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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Release day tomorrow! for WHAT FREES THE HEART -- here's one more excerpt

The wait is almost over! What Frees the Heart comes out tomorrow, July 15th. Or if you want the paperback, Amazon brought it out a day early, and you can get it here (though it will still take 1-2 days to ship). You can still pre-order the Kindle edition here, or the paperback edition from Barnes & Noble here .

This book is not a sequel to What Heals the Heart. (BTW, that book is available on Kindle Unlimited, for those who have access to it.) Rather, as with many romance series, it returns to the same locale -- Cowbird Creek, in this case -- and shifts the focus to other characters. Tom and Jenny both appear in the first book, but now take center stage. Those who've read the first book will see the reappearance of its main characters, Joshua and Clara, as well as important secondary characters like Freida, Jedidiah, and Madam Mamie. And you'll get to know some other characters, like Silas Finch, rather better.

Without further ado, here's the final excerpt, in which Jenny asks Madam Mamie about whether she's seen any girls "in the life" who got married, and Mamie tells her what happened to some who did.

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Mamie stood up from her desk and snapped her fingers in Jenny’s face. “Come back here, girl! Where’d you drift off to? I was telling you about that gentleman I’ll likely be sending your way, next time he comes in.”
Jenny hadn’t heard a word of it. “I’m sorry, ma’am. Could you tell me the most important part over again?”
Mamie studied her face and said, in a tone close to a warning, “I hope you’re not still fretting about that harpy in town. You’ve had plenty of time to get over her.”
It probably wasn’t the time to ask Mamie what a harpy was. “No, ma’am. I mean — I’m not, and yes’m, I’ve had time enough.”
Mamie shook her head, closed the door, and pointed to a chair. As Jenny lowered herself into it, Mamie leaned back against the desk instead of going back behind it. “Set yourself down. Whatever’s cluttering up your mind, you’d best spill it so there’s room for what I tell you.”
She’d been trying to get up the nerve to ask Mamie a question, and here Mamie was ordering her to. “Ma’am, I was just wondering, that is . . . have any of your girls got married? To a customer, or someone in town, or anyone?”
Mamie looked a little smug, like she’d guessed what she was going to hear. “You were just wondering. Curiosity out of nowhere. Not because you’ve grown fond of a particular customer.”
Jenny usually knew better than to answer back to Mamie, but Mamie was poking her in a tender spot. “I don’t see how my reason changes the answer none.”
Mamie’s hand twitched like it might want to give Jenny a slap. Jenny held her breath, trying not to scoot her chair any farther from the desk. But Mamie put her hand back on the desk and even chuckled. “I’d rather a girl have spirit than bore the life out of me. All right, then, we’ll start with my answering your question. I’ve seen it three times in the years I’ve run this place, and once before then. And now, before you get all starry-eyed, you should ask me how it worked out.”
Jenny slumped back in the chair. “Yes, ma’am, please.”
“The one who got married when I worked elsewhere, I never did find out about, being as I left not long after. The first one of my girls who married was back here inside of three months. The man’d gone back East and left her. Later she heard he’d gone and got married again, no doubt not bothering to tell his new bride she was the second of two — or maybe more.”
Jenny gasped, and right away felt a fool. Mamie kept going. “The second one stayed married, ‘til she died in childbed. The third, well, they left town, heading farther west. I got a letter from her a while back. She was still married, but he didn’t treat her too well. Kept throwing what she’d been up to her, and spending his evenings at a dirty little hookshop in their dirty little town. She daren’t complain, naturally, and he knew as much.”
Jenny put her chin down, knowing it probably made her look like a sulky child. “But it doesn’t have to turn out that way. The one who died, she might’ve been happy if she’d lived. Not every man would treat a woman like that last fellow.”

Mamie slumped a little, which hardly ever happened, and sighed, which happened even less. “Not every man, it may be, but if you were betting — such as betting your heart and your future — that’s the way to bet. A man might think he can handle his woman having been a soiled dove, but after a while it eats at him. It’d be a rare kind of man who can live with it. Maybe one who actually thinks that men and women aren’t so different deep down, and that if a man can lie with a passel of women and then love and be true to just one, a woman can do the same with a man.” Now it was Mamie who had a faraway sort of look. “Don’t know as I’ve ever met a man like that, at least to know he was.”

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I hope you've enjoyed these excerpts -- and I hope you enjoy the book!

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