Dreams With Faith Release and Preview

Dreams With Faith, book 2 in the new Holiday Dreams series, is now available in both digital and paperback formats. I hope you’ll read this sweet and wholesome romance set in 1886 in the fictional town of Holiday, Oregon.

Can faith conquer their fears?

John Ryan is committed to his role as pastor in the quaint town of Holiday, Oregon. He values each member of his congregation, and aims to lead by example. However, his resolve is tested when a free-spirited woman arrives in town. John struggles with his growing attraction to her, determined to keep it from distracting him from his calling.

Following a devastating tragedy that leaves her isolated and shattered, Keeva Holt is eager for a new beginning. In need of consolation and clarity, she decides to seek refuge with her brother in Holiday. As she navigates through her grief and attempts to find direction for her future, Keeva’s vibrant spirit and exuberance challenge those around her, including the reserved Pastor Ryan. While logic tells her that John is beyond her reach, her heart urges her to pursue her dreams and embrace the possibilities of tomorrow.

Will John and Keeva learn to lean into their faith and let go of their fears?

~*~

I thought you might enjoy reading the first chapter of John and Keeva’s story!

January 1886

Altoona, Pennsylvania

 “Is there a particular reason you’re trying to stir up a heap of trouble, little sister?”

Keeva Holt glanced over her shoulder at her brother. She might have stuck her tongue out at Davin, but his firm grip on the back of her coat was the only thing keeping her from toppling out of the sleigh her father drove down the curving hillside road to the church. She leaned a little farther out, draped her purple scarf over the corner post of Mr. Lubbock’s fence, then plopped back into her seat.

As she adjusted her skirts, she cast another look at Davin. “I’m not stirring up trouble, just offering an incentive.”

“An incentive!” Davin nearly shouted, drawing the gazes of both their parents. “It’s not an incentive, Keeva. You might as well race up to a bee’s nest and give it a good kick while you’re at it.”

“I might if it weren’t snowing!” Keeva tamped down the urge to smack Davin with her gloves. Just because he was older, he seemed to think that entitled him to boss her around. She’d be eighteen at the end of March, and then she’d be all grown up, beyond anyone telling her what to do.

“What’s going on back there?” their mother asked. Eira Holt was a force to be reckoned with on a good day, and Keeva had no desire to stir her mother’s wrath.

“Nothing, Mam. Davin’s just excited about getting to church this morning.” Keeva offered her mother a sweet smile.

Eira narrowed her gaze and pinned Keeva a suspicious glare, then noticed the scarf fluttering on the fence post behind them. “Why is your scarf on Mr. Lubbock’s fence? What tomfoolery is afoot?”

“Well, Mam, I simply—”

Before she could offer an explanation, Davin cut in. “She told Oliver and Matthew the one to claim her scarf on the way to church could sit by her today.”

“She what?” Eira asked in a loud voice that drew the gazes of fellow travelers heading for the church. Lowering her voice, she glowered at Keeva, disapproval practically radiating from her entire being. “Explain, daughter.”

Keeva scrambled for a way to convey the details of the challenge she’d issued to Oliver James and Matthew Baumann yesterday at Mariah Bainbridge’s skating party that would make it sound as harmless as she’d intended it to be. Both boys had made it clear they wanted to court her, and she hadn’t yet decided which one she liked better. In the meantime, it had been grand fun to see them battle each other for her affection.

“Yesterday, at Mariah’s party, this saucy imp challenged Ollie and Matthew to see who would earn the right to sit beside her during this morning’s church service, as if she was a queen bestowing some grand honor.” Davin blurted before Keeva could clap a hand over his mouth to silence him. He tossed a teasing grin her way. “For reasons no one will ever know, both of them seem to be daffy over Keeva. I keep telling Ollie he could do much better, like Mariah, for instance, but he seems quite taken with this one.”

When Davin reached out to tug on a tendril of hair Keeva had positioned just so by her ear, she slapped his hand, earning an icy scowl from her mother.

“Maureen Keeva Holt! How could you do such a thing?” her mother asked with a dark scowl. “You know Oliver and Matthew get along like two wild cats with their tails knotted together. You might as well have poured kerosene on a blazing fire.”

Her mother was only partially correct. Oliver and Matthew had been friends since Matthew’s family had moved to town three years ago. The two boys had developed a competitive streak with one another that was wider than the river and three times as deep, causing them to constantly be at odds over one thing or another, but it was mostly all in good nature. Their latest competition had been over Keeva.

