Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a socialite psychiatrist. But as Ainsley’s wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream, a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. If she wants to embrace God’s best and find lasting love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.
Ainsley’s stomach churned as she eased into the Whispering Hills Apartments’ parking lot. Broken beer bottles and other trash littered the ground. A few tenants had draped sheets across their windows. Other windows were boarded up. One was busted in, shards of glass held in place by silver duct tape.
Please tell me this isn’t where Marie Nelson lives.
Ainsley compared the address Deborah had given her to the rusted numbers on the complex in front of her. This was the place. And from the looks of it, the very place Ainsley shouldn’t be, at least, not alone.
Her phone chimed, making her jump. She glanced at the screen. Her fiancé’s number flashed. Cutting her engine, she answered. “Hey, Richard, what’s up?” She shoved her purse and computer case under the passenger seat.
“Where are you?”
“Doing a favor for Deborah. Why, you need something?” She grabbed her pepper spray from the glove compartment.
As if she hadn’t talked about the woman countless times over the years. “Deborah. Eldridge, the one who told me about Christ.” And kept her from going completely insane or spiraling into rebellion when Ainsley’s home life fell apart. “Sometimes I wonder if you ever really listen.”
A pack of muscular and hard-faced men gathered around a navy pick-up watched her, causing her already queasy stomach to cramp. There were four of them, two dressed in black with thick chains draped across their neck. The largest was covered, neck and arms, with tattoos. She looked away, suddenly acutely aware of her shiny Honda Accord and department store garb.
Oh, Lord Jesus, please keep me safe.
“That Deborah. Right.” A keyboard clicked on the other end of the line. Richard was probably working on final edits on his book. “Now I remember. So you’re in Smithville?”
“Not exactly. More like…” She scanned her surroundings again, her gaze lingering on a used diaper decaying on the ground ten feet away. “More like… the Admiral Boulevard area.”
Richard made a choking noise, as if spewing coffee. “You’re where? Please tell me you are not in the crime center of Kansas City.”
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, released this month, and her sophomore novel, When Dawn Breaks, is scheduled to release in early 2015. When not writing fiction, she’s probably working on Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, devotions for Internet Café Devotions, or dramas for Christ to the World Ministries. Unless her husband and teenage daughter whisk her away for heavily-sweetened coffee.
“This is one of the best inspirational romances I've ever read. The intriguing, non-predictable plot with plenty of tension made me concerned for the characters and unconcerned for the things I should have been doing at home...but didn't do. I was glued to my seat reading on to see how all of the believable subplots were going to be worked out.” ~ Hope Irving, Amazon Customer
“It is easy to relate to the characters and their struggles from the desire to make the right decision about marriage to struggling with a parent who is ill to dealing with parents who still wound your heart. … As a Christian, I enjoyed reading about someone who talks to God and reads the Bible as I do yet is also shown to be a real person who struggles like we all do with anger, unforgiveness and doubt.” ~ Susan Aken, Amazon Customer
“Ms. Slattery’s spirited heroine displays active, living faith, but her fiancé doesn’t want her ministering to the battered and poor. Could she be engaged to the wrong man? She needs someone who’ll exhibit compassionate strength by serving others. Biblical wisdom provides hope for dysfunctional families, strength for those touched with infirmities, and instruction in social benevolence.” ~ Jericha Kingston, Goodreads
Why did you write this novel?
Short answer—the story bubbled from my brain. J It was kind of funny, the idea for this story came shortly after me telling God I would never be able to write a romance. After all, I told him, what did I, a woman who’s been married since 1995 know about tummy flutters and first dates? But then, as if in answer, a story flowed forth, and I just laughed and said, “Okay, God. Let’s do this.”
Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we wouldn't expect about the writing or research of this novel.
I spent a bit of time reading about narcissistic personalities and may have recognized a few friends and neighbors in the articles I read. ;) But truly, having a psychologist as one of the main characters was fascinating! To really get into his head, I had to become familiar with his background. Wow, the stories Richard, Ainsley’s fiancé, could tell!