Spiritual Truths Abound in “The Soldier’s Secrets”

Hi, all! Susan Karsten here…I’m bringing insights on the spiritual themes found in        “The Soldier’s Secrets” the latest release by our own dear Naomi Rawlings.

Not only does author Naomi Rawlings deliver a compelling read with this historical romance set during the early days of the French Republic, she gently brings home some serious spiritual truths.

The importance of honesty and truthfulness is drawn out in an unusual way. Both the hero, Jean Paul, and the heroine, Brigitte, are brought low by dishonesty. The unusual aspect of this is that some of their troubles are of their own doing. So often, we find idealistic, too-perfect heroines and heroes–this is not the case in this gripping novel.

Brigitte and Jean Paul should have abided by the following verses:

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight….Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool…2 Corinthians 8:21 For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man….Proverbs 6:16-20 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Forgiveness is another strong theme in “The Soldier’s Secrets“. To receive God’s forgiveness, to forgive other people who sin against you, and to forgive one’s self are all treated in the midst of this historically accurate gripping story.

Here are some pertinent verses on the facets of forgiveness–we can all keep in  mind:

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you….Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Leave a comment to be entered in a giveaway of a copy of The Soldier’s Secrets and a History Channel documentary: The French Revolution. 

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's Secret
French Revolution DVD

 

I hope you read The Soldier’s Secrets — I think you’ll be happy you did. Leave a comment on your favorite verse on forgiveness or honesty. Thanks!

Susan Karsten
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The Other Side of the Channel and a Chance to Win

As part of our Spring New Release Extravaganza, we’re happy to highlight The Soldier’s Secrets by our own Naomi Rawlings.

While Jane Austen was writing her first novel in the 1790s, events across the English Channel were taking shape to form one of the most crucial aspects of the Regency era–a longer than twenty-year war with France. To write about the Regency, which was literally from 1811-1820, but has, for literary purposes, been extended from an event that didn’t even happen in England–1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution, until the end of the reign of George IV, formerly known as Prinny, the Prince Regent.

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's SecretEvery one of our Regency England characters was influenced by what was going on in France. At first, the aristocracy grew leery of too much excess in their lifestyle. Though  they were still lavish in food and drink and parties, they began to dress more simply in the classical Greek-influenced styles…brought over from France. They began to enact reforms to make life easier for the poor and laboring classes. Why? Because they feared a revolution taking place in England as happened in France with aristocrats and royals getting their heads lopped of.

Therefore, including a book set in France in this era fits into our Regency world.

Book Description

Brigitte Dubois will do anything to keep her family safe. When she is blackmailed by her father-in-law, his quest for revenge leaves her no choice. To protect her children, she must spy on the man who may have killed her husband. But Jean Paul Belanger is nothing like she expected. The dark, imposing farmer offers food to all who need it, and insists on helping Brigitte and her children.

Everything Jean Paul did was in the name of liberty. Even so, he can never forgive himself for his actions during France’s revolution. Now a proud auburn-haired woman has come to his home seeking work and has found her way into his reclusive heart. But when she uncovers the truth, his past could drive them apart.

Naomi RawlingsThe first time I had the privilege of reading Naomi’s writing, I new I had found a new writer outside the box. She was  not only writing in Revolutionary France, a time period everyone said no one could sell, but writing with a sensitivity, artistry, and edge we don’t expect in a category romance, we rarely receive in mainstream books in the Christian market.

And yet, despite the alien setting in a time period about which few people have much knowledge, we can all relate to Brigitte and Jean-Luc. She is a woman of honor who will sacrifice everything she must to protect her children. He will do whatever he must to protect his secrets. Their struggles and anguish, yearnings and triumphs fairly leap off the page under Naomi’s skillful words.

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It’s The Season for New Releases

Fans of Inspirational Regencies, rejoice! It’s time to welcome the new crop of romances, ready to whisk you away to the early 19th century.