“Oh, it’s fine, Mam. I just—”

“Sometimes, Keeva, it would behoove you to listen more than you speak.” Her father looked back at her, and Keeva snapped her mouth shut. Not often did Hiram Holt speak his mind, but when he did, every member of their family listened.

Eira gave Keeva one more censorious glare before she spun around on the seat, whispered something to Hiram, then shook her head, as though she couldn’t believe Keeva was her child.

Keeva loved both of her parents, but the past year, she felt as though she and her mother spent most of their time ramming their heads and tempers together in a most unpleasant manner. Nothing Keeva did seemed to please her mother. She was sure Eira was constantly watching her, waiting to find some miniscule thing to criticize.

Like challenging two dashing young men to claim a seat beside her for the church service this morning.

The truth was, Keeva hadn’t told Oliver and Matthew how to compete. She’d merely stated the fellow who arrived at church with her scarf could sit beside her during the service.

Despite the cold and snow, the church yard was full of sleighs and wagons when they arrived. Families hurried inside out of the frosty temperatures, but Keeva lingered a moment, pretending to search for a lost glove.

“Stop dawdling,” Davin chided, pulling the supposedly lost glove from her coat pocket.

She felt like smacking him across the back of his head with it but instead quietly pulled it on.

Hiram got out and reached up, settling his hands on Eira’s waist, then lifted her down to the ground. Davin stepped out of the sleigh and turned to give Keeva a hand when the sounds of thundering hoofbeats carried in the still winter air. Although it was still snowing, the flakes were light, falling gently as they gave the earth a fresh coating of white, like the fine sugar her mother used to top her decadent apple cake.

Keeva turned in the sleigh and watched as Oliver and Matthew raced each other down the hill. Both young men were tossing taunts to each other and laughing uproariously as they charged along the road, intent on claiming Keeva’s scarf.

People who hadn’t yet gone into the church stopped to watch the two mischievous young men.

“Those foolish idiots are going to break their necks,” Eira said, then grabbed onto Hiram’s arm. “Can’t you put a stop to it, Hiram?”

“Not at the moment, love. Not until those two make it down the hill.” Hiram shook his head and settled a protective arm around his wife, then gave Keeva a look thick with condemnation. “We will be having a conversation this afternoon, daughter.”

Keeva dreaded what her father might say but shoved it from her mind. She turned her attention back to her two suitors. They were handsome, charming, funny, and sweet. Outwardly, they were matched in height and width, but they looked nothing alike. Matthew’s hair was as pale as whipped butter, while Oliver’s shimmered as black as a raven’s wing.

Yet, they both had captured Keeva’s interest. She’d been unable to choose one over the other, caring for them differently, but equally. The girls at school had been quite jealous of her beaux, but she didn’t care. All that mattered was that they adored her and she felt great affection toward them.

When they weren’t fighting or jostling to gain her attention, she had a marvelous time with Oliver and Matthew.

Like today.

Excitement coursed through her as she watched the two energetic, athletic young men race their horses down the hill. A few girls hurried closer to the fence around the church yard to watch. Davin climbed back into the sleigh so he could get a better view of the race.

Oliver pulled ahead on his big black horse, then Matthew edged past him on his speckled roan. Back and forth they went while everyone watched, waiting to see who would win.

Suddenly, Keeva wished she’d heeded Davin’s warnings yesterday that she was causing trouble. While she didn’t mind being the center of Oliver and Matthew’s attention, she had no desire for half the church congregation to discover that the reason the two young men rode so recklessly down the hill was because of her.

“I told you,” Davin said under his breath as he leaned near her ear, as though he could read her thoughts.

Keeva might have swatted at him and batted his words away, but at that precise moment, Oliver’s horse hit a patch of ice.

As though she witnessed it in slow-moving motion, Keeva saw the horse lose its battle to find his footing. One minute the animal was upright, the next it had flipped over on top of Oliver.

“Ollie! No!” Keeva yelled, but her voice was lost in the numerous screams piercing the air.

Matthew drew his horse to a stop, hopped off, and ran over to Oliver. He fell to his knees beside the prone figure of his friend.

The horse lunged to its feet, but before it could run off, Davin jumped out of the sleigh and dashed to catch the reins.

Oliver’s head rested at an unnatural angle, his body crumpled and still. Too still. When Matthew released an unearthly, desperate howl of despair, Keeva knew the worst had happened, and it was all her fault.

“No, Ollie. No,” she whispered. Everything around her blurred, then faded into darkness.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share by Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *