Monday, October 4, 2010

Across the Cotton Fields by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver

HP #920
ISBN 978-1-60260-955-6

Her life no longer makes sense.

Alexandra Lewis’s father has been exposed as a thief and killed in a shootout. Her grandmother insists that she carry out her duty to the family by marrying a wealthy man, regardless of whether she loves him or agrees with his views on slavery. And Alexandra cannot understand how a loving God could allow all this to happen.

Jeremiah LeGrand dreams large. After buying his friend’s cotton plantation, he frees the slaves, hires them to work the land, and teaches them to read and write, much to the consternation of his neighbors. He also wants to open an orphanage but needs a wife who shares his vision—certainly not someone like the beautiful but shallow debutante, Alexandra Lewis.

When Alexandra learns of a plot to destroy Jeremiah’s home and fields, will she find a way to warn the man she has come to love?

Key verse:

Isaiah 48:17 – “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.”


Natchez Under-the-Hill. Alexandra had heard stories of the area. It was a hiding place for gamblers, criminals, and lawless men, most of them running from New Orleans justice. It was no place for two ladies to spend any amount of time. Well, she’d better remedy that situation before it got any darker.

After repeating her instructions to Jemma and her mother, Alexandra walked toward the nearest building, hoping she would find it to be a livery stable. A woman who looked even more bedraggled than Alexandra felt stepped outside. When questioned, she pointed the way toward a stable a few blocks toward the east, away from the river.

The fog swirled around her legs as she walked, obscuring the ground and making it difficult for her to see where she was going. Hoping the woman had directed her correctly, she turned a corner and found herself in a quieter part of town. Buildings rose up on either side of her, their shadows lengthening as full dark began to settle on them.

A horseshoe hanging from a metal rod indicated that a building ahead was the one she sought. Intent on her destination, Alexandra hurried forward, hope singing through her. But disaster struck when she put her foot into an unseen rut and twisted her ankle. A shriek of pain and fear broke through her lips as she fell, landing with a jarring thump.

It took her a minute to recover her senses, and when she did she groaned. She was covered in mud and dirt, her hat drooped to one side, and her cloak was torn in several places. She dragged herself up with some effort and leaned against the nearest wall, ignoring the bite of splinters that pierced her gloved hands. Her breath came in labored spurts, and the street seemed to move as though it had turned into the river.

Several minutes passed, but finally the street regained its solidity and her breathing settled into a more normal pace. She pushed away from the wall and put her full weight on her injured foot. Pain shot up her leg, causing her to fall back once more. At least this time the street did not waver, but she knew her situation was serious. Her mother was counting on her. She could not fail. What she wanted to do was sink to the ground and sob, but crying would not help the situation. What was she going to do?

How many blocks had she walked in her search? She wasn’t certain. She could no longer see the waterfront, or Mama and Jemma. And no one seemed to be around in this dark, narrow corridor. Alexandra closed her eyes. God, help me. The words formed in her mind even though she didn’t really believe He would answer her plea.

A sound to her right made Alexandra’s eyes fly open. Two men rounded the corner and lurched toward her. They appeared to be drunk, leaning on each other and weaving their way up the street. The drunker of the two was shorter, and he was moving in an odd hopping fashion while leaning against his taller companion.

“Come along, Judah,” the taller one encouraged his companion. “We’re almost at the stable where we’re supposed to rendezvous with your lady.”

Alexandra was surprised at the lack of slurring in the man’s voice. At least he wasn’t drunk. He must be helping his master home. She remembered seeing other boats at the landing. Perhaps this pair had arrived on one of them.

As they drew closer she realized the shorter man, a soldier by his garb, was moving oddly because he had lost the lower part of his right leg. She pressed a hand to her mouth, sympathy for his plight filling her. Suddenly her twisted ankle seemed a minor inconvenience.

The smaller man looked up and saw her. “What have we here? A lady in distress?”

The servant stared at her boldly, his gaze taking in her torn clothing and the spatters of mud on her face. “More likely a lady of the streets.”

Alexandra’s mouth fell open in shock. She closed it with a snap and directed her attention to the soldier. “You should teach your man to bridle his tongue. It will do neither of you any good to allow him to criticize his betters.” She would have liked to turn her shoulder on both of them and stalk away, but the throbbing in her ankle halted her.

What the soldier’s answer might have been was muffled by the sound of horses’ hooves approaching. A carriage rounded the corner. Alexandra shrank back against her wall, biting her lip to keep from moaning as her leg throbbed once more.