Axtell_HeartRebellionOver the next six weeks we will be celebrating four new titles. That’s right, four! I hope you are as excited about that as we are. Prepare for giveaways, trivia questions, author interviews, and more.

Thursday, we’ll kick things off with a look at Ruth Axtell’s new book, A Heart’s Rebellion.

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's SecretIn April, take a closer look at The Soldier’s Secrets by Naomi Rawlings, The Husband Campaign by our good friend Regina Scott, and Laurie Alice Eakes’ newest, A Lady’s Honor.

Mark your calendars, subscribe to the blog, and tell your friends because you do NOT want to miss this amazing celebration!

 

Regina Scott The Husband CampaignHow to win the prizes: 

1. Come to the blog.

2. Answer the trivia question. (Or comment if no trivia is available that day.)

Laurie Alice Eakes A Lady's HonorIt’s just that easy! The promotion and open contest dates will run as follows:

March 20 – 31 ~ A Heart’s Rebellion by Ruth Axtell. Contest closes April 2.

April 3 – 14 ~ The Soldier’s Secrets by Naomi Rawlings. Contest closes April 16.

April 17 ~ The Husband Campaign  by Regina Scott. Contest closes April 20.

April 21 – May 1 ~ A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes. Contest closes May 4.

Are you excited about these amazing books? All are currently available for preorder. Check individual author websites for more details.

When Did You Fall In Love With Reading?

Most authors have a love affair with reading. The written word, compelling story, and fictional characters are the constant companions that light the fire to create our own stories and characters on paper.

So this month we asked our authors when they knew they loved reading. Was it a particular book? A series? A person?

BookStack

Susan Karsten

I have loved reading since early childhood. One of the strengths of my family of origin was reading. So I was blessed in that way. One of main family activities was trips to the library where we’d all go our separate way. The James J. Hill Library in St. Paul, MN has a splendid children’s room – lots of marble, built-in puppet theatre. Visit it if you’re ever in that city. I can picture myself in one corner with small Beatrix Potter books at age 6 or so.

Naomi Rawlings

I’ve loved reading since I was a kid, but I did go through a spell when I stopped reading for fun. I was an English Education major in college, which gave me a lot of literary fiction to read and didn’t leave time for any fun reading. After college, I never really picked the reading habit from my younger years back up until I visited my grandma one summer. She had a Lori Wick novel sitting on her table. I picked it up, started reading, and was immediately sucked in. It was a giant Aha! moment for me. I suddenly remember how much I loved reading romance novels and other fun books. And I’ve been thoroughly addicted to romance novels ever since!

BookCornersLaurie Alice Eakes

I knew I loved reading as soon as I realized that those stories I  loved was the act of reading.

Kristy Cambron

Classic literature is a funny thing. I find that either you love it, or it’s an assigned chore in high school. And unfortunately, I’d always viewed it as the latter. But something clicked when I entered college and began doing research for Art History. I remember sitting on the edge of my armchair at home, trying to fit in any extra moments in the day to read just one more line of ‘Jane Eyre’. An as they say, I was gone… hook, line, and sinker. It’s not just the classics now – I always have a book in my hands. (Right now I am reading ‘The Heiress of Winterwood’, by Sarah E. Ladd.)

Kristi Ann Hunter

I don’t remember the name of the book but I remember that it was about a Native American boy and the cover was blue with a picture of the boy riding a galloping horse with a spear in his hand. What I remember about this book is that it was the first “real” book I checked out from my elementary school library. It had chapters and no pictures in it. When I finished it in less than a week and took it back, I realized I loved reading. From there I remember moving to the Boxcar Children series and the rest, as they say, is history.

What about you?

Are you a reader? When did you realize that you loved books?

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A Suitable Match, Serial Story Section 7 and a Chance to Win

MatchCoverTo kick off our second year of celebrating Inspirational Regency fiction, we are presenting the serial story, A Suitable Match. At the end of the month we’ll be giving away a fabulous prize package filled with items tied to the story. For a chance to win, find the item mentioned in this section and leave a note in the comments. Details and a list of prizes can be found here. 

