Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hearts Key - Marianne Evans

Oh my goodness, and last, but certainly not least, today, Marianne Evans visits us from the Woodland Church family with her story Hearts Key. It's so sad that this is the last of the series, I'll miss you and this lovely cast of characters, Marianne! Woodland Church feels so much like home.

And what about that cute little girl on the cover??? Pyper is adorable and this cover captures her perfectly!

Okay, so once again, assuming I'm not the last person in this crowd to read this one, Marianne has made a liar out of me again. THIS ONE IS DEFINITELY my favorite! LOL okay - I can't choose - they're all wonderful and I can't believe it's over. I think we should all be doing the standing ovation thing to bring on an encore!

Here, I'll show you what I mean about this story. Take a look...


A chorus of faith sung in the key of second chances.

Once the effervescent leader of the pack, Amy Maxwell should have had the perfect marriage. Instead, she escapes with nothing but the clothes on her back and her daughter, Pyper.

Once the shy teen, Tyler Brock has evolved into a powerhouse in Christian music, and when he returns to Woodland for a benefit concert, Amy can’t believe he is as faithful and tender as ever. He even manages to touch the heart of a doubtful Pyper.

But Amy can’t escape her own self-doubt, and she questions the wisdom of her heart when it comes to the charismatic musician who is so different now, yet so much the same.

Can the key to their hearts unlock a lifetime of love?


“Mark? Mark, where’s Pyper?”

His answer was an unintelligible, guttural sound.

Alarms sounded in Amy’s mind, making her heart pound. “Marcey from next door was sitting with her while I shopped. What happened to Marcey?”

Braving it up, Amy crossed through the living room, taking stock. Her footsteps came to an abrupt halt. On an end table by the couch rested an open, well-sampled bottle of whiskey. Positioned right next to it she spied a tumbler, coated by dripping beads of condensation. Inside the glass were traces of gold liquid and a pool of melting ice. So, Amy seethed, Mark had come home, and imbibed in the hard stuff. Nice.

She wilted, but continued on to the kitchen. How long had the booze been out in the open? They had a rule about no whiskey in the house. What was a bottle of high-proof alcohol doing within potential reach of their four-year-old daughter?

In that instant a flashpoint occurred. Resignation and sadness morphed into rage. His reckless disregard for the safety of their daughter added fuel to her mood. “Mark!”

Mark Samuels stepped into the threshold, planting his feet firmly while he braced against the archway between the living room and kitchen. He wobbled a bit, but the stance said it all: drunken belligerence. “Back off on the sanctimonious vocals, Amy! I’m not in the mood! I’m not taking any of your crap! I mean it!”

She was so used to this. Instance by instance, Amy became immune to his menacing tone; it bore no impact or dissuasion. Calmly she moved past him and set her groceries aside on the small kitchen table. Then, she returned to the living room and picked up the bottle and glass. The new food could sit and rot for all she cared. Amy pushed past him on her way back to the kitchen where she planned to dispose of both the whiskey and the glass.

“Back off?” She stepped up to the sink but turned to glower at her husband. “Back off when you’re home early from work, guzzling liquor? Where’s my daughter?”

“Our daughter,” he amended harshly, “is in her room. She’s being punished. She wasn’t listening and refused to do what I told her to do, so I sent her to her room until dinner.”

Amy stopped short. Dinner wouldn’t be ready for a couple of hours. On this humid, stifling summer day, being jailed in her room would be terrible for Pyper. Their home wasn’t air conditioned, and there wouldn’t be much for the four-year-old to do. Toys, games, and furnishings were sparse. In fact, it was a miracle they maintained possession of their home, considering the heavy debt load they carried and Mark’s sporadic income.

She became aware once more of the bottle and glass she held. “After I toss this out, I’m telling her she’s free to leave her room.”

“Oh, no you’re not.” Mark swore liberally as he stalked in close. Looking him straight in the eye, Amy poured the remaining whiskey down the drain and threw the glass into the sink so hard it shattered.

“I see. So you think that’s how it is.” Vindictiveness shone in Marks’ eyes. “That’s just fine.”

He staggered to the small china hutch tucked into a corner of the kitchen. Crafted of maple, it was well worn, a beloved heirloom from Amy’s grandmother. They had inherited the piece a couple years ago. Mark yanked open the doors. With sloppy motions he reached inside. He grabbed stacks of dishes from inside and just let them fall.

Irreplaceable, depression-era glass and Rosenthal china smashed to the floor. “We even yet? Want s’more?”

