Growing up in a Christian home, I always knew about God. I even vaguely remember my mother leading in the sinner’s prayer though I could not have been more then four or five-years-old. However, it wasn’t until I became a pre-teen that I finally began to understand what this whole Christianity thing was about.
God loved me. Me. He didn’t just love me because I went to church, tried to stay out of trouble, and do my best at school. He loved me because of who I was. His child. That revolutionized the way I saw God and the way I saw me.
I grew into the young adult I am today and along the way I have learned not only does God love me but He actively pursues me. This is the “Divine Romance” I talked about in my Single on Valentines Day post. Each day is an invitation from God to live life with Him, to laugh with Him, cry with Him, dance in His arms and sleep on His chest. That’s the kind of intimacy He want to have with us. Don’t believe me?
Here are His word spoken through the prophet Hosea whose own romance with Gomer was an illustration of God’s romance with us.
“But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
When that day comes,” says the LORD,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’
O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
and you will never mention them again.
On that day I will make a covenant
with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
in peace and safety.
I will make you my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the LORD.”
He will be faithful to me and make me His and I will finally know Him as He truly is–a Lover, a Comforter, a Friend, a Hero… a Husband. This Valentine’s Day I am grateful for the relationship I have with God. Maybe our love story isn’t as dramatic as some others might be but it’s our love story and it means everything to me.
GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY: Now I want to hear about your romance with God. When and how did you meet Him? How has your relationship progressed?
Today we are going to talk about The Last Target from Love Inspired Suspense. First, I’d like to announce that the winner of last weeks 5 Questions giveaway of Renee Andrew’s “Picture Perfect Family” is…
Congratulations, Susan! You will be hearing from me soon.
Those of you who didn’t win, don’t worry! You’re still in the running for the 14 Days Of Love prize package of four books! Now, here is this week’s chance to win.
Christy, welcome to FIVE QUESTIONS! Let’s give everyone a quick look at what your latest release, THE LAST TARGET is about then it’s on to the questions.
The paper found in a terrorist’s pocket holds six names—and single mom Rachel Reynolds is the only one on the list who’s still alive. Private security contractor Jack Sergeant wants to ensure she stays that way, but first he must convince Rachel the danger is real.
Rachel can’t believe that someone’s after her until she’s grazed by a shooter’s bullet. She won’t take chances with her son’s life—but she doesn’t want Jack getting too close. Yet as Jack comes to care for both mother and son, the target he’s after is a family to love and protect for a lifetime.
1. What was the initial inspiration for this book?
I simply started asking, “What if…?” What if an ordinary citizen’s name was found on a terrorist hit list—and she was the only one still alive? Why would her name be on a list like that? What would her connection be with all of the other random names? The story grew from there…
2. What was your favorite scene to write?
Definitely the scene where Rachel and Jack realize that they love each other. They can’t deny their attraction to each other, but both have issues that keep them from being together. The tension between them stretches for a long time, and I thought the scene where they both admit their feelings and talk about the harsh circumstances they’ve had to go through to get to that point was touching.
3. What words would you use to describe the chemistry between your hero and heroine?
I’d describe the chemistry between Rachel and Jack as simmering at first, to bubbling over by the end. They’re both cautious in the beginning. Rachel also lost one husband who was a Navy SEAL. She’s hesitant to fall in love with another soldier. Jack carries around a secret that he’s sure will make Rachel hate him when she finds out. Despite those things, they’re definitely attracted to each other.
4. Is there a particular theme or message you hope to get across through the book?
That God can take the messes in our lives and turn them into something beautiful. This seems to be a theme throughout most of my books because I believe it with my heart, mind and soul.
5. Now that “The Last Target” has been released, what is your next project?
One of my first books is being re-released (The Trouble with Perfect) in March, as well as a book on writing (The Novel in Me). I also have a three-book proposal for Love Inspired Suspense that I’m waiting to hear back on. I’m hoping to get the go-ahead on the project—it actually features characters who work at Iron Inc. from The Last Target! My next LIS, Race against Time, comes out in April, and then Ricochet, comes out in September.
