Authors: Denise Hunter
New York London Toronto Sydney
Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of five novels and three novellas. A voracious reader, she began writing a Christian romance novel in 1996, and it was published two years later. Her husband, Kevin, claims he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too. She and Kevin live in Indiana with their three sons, where they are very active in a new church.
You can visit Denise’s Web site at
Never a Bride
His Brother’s Bride
“Truth or Dare”
“Game of Love”
“The Perfect Match”
Our purpose at Howard Books is to:
in the hearts of growing Christians
in the lives of believers
in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hunter, Denise, 1968-
Mending places : a novel / Denise Hunter.
p. cm.—(The new heights series)
1. Teton Range (Wyo. and Idaho)—Fiction. 2. Mountaineering guides (Persons)—Fiction. 3. Family-owned business enterprises—Fiction. 4. Mountain resorts—Fiction. I. Title.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4
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Excerpts from Natalie’s study guide are from
A Woman’s Heart,
by Beth Moore. Copyright © 1995 Life Way Press. Tenth reprint, January 2000. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
All Scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Edited by Ramona Richards
Interior design by John Mark Luke Designs
Cover design by David Carlson Design
“Write what you know” is usually the first piece of advice new writers receive. It’s a good general rule, but at some point a writer like me finds herself up to her chin in something she knows little about. That’s where research comes in, and usually it involves begging the help of friends, family, and complete strangers.
I was blessed to have the help of several people during the course of writing this novel, and a hearty thank-you goes out to each of them! Any errors in this work of fiction are completely mine.
Roxanne and Lorren Henke for taking me through the ins and outs of banking.
Beth Moore for writing wonderful words in her study guides that draw me closer to God.
Kim Peterson for sharing her expertise in divorce procedures.
Donna Prewitt for providing details in the area of social work.
Tyler Sinclair for explanations on the game of chess.
Dan Tressler for offering firsthand information on climbing Mount Moran (so I didn’t have to climb it myself!).
Also, a huge thank-you to my agent, Pamela Hardy; my editors, Philis Boultinghouse and Ramona Richards; and my critique partners, Colleen Coble and Kristin Billerbeck.
Finally, thanks to my husband, Kevin, who amazes me more each day with his love for Christ and devotion to our family.
Hanna Landin maneuvered her 4x4 through Jackson, Wyoming, sighing when the upcoming light turned red. She hated being late. Not only was it rude but it smacked of irresponsibility, an attribute she did not wish to demonstrate, today of all days. Her stomach twisted in knots. What if Keith said no? She suppressed the thought. Failure was not an option.
She drummed her bare, blunt-cut nails on the steering wheel, willing the light to change. Suddenly church bells pealed in the distance, invading her vehicle with their liquid notes. She choked down the bile in her throat. Jamming the radio volume up, she drowned out the bitter reminder of her tardiness with gospel music. Still, revulsion burned like acid in her stomach. She mustn’t think about it now. Had to concentrate on her meeting with Keith. A horn blared behind her, and she accelerated through the green light, shoving down the old memory that threatened to surface once again.
When she finally reached the bank, she spotted her brother-in-law at his desk and hurried on shaky legs across the highly polished floor. “Good morning, Keith. Sorry I’m late.”
He clasped her extended hand. “That’s okay, Hanna, have a seat.” He gestured to a vinyl chair opposite his cluttered desk. “Natalie said you’re thinking of refinancing the lodge and taking out an equity loan. Is that right?”
“Yes, that’s right.” She placed her folders on the desk, catching one
as it slid off the mound. She wondered if Natalie had told Keith the extent of their financial problems.
Hanna cleared her throat, hoping to eliminate the quiver in her voice. “I’d like to initiate an advertising campaign and provide additional services for our guests. Business has been down the last few years, especially with all the improvements on the Majestic.”
Keith reached for a folder. “May I?”
“Of course.” Noting he’d immediately reached for the profit-and-loss statement, Hanna began her appeal. “Gram and I feel that Higher Grounds isn’t living up to its potential. Other lodges in the area might be more upscale, but we think we can capitalize on Higher Grounds’ rustic appeal.”
His silence urged her on. “What we’ve lacked in the past is marketing. Grandpop did things the old-fashioned way, relying on word of mouth and fliers for business. But if Higher Grounds is to compete with the Majestic, we need to advertise nationally. Show people another way to vacation in the Tetons.”
“I’m a little surprised by the loss you’ve shown the last three years. Nat told me things were rough, but I had no idea …”
Panic swelled in her leaden stomach. “That’s why this campaign is so important. I’ve already listed the lodge in the
Christian Bed-and-Breakfast Directory.
That alone should draw new customers.”
She handed him the marketing folder. As he skimmed the pages, she toyed with her grandmas ring, zinging it along the gold chain. She watched the frown lines pucker under his receding hairline and felt another surge of panic. No other bank would loan them the money or even refinance for that matter. Keith was their last chance. She knew it was a lot to ask, even of family. But still, she had to try.
“Your plans to increase business might work. Then again, they might not.”
She dropped the ring and opened her mouth to speak. He held her off with a raised hand.
“When your grandfather built Higher Grounds, it was a risk. But
there was no other lodging in the area. Now you’re competing with the Majestic.”
“They do have more to offer, but you can’t deny our lodge is located on prime property. And with some changes, we can provide activities for our guests too.” She handed him another folder. “I’d like to hire a trekking guide. Tourists from the city want to explore the Tetons, but many are afraid to venture off by themselves. We have a beautiful lake we’re not utilizing, as well. I’d like to purchase some watercraft. Also, a shuttle to and from the airport would be nice.”