Sunday, December 21, 2014

To Laugh Once More & To Dance Once More by: Sherri Wilson Johnson Blog Tour with Review & Interview

To Laugh Once More is a Victorian Inspirational Romance set in Georgia in 1895.
The War may be over but the battles still rage.
A dissatisfied wife. A misunderstood husband. Three tragedies will alter their path forever. Will their choices tear them apart, or will they allow them To Laugh Once More?
Three years after her marriage to Hamilton, former debutante Lydia Barrington Scarbrough is dissatisfied with life. She has yet to have children, and she spends most of her days sitting in a circle of women chatting about homemaking. She thought life would be more than what it's turned out to be. Hamilton travels on business and never takes her with him. What's a lonely wife to do when she has no children to raise? She longs for adventure and romance, and really, she longs for the fulfillment of her purpose in life. A purpose beyond being a wife and raising children.
Lydia faces a series of hardships that stretch her faith beyond capacity. Leaving her childhood home in Florida for Georgia proves to be more difficult than she ever imagined, and her marriage may not survive the trials. Lydia’s own personal battles drive a wedge between them. What will it take to make Hamilton attempt to save their marriage and draw Lydia back to him?
As Lydia strives to etch out a place for herself in a new world full of unfamiliar prejudice and attempts to overcome her private battles, she must help Hamilton understand her deepest longings and learn the true meaning of joy. Will she surrender her will in order to find her purpose? Will her future hold a happier marriage, motherhood, and a calling greater than she could ever have imagined?

"Reward you? I do believe you have a twisted view of the Christian life, dear child." Mother pointed her finger at Lydia. "God sacrificed much more than you ever have, and I don't see Him demanding more. Selfishness seems to have overtaken you on this day."
Lydia sprung from the settee once again and spun on her heels toward the doorway, yanking her long dark skirt and commanding it to follow. Her boots pounded her frustrations into the heart pine floors. She turned back to the women, her eyes burning with anger. No words seemed befitting this moment. She fled from the room, her boots scuffing along the floors in the hallway, like horse hooves on cobblestone streets.
"Lydia?" Papa called from his office.
Lydia slammed the front door without responding to Papa's voice and ended any further discussion about her outburst. She escaped the interior of her Floridian childhood home and the suffocation that came with it, her destination the sanctuary of her gazebo in the front yard. The weather might forbid her from resting in her refuge for an extended amount of time, but she'd at least get a temporary cessation from the badgering inside the house.
She stepped off the last step onto the crushed shell pathway and released a cleansing breath. She stood for a moment with her eyes closed and inhaled the salt-infused cool air. Her body trembled as the blood rushed to her hands and feet. Her exasperation melted into enchantment. Her mind didn't have to stretch far to envision the ocean waves and the sugar white sands of the nearby beaches.
Then, she hit the ground with such a force her teeth slammed together, and she bit her tongue. She tumbled across the pathway, landed on her back, and spun like a horseshoe around a peg. One more flip, and she skidded on to her stomach and engulfed a mouthful of limestone and shells before she halted. She coughed and attempted to catch her breath.
She pushed herself up off the ground, and a stabbing pain pierced through her side. "Ouch!" The dust settled, and one of their black and white Pineywoods bulls ran toward the pond. He tossed his horned-head and kicked his back legs up in the air. "Well, that just about put me in a fix."
"Lydia! Are you all right, sis?" Nathan screamed as he ran to her side. He carried a bullwhip in his right hand and reached for Lydia with his left. "That ornery old bull got out of the fence, and I couldn't get him back. He came at you like greased lightning."
"I'm all right, dear brother." Lydia wiped the dirt from the front of her skirt and tucked a loosened curl behind her ear. She touched the corner of her mouth. Her bloodied finger revealed that she wasn't unscathed. She shrugged. "Well, aren't you just a regular old Cracker, cracking that whip at the poor bull?"
"Poor bull? He ran you over. I have a mind to send him to slaughter. How can you have sympathy for him?" Nathan's sparkling blue eyes, his face covered with grime from his work in the fields, stirred joy within Lydia.
"How can I not? He didn't know any better. Besides, it's the most excitement I've had around here in years!" Lydia laughed and then grabbed her side again.
He dropped his bullwhip and reached under her arms to lift her to her feet. "Let me get you inside the house. We might need to call the doc."
"No! I'm fine. He didn't hit me straight on. He just nudged me out of his way. Help me get to the gazebo." Lydia brushed off the back of her skirt, spitting the remnants of limestone from her mouth.
"That's not very proper. Don't you know Mother would take that bullwhip to your backside if she saw you?" He laughed and slapped his leg.
"Well, it's a good thing she didn't see me then, isn't it?" Lydia flashed her teeth at Nathan and stuck her tongue out at him.

Stripped of her future, will she concede or fight?