BONUS: Ask and answer your own question.
Oh… good one. Okay, here it is. Where did you get the idea for 26 Letters, the nonprofit in The Last Target that sends letters to military serving overseas?
26 Letters is the charity that my heroine, Rachel, started. She started the nonprofit because she wrote letters to her husband while he was in the Middle East. The name has double meaning. She actually wrote 26 letters to him before he died, and there are 26 letters in the alphabet, all which can be used as tools to encourage others. 26 Letters isn’t real, but there’s an organization called www.anysoldier.org where you can write letters to military. Check it out!
What a fabulous bonus question and answer, Christy! I’m definitely going to check out that link! Thank you so much for stopping by. Now, 5 Questions steps right into the crossfire with this intense excerpt!
DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THIS GIVEAWAY!
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Rachel Reynolds scanned the playground for any signs of trouble. Unsupervised children. Bullies. Swarming insects.
None. Just another day at the park for a dozen or so moms with their toddlers.
Her gaze shot back to her son, four-year-old Aidan, who was playing on the other side of the waist-high fence, not even ten feet away. He climbed up the plastic steps of the slide—the tallest one at the park—and stopped at the top.
“Look at me, Mommy!” His wide, brown eyes connected with hers and glowed with satisfaction.
Rachel waved and wiped at the perspiration on her forehead. Even under the shade of the pine tree, the summer heat still felt sweltering. “I’m watching, honey.”
Just as he propelled himself down the slide, something hot whizzed past her arm. The smell of acid filled her nostrils. Pain sliced into her skin.
“Get down!” A man shoved her to the ground, his body shielding hers. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a gun. His mouth went to a wire at his wrist. “We’ve got shots fired. I repeat, shots have been fired.”
Shots fired? Aidan. She had to get Aidan.
She raised her head up, gaze darting around the playground. Mobs of children and their mothers fled the park, screams filling the air. Where was Aidan?
Her gaze stopped at the slide. Aidan had climbed to the top again. She had to get him, to keep him safe.
“Aidan! Aidan!” She twisted her body, desperate to get away from the man who’d thrown her out of harm’s way. Her fingers clawed at the grass. Her legs thrashed.
Her screams caught in her throat as a man approached the slide and grabbed Aidan. Her son’s tear-filled gaze shot toward her, big eyes pleading for help. His arms reached for her just as the man who’d snatched him disappeared into the thick foliage of the woods.
A guttural cry rose from Rachel. “Aidan!” She pounded on the chest of the man shielding her as tears pushed their way out. The other man was getting away…with her son.
“That’s one of my men who took your son. He’ll keep him safe.”
Her heart slowed a moment. “One of your men? Who are you?”
“I’ll explain once you’re safe.”
Safe. She had felt safe only moments ago. That was pretty much all she wanted in life—to, as a single mom, provide a stable home for her son. In the blink of an eye, that life had been turned upside down.
What was going on? Why had someone opened fire at a playground? Were they crazy? She prayed no one was injured.
She needed to thank the men who’d saved her and Aidan and then retreat home. Lock her doors. Call the police. File a report.
“We need to lay low for a couple more minutes before I can get you out of here,” the man said.
How had this man known there would be gunfire at the park today? Tension pinched her muscles. How had he gotten to her just in time? He’d known the shooting was going to happen, she realized. She felt the blood drain from her face.
What if he wasn’t one of the good guys at all? She had to get away. Get Aidan.
The man’s large frame easily overpowered her, though. What could she do? She ran through everything she’d learned in self-defense class. She had to use the weapons God had naturally given her.
Before she could reconsider, she pulled her elbow back and jabbed the man in the eye. “Get off me!”
As he blanched, she clawed the grass, pulling herself to safety.
Too late. The man grabbed her wrist and pulled her back. “Are you crazy?”
Eyes wide with terror, she shook her head. “No, you’re crazy if you think I’m going anywhere with you. Get away from me!”
She tried to sock him in the jaw, but his strong grip clamped down on her wrist. “Listen to me a minute. Your uncle sent me.”
