m looking for Captain Sinclair, if you please.â€
â€œCaptain Sinclair is unavailable,â€ Richard stated with an amused spark in his eyes, and Sarah realized heâ€™d been leading her by the nose since sheâ€™d walked through the door. â€œIâ€™m afraid youâ€™ll have to do with the likes of me.â€
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. â€œMr. Navis, you will not do at all. I need to see the captain. Itâ€™s quite important, I assure you. I wouldnâ€™t bother him otherwise.â€
â€œMy apologies, Miss McCabe, but the captainâ€™s not here. Now, how can I help you?â€
The young man raised his brows and looked taken aback by her sudden tone of impatience. This couldnâ€™t be happening. Another job and another closed door. She had no money to get home, and wiring her parents to ask for funds would ruin her independence forever in their eyes.
She crossed her arms and took several deep breaths, wondering what on Earth she should do now. She gave it several moments of thought. â€œWill the captain be back soon, do you think?â€ She tried to lighten her tone a bit.
Richard shook his head. â€œI donâ€™t expect him until this evening. He has the day off and took a friend on a lake excursion to Green Bay. However, he usually stops in to check on things, day off or not . . . Miss McCabe? Are you all right? You look a bit pale.â€ A dizzying, sinking feeling fell over her.
Richard came around the counter and touched her elbow. â€œMiss McCabe?â€
She managed to reach into the inside pocket of her jacket and pull out the captainâ€™s last letterâ€•the one in which he stated he would meet her train. She looked at the date . . . todayâ€™s. So it wasnâ€™t she that was off but he!
â€œIt seems that Captain Sinclair has forgotten me.â€ She felt a heavy frown crease her brow as she handed the letter to Richard.
He read it and looked up with an expression of deep regret. â€œIt seems youâ€™re right.â€
Folding the letter carefully, he gave it back to Sarah. She accepted it, fretting over her lower lip, wondering what she should do next.
â€œIâ€™m the captainâ€™s steward,â€ Richard offered. â€œAllow me to fetch you a cool glass of water while I think of an appropriate solution.â€
â€œThank you.â€ Oh, this was just great. But at least she sensed Mr. Navis truly meant to help her now instead of baiting her as he had before.
Sitting down at a long table by the enormous plate window, Sarah smoothed the wrinkles from the pink-and-black skirt of her two-piece traveling suit. Next she pulled off her gloves as she awaited Mr. Navisâ€™s return. Heâ€™s something of a jokester, she decided, and she couldnâ€™t help but compare him to her brother Jake. However, just now, before heâ€™d gone to fetch the water, he had seemed very sweet and thoughtful . . . like Ben, her favorite big brother. But Richardâ€™s clean-cut, boyish good looks and sun-bronzed complexion . . . now they were definitely like Luke, her other older brother.
Sarah let her gaze wander about the shop. She was curious about all the shipping paraphernalia. But before she could really get a good look at the place, Richard returned with two glasses of water. He set one before Sarah, took the other for himself, and then sat down across the table from her.
He took a long drink. â€œI believe the thing to do,â€ he began, â€œis to take you to the captainâ€™s residence. I know his housekeeper, Mrs. Schlyterhaus.â€
Sarah nodded. It seemed the perfect solution. â€œI do appreciate it, Mr. Navis, although I hate to pull you away from your work.â€ She gave a concerned glance toward the books piled on the desk.
Richard just chuckled. â€œBelieve it or not, Miss McCabe, you are a godsend. I had just sent a quick dart of a prayer to the Lord, telling Him that I would much rather work outside on a fine day like this than be trapped in here with my ledgers. Then you walked in.â€ He grinned. â€œYour predicament, Miss McCabe, will have me working out-of-doors yet!â€
Sarah smiled, heartened that he seemed to be a believer. â€œBut what will the captain have to say about your abandonment of his books?â€ She arched a brow.
Richard responded with a sheepish look. â€œWell, seeing this whole mess is hisfault, I suspect the captain wonâ€™t say too much at all.â€
laughed in spite of herself, as did Richard. However, when their eyes metâ€•sky blue and sea blueâ€•an uncomfortable silence settled down around them.
was the first to turn away. She forced herself to look around the shop and then remembered her curiosity. â€œWhat exactly do you sell here?â€ She felt eager to break the sudden awkwardness.