Debutante Lydia Barrington lives a carefree, protected existence on Live Oaks Plantation in Florida. While her sisters happily prepare for their traditional roles as women and talk of courting, Lydia dreams of adventure and independence. She counts the days until she can leave home to explore the world, to dance with cultured gentlemen, to explore politics and art, to leave behind the confining expectations of her family and community—and her God. Even her friendship with handsome Hamilton Scarbrough isn’t enough to hold her back…until they dance, and her heart considers love.

Confused by her heart's betrayal, Lydia struggles to gain her independence. Then she overhears a private conversation about a business deal that has everything to do with her future. Now she’s faced with the biggest decision of her life—to concede or to fight. Either choice will require great sacrifice…and, perhaps, countless rewards. In an attempt to escape her imminent destiny, Lydia scrambles to find a solution—at all costs. Amidst the trials that follow, as Lydia runs out of time, she learns the meaning of sacrifice, forgiveness, hope and faith.

Will she ever experience the freedom she's so longed for, or will her desires change in light of her circumstances? Will she ever be able TO DANCE ONCE MORE?

Romance. Scandal. Desperation. Hope.

Dinnertime slipped up on Lydia like a summer hailstorm. She scurried to the main house where delicious food and her family awaited her, entering in through the kitchen in the back of the house. Characteristically tardy, she felt the hot glare of Father's eyes burn into her from the other room. She had to get past Isabel Ann, though, before she'd face Father. "Child, you wash up before you come to the table. And since you were late again, you'll do the dishes today." Isabel Ann wagged a wooden spoon at her.
"Yes, ma'am." Lydia shrugged in defeat and stopped in the kitchen to wash. Isabel Ann scolded her more often than Mother ever did, so Lydia was accustomed to it. She pumped water into the washbasin beside the wood-burning stove. The windmill Father had built last year pumped in the water from outside and sent it up to the attic. It flowed through pipes by gravity to the kitchen. This was a luxury that few of her friends had in their homes.
After Lydia washed her face and hands, she joined the rest of the family in the dining room. Her birthday meal included pecan pie and spicy carrot cake for dessert, her favorites.
There was even a bowl of Mrs. Baker's orange marmalade and hot biscuits.
After the prayer, Lydia asked, "Father, do tell us again the story of our wonderful plantation. Please?" Lydia tried to detour Father's thoughts from her tardiness. Father's brow furrowed.
"You've heard it dozens of times. Why do you want to hear it again today?" He cut his biscuit in half and spread the marmalade liberally on it.
"Oh, Father, for Ms. Kathryn's sake."
"Yes, please, Father. Tell it again." Josie clapped her hands.
All four Barrington girls cheered and prompted Father to satisfy their wishes. Nathan was too busy eating his roast beef and gravy to convince Father to share about the past. Father took a drink of his sweetened tea, wiped his mouth with his cotton napkin, and began, "Grandfather Alexander Barrington built this house over fifty years ago. The style is called a Greek revival because the columns on all sides make it look like a Greek temple. He wanted the front porch to provide ample room for guests to gather during parties, so he made it twenty feet wide. The portico on the second story provided a place for him to step out from the bedchamber to monitor the plantation.
"You see, Kathryn, when my father first bought this land, he owned slaves and ran a cotton plantation back before the war. After he died from malaria, I took over, as my sisters had all moved out west with their husbands to settle there. They didn't want to be part of the fighting over slaves. I freed the slaves after the war. Some of them agreed to stay on and help me turn this into much more than a cotton plantation. I've always felt like you shouldn't invest everything you have in one market only." Father used the nail of his little finger to dislodge a piece of roast from his front teeth.

My Reviews:

To Dance Once More

Overall Rating **** Stars
            This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was well written and very interesting. I love the story and the characters. The story flowed very well. You have Lydia who just wants to travel, before she has to settle down with a husband. The time period was set in the 1800’s. Hamilton has grown up and is very handsome. He wants to court (date her) but her father is very strict. I like the twist and turns in this story, it kept me guessing until the very end. This is a much read book and I can’t wait for the next book. The author is very brilliant and talented.

To Laugh Once More

Overall Rating ***** Stars

            Oh wow, I really loved this story. I really enjoyed the first book but this is my favorite out of the series. This is the continuation of Lydia and Hamilton. I like how Lydia wants to be her own lady, to get a job and bring in money. But her new husband Hamilton will not allow it. I love how you see their relationship grow. This book definitely kept me on the edge of my set. Will Lydia and Hamilton survive the problems that are thrown at them? Or will it crumble and die? A MUST READ series. Great job Sherri, and I will be reading more books from you!

Sherri Wilson Johnson is an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, and a former homeschooling mom who’d rather have laugh lines under her eyes than worry lines across her forehead. She lives in Georgia with her husband, her two children and her Chihuahua, Posey. Her favorite thing to do when she’s not with her family is to curl up with a good book or work on her current work-in-progress. She loves to dream of visiting romantic places and is passionate about the Lord, motherhood, homeschooling, and writing. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once MoreSong of the Meadowlark, and To Laugh Once More. She is a columnist with Habits for a Happy Home and Choose NOW Ministries.



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