She paused. “My uncle?”
“Vice Admiral Harris.”
Her world began spinning.
“I’ll explain everything. But right now, I’ve got to get you to safety.” The man’s iron-like hand gripped her arm. “Come on, we’ve got to get you out of here.”
If Rachel wanted her safe life back, she had no choice but to trust this stranger. But the very thought caused fear to pulse through her.
Jack Sergeant scanned the park for the gunman. The shot had come from the woods behind him. That meant he’d have to get Rachel Reynolds to the waiting SUV with only his body as a shield. A few pines trees would offer measly protection against a bullet. At this point, they had little choice.
Rachel trembled in his grasp. Blood blurred across her skin. Fear seemed to seize her breaths. If only he’d arrived at the park five minutes earlier; maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation.
He’d think about that later. Now, he had to get the sweet-smelling woman out of here in one piece. He would have never guessed the gunman to be this aggressive or Rachel this stubborn.
“Rachel.” He looked down at her wide, perfectly sculpted brown eyes. Finally, her gaze locked with his. “On the count of three, we’re going to run toward the street. You’ll be in front, I’ll be behind you. Got it?”
She nodded, but apprehension showed in her shifting gaze. She was scared. She should be. This wasn’t a game. Lives were in danger.
Another shot whizzed above them. They had to move and fast. He’d never forgive himself if something happened to her or her son.
“One.” He shifted to the side, in position to lunge.
A small cry escaped from Rachel.
“Two.” He tensed, ready to spring.
“Three!” He rushed to his feet, grabbed Rachel, pushed her in front of him and charged across the grass. A bullet splintered the tree beside them.
They sprinted toward the street at the park’s entrance. Jack’s body blocked Rachel. He was a good foot taller than her, and her strides couldn’t meet his. He grabbed her elbow, propelling her onward.
Only a few more feet. He looked at the street, now cleared of cars. Where were his men?
In front of him, sweat glistened over Rachel’s face. She pulled in ragged breaths. Her arms trembled beneath his grasp.
Another bullet panged into a brown metal sign. Rachel gasped, froze for a moment. That had been close, mere feet away. Jack put his arm around her waist, urged her forward.
An SUV pulled to a screeching halt in front of them. The door opened and one of his men motioned to them. The air electrified as another shot rang out. Jack grabbed Rachel, swung her into his arms and slid her into the backseat. He shoved in after her and slammed the door.
Another bullet pierced the glass behind them as they squealed away. Jack could feel Rachel’s heart hammering into his chest. As soon as she spotted her son on the floor, she reached for him. “Aidan!”
The car swerved again and sent all of them crashing into the door. The shooters were still on their trail. Jack and his men had to lose them, get Rachel and Aidan to safety.
“Hugs later.” Jack reached over them. “Right now, seat belts on and heads down.” He jerked the seat belts across them and clicked the buckles in place. Once they were secure and hunkered down, Jack grabbed his gun and looked out the back window. Two SUVs trailed them.
Another shot hit the back windshield, shattering it this time. Luke Black, the driver, swerved, and their SUV skittered close to the ditch beside them. The vehicle righted before zigzagging down the road in an attempt to avoid the gunfire behind them. Veins popped out on Luke’s temple, and he had a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.
“We’ve got to lose them, Luke!”
“I’m trying.” He took a quick left turn onto a busy Virginia Beach street. They charged through the yellow light at an intersection. The pursuing vehicles darted behind them. Two bystander cars skidded to a halt to avoid a crash.
Luke swerved again, this time onto a road that led away from the rush-hour congestion. The SUV nudged their bumper. Mark Denton, the other agent, stuck his gun out the window and fired, catching the front tire of one of the SUVs pursuing them. The vehicle jolted onto its side and rolled off the road. Rachel screamed and clung to her son.
Where did this road lead? Jack thought quickly until a plan settled in his mind. He glanced at his watch. “Go to the drawbridge!” It was scheduled to open on the hour. If they could get there and get across it before the SUV behind them, they might escape.
Rachel looked up with wide eyes. “The drawbridge? Are you crazy?”