â€œ Well, exactly,â€ Richard said, appearing amused, â€œwe are ship chandlers and sail-makers and manufacturers of flags, banners, canvas belting, brewersâ€™ sacks, paulins of all kinds, waterproof horse and wagon covers, sails, awnings, and tents.â€ He paused for a breath, acting quite dramatic about it, and Sarah laughed again. â€œWe are dealers in vanilla, hemp, and cotton cordage, lath yarns, duck of all widths, oakum, tar, pitch, paints, oars, tackle, and purchase blocks . . . exactly!â€
swallowed the last of her giggles and arched a brow. â€œThatâ€™s it?â€
grinned. â€œYes, well,â€ he conceded, â€œI might have forgotten the glass of water.â€
Still smiling, she took a sip of hers. And in that moment she decided that she knew how to handle the likes of Richard Navisâ€• tease him right back, thatâ€™s how. After all, sheâ€™d had enough practice with Ben, Jake, and Luke.
finished up their cool spring water, and then Richard went to hitch up the captainâ€™s horse and buggy. When he returned, he unrolled his shirtsleeves, and finding his dress jacket, he put it on. Next he let one of the other employees know he was leaving by shouting up a steep flight of stairs, â€œHey, there, Joe, Iâ€™m leaving for a while! Mind the shop, would you?â€
She heard a manâ€™s deep reply. â€œWill do.â€
At last Richard announced he was ready to go. Their first stop was fetching her luggage from the train station. Her trunk and bags filled the entire backseat of the buggy.
â€œI noticed the little cross on the necklace youâ€™re wearing. Forgive me for asking what might be the obvious, but are you a Christian, Miss McCabe?â€ He climbed up into the driverâ€™s perch and took the horseâ€™s reins.
â€œWhy, yes, I am. Why do you ask?â€
â€œI always ask.â€
â€œHmm . . . â€ She wondered if he insulted a good many folks with his plain speech. But in his present state, Richard reminded her of her brother Luke. â€œMy father is a pastor back home in Missouri,â€ Sarah offered, â€œand two of my three brothers have plans to be missionaries out West.â€
â€œAnd the third brother?â€
â€œBen. Heâ€™s a photographer. He and his wife, Valerie, are expecting their third baby in just a couple of months.â€
â€œHow nice for them.â€
Nodding, Sarah felt a blush creep into her cheeks. She really hadnâ€™t meant to share such intimacies about her family with a man sheâ€™d just met. But Richard seemed so easy to talk to, like a friend already. But all too soon she recalled her sister Leahâ€™s words of advice: â€œOutgrow your garrulousness, lest you give the impression of a silly schoolgirl! Youâ€™re a young lady now. A music teacher.â€
Sarah promptly remembered herself and held her tongueâ€•until they reached the captainâ€™s residence, anyway.
â€œWhat a beautiful home.â€ She felt awestruck as Richard helped her down from the buggy.
â€œA bit ostentatious for my tastes.â€
Not for Sarahâ€™s. Sheâ€™d always dreamed of living in house this grand. Walking toward the enormous brick mansion, she gazed up in wonder.
The manse had three stories of windows that were each trimmed in white, and a â€œwidowâ€™s walkâ€ at the very top of it gave the struca somewhat square design. The house was situated on a quiet street across from a small park that overlooked Lake Michigan. But it wasnâ€™t the view that impressed Sarah. It was the house itself.
seemed to sense her fascination. â€œNotice the brick walls that are lavishly ornamented with terra cotta. The porch,â€ he said, reaching for her hand as they climbed its stairs, â€œis cased entirely with terra cotta. And these massive front doors are composed of complex oak millwork, hand-carved details, and wrought iron. The lead glass panels,â€ he informed her as he knocked several times, â€œhinge inward to allow conversation through the grillwork.â€
â€œ!â€ Sarah felt awestruck. She sent Richard an impish grin. â€œYou are something of a walking textbook, arenâ€™t you?â€
Before he could reply, a panel suddenly opened, and Sarah found herself looking into the stern countenance of a woman who was perhaps in her late fifties.
â€œHello, Mrs. Schlyterhaus.â€ Richardâ€™s tone sounded neighborly.
â€œMr. Navis.â€ She gave him a curt nod. â€œVhat can I do for you?â€
Sarah immediately noticed the housekeeperâ€™s thick German accent.
â€œâ€™ve brought the captainâ€™s new governess. This is Miss Sarah McCabe.â€ He turned. â€œSarah, this is Mrs. Gretchen Schlyterhaus.â€
â€œA pleasure to meet you, maâ€™am.â€ Sarah tried to sound as pleasing as possible, for the housekeeper looked quite annoyed at the interruption.
â€œThe captain said nussing about a new governess,â€ she told Richard, fairly ignoring Sarah altogether. â€œI know nussing about it.â€
grimaced. â€œI was afraid of that.â€
Wide-eyed, Sarah gave him a look of disbelief.
â€œLetâ€™s show Mrs. Schlyterhaus that letter . . . the one from the captain.â€
Sarah pulled it from her inside pocket and handed it over. Richard opened it and read its contents.
The older woman appeared unimpressed. â€œI know nussing about it.â€ With that, she closed the door on them.
Sarahâ€™s heart crimped as she and Richard walked back to the carriage.
â€œHere, now, donâ€™t look so glum, Sarah . . . May I call you Sarah?â€
â€œYes, I suppose so.â€ No governess position. No money. So much for showing herself an independent young woman. Her family would never let her forget this. Not ever! Suddenly she noticed Richardâ€™s wide grin. â€œWhat are you smiling at?â€
â€œIt appears, Sarah, that youâ€™ve been given the day off too.â€