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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bittersweet Memories by Cecelia Dowdy - Review

My Review: Bittersweet Memories takes us on a journey of overcoming pain and taking a chance again on trust. Karen is a smart and lovely woman who has a certain path ahead of her. That entire path has changed when her fiance takes off with a substantial amount of money from the church he is the treasurer at. The church they both attend. Having your fiance leave you is bad, finding out your fiance is basically a theif is bad, but to find out that in many ways you can't even seek comfort in your church family, because people wonder how you could not have known. Your trust is blown, your faith is shaken, and you probably will want to just get away.

This is the situaion for Karen, and Cecelia Dowdy portrays it well. Thank God for family! Karen makes her way home to get away from the pain and the hushed voices. Living with her mom again has its advantages. She has her mom's unconditional support and love, she has the opportunity to get over some pain and start anew, and she meets her mom's very kind helpful neighbor, Kevin. Will Karen get over her past hurts?

What I liked:

I enjoyed every little bit of detail in Cecelia's book. Each character was so clearly written. Kevin was THE type of man I hope every Christian woman finds, but he is not without his own sorrows and worries. I loved that Karen began to work with the youth group. I hope this speaks volumes to the reader on how they can get involved with their own churches. This may seem like a weird thing to mention, but what struck me in this was that Karen was a relative new comer, but this showed that we all should be part of our church body. You do not have to be in a church body for years to work within that body with your gifts.

Other things that worked for me was the pace of the romance between Keith and Karen. Yes of course you knew it was going to happen, but the moments of uncertainty and fear that Karen expressed and felt were valid and what you would expect. It isn't surprising to find oneself attracted to someone even when you have been hurt by the opposite sex.

As a side note...I was thoroughly mesmorized by the yummy food descriptions. It took a lot to not raid my fridge after reading about some of these sumptuous meals. This may be a little thing to you, but ohhhhh yeah! Loved it.

All in all, I really enjoyed Bittersweet Memories. This is the first book that I have read by Cecelia Dowdy, and like they say, "It will not be my last."

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Bittersweet Memories

Heartsong Presents (June 2009)


Cecelia Dowdy is a world traveler who has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. When she first read Christian fiction, she felt called to write for the genre.

She loves to read, write, and bake desserts in her spare time. She also loves spending time with her husband and her young son. Currently she resides with her family in Maryland.

The three books in this series are: John's Quest(Maryland Wedding Series #1), Milk Money (Maryland Wedding Series #2), and Bittersweet Memories (Maryland Wedding Series #3).

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $2.97
Publisher: Heartsong Presents (June 2009)
ISBN: 9781602603547
Binding: Mass Market
Pages: 176 pages


Karen burst through the church doors, tears streaming down her face. “Pastor Smith, I can’t believe Lionel is still missing!”

The reverend and his wife, Candace, pulled the hysterical woman into a hug, patting her back. After they released her, Candace stroked Karen’s hair. “Honey, thanks for coming as soon as we called. The police detective is in the boardroom, waiting to talk to you. Are you sure you’re up for this?”

Karen wiped her eyes, struggling to gather her thoughts as the events from the past couple of weeks played through her mind like a nonstop movie. Her fiancé, Lionel Adams, had been fired as church treasurer after being accused of stealing thousands of dollars from their megachurch. And it was rumored that the assistant treasurer, Michelle James, who had recently resigned, had aided him with the theft.
Like the rest of the congregation, Karen had been shocked when the allegations against Lionel were announced at church two weeks ago. And since Lionel had left town the day before, she hadn’t been able to contact him to find out what was going on.

Karen turned toward Candace, her trembling lips attempting a smile. “I’ll—I’ll do the best I can to—to answer his questions.”

The threesome began walking slowly down the hallway, toward the boardroom. A moment later, the pastor stopped outside a closed door, placing his hand on Karen’s shoulder. “Karen, Michelle is missing also.”

Karen gasped, stepping away from the pastor. “That. . .that can’t be true.”

He nodded. “Unfortunately, it is.” Speaking softly, he said, “The church leadership team is concerned for both her and Lionel’s welfare. We want to find them, but we can’t ignore what’s happened.”

Candace took her hand. “Honey, we have to do all we can to locate them. What if there was foul play involved? Don’t you want to make sure Lionel is safe?”