Maybe. But it was their only chance. “You’ve got to trust me.”
“I don’t even know you!”
“I’m Jack Sergeant.”
The glass shattered on the window beside him. He threw himself over Rachel and Aidan, shielding them from flying glass and bullets.
“No, but I’ve been hired to protect you.”
“Why in the world do I need protection?”
“Because your name was found on a hit list. Everyone else is—” He glanced at Aidan and then mouthed the word dead.
By the stark white appearance of Rachel’s face, she got the message loud and clear. She ducked and placed herself over Aidan, kissing the top of his head.
The drawbridge waited ahead of them. Red stoplights flashed on either side of it, and a line of cars had already begun braking in front of them.
“The gates are going down!” Luke yelled.
“We can make it,” Jack said, adrenaline charging through him. “Step on it!”
The SUV swerved into the opposite lane, charging forward toward the opening bridge.
“Hold on tight,” he told Rachel. He pulled his own seat belt over him as they crashed through the gates. He prayed to God that they’d make it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christy Barritt is the author of the Squeaky Clean Mystery Series. The series, which includes Hazardous Duty and Suspicious Minds, is about a crime-scene cleaner who like to stick her nose into police business.
She also co-authored Changed: True Stories of Finding God in Christian Music.
Christy is married to Scott, a high school teacher and funny man extraordinaire. In June 2006, they added a little boy named Eli to their happy mix. they also have two dogs and a house plant named Martha. When Christy’s not writing she’s on staff part-time at Celebration Christian Church, where she leads worship each week.
Find out more about Christy at ChristyBarrit.com!
Patty Smith Hall author of Hearts in Flight joins us on DAY TEN of 14 Days of Love to talk to us about mature love!
That’s right, we’re leaping past the mere crush, taking the free-fall into love, and landing after the honeymoon phase. This is where the ring really meets that third finger on your left hand. Now, I’m stepping aside to start taking notes. Take it away, Patty!
First, I want to thank Noelle for giving me the opportunity to be a part of her Valentine celebration!
Though most people find me terribly sensible, I’m a gushy romantic who can’t wait to talk about love and romance, and of course, books! When most girls think about Valentine’s Day, their first thoughts are of those excited flutters in your stomach waiting for that special man to pick you up for a night out or cuddling on the couch, sharing a bowl of buttered popcorn, watching ‘Paranormal 2’ just so you have an excuse to cuddle a little closer to him.
Love is new and exciting, filled with anticipation and wonder at what each day will bring. But I have to say that while the joy of new love is, well, what great books are written about, it’s the romance of endurance that is on my heart today. Forget Brad and Angelina. I’m talking couples who have loved through the good and bad– like my great grandparents, Wilburn and Rosa Clark.
He was barely seventeen, she, a young girl of fourteen when they ran off and got married in 1908. Poor Grandma could never live down the fact that she let Granddaddy sit in jail for three days on kidnapping charges before she confessed to her daddy they were husband and wife! But Granddaddy didn’t seem to mind. He had his Rosa they were didn’t have much, raising six children in the mist of the Great Depression, farming a small patch of land to put food on the table. Over the next 78 years, life threw both the good and the bad at them, but their love for each other only grew. Did they argue? Sure, they did, well into their nineties–which is really funny to watch, by the way. And when my grandfather died at 96, Grandma pined for him each and every day until her death two years later.
So today, we’re celebrating mature love, that enduring love that comes with seeing each other at their absolute worst–and loving anyway. The kind of love that grows when the kids have been up with the flu for the past week or there’s more bills than money. A love that sticks with you when the doctors have lost hope; hurts with you when the physical pain becomes unbearable; stays with you when your memory slowly slips away.
This year, my husband and I celebrate our 30th Valentine’s Day together, and I can tell you this–my heart still flutters when that man enters the room! So now, let’s hear from you!
GIVEAWAY: I’d love to hear your stories of enduring, mature love! And if you’re still waiting for that special one, tell me about a couple who sets the relationship standard for you. Each person who posts today will be entered into a drawing for my July release, Hearts in Hiding.