VALENTINE SPECIAL: February 1 — February 14
What do the Biblical story of Ruth and the 21st-century novel, Jonah’s Song, have in common? Well you’ll have to read both stories to find out. Of course most people know the basic story of Ruth, so that leaves just one story left to read.
I’ll give you a hint: Ruth’s story has an important lesson that Jonah McDaniels and Valentina Rosswell (the novel’s hero and heroine) need to study and take to heart if their own love story has a chance at a happy ending.
Actually, even the Lord has His hands full trying to work things out for these two lovers. That’s why He had to take advantage of Ruth and Boaz along the way. If we stretched our imagination just a little, we might even say that by making sure the story of Ruth was included in the Bible, the Lord sort of “planned ahead” for when He’d need it as a teaching tool.
If you’re a true romantic – and enjoy the tingle of a touch – and a tear now and then – and catching your breath at the passion of a kiss – and using God’s Word to work out life’s problems – this story is definitely for you.
Although Jonah’s Song is the 4th book in the Smoky Mountain Series, it — like all the books in that series — can stand alone as a complete story. Although many of the characters progress from story to story, readers will not be confused or disappointed in any way by reading one book before the other.
This book makes a great Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie.
I’ll include some brief excerpts below, and here’s the link to find JONAH’S SONG and place your order – for yourself – or for the one you love.
EXCERPT: JONAH’S SONG, pp. 1-4
Valentina’s aquamarine eyes popped wide open. She sat bolt upright, her heart beating erratically, as she looked around her at her bedroom, realization dawning on her. She let out a gusty sigh. “Oh! … I knew it was too good to be true!” She sighed once more. She’d been dreaming — again — about Professor Jonah McDaniels — again!
She fell back against her pillows once more, running her hands through her long, loosely curled hair. As she felt it flow between her fingers, she recalled the scene from her dream where Jonah had buried his hand in her hair. She closed her eyes, wanting to relive the whole dream and hold onto it as long as possible.
Jonah had been standing a couple feet away from her, his conductor’s baton in his hand, his eyes burning with his feelings. Finally, he laid down the baton closed the gap between them and took her, somewhat roughly, into his arms.
Valentina swallowed, trying to get back the breath his sudden embrace had stolen. Her heart beat wildly as his eyes moved to her lips. Without conscious thought, she glanced down to his mouth, his full, sculptured lips – one of the first two things she had noticed about him the day she’d met him – the other being his deep violet eyes . . .
The exhilarating scent of his cologne sent her senses whirling, and the warmth of his breath as he brought his face close to hers was so sweet she couldn’t resist closing her eyes. Her lips were parted slightly, her breath almost suspended, and as his mouth reached hers, his lips were bold and strong as they molded hers to his own. Everything in her melted as she gave herself up to this kiss she’d wanted for so long, but had never dared hope for.
He deepened the kiss, and she clung to him. When he finally pulled back for a moment, she uttered his name, once, breathlessly. “Jonah.”
“Hey, Vallie!” That shout came from Katey, one of the two girls Valentina shared the apartment with, and it was coupled with a pounding on Valentina’s bedroom door. So much for wallowing in her dream. “You’d better get a move on if you don’t want to be late for rehearsal. You know what Dr. McDaniels will say if you walk in late.”
“Oh, no!” Vallie had forgotten about the string ensemble’s rehearsal this morning. Just the thing she didn’t need: facing Dr. McDaniels right after that dream. . . .
She stood in front of her mirror in her pajamas. It was time for the lecture again. She looked at her reflection sternly, and pointed her finger at the mirror. “This is just your junior year, Valentina Rosswell. You still have three months left of this year and your whole senior year to go. And next year is going to be full of performances, a good many of them with Dr. Jonah McDaniels conducting. Do you want to end up making a total fool of yourself? … Now, you go out there and act like the musician that you are! You treat this Dr. McDaniels like any other stuffy, old college professor.”
Suddenly she was picturing him dressed in a baggy sweater, the lower part of his face covered with a beard, his hair gray and in total disarray. She shook her head and sighed loudly. Even like that he looked good enough to melt her bones.
EXCERPT: JONAH’S SONG, pp. 213-215
She let out a long sigh, looking toward the windows herself. “It’s a gorgeous evening out, isn’t it?”
He glanced back to the windows now, noticing that night was making rapid advances, twice as many stars showing up now as when he had been standing there looking out. “Yes, one of the loveliest we’ve had.” He turned back to face Vallie. The light in the room was dim, but he could see Vallie’s face quite well since they were standing so close. Her eyes were luminous, and he couldn’t resist the magnetism in them.
He stepped closer and spoke in barely more than a whisper. “But not even such an evening can compare with your loveliness, Valentina.” As he spoke, he slowly lifted his hand and touched the tips of his fingers to her cheek, gently gliding them along her skin. He felt her tremble slightly at his touch. “You’re so very beautiful, you know.”
She shook her head, a barely perceptible move, as if to say that she hadn’t known.
“Oh … yes,” he replied, still in that quiet voice. “Indeed you are … and not just beautiful to look at … but equally as beautiful to know.” Not actually conscious of what he was doing, he moved his forefinger gently to her mouth and began to trace the outline of her sensuous lips, his own beautifully sculptured mouth opening slightly as if in anticipation of what he wanted to do next.
Valentina held her breath. She could hardly believe what she was experiencing and wondered fleetingly if she were dreaming again, because she knew that Jonah McDaniels wanted to kiss her — was moving toward her even now to do so. His face was only inches away from hers now, and she could feel the sweet warmth of his breath against her skin. Oh, this was exactly the way she’d dreamed it again and again. Oh, please, don’t let me wake up yet, she thought, as her eyelids drifted closed of their own volition.
Suddenly, she felt space between them and without opening her eyes, knew that he had drawn away and even taken a step back. She did open her eyes then, looking at him with the confusion she felt showing plainly on her face. But she hurried to camouflage it, embarrassed enough that he obviously knew she had expected to be kissed, and he, evidently, had changed his mind. This was no dream, but it had ended just as unhappily as all of those dreams had. She dipped her head slightly, focusing on the floor for a moment to try to collect her thoughts. All she knew at this moment was that she wanted to get away from him as quickly as possible.
“Well,” she said, needing to clear her throat to go on. “I guess I’d better be getting back.” She looked right at him for just a moment and somehow mustered up a small smile. “I hope you get all your problems worked out.”
He shoved both of his hands in his pants pockets and glanced down at the floor momentarily. Then he looked back at her with a rather grim smile that she could barely see in the gathering darkness of the room. “I’m afraid that isn’t too likely, Valentina. Not every problem has a solution, you know. … Some of them just have to be endured with as much grace as possible.”
“I … I’m sorry, Jonah. … I wish … I wish I could help somehow.”
He laughed out loud then, but it was a bitter laugh, and he choked it off quickly and looked into her eyes. When he spoke, it was so quietly she had to strain to hear the words clearly. “Go home, Valentina.”
EXCERPT: JONAH’S SONG, pp. 237-239
Cameron paused, looking at his brother, who walked back to his chair, but only leaned on the back of it. “I think Vallie loves you, and personally, I think your love is exactly what she needs … and wants.”
“Then why don’t I feel that way about it too?”
“Because you’re letting your head rule instead of your heart. You know, God uses our hearts to lead us into His will much more often that He does our heads, Jonah.”
Jonah stood there with his elbows resting on the back of the chair, looking at his hands clasped in front of him. “It’s interesting you should say that. A few nights ago, when I was really wrestling with all this, I picked up my Bible and just opened to wherever, and the first passage I read was from Proverbs three. The fifth verse says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
“That’s it, Jonah. You’ve been leaning heavily on your own reasoning about this thing and not on your heart at all from what I can see. You’ve served God faithfully all of your life. Surely you can trust that He has a strong enough hold on you by now to lead you where He wants you. And to keep you from taking wrong turns. If something – the same something – keeps showing up strongly and consistently in your heart, and it’s something that doesn’t go against God’s Word, then it’s most likely the Lord Who planted it in your heart in the first place.” . . .
. . . Jonah took his seat in the chair again as Cameron continued: “What you have to offer may be the very things that Valentina needs most in a husband. You need to at least give the Lord … and Valentina … the opportunity to put in their two cents worth, rather than just deciding everything in your own finite mind.”
Jonah grinned at his brother’s bluntness, but then he sighed and leaned his head back against the chair, closing his eyes. After several minutes, he spoke softly. “I composed a song to her, did I tell you?”
“No. When was this?”
“A couple of weeks ago. I was so close to drowning in all that I was feeling for her … and wanting from her… that I just picked up the violin and began to play it out. After I’d played it several times, I decided I needed to get it written down so I wouldn’t lose it.” He laughed lightly. “As if I could lose it. … It‘s as much a part of me as my breath.”
Cameron looked at his brother, whose eyes were still closed. His heart swelled with pride in this older brother who was able to create such beauty with his gifts. How like Jonah to release the love he felt in the creation of a beautiful piece of music that millions of people could one day share and enjoy.
“Have you played it for her?” he asked now.
Jonah opened his eyes and looked at Cameron. “No, I haven’t. … And I don’t think I ever intended to.”
