06 February 2014

Excerpt Thursday: But for The Grace of God by Ginger Myrick

This week, we're pleased to welcome author and Unusual Historicals contributor Ginger Myrick with her latest novel, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. The author will offer a free copy of But for The Grace of God to a lucky blog visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Here's the blurb.

Set during the American Civil War, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD (A Novel of Compassion in a Time of War) combines a sweet old-fashioned love story with a compassionate look at the people affected by the struggle for equality.

Hannah Carter never expected to find love, especially during a time of war. By the spring of 1864, the conflict between North and South has raged on for years and still shows no sign of resolution. On her small farm in West Virginia, the young widow and her household have managed to remain untouched until a mysterious green-eyed soldier shows up, wounded and in desperate need of medical attention. Never able to turn away someone in need, Hannah risks everything to take in the stranger and tend to his injuries.

Beau develops tender feelings toward Hannah, and she is equally smitten, but circumstances conspire to hinder their happiness. Beau is a Confederate soldier wanted for the murder of one of his own, and Hannah’s farm is a rest stop for fugitive slaves en route to freedom in the North.

Will justice catch up with Beau and force him to pay for his crimes? Will he discover Hannah’s secret humanitarian efforts and betray her to the authorities? Or will they find a way to overcome their differences—to make peace, to live, and to love? 

**An Excerpt from But for The Grace of God**

Book 1: The Soldier
Spring 1864

The Confederate soldier galloped his flagging mount through the densely wooded copse, unheeding of the bullets zinging dangerously past his head. He didn’t know how they could see to draw a bead on him in this thick growth so close to the river. They were probably shooting blindly. Maybe he could lose them. It didn’t really matter. He’d already been hit once and would probably be dead soon, but he wasn’t about to give the bastards the satisfaction of his capture. If he could just hold on long enough to find a hiding place, somewhere he could at least settle down to take a look at his wound and perhaps stem the bleeding. He pressed his hand more tightly to his side, bent lower over the horse’s neck, and rode even harder.
The unfolding drama did not go unnoticed by the residents of a nearby farm. The gunshots drew Hannah Carter to her window, and she pulled back the curtains to scan the dimming twilight for some explanation of the commotion outside. She was about to abandon her vigil when her eye caught movement down by the river’s edge. She saw a horse struggle up from its crossing, and her vision focused just in time to witness its rider’s unceremonious yet oddly graceful slide to the ground. She let out a little cry of surprise as he hit the grassy bank not fifty feet from the house and rolled three times before coming to a stop face down in the dirt.
She reached the door in three swift steps, flung it open, and sprinted down the porch. Halfway across the yard she was joined in her flight by a big bear of a man running from the barn. They reached the soldier at the same time, and Hannah threw herself down at his side to get a better look. As she rolled his shoulder back, she saw that his face was dirty and covered with small abrasions from his tumble. She inhaled sharply as her eyes took in the tattered right side of his uniform and the gaping hole oozing blood in a slow but steady stream.
“Jeb, we have to get him to the house,” Hannah said, looking anxiously up into the big man’s dark brown eyes.
“We can’t,” he said, his face taking on a defiant set. “Have you forgotten about the pick-up tonight?”
“Well, we can’t leave him out here to bleed to death.”
“Why not? It’s what he’d do to me,” Jeb insisted stubbornly.
Hannah smiled tenderly, amused by his reluctance. Though there was no time for this, she placed her gentle hand on the powerful brown forearm exposed by his rolled-up sleeve. “Jeb,” she said softly, “I know you’re too smart for that petty argument. Besides, it would eat at your conscience to leave him. You wouldn’t sleep for a month.”
He sighed wearily, knowing that she was right. He hefted the considerable mass of the soldier’s long lanky body as if he were a child, threw the man over his shoulder, and made his way up the slight incline to the house, mumbling the entire time that they would all hang for this. Hannah shook her head, chuckling nervously to herself behind his wide sulking back. She grabbed a small leafy branch lying under an oak tree and scraped it along in the dirt behind them, doing her best to erase the evidence. Maybe it’s dark enough they won’t notice, she prayed hopefully, attempting to convince herself.
When she reached the porch, she hurriedly tossed the branch around the corner of the house and jogged up the steps, casting a last worried glance over her shoulder at the dusky horizon before stepping inside and closing the door—and just in time. No sooner had the latch securely clicked home than she heard pounding hoof beats thundering past on the other side of the river. They would have to hurry.
Hannah bustled into the kitchen where Jebediah had already deposited his burden onto the heavy oaken table and begun to cut away the raggedy remnants of the battle-stained coat. Ginny had dropped her supper preparations and had already begun to wash the soldier’s face and the area surrounding his wound.
“The bullet’s going to have to come out before we do anything else,” Jeb said, his earlier reticence forgotten as enemy now became patient.
“We don’t have time to open him up now,” Hannah observed, gathering the gray rags of the uniform and pitching them into the stove. “Those soldiers will be back as soon as they catch up to his horse. Just clean his face and wrap him up tight enough that he won’t bleed all over everything then get him upstairs into a bed. I’ll help Ginny clean up this mess.”
She grabbed a cloth and started to mop up the sticky red stains around the table while Ginny hid the soldier’s possessions and cleaned the trail of dirt and blood left by Jeb’s progress. By the time the women finished, the soldier had been washed, his wound bound, and he was ready to be moved. Jeb lifted him again—this time as carefully as a lover—and started up the stairs.
“Ginny,” Hannah began, turning to the quiet, gentle woman beside her, “those soldiers will want to search the premises. Will you please inform our guests of the situation? They will have to be very, very quiet.” Ginny nodded her assent and left the room to relay the message. Hannah cleaned up the last few spots on the table and gave the kitchen a final cursory glance before heading upstairs.

Ginger Myrick was born and raised in Southern California. She is a self-described wife, mother, animal lover, and avid reader and knitter. Along with the promotion for THE WELSH HEALER, and EL REY, she is currently crafting her third novel, which takes place during the U.S. Civil War. She is a Christian who writes meticulously researched historical fiction with a ‘clean’ love story at the core. She hopes to persevere with her newfound talent and show the reading community that a romance need not include graphic details to convey deep love and passion.