Missed an earlier section? Read it here: 1 2 3 4 5 6

On the road somewhere between Somerset and London
April 1818

“No. Yes. I mean . . .I . . .” She clamped her lips together before they could get her into anymore trouble. But the silence filling the space between them didn’t stop her heart’s  rhythm from rivaling the quick clomp of the horses’ hooves against the road.

Of course she wasn’t reapplying for the position as his wife. That would be ludicrous.

Insane.

Absurd.

Chard stared at her from where he sat across the carriage, those somber gray eyes waiting patiently for an answer.

“I’m sorry. I was only trying to protect you. I didn’t mean to hurt you when I left.”

“Not mean to hurt me?” he thundered, his eyes turning from patient to murderous faster than she could blink. “You left in the dead of night, and gave me naught more than a note. What was I supposed to do? Whistle as I headed to the vicar’s to tell him the wedding had been cried off? Shrug and say, ‘No bother, I shall simply find another wife at the musicale tonight?’”

Her hands fisted on the edge of the seat.  “My father had lost his fortune, and you needed money.’Twas why we were betrothed in the first place.”

“Money.” The word, drenched with bitterness, shot from his mouth. “If you think money my only motive for marrying you, then perhaps it was best you left as you did.”

Cressida swallowed and glanced at her maid. Knighting’s face had grown paler with every mile they travelled. Then she looked out past the road and into the green fields and leafy woods, idyllic as a painting. Finding a husband wasn’t supposed to be so difficult. She’d intended to swoop into London, attend a handful of balls, and make her choice. Or rather, let the man think he was making the choice. Then they would marry and move to Bath, occupy separate wings of the house and be apart more than they were together. That’s how these types of marriages were supposed to work.

But now she sat across from the man she’d once loved, the space around her shrinking with each second she was near him. “You were supposed to marry me for money. Money for you and a title for me. Love should not have been a factor. Just convenience.”

“A convenience.” The muscles in his jaw worked back and forth. “Was that all I was to you?”

Her throat was suddenly too thick to speak, not that she knew how to answer him. She could tell the truth, that she’d once loved him, that it had broken her heart to leave. That she’d had to leave so as not to bind him to her once she’d lost her money. But they were three years removed from those days. He should have married someone else the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year.

She’d told herself she didn’t care when or whom he married.

But he hadn’t married at all, and now she was confined to the same conveyance as he, frustration radiating from his taut body and his gray eyes churning as he awaited her answer.

Perchance she should lie to him. It would be the easiest path, and he’d leave her alone if she told him she’d never loved him.

But then she’d break his heart yet again.

“No.” She whispered into the tense air between them. “You were more than a convenience. I had feelings for you. I loved you.”

“Loved.” He annunciated the d at the end of the word. “As in, something that happened once. Something that’s over and done. You no longer love me.”

She shifted uncomfortably in the seat. Did she love him? She didn’t know. Hadn’t let herself consider the possibility. She’d locked that part of her heart away, squirreled those memories into a place so dank and gloomy she’d not visited them in three years. And if she were to go back and open the door to that forgotten part of her life, would she find her feelings unchanged? Did she want to find out?  “I don’t know.”

He gave a thud on the top of the chaise, and the conveyance slowed to a stop.

“If you’ll excuse me, I need some air. And it looks as though your maid is in need of a stop as well.” Chard hopped down from the chaise and headed into a quiet patch of woods, no offer to escort her down, no backward glance over his shoulder, just the sharp, jagged movements of an angry man.

And he had every right to be angry

Cressida ushered Knighting from the carriage, and by the time her feet finally touched the road, Twiford and Ross had appeared.

“What is the meaning of this?” Twiford barked. “There’s a coaching inn a quarter hour down the road. Why stop now?”

“Ask your friend.” Cressida jutted her chin toward the brush Chard had trampled as he entered the woods. “Now if you’ll excuse us.”

She helped Knighting into the woods. “Perhaps you’ll feel better after you stretch your legs a bit.”

