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Authors: Diane T. Ashley

Camellia

BOOK: Camellia
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What readers are saying about
Lily
, book one of the Song of the River series:

“A new historical series has readers traveling by boat down the mighty Mississippi with memorable characters who are trying to provide for themselves and their families. These two talented authors bring to life a long-ago era of riverboat adventures, weaving their own styles into the story line. They work very well together.”


Romantic Times

“Lily is an endearing, faith-affirming story that will leave a sigh on your lips and a sweet ‘song of the river’ in your heart.”

—Ramona K. Cecil, author of
A Bride’s Sweet Surprise in Sauers, Indiana
and
Freedom’s Crossroad

“Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver have written a beautiful story of the South right before the Civil War. You will feel immersed in the Southern culture and setting. I felt I was right there with Lily.”

—Margaret Daley, author of
From This Day Forward

“I loved this book. Well-developed character I really cared about, authentically detailed setting, and a story line that kept me riveted to the pages. I look forward to the other books in the Song of the River series.”

—Lena Nelson Dooley, author of
Mary’s Blessing, Maggie’s Journey
,
and
Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico—
a Will Rogers Medallion Award winner

“Brimming with romance and history, second chances and spiritual truths,
Lily
takes you on a unique excursion that is utterly moving and delightful. Soft as a Southern breeze, the compelling characters wrap round your heart and won’t let go. Truly a dream of a book!”

—Laura Frantz, author of
The Colonel’s Lady

“The collaboration of Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver brings a tale as steeped in the flavor of the South as a frosty glass of sweet tea. You’ll smell the muddy Mississippi River, her bottom churned by paddlewheel boats. You’ll stand on the dock at Natchez Under-the-Hill while the breeze off the water teases your hair.
Lily
takes you on a pleasant journey into the colorful past. You’ll be glad you booked passage.”

—Marcia Gruver, author of the
Backwoods Brides
and
Texas Fortune
series


Lily
swept me into its pages. Ashley and McCarver have created a lasting tale as poignant and deep as the river upon which it’s set.”

—Elizabeth Ludwig, author and creator of The Borrowed Book

“With the skillful use of rich and well-researched setting description, vivid scenes, and realistic dialogue authors Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver have crafted a riveting historical romance that is sure to leave fans swooning.”

—Debby Mayne, author of the Class Reunion series

“With themes of faith, family, forgiveness, and more twists and turns than a winding river,
Lily
takes readers back to the historic riverboat days in vivid detail. This charming tale of a determined, unconventional heroine and a stubborn, hurting hero is sure to capture your heart and leave you smiling at the end.”

—Vickie McDonough, award-winning author of the
Texas Boardinghouse Brides series

“With brilliant style, the team of Ashley and McCarver has perfectly blended Mississippi gentility and steamboat adventure. You will enter the characters’ world and experience the excitement and dangers they endure in this gripping tale.”

—Janelle Mowery, author of the Colorado Runaway series

“I have a special fondness for Southern literature and if the same is true for you, I think you’re going to find
Lily
to be a pleasurable gem.”

—Tracie Peterson, award-winning, bestselling author of over ninety-five books,
including the “Striking a Match” series and
House of Secrets

“Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver have created a compelling tapestry of characters who live their lives, loves, and faith in a fascinating era of American history in an enchanting location—along the Mississippi. Their attention to detail helps frame the story and tempts the reader to forget the armchair in which she’s sitting.”

—Cynthia Ruchti, past president of American Christian Fiction Writers and
author of the 2011 Carol Finalist
They Almost Always Come Home

“Ashley and McCarver have woven a tale as gentle as a summer breeze and as treacherous as a shifting sandbar.”

—Erica Vetsch, author of
A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas


Gone with the Wind
meets
The African Queen.
This book has all the action and adventure of the grand riverboat days, coupled with all the romance and grandeur of a pre-Civil-War South.”

—Lenora Worth,
New York Times
bestselling author

© 2012 by Diane T. Ashley and Aaron McCarver

Print ISBN 978-1-61626-543-4

eBook Editions:
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62029-638-7
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62029-637-0

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Cover credit: Studio Gearbox,
.www.studiogearbox.com

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683,
www.barbourbooks.com

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.

Printed in the United States of America.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Epilogue

Dedication

Aaron: I dedicate this book to my wonderful colleagues at Belhaven University. When Wesley College closed, I wondered if I would ever find another school where I could do more than just teach, where I could also minister to my students. God answered through you. Not only did you take me from working part-time to working full-time, you opened your hearts and took me in as one of your own. You will never understand how much this meant to me. I lost a family I had worked alongside for twenty years, but you replaced it with another that has become just as precious to me. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement, and full acceptance as a Blazer. I love you all.

Diane: For Lisa M. Davis, my sister from different parents. The hardest thing for me to do this year was tell you I was retiring from the Legislature. How could I give up the desk next to yours? How could I not talk to you every day? How could I leave you behind when we are best friends? When we count on each other to keep sane in the madness of the Capitol? Over the years, you’ve been there for me through hard times and good times. We’ve shared tears, laughter, and our deepest, darkest secrets. Even the phrase “town girl”—the one I use in my bio—came from you. And don’t get me started on trips to the beach. Some things need to stay just between the two of us. The only reason I can bear to leave is the knowledge that nothing can break the bond between us. We may not talk as often, we certainly won’t get to share the trivia of our daily lives. But I know when we do get together the time apart will disappear in an instant. Hang in there. I love you.

Acknowledgments

As always, we are so grateful to Becky Germany, Becky Fish, and the wonderful staff at Barbour Publishing. You truly make us feel like we belong.

Steve Laube, we couldn’t do it without your invaluable assistance … and we wouldn’t want to.

Bards of Faith, you are our anchor in the ocean of writing and publishing. Your friendships and prayers keep us grounded and fill our sails.

And most importantly, to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, all for You!

Chapter One

Boonville, Mississippi June 17, 1861

J
onah Thornton did not want to die.

His fingers cramped, and he loosened his grip on the trigger of his Sharps carbine. The butt of the rifle seemed grafted to his shoulder, an extra arm with deadly intent. He bent his head and sighted down the thirty-inch barrel, wondering if he could really pull the trigger. Wondering if he could take the life of another man. He raised his head and moved the rifle back to marching position, heel at waist level, barrel with bayonet over his shoulder.

A twig broke some distance away, and the tempo of Jonah’s heart soared. Was it a scout looking for evidence of the force mustering in the area between the city of Boonville and the Mississippi River? Or a rabbit or deer foraging for an early morning meal?

His awareness stretched outward. Around him, the breaths of his fellow soldiers sounded loud, as did the whisper of gunpowder sliding into the throats of their muskets, followed by the snick of minie balls—a sound as deadly as a rattlesnake’s tail. The moment was fast approaching when he would find out exactly what it meant to fight for his beliefs. Even to the point of risking his life in the protection of those beliefs.

Sweat sprouted on his forehead as he caught the rhythmic cadence of marching feet. The rest of the battalion was about to reach his position between two cornfields on the edge of Boonville. He had been aboard the first steamer to arrive before daybreak and had marched with the other troops toward the town where the Missouri State Guard and Governor Jackson waited.

The time to fight was upon them. His heart raced. Could he do it? Could he find the courage to leave his protected position? Could he jump to his feet and run forward when the order was given? Would the bullet from an unseen rifle tear through him? And if it didn’t—if he somehow survived the assault—could he aim his own weapon at another human being and pull the trigger?

Jonah swallowed against the bitterness in his throat.
Lord, please let this end peaceably. Let them surrender without opening fire. Protect me and the other men. You know I don’t want to kill. Fill them with fear and confusion so we might prevail without bloodshed. Amen.

BOOK: Camellia
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