“Then you’re an idiot.”
Jonah’s eyes widened. His brother had never spoken to him that way before, and he wasn’t sure what to make of it. “You sound pretty convinced.”
“I am. …
EXCERPT: JONAH’S SONG, pp.275-279
On the night of October 20th, which was supposed to have been her wedding night, Vallie couldn’t get to sleep, so she finally got up and went into her parents’ living room and sat down on the sofa, curling up into the corner, trying to think of some way to get her mind off Jonah and how she ached for him. She huddled there, hurting, but trying not to cry anymore. But all her efforts were in vain, because the tears slipped out anyway, and as the pain insisted on pulsing through her, the sobs started again. She had tried to be as quiet as possible, but her father had heard her go downstairs, and then he heard her sobbing again, and decided it was time his little girl’s daddy did something to change things … somehow.
He slipped out of bed and put on his robe as quietly as possible so as not to wake his wife. He knew she was hurting almost as much as Valentina herself — just because mothers who really loved their daughters did that — and he slipped downstairs. He turned on one of the table lamps before he sat down beside Valentina and put his arm around her, calling her by his pet name for her.
“Hey, now, Valentine, it’s time you listened to your daddy and listened good,” he said, handing her a handful of tissues and giving her a little shake with the arm he had around her.
Vallie took the tissues and began to blow her nose and wipe her eyes, even though a river of tears still streamed down her face. “I … I’m sorry I woke you, Daddy. Did I wake Mom too?”
He shook his head. “No, she’s still asleep. And you don’t have anything to be sorry about, Valentine. You’re hurting … hurting badly … and that’s what family’s for … to help ease the hurt. Or if we can’t ease it … then we can at least be there to hurt with you until the Lord eases it.”
Vallie gave him a watery smile at those words and leaned her head on his shoulder for a minute. “Oh, Daddy, I don’t think there is any way to ease this hurt. It just goes so deep … and it seems so final.”
He pulled back a little so that she raised her head and looked at him. “Now you listen to me, little girl, there’s nothing final about any of this,” he said sternly, pointing his finger at her. “This whole thing isn’t over by any means, and I don’t want you giving up and believing it is.”
“What do you mean,” she asked, still wiping every other minute at her nose and eyes.
“I mean just what I say. So your man went back to Chicago saying he wasn’t going to let you be tied to him when he’d just be a burden to you. Does that mean everything’s over?” He shook his head, and continued. “You’ve got to understand that a man just feels like he has to do that … he has to protect the woman he loves from suffering if at all possible, and that’s what Jonah thinks he’s doing. Plus the fact that his stubborn male ego can’t stand to think that he might have to be really dependent on you for something he feels he has to do for himself. All of that’s just part of a man’s make-up, Valentine.
“But, little girl, that’s just the first phase of what Jonah’s going through. He’s going to come to a time when that ego isn’t going to be as strong … or as stubborn. It’s not going to be enough to pull him through the loneliness and the terrible need he’ll be feeling without you. Now, if he’d never allowed himself to open up to the truth that he loves you and wants a future with you, he might have been able to go on for the rest of his life at least halfway satisfied with his life without you in it. But not anymore. Now that he’s admitted to himself that he loves you and needs you to make his life complete, there’s no going back.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“Oh, I don’t just believe it, Valentine. I know it. I’m a man myself, you know,” he said, grinning at her now.
Vallie grinned back.
“Now … here’s the thing, Valentine. When your man finally comes to the place that pride and ego aren’t enough to keep him going forward in this decision he’s made, the only thing left will be his feeling that he still has to protect you. And that’s where you have a chance to turn this thing around. When that time comes, he’ll be vulnerable enough that you’ll have a chance to convince him that instead of protecting you, he’s only hurting you, and that you’d rather be with him in his handicap than to be without him the rest of your life … that is,” he said, pausing to look right into her eyes … “if that is the way you feel about it.”
“That’s exactly the way I feel about it. I couldn’t have put my feelings into better words myself.”
“Well, then, I’d say you’ve got your work cut out for you.”
“Exactly what are you trying to say, Daddy?”
“Well … I don’t think it’s for me to tell you exactly what you ought to do, but I’ll tell you this. Yesterday, in my quiet time with the Lord, I opened my Bible up to the book of Ruth and began to read. I hadn’t read that book in a long time, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. And as I read through those chapters, I couldn’t help thinking about you from time to time … I guess because it’s kind of a love story, you know, and Boaz is considerably older than Ruth, and so on. But … anyway … I noticed one thing in particular that stood out to me more than it ever had before.” . . .
All excerpts from Jonah’s Song. Copyright © 2005 by Sandra Pavloff Conner