Fourteen year old Olivia Wilkerson is left desolate and grieving when her patriot father passes away. Willed by him to be placed in the care of an old friend, Olivia is forced to venture away from all she’s ever known to make her new life among people who are strangers to her.
Unaware of the new responsibility about to be thrust on him, Jonas Carmichael lives the life of a reclusive in an attempt to ignore the painful memories of the past. His heart has grown hard and bitter over the past thirty years of solitude, and his hatred towards people has only multiplied.
Suddenly burdened with Olivia, Jonas’s only burning desire is to shove the girl off on somebody else. But Olivia, still suffering from her loss, is only looking for someone to love her as her father did– and soon realizes that there is more to Jonas than meets the eye.
With the Revolutionary War pressing closer around Jonas’s secluded bubble of safety and threatening to burst it at any moment, Jonas discovers that there are choices to be made–choices that will not only affect himself but those around him as well.
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
PUBLISHER: Bookbug Publications
RELEASE DATE: July 15, 2016
“WHAT IS THAT—that clanging nonsense?” Jonas sputtered, coming out of his dim cave of an office.
He shuffled to the front door, shoving hard to open it. He stepped out on the porch, his eyes squinting even smaller in the bright sunlight. “Should go hunting today,” he muttered, thinking about the numerous squirrel, fox, and duck that inhabited his vast estate.
“Ishmael!” he hollered, stretching on his tiptoes to look over at the barns to his right. A small clearing allowed for the buildings to be built and a garden planted, but beyond that a tangle of thick woods choked the entire estate, with hardly a path to the front gate.
“Ishmael! Stop that unnecessary cacophony!” He tromped down the steps, grabbing a bulky-looking stick from where it leaned against one pillar. Not that he ever used it on Ishmael. No, for all his grouchiness, he would never hurt the boy.
Ishmael came flying out of the barn, looking confused. He held a pitchfork in his hands. Reaching Jonas, he shrugged his shoulders, his face expressing his bewilderment.
“Don’t tell me you weren’t making that noise,” Jonas grumbled, knowing as he said it that it was true. Ishmael stood silent before him, and a couple shots were fired from the direction of the banging of metal.
“It’s the front gate.” Jonas fussed. “Ishmael, go tell those busybodies that I won’t have all this ruckus.” Ishmael’s eyes narrowed, one eyebrow jumping up to his dark curly hairline. Jonas sighed. “That’s right. I forgot you couldn’t tell ’em. Well, here, I’ll write a message, and you must give it to them, and make sure they understand to be on their way, do you hear?” Ishmael nodded.
Jonas limped back inside, waving his stick around in agitation. He knocked over a candlestick by mistake, the dull brassy object hitting the floor with a thud. He ignored it, only grumbled more about noise. Ishmael bent down to pick it up.
Finding a scrap of paper, Jonas unlocked his door and searched on a small table for ink and a pen. “Scoundrels,” he muttered. “Always running off on me. Annoying—”
He found a half spilled bottle of ink and grasped it, scowling. “Where’s a pen, I ask? Ishmael, have you been taking my pens?”
Ishmael poked his head past the door, shaking it in a definite no. Jonas jumped. “Boy, what are you doing trying to trespass into my office?”
Jonas finally found a pen, and after stuffing it into the inkwell touched the pen to the paper. “Whoever you are,” Jonas said under his breath as he wrote, “I’ll have none of you traipsing over my property. Get away, and stay away, or I’ll be inclined to wave my musket at you. Signed,” Jonas dipped the pen back into ink and wrote, with a grand flourish and half a dozen blotches, “JONAS CARMICHAEL.”
“Here, Ishmael,” Jonas harrumphed, bolting to his office door and going into the hall. “Go give this to those noise-makers and make them be quiet.” He covered his ears and watched as Ishmael sped off on the faint track through the woods to the front gate. No carriage or horse had traveled it in more than twenty years and he was not about to let anyone on it now.
Fifteen minutes later, Jonas was stunned to look out of the front door and see a carriage rumbling down the narrow path. It squeezed in through the trees on either side, jostling like a ship on the sea. His face grew as red as the summer tomatoes Ishmael grew in the garden, a vein pulsing blue in his neck. He clenched his fists as the carriage rolled to a stop in front of his home and the door popped open.
“Well, Olivia, the house isn’t all that bad as I first imagined, though, I declare, it’s in need of a great deal of scrubbing on the whole.” Jonas heard the voice before he saw its owner climbing out of the carriage. He immediately grew more wrathful. Anyone could tell by the tone that it was a woman. And not just any woman, but a prim, stuffy, sharp-tongued woman. He glared at the lady who had invaded his property, unable to mutter anything under his breath this time.
Mrs. Bradshaw viewed him with calm gravity. “Mr. Carmichael?” she asked. “Your boy there brought us the most insulting note I ever did see.”
“How did you get in?” Jonas growled, shuffling forward with a menacing look. Olivia slipped out of the carriage and stood behind Mrs. Bradshaw, hoping that the man on the porch wouldn’t notice her until she got a good look at him.
“I simply ordered your boy to open the gate. People do not tend to disobey me, sir,” Mrs. Bradshaw said, her eye level with his.
“I wager they don’t!” Jonas fumed. “Wily old women, poking their nose into places they don’t belong! Didn’t you see my sign on the front gate?”
“Certainly not,” Mistress Bradshaw retorted, “it must have been overgrown with all that ivy.”
“Ivy!” snorted Jonas. “I shall have to get Ishmael to rip all that off so they could see it. I have a sign—No one allowed, or risk shots in your anatomy!”
Mr. Bradshaw unfolded himself from his seat and joined his wife outside. “Mr. Carmichael, please, you are speaking with my wife.”
“Well then, if she belongs to you, you had better remove her quick as you can before I reach for my musket!”
“Mr. Carmichael, I think you do not realize our mission,” Mrs. Bradshaw snapped, reaching back for Olivia and pushing her forward by the shoulder. “We have come to deliver your new charge.” She fished a piece of paper out of her tasseled purse. “Daughter of Mr. Chauncey Wilkerson, who is recently deceased.”
“He listed you as the girl’s caretaker now, Mr. Carmichael,” Mr. Bradshaw added.
Jonas couldn’t speak. His face grew more scarlet than a turkey’s and he could only gasp and wag his finger.
Olivia felt her heart sinking. Her gaze moved from the roaring man on the porch to the peeling paint and overgrown yard.
“Say hello, child,” Mrs. Bradshaw urged under her breath, giving Olivia another little push.
“Good day.” Olivia curtseyed, her face still registering shock. “My name is Olivia Wilkerson. Pleased to meet you.”
“Ha!” Jonas blurted, unable to express his distaste in any other way. “Oh, see if I—”
“We’ll be leaving you now, Olivia,” Mrs. Bradshaw announced, turning to their charge. “I’m sure you will end up very happy here.”
Olivia moistened her lips, standing uncertainly in front of the carriage. “Mr. Bradshaw,” she implored, snatching at his coat sleeve in bewilderment. “You are not leaving yet?”
Mr. Bradshaw hesitated. He did not like to leave the little girl there alone. This Carmichael fellow did not seem to have the charm and politeness that he expected. He wondered how the little girl would fare under his control.
But what else could he do? He had a tight schedule to keep to make it to his business meeting in Charleston on time, and his wife would get in a tizzy if she was delayed from her reunion with her sister. Besides, what would they do with Olivia if they did not leave her here? They could not possibly keep her, and she had no one else who could. And it was in her father’s will, after all…
“We must, I’m sorry, Olivia,” Mr. Bradshaw finally said, tipping his hat brim down so he would not have to look at her.
She let go of his sleeve, growing white.
“Ta-ta, dear.” Mrs. Bradshaw flashed a brilliant smile and waved as her husband assisted her back into the carriage. For one instant she paused as she saw Olivia’s pointed little chin quiver, but then she ducked into the carriage. She poked her head out of the window. “You’ll be fine, child!”
Jonas was prancing in a wild fury on the porch behind them, thumping his stick multiple times on the wood. He raised his fist above his head and shook it, shouting till he was hoarse.
Finally, as he realized that the carriage was disappearing towards his gate, he quieted somewhat, continuing to mutter under his breath. Then he noticed Olivia still standing motionless in front of the porch.
“No!” he gurgled, throwing up both his hands. He spun awkwardly around, crashed into the house, and slammed the door after him. “Can’t abide it!” he gave one final roar, then went immediately to his den and locked it. His only option in this predicament now was to puzzle what to do in his current situation.
Victoria Minks is an everyday teenage MK in Japan, with oodles of daydreams and ideas. She loves historical fiction, chocolate, music, horses, and old books, and firmly believes that there is whimsy and beauty in any day. She was saved at age 5 and desires to write for God’s glory.
I’m looking forward to reviewing this book soon. Just from the excerpt, Jonas and all his bluster makes me smile. What about you?