~ About the Book ~
God takes broken things and makes them beautiful again. He reclaims our desolate places.
Suzanna Wilton has had a heavy share of heartache in her twenty-seven years. Left wounded by a marriage cut short, she leaves city life to take up residency in a tiny Nebraska town. Her introduction to her neighbor Paul Rustin is a disaster. Assuming he’s as underhanded as the other local cowboys she’s already met, Suzanna greets him with sharp hostility.
Though Paul is offended by Suzanna’s unfriendliness, he can’t stop thinking about her, which unsettles his peaceful life. Intrigued by the woman who lives down the road and propelled by a sense that she carries a painful burden, he frequently drops by to offer help as she adjusts to rural living.
Just as Paul’s kindness begins to melt Suzanna’s frozen heart, a conflict regarding her land escalates in town. Even in the warmth of Paul’s love, resentment keeps a cold grip on her fragile heart.
When romance isn’t enough, will Suzanna ever find peace?
~ Excerpt ~
Suzanna felt shock contort her face. Paul Rustin? The neighbor who had been kind to her even when she’d been horrible to him? She studied him, unable to picture him as anything other than the gentleman he’d shown himself to be.
Warmth shaded his complexion crimson. “See, not a very good story, right?”
“Why did I do those things?”
She pressed her lips together, wondering why she pushed him but nodded anyway.
“I don’t really know, Suz. I was just angry, and I’m not even sure why. I didn’t want to live here, I didn’t want to be nothin’, and I couldn’t see anything beyond myself. I didn’t have a real reason.”
Paul’s eyes softened, and a smile crept over his features again. “I didn’t graduate from Rock Creek—I went to Boys Town in March of my senior year. My grandpa came to Omaha to visit me in April with a proposal. If I studied and got my GED, I could come out and live with them. I would have to work like a ranch hand, but they’d keep me on until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
“It wasn’t the out I was looking for. I didn’t want to come back to Rock Creek. I thought, man, give me some money and let me go find a life. But Boys Town wasn’t exactly Park Place, and it didn’t look like I’d be passing GO anytime soon, so I agreed.
“I must have thought it would be like visiting my grandparents when I was a kid. You know, farm breakfast at nine every morning, Grandma always ready with a cookie, and I’d collect eggs or do some trivial chore as a token of work.”
Paul chuckled and rubbed his neck. “Nope. My grandpa meant some w-o-r-k. I stayed in the bunkhouse, which was nothing more than a tin can trailer. If I wanted breakfast, I had to get up at six to eat with them because Grandma had things to do. They paid me what they would have paid a hand, and out of my earnings came the cost of rent, electricity, and food. When I slacked off that winter, my bunkhouse got awful cold because Grandpa didn’t pay me enough to cover both heat and food.”
Suzanna’s eyebrows rose. “Seriously? Your grandpa put you out in the cold?”
He laughed. “Tough love, Suz. I found out later they’d set a threshold on the thermostat of around fifty degrees so the pipes wouldn’t freeze, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought. But it felt awful cold. I hated it. And then… I didn’t.”
He stopped, and Suzanna puckered her eyebrows. His attention wandered toward his place south of hers, and she wondered if the scenes unfolded in his mind as he recounted them.
“It came time for calving, and Grandpa said it was my responsibility.” He rubbed a hand against his jeans, and the apples of his cheeks lifted. That look said it all—he loved his work. “I was so tired, but I knew he’d hold me responsible if something went sour. I wound up with a couple of bucket calves, and somewhere in between the late nights and early mornings while checking heifers and feeding orphans, I found myself. I found who God had made me to be, where I needed and wanted to be. It was right here the whole time.”
Bronco shifted under her, and Suzanna slipped a hand around the saddle horn. Fierce rebellion melted away while Paul fed a few cows?
“As simple as that?”
Paul’s gaze fell on her, his relaxed countenance contradicting his story. He looked toward the spring, then the trees, and finally to the hill rising before them.
“Not simple.” He returned his attention to her. “That’s the short version, but it wasn’t simple. I wrestled everyone, including God, for things I thought I wanted. There was a whole lot of humbling that had to happen before I made peace with life. Pride made me useless; selfishness made me difficult.”
His explanation created more questions than it offered answers. Suzanna longed for answers. His story, his life, looked nothing like hers, sounded nothing like hers, but he had peace.
Peace eluded her. She hadn’t found it in church, not the lasting kind. She hadn’t secured it in sacrifice. It wasn’t in love. Love had made her ache all over again.
Where had Paul found this peace?
“Shall we take the hill, Pickle?” Paul gathered his reins and nodded toward the rise.
The mare perked her head, and Bronco followed. Opportunity slipped away, like the waters that rose from the depths of the earth and tumbled down the creek. Suzanna swallowed, pushing a smile across her lips. At her nod, Paul took the lead.
Peace remained hidden with the secret of Rock Creek.
~ Review ~
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I cannot use that word enough times to express how truly beautiful this story is. It sinks deep into your soul and warms you from the inside out, even when Suzanna has her ‘pickle’ attitude on! And boy can she be a pickle!
Suzanna Wilton reminded me of a wounded animal—and anyone who’s ever tried to help a wounded animal will know that you’re likely to get bitten no matter how good your intentions are. Paul certainly gets bitten, and his natural response is to retreat, lick his wounds, and vow to steer clear, but after some encouragement from his sister (and prodding from the Lord), he sets out to be a friend to ‘The Pickle’.
Paul Rustin . . . What can I say? What a beautiful example he is of God’s unmerited love. He even managed to turn ‘Pickle’ into a term of endearment, and I have to confess I melted a little bit every time he called Suzanna that. Defensive though she was, Suzanna quickly warmed to the genuine friendship shown by both Paul and his family, and watching Paul and Suzanna’s friendship develop and deepen was one of the most beautiful (yes, there’s that word again) reading experiences I have ever had—and that’s allowing for the couple of times I thought my heart would break for these two, because even the deepest and most genuine human love cannot bring another person true peace.
Suzanna’s struggle to find peace was raw, honest, and gripping. She believes in God—she was a pastor’s kid, after all—but if God wasn’t able to prevent her pain in the first place, why would she believe that He could heal her? Surely she’s been forsaken. And yet she can see that Paul has that peace she is looking for. Why can’t she find it? Her struggle is complicated by the fact that one of the most influential men in town is determined to intimidate her into selling the property.
There are no pat answers for Suzanna or Paul, and we have to work through their heartache right alongside them, but I think that is when Christian fiction is at its strongest: when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable with the characters and walk that journey to wholeness with them.
All that is to say, Reclaimed will reach in and swell your heart. It’s beautifully written, beautifully paced, and tells a beautiful story of how God can restore the broken and desolate.
Oh, and did I mention it was beautiful? 😊 An excellent addition to my pool room.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review.
Release date: 23 September 2015
Publisher: Rooted Publishing
~ About the Author ~
Jennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.
Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.
She would love to hear from you!
~ Giveaway ~
Click here to be taken to the giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d26850c5135/?
~ Tour Schedule ~
April 18–Book by Book | Paulette’s Papers
April 19–The Green Mockingbird | Singing Librarian Books
April 20–Cafinated Read | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
April 21–Zerina Blossom’s Books | Remembrancy | A Baker’s Perspective
April 22–Soulfully Romantic | Reading Is My SuperPower