Amy ran, pulling on Mark’s arm in an attempt to get him away from the cabinet. But he was a big man, solid muscle; when she came near, he shook her off easily, sending her to the floor in a sprawl. She righted herself quickly, stumbling against the refrigerator.

“Stop it! Stop! Please stop!” Helpless, she could do nothing but watch while Mark swiped at an artfully arranged display of wine goblets. Soon they were reduced to nothing more than sparkling shards that decorated the hardwood floor.

Amy cried out, thinking of the beautiful memories held within those few precious mementos from her past: the family dinners, holiday celebrations, happy laughter. Her china was sacrosanct, one of the few things she refused to pawn in order to support her family.

The china and…

Mark spied her camera, a simple digital unit that was her lifeline to sanity. A part of what augmented her income as a receptionist for a fitness center in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Her heart lurched. No, she screamed in silence. Please, no! I have a freelance assignment this weekend!

The inner plea came just seconds too late.

He hefted the small, silver unit, which gleamed and still looked like new even two years after purchase because Amy pampered and cared for it. Photography was her release, her joy…and Mark was about to destroy it!

He threw the camera against the wall; it burst apart on impact and Amy cried out, sinking against the counter.

“I got fire—laid off today.” He continued to storm through the kitchen. “Stupid idiots in charge of that stinkin’ factory don’t know their left hand from their right.” He spun toward her. “So if you push me now, I’ll push you right back. If you get in my way, I’ll take you right out of it!”

Amy didn’t doubt that fact for a minute. However, she hadn’t missed the slipup Mark made between being fired and being laid off. Her husband was defeating himself. Again. He was taking her right down with him. Again. Gambling, booze, and spotty work attendance had combined to do him in. Again. Amy scraped the very bottom of her heart, trying desperately to find even the tiniest piece of hope for her relationship with Mark. The effort was answered only in an emptiness that stole her joy, and ever increasing fears for herself and Pyper.


This story is wonderful! Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how many times it made me smile, or laugh...or cry.

Ms. Evans touched on many sensitive subjects in this one story, and handled them with tender loving care. The way she develops Amy's personality and shows the depth of her love, as well as Tyler's is indescribable. Amy is such a spiritual work-in-progress, and after all she's been through it's like watching a flower blossom - then start to wilt - then come to full bloom. It's beautiful. And the patience Tyler shows, after waiting a lifetime for this love to come to fruition, can only come from God.

Wonderful story! Don't miss it!

Marianne Evans loves to tell a good story. She’s seen a number of her books published. Kensington Publishing purchased her first book, Friends & Lovers. Her second contemporary romance, Right Hand Man, followed shortly thereafter. Her third release from Kensington, Hannah’s Heart, won critical acclaim in The Oakland Press. Her fourth book, a novella entitled With This Kiss, is her first offering at The Wild Rose Press. Hearts Crossing is her first inspirational romance and marks her debut at White Rose Publishing.

A resident of suburban Detroit, she’s happily married with two kids and a family that never fails to support and encourage. An active member of Romance Writers of America, she’s a long-time member of Greater Detroit RWA where she served the chapter in a number of capacities, most notably as treasurer and two terms as president.


  1. All I can say is, WOW, Marianne. I loved them all. I certainly hope to see the cast from Woodland again sometime in the future (the near future...).

    Thank you again for the beautiful stories you bring to us!

  2. Donna I can't thank you enough for your lovely spotlight and reviews of the Woodland series!! I'm blown away! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm on my way to the RT booklovers convention but couldn't let that stop me from chiming in!! Much love, and you've just about got me convinced to start my next Woodldnd romance!!! <3

  3. LOL I would love it and so would others, I'm sure. Have a wonderful time at RT, say hi to the other ladies who are going to be there, and shine the light for all of us. God bless!

  4. Mary, Dora and I will spread as much PBG love as possible! Wish we all could be here together!!!!

  5. A beautiful series!

    Good luck and God's blessings.

  6. I also am teary at the end of those wonderful series and the folks I've grown to love so much. I hope they sneak into other stories, Marianne.

    God bless you always, Marianne. My true friend who gets me through a lot of crazy-ness.

  7. Replies
    1. It's really a great story, Sheila. I hope you have a chance to read it!

  8. All I can say is WOW! I was GLUED to this excerpt. I'm rooting for Amy and Pyper. I won't tell you how much I'd love to hit Mark over the head with a 2 by 4.

    Yeah, I'm that angry, Marianne. Which means you did a great job of evoking emotion.

    1. Exactly, Laurean, and she does it in multiple ways. The way she portrays Pyper's fears are priceless. It makes you want to draw her in and protect...

  9. Your book sounds like such an exciting book to read! Thank you for offering it to one of us.