DIANE ASHLEY, a “town girl” born and raised in Mississippi, has worked more than twenty years for the House of Representatives. She rediscovered a thirst for writing, was led to a class taught by Aaron McCarver, and became a founding member of the Bards of Faith. Visit her at

AARON MCCARVER is a transplanted Mississippian who was raised in the mountains near Dunlap, Tennessee. He loves his jobs of teaching at two Christian colleges and editing for Barbour Publishing. A member of ACFW, he is co-author with Gilbert Morris of the bestselling series, The Spirit of Appalachia.

As I'm setting up this blog, it's thundering outside. It makes me wonder what it's like in your area on this Monday morning?


  1. Congratulations, Diane and Aaron, on your latest book! Can't wait to read it!
    Joy Griffith

  2. Good morning, everyone! It is a clear day but a bit cool as we are experiencing a cold snap in Mississippi.

  3. Sounds like another winner, Diane and Aaron!

    It's chilly and sunny here in MN. We've had a hard frost the past couple of nights. Leaves are turning.

  4. AAron and Diane,

    I can't wait to read your latest book and wish you God's blessings.

    Rita Purser

  5. The book sounds good--thanks for the excerpt!

    It's chilly and sunny here, too. We're expecting 85 today, though, so by the afternoon everyone should be in shorts again.

  6. Here in central Illinois, it is sunny and rather chilly--a high of only 64 today...not fun when walking to class, let me tell you!

  7. Hi all...Joy, Thanks so much. We hope you enjoy our first Mississippi book. Erica, We're trying to keep up with you. Rita, Thanks for the blessings. We pray for the same to you. Cindy, You're welcome. We love sharing our stories. Our high is only going to be 76 today, so you must be south of Mississippi. Brrr, Kaitlin, I hope you have some good books to read when you get back from class. Thanks everyone for your comments. We love staying in touch with Heartsong readers.

  8. Hi Aaron and Diane. Your book sounds so good, and it's great to see you on the blog today. It's cold here in northwest Tennessee. We had frost last night. This is quite a change from the 100 degree weather we've had most of the summer. I'm looking forward to your other posts this week.
    Sandra Robbins

  9. Diane and Aaron,
    It's such a thrill to see your work take its rightful place. Your writing is excellent; your spirit is sweet; and your friendship is invaluable. Can't wait to read the next one.


  10. Diane and Aaron,
    Sounds like another good book. Will be glad to read it. Thanks for writing good books for us to read. May God bless both of you.

  11. Hi Aaron and Diane. I just got my books in the mail. I love your work. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  12. Aaron and Diane,
    Sounds great! Looking forward to reading it.

  13. Hello everyone. Rita, Joy, and Della, thank you for chiming in. See you in SS class. Hey, Pam, I hope to see you in TN around Christmas. Mary, Sandra, and Erica, it's always great to hear from great writers. Cindy and Kaitlin, it was great to have you join us today. And dear, sweet Jacqueline, fellow Bard, thank you so much. I look forward to the day when I can chime in on one of your blogs! Blessings to you all. Check back tomorrow for one of our posts giving a behind the scenes look into our new series.

  14. Hi Aaron!

    Awesome job you are doing!!!!

    God bless!

  15. Love this cover and the excerpt! Can't wait to read the story! Hugs to you both!

  16. Congratulations on your latest book! I've just recently discovered you are an accomplished author. I have not read any of your work yet and look forward to my first book...the MS setting will be an added bonus! As a nook reader...I'll check to see if the ebook is available. May God bless you with continued success! Angie Fisher

  17. Hi Aaron and Diane,
    I love the cover of this new book! It is beautiful. Can't wait to read it.

  18. Felisha BrownOctober 05, 2010

    After reading the excerpt above, I am ready for my own copy. I would also like to give you & Aaron 2 thumbs up! If the two of you keep writing, I will definitely keep reading.

  19. Gloria TramelOctober 05, 2010

    Hi Diane,

    Congratulations on the new book! The excerpt is wonderful...the characters are great and the setting is of course over the top. I look forward to reading your new book.

  20. Teresa TillerOctober 05, 2010

    Hey Diane!
    If the rest of the book is like the excerpt, I can't wait to read it! Your writing just gets better and better, and your readers appreciate all the efforts that you invest in giving us great stories to read. Thanks for this gift!

  21. Aaron and Diane,
    I can't wait to read the book. I am so proud of both of you. God is using you in a mighty way. I love you!

  22. Hey Robin! Thanks so much. I love you, too, cuz (as we say in TN). Evelyn, great to hear from you! Come see us in MS soon. Janet Lee and Rhonda, your friendship and support are true treasures from the Lord. Angie, thanks so much, but we are going to have to get Brandy for not telling you. Felisha, Gloria, and Teresa, thanks for checking out our blogging this week. Blessings to you all.