How much should a wronged husband forgive?
This time, Aubrey Beaumont’s wife has left for good. Though a single dad with three children to raise, Aubrey diligently searches for his drug-addicted, runaway wife. Fifteen years later, he has relocated from Vermont to Silver Spring where he serves as a respected minister and chaplain. He is caught in a quandary when he is called to a community hospital to counsel a terminally ill patient and comes face-to-face with his long-lost wife.
After leaving her family, Joanna Beaumont becomes a madame for Washington’s rich and powerful. With God’s forgiveness, she desires to find purpose in her final days and negotiates a plea bargain for testimony against her drug-lord lover. She accepts God’s judgment and expects no healing miracle. Her salvation and reunion with Aubrey is grace enough.
While Aubrey can understand his wife’s drug addiction, her romantic liaison with a vicious criminal seems beyond his human capacity to forgive. Does God expect him to rescue her from the bowels of degradation like the biblical Hosea? Why did God bring her back to him only to watch her die?
Rondeau has written an engaging story that demonstrates God’s ability to take all of life’s events and use them to fulfill His desired outcome.
If you’re looking for a romantic thriller that contains captivating characters, appealing romances, and inspiring ideas, grab a cup of cinnamon tea and open up Linda Wood Rondeau’s latest book. Both the story and message are excellent.
Every once in a while I get to read a book that makes my heartstrings play sad and beautiful music. This one has that element. Five stars, Linda Wood Rondeau. Thank you for this book.
From the very beginning I knew this was not going to be a typical story. Tough topics like addiction, infidelity, child abandonment are handled with the realistic eye of someone who has seen people at their worst. But the main character's love and devotion sustain the story, and keep us hoping for a happy ending. I was surprised by the complex relationships, especially with Aubrey' s best friend Fischer. Linda's writing style doesn't fit neatly into any niche but one: Inspiring Christian Fiction!
It’s difficult to believe that this story isn't real. It was sad and yet, true to life. Aubrey was the most wonderful man, selfless and giving and well as forgiving. Not many people are like this even Christians, so he was unique.
Its impossible to give a rendition of the lives read about here except to say, its one of the best books I have read in a long while. The author was perfect in writing style, story theme, and characters. It has left me with much to ponder on.
Aubrey Beaumont’s heart pounded as Darlene burst past stodgy Mrs. Donovan and ran into his arms. The girl’s reddened eyes confirmed his worst fears.
“Mommy went away again, Aubrey.”
Darlene sobbed against his overcoat while he absorbed the news. From the entryway, he saw Paul and Bradley at the kitchen table, frozen to their seats, remnants of peanut butter sandwiches on their plates. Paul guzzled the last of his milk, and Bradley rocked back and forth as he hummed “Jesus Loves Me.”
“Thank you for staying with the children, Mrs. Donovan. I rushed out as soon as the seminary gave me your message. I don’t suppose you know where Joanna went off to, do you?”
She handed him a note tucked inside Joanna’s wedding ring.
“Sorry, Mr. Beaumont. I got here my usual time, and your wife handed me this package like it were a present. Then she stormed out the door. Slammed it so hard, she done bust the hinge. Said I was to stay here with Darlene and the boys ’til you came home. Then she slapped a twenty-dollar bill in my hand. ‘For the inconvenience,’ she said. ’Taint no inconvenience. I love these kids as if they were my own.”
Aubrey gripped the parchment paper—Joanna’s curt goodbye. She’d never left a note before. Usually, she slithered away during the night. This time she left while the sun still shone. He slid the gold-edged stationery from its circular perch as he gazed toward Mrs. Donovan. “Did my wife say anything else?”
Mrs. Donavan lumbered toward the coat rack. “Nope. Just high-tailed it out that door.” She twirled as she wriggled her wide body into a coat three sizes too small. “Didn’t even take her purse. Walked out with just the clothes she wore … no coat or nothing.” She grabbed the doorknob with one hand and snatched her straw purse off the counter with the other. “Look, I gotta get home to my Artie. I fed the kids. Want me to come back after I take care of that rascal man of mine and put them to bed for ya?”
Sorrow would have to wait.
“You’ve done more than enough already. I’m sorry my wife caused you trouble. How can I make it up to you?”
“Ain’t no bother.” Mrs. Donovan stroked Darlene’s cheek. “Not when it comes to these here precious ones. Don’t worry none about your seminary studies, either, Mr. Beaumont. I’ll look after the children for as long as you need me to.”
Aubrey shoved the ring and note into his pocket. “I appreciate your kindness. I know my wife’s behavior has made it difficult for you at times.”
Mrs. Donovan crossed her arms. “Maybe a tad. But I figure, if I help you reach your ministry goals, it’ll be like I’ve done my own mission work.”
Aubrey gifted Mrs. Donovan a kiss on the cheek, as a son to a mother. “You tell Artie he’s one lucky man.”
Her ruddy complexion deepened to a crimson red. “How you talk, Mr. Beaumont. I’ll be here when the rooster crows to get the kids off to school.” She covered his hand in a maternal clasp. “Personal feelings aside, I do pray Mrs. Beaumont comes back. She always has before.”
“I don’t know. Something in my gut tells me this time is different.”
She arched her back and huffed her condemnation. “Any woman can walk away from these sweet ones don’t deserve ’em. That’s all I got to say.” With that, she headed out the door and scooted to the green clapboard house next door.
He gasped—a protracted breath, a prelude to an expected dawn, though he never wished for this day to come.
Fischer had predicted this end when asked to be Aubrey’s best man. “She’s gonna break your heart. Mark my words, buddy.” His “I told you so” wafted on the air, though the man nowhere in sight. Aubrey chewed his lower lip and sighed. He’d grieve the end of his marriage later. First, the children.
He unglued Darlene from his coat. “Time for bed, guys.”
“Can’t we wrestle first, Daddy?” Paul asked.
Darlene gazed toward the cluttered table. “Kitchen needs to be cleaned up.” She grabbed a towel and went to work. He thought how matronly she’d become, this daughter not of his blood but of his heart. As if to fill a mother’s void, she read to the boys, certain to tell Aubrey whenever they needed discipline. Her azure eyes gazed up at him. “I won’t cry anymore, Aubrey. I know Mommy’s not coming back this time.” She tapped her chest. “I feel it inside.”
Paul and Bradley slipped from their chairs, and Aubrey tackled them, the green-shag carpet a mat of delight as he diverted his tears to momentary laughter. Paul squeezed free like a greased pig at the fair. He laughed like one too.
A sudden pain shot across Aubrey’s shoulder, a signal the game needed to end for tonight. “Go to your room, guys. I’ll be in for prayers in a bit.” The twinge grew into raging pain. What happened to that burly quarterback from Brattleboro High? He’d have to accept the fact he could no more prevent the advancement of years than he could keep his runaway wife at home. Time moved forward with or without her.
He hobbled into his sons’ bedroom, instantly enveloped in memory. Joanna had redecorated their room last summer, right after her third rehab. She’d searched every department store in town before choosing the sport-themed decorations. “Boys need heroes, Aubrey,” she’d said as she carefully hung posters of the legends: Babe Ruth, Ben Hogan, Bobby Orr, Wilt Chamberlain, and Johnny Unitas. Aubrey’s favorites, too, and evidence of a love she could never verbally express.
Bradley sat on the lower bunk, his head cocked like a question mark. “Daddy, I know I should pray for Mommy to come home. I don’t want her to. She’s mean to Paul. I don’t think she loves us boys very much. She loves Darlene, though.” He dove underneath the covers, turned his body around, and fell into a fetal position, cocooned within his comforter.
“You’re wrong, son. Your mother loves both of you.”
Paul hauled himself up to the top bunk and stared at the ceiling. “Sometimes, I feel a little love inside the slap.”
“Mommy doesn’t slap me,” Bradley said, “because I’m invisible.”
Aubrey stood at the door in momentary silence. He should argue his sons’ assessments. Why butt his head against the truth? Still, maybe someday they’d understand how the drug stole their mother’s goodness.
What minimal words could he offer to reassure these tender hearts? “Try not to be mad at your mother. She needs our prayers even when she’s not with us.”
“If you think we should pray for her, then I will,” Bradley said.
Paul closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep.
Delayed grief demanded expression—tears too strong to hold at bay now flowed. Aubrey hugged his boys, grateful they still needed him. Soon, they’d shy away from even manly embraces.
“Good night, guys.” He closed the door on their simpler world where hugs and wrestling matches made a motherless life tolerable.
He returned to the kitchen. The scent of Joanna’s afternoon cinnamon tea assaulted him as he picked up her favorite white mug from the table. Aubrey took the dishcloth from Darlene’s hands. “You’ve done a wonderful job in here, Sis. It’s time for bed. I’ll finish up for you.”
“I did my best, Aubrey. That’s what you always told us. Do your best, no matter how much it hurts inside.” She shuffled toward her bedroom.
His tossed-back words hit like a hard-driven pitch as he ambled toward the living room and sunk into a recliner. He closed his eyes in memory of happier days—their one-week courtship and hasty marriage. Would he marry her again if he knew how the romance would end?
A moot question. Life rarely offered mulligans.
Darlene’s soft shuffle dissipated his musings. “Did I interrupt your rest, Aubrey?”
He smiled. “No. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to me—anytime—at rest or not. Okay?”
“Okay. I’m ready for bed now.”
Her long tresses set off high cheekbones fortressed by a determined jaw, the image of her mother. Darlene kissed him on the cheek. “Good night, Aubrey. Don’t worry. The boys and me—we’ll be okay because we have you.” With that, the woman-child strode to her room.
He pulled out Joanna’s farewell from his pocket and gazed at her last sentiment to him. Don’t try to find me. Take care of Darlene.
From habit, Aubrey reached for his Bible—his constant companion. Within its pages, he found wisdom, direction, and strength. He chortled at the irony. Joanna, who challenged his faith at every opportunity, had been the catalyst that propelled him into ministry. Her words uttered in ridicule had struck a God-given chord. “You spend so much time in that Bible, Aubrey, you should be a minister.”
Regardless of how he came to this path, he never doubted God’s call. If only Joanna would believe. Though he’d led many to a life of faith, his wife repeatedly rebuked the God he loved.
Joanna’s most recent rehab had been court-ordered in lieu of incarceration. “Your last chance,” the judge said. Perhaps the last chance as far as man’s judgment was concerned. Aubrey had wrapped Johanna in his arms. “God will help you beat this, my love.”
She had shoved him away. “You’re wrong, Aubrey. If God exists, he wants nothing to do with me.”
Sudden rage filled him. Not toward Joanna, though often he wished he could despise her. Why couldn’t he rescue the one person who meant more to him than any other? He rubbed the gold band on his finger. “Don’t you know I’d have given my life for you?”
This inescapable truth renewed him. If she were to walk into the room, even now, he’d welcome her back as he had countless times before—his need for her as addictive as any drug.
He’d find her, no matter how long it took.