Tears rushed from Karen’s eyes, and she wiped the moisture away. Her head pounded as she leaned against the cool wall, the contact bringing relief to her heated skin.

“Are you okay?” asked Pastor Smith.

Pulling herself away from the wall, she silently prayed, God, give me strength. “I–I’m okay now.”

The pastor’s kind dark eyes offered comfort. “The detective is in here. We called you to be questioned first since you know Lionel so well.”

Karen glanced at Candace. “Nobody told the congregation exactly how much money Lionel may have stolen. We just know it was thousands of dollars. How much cash was

The woman released Karen’s hand and looked at her husband, frowning. In a calm voice, the pastor paused before speaking. “Fifty thousand dollars.”

Karen’s head started spinning. With a muffled sob, Karen turned away, wiping her eyes. “Lord, please help me deal with this pain.”

“We’ll take this one day at a time,” Candace said. “The Lord will see us through.”
Karen looked back at the closed door, hesitating. “Is it okay if I go to the restroom be–before talking to the detective?”

“Of course,” Candace said with an understanding smile.

Leaving the couple, Karen walked to the bathroom, pushed the door open, and entered the room, desperately seeking a private moment with the Lord. Her heart skipped a beat when Tara Baker, the church secretary, dressed in an immaculate cream-colored suit and sporting stylish hair and polished fingernails, stepped out of the stall. Spotting Karen, her dark eyes widened.

While the secretary wordlessly washed her hands, Karen regarded her own worn jeans and faded T-shirt before touching her hair, which she’d pulled into a ponytail in her
haste to get to the church. She suddenly felt rumpled and dowdy. “I always thought Lionel and Michelle were up to no good,” Tara finally mumbled, drying her hands with a paper towel while glaring at Karen.Karen gritted her teeth, shocked at the rudeness of a woman who’d once flirted with Lionel.“I find it hard to believe that you had no clue what your fiancĂ© was doing behind your back,” Tara said then turned on her heels and strode out of the restroom.

Waves of pain floated through Karen’s head as she struggled to blot out the secretary’s words. Turning her focus to the Lord, she prayed, “God, please help me. Help us to find Lionel and Michelle. And keep them safe. Amen.”

Somewhat soothed, she rejoined the pastor and his wife. Pastor Smith gestured toward the now-open door. “Karen, I’m so sorry about this.”

Karen gave him a halfhearted smile then entered the room, praying for strength. The detective sat in a chair near the front of the room.

The minister spoke, his voice full of kindness, “Detective Ramsey, this is Karen Brown.”

“Good morning, Karen,” greeted the detective.

“Good morning,” Karen mumbled, taking a seat near the detective. She turned to her minister. “Can you stay here with me, Pastor Smith?”

The clergyman touched her arm, gazing at the detective. “Is that okay with you, detective?”

Ramsey shrugged, opening his notebook. “If she wants you to stay, that’s fine.”
Pastor Smith settled into the empty chair beside her.

The investigator asked his first question. “Do you know where Lionel is?”

“I. . .” She paused, chewing on her lower lip. “The day before the church announced he was fired, he told me he was going to go out of town to visit his cousin. I haven’t talked to him since, and th–that was two weeks ago.” She paused, gripping the arms of the chair. “I—I haven’t been able to contact him since he left.” She took a deep breath. “He won’t answer his cell phone. I figured he wanted some time alone and I would see him when he returned for his hearing.”

The detective looked up from the notes he was writing. “Where does his cousin live?”
As Ramsey’s questions went on and on, Karen felt overwhelmed with worry, fatigue, and nausea. Hot tears flowing down her cheeks, she prayed, Lord, will I ever feel normal again?

Her head pounded with pain, and she began rubbing her temples.

Pastor Smith touched her elbow. “Are you all right?”

“My head. . .hurts.”

“Detective, is it okay if we stop the questioning for a few minutes while I get Karen some aspirin?”

“I don’t mind at all,” said Ramsey.

Karen heard Pastor Smith’s retreating footsteps as she closed her eyes and rubbed her aching head. Her pain worsened as she leaned back into the chair. And then the world faded out.


Cecelia Dowdy said...

Wow, your wonderful review blew me away!! Thanks so much for your kind and honest words!
~Cecelia Dowdy~

Toni said...

Very nice review! Thank you.