Or so she hoped, though if her maid’s slow movements and deathly pallor was any indication, nothing but a bed would help her.

Knighting shuffled through the brush beside her. “I’m sorry, Miss Cressida. I’m of no use to you this sick.”

Cressida rubbed her back with soothing, circular motions. “Don’t worry yourself. We’ll reach London tonight and you can get the rest you need. There will be others to attend me.”

Knighting nodded, and the simple movement made her face tint slightly green. “I best return to the carriage. I’m not much for walking at the moment.”

“Let me help you.” Cressida assisted Knighting back, then stood outside the conveyance and tilted her head up, letting the sun touch her skin. Though the air about her was cool, the soft rays felt light, relaxing. She glanced back at the woods, in the direction Chard and the others had headed.

“I don’t like you riding with Chard.”

She whirled around. Evidently Ross hadn’t followed Chard and Twiford into the woods. “Why not?”

“You’ve not a proper chaperone for one, and—”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous. We’re hardly doing anything inappropriate.”

A shadow crossed Ross’s face. “He was your betrothed, Cressida. And he’s never married. That must still mean something.”

Ross had kept track of her former fiancé? She stared up at his dark, penetrating eyes, his wide shoulders, and the scar that marred his otherwise handsome face. Ross hadn’t even been in England three years ago. Yet he somehow knew of her broken betrothal. Was his objection to her spending time with Chard now because of it?

She swallowed. “I don’t see why it should matter.”

“Because . . .” He looked helplessly down at her, as though he had words to say, thousands and thousands of them. His hands thrummed at his sides, and he shifted from one foot to the other. “Oh, blast it, Cressida.”

Then those big hands came up to her shoulders, and he kissed her. It was everything a kiss should be, not soft, not hard, but that perfect melding of somewhere in between. His lips tasted of warmth and honey, tenderness and caring. Her mind emptied as she shifted closer to him, then filled with memories.

She broke the kiss and pulled back. The memories churned through his eyes as well. The childhood fishing trips and races through the fields. The time they’d pulled their stockings off and waded into the pond, only to fall and return to the house soaked.

The time they’d said goodbye. He’d been twenty-one and certain to find adventure on the seas . . . Except he ended up in Paris making a mockery of his godly upbringing. That had been the true end of their friendship. She’d not seen him again until her great aunt’s funeral. The funeral that had given her access to an inheritance at his expense because his grandmother held a grudge to the end.

She shifted away from him. “Ross, I can’t . . . that is . . . you shouldn’t . . . I mean, we—”

“I love you, Cressida. I always have, ever since we were little.” He reached out and drew a hand softly down her cheek. “I thought you knew.”

“No,” she whispered, the word barely more than a breath.

Then he leaned forward and kissed her again. And fool that she was, she sank into the warmth, the feel of his mouth on hers and constant thud of his beating heart, the strong arms that wrapped around her and familiarity of—

“What is the meaning of this?”

Cressida jerked away from Ross and turned to face Twiford, his eyes burning with rage and his fists clenched into hard balls at his side.

But it wasn’t Twiford that made her heart stumble and stop beating. It wasn’t Twiford who caused the moisture to leech from her mouth and heat to sear her cheeks.

Lord Chard stood beside his friend, eyes dark with hurt. “Cressy?” his voice broke on her name. Then he shut his eyes and turned away.

* This section contributed by Naomi Rawlings, www.NaomiRawlings.com *

Did you find the hidden item? It’s a tricky one today! Note it in the comments below for a chance to win. 

Don’t forget that the readers will ultimately choose who truly loves Cressida, and whom she loves in return. Already have a favorite? Go vote for him! Want everyone else to vote for him too? Grab a voting badge from the Suitable Match Extras page

There’s no denying that these three men are playing to win. But who just wants the money? What should Cressy do next? Read the next installment!

THE CONTEST AND POLL ARE NOW CLOSED. Feel free to continue to enjoy and share the story.