In 1983, in moss-draped
Verona, Georgia, the tender and tenacious love between a hardworking man
and his adoring wife is tested by sudden adversity.
Troy Stevenson must confront an old family secret
that underlies his nascent alcohol abuse or he may lose the wife, daughter and son he deeply loves. When his latent destructiveness is unleashed
and impacts his family, he moves to their lakeside cottage to come to grips
with his personal weaknesses.
But busybodies at his company assume he left home because his marriage
is in trouble. Encouraged by the assumption, co-worker Brooke Emerson,
an amoral, 1980s material girl romantically obsessed with Troy, attempts
to seduce him, setting in motion a chain of events with harrowing consequences
for him and his family.
“Now you’ve done it,” Troy said as he and Max worked their way down the
“What are you talking about?” Max loaded his tray with Salisbury steak,
mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and a slice of coconut cake—choices
that partially explained why he approached his mid-thirties ten pounds
“Letting some radical feminist who isn’t even employed here write policy
for this company.”
“Oh, you mean Grant.”
“Yeah. Grant.” Troy got sweet tea and a dinner roll to supplement whatever
was in the lunch bag on his tray. “Apt name, huh? Hidden by the flaxen
hair and womanly face there’s a hard-drinking, scorched-earth general on
the lookout for an opportunity to whop somebody.”
They paid for their food and emerged from the serving line. Troy set his
tray on a nearby counter, took a plate from the bag and lifted the lid
to see what his wife, Patty, had made him for lunch.
Since early in their marriage, she had painlessly controlled his caloric
intake with his favorite home-cooked Southern foods adapted for optimum
nutrition and weight maintenance.
He stood an inch over six feet tall and weighed a hundred and eighty pounds—nineteen
pounds lighter than he weighed as a halfback for the Crimson Tide. His
lean physique could be attributed partly to workouts in the company gym
twice a week, but most of the credit went to Patty’s meals, like this one—chunks
of tender pork roast with baby carrots and pearl onions in a savory sauce
along with a side serving of French green beans and mushroom slices. Satisfactory,
as usual. He put the plate in a microwave oven and turned the dial. When
his meal was ready, he carried it to the table Max had chosen and took
“So, have you ever heard of Grant before today? Did you know the director
of your UFO office was gonna consult her?”
Max winced. “Don’t call it that.”
“It fits. What you’re doing is plumb spacey.”
“What is your problem? You bring in consultants from outside the company
all the time to talk to your people.”
Max looked mildly affronted. “How?”
“Because none of them are radical leftists and they don’t write company
policy, in any case. Did you know Grant’s going to help—what’s her name,
Roper?—write the policies?”
“Well, then, presumably you’re going to put a stop to it.”
“I have the final say about what goes in the policies manual.”
“The board has the final say,” Troy intoned.
“I have the final say on what makes it to the board, now cool it. This
is all your doin’ anyway.”
“Yeah. You’re the one wanting to sell Shearwater widgets to the feds.”
Troy gave his friend a skeptical look. “Oh. The feds are making you do
“Well, yeah, you know how they make you jump through hoops before they
do bidness with you.”
“Forget the hoop analogy and think swimming pool.” Troy paused to take
a swallow of tea. “When it comes to federal compliance, you go to the shallow
end and step in only as far as you have to, preferably no more than ankle-deep.
But what you’ve done, buddy-ro, is go directly to the deep end and dive
in head first.”
Max sighed, exasperated, stopping his butter-smeared dinner roll halfway
to his mouth. “You do your job and let me do mine, okay? Do you know anything
about what’s been happening with employment issues in
Each of the short videos below
give an overview of the story from a different perspective.
The first emphasizes Troy's
personal life and provides backstory on his family life and career success.
The second is a tongue-in-cheek snippet, an elbow-in-the-ribs to all my
romance witer friends who specialize in paranormal romance. All in good
Video One -- Personal life
and career success
Video Two -- Fun spoof
Congress and state legislatures,
and especially the courts, the past decade or so?”
“Well, I know a lot about it ’cause it’s my job to. There have been three
landmark court cases recently about one issue—sexual harassment—that are
downright scary. Nothing bad even has to happen to a female employee, like
threatening her with the loss of her job or benefits or something. All
she has to do is complain of a hostile environment—” Max made air-quotation
marks with his fingers “—and she has a case that the courts will hear.
And this applies whether you do business with the feds or not.”
Troy shrugged. “But creating a whole department to deal with it? I’m telling
you, you’re asking for trouble. You’re laying the groundwork and building
the structure for accommodating the trouble. Maybe even encouraging it.”
“You’re startin’ to sound waaay too much like my daddy,” Max said with
a touch of sullenness. “I know what I’m doing. The company has to be protected.
You’d just sit around doing nothing and leave it vulnerable. Come to my
office. I’ll show you what I’m talking about.>
“Ah-ight,” Troy said. “After me
and my people fix the three and a half percent.”
Conversation became intermittent. When his plate was cleared, Troy checked
the lunch bag to see if a small dessert was tucked in there somewhere,
but there was nothing. Patty must be planning a high-calorie dessert for
supper if she was depriving him at lunch.
His attention was caught by a piece of paper protected in a plastic sandwich
bag and he took it out. It was a small, cream-colored envelope, cool to
the touch from having been in a compact refrigerator in his office all
morning. Inside was one of his wife’s notecards, a pine bough and her first
name printed in gold on the front. The cards were blank, for writing personal
messages. This one
had no written message, though. When he opened it, a smaller folded paper
about the size of a business check fell out and barely missed his plate.
He unfolded it, looked at it a few moments, cut his eyes away and stifled
“What is it?” Max said, bristling with curiosity.
“It’s a gift certificate.”
“She’s kinda jumping the gun on your birthday a little bit, isn’t she?
The Stevensons’ tenth wedding anniversary was coming up at the end of June,
and Troy’s thirty-third birthday in early July.
“She wouldn’t give me a gift certificate for either one of those.” He put
the certificate and card back into the envelope and slid it into his inside
breast pocket. “It’s a no-occasion gift certificate.”
* * *
Troy sat at his desk a few minutes, almost but not quite ready to jump
back into the sales problem. He looked at the still life arranged in front
of him—his silver Condor pen lying atop the computer printout and Post
It Notes covered with cryptic scribbling sticking out of the edges here
The sales drop had occurred unexpectedly and he would not be able to rest
until he knew why, and how to overcome it. But he could accommodate the
occasional momentary distraction, especially one as pleasant as this.
He glanced at three framed portraits on the corner of his desk. Two of
them were the latest school pictures of his children. Melissa was nine
and starting to grow into her big teeth, and Randy was two years younger
and snaggle-toothed when the photo was made. Both of them were dark haired,
dark eyed and olive skinned, as their parents were. Missy, high-spirited
and a talker like Troy, was a mama’s girl. Randy, a daddy’s boy since toddlerhood,
was the apple of Troy’s eye.
His gaze traveled to the portrait of his wife beside them.
Patty would turn twenty-nine in September. Long brown hair that curved
at the ends framed her face, a sweet face with big brown eyes and shapely
pink lips. Her rounded chin was centered with the hint of a dimple.
Her makeup was a more subtle and natural update of the mod look—black eye-liner
and mascara and pearlescent lipstick—she had worn when they first met and
she captured his heart with a single look. Since then, she had developed
an overlay of sophistication that was reflected in everything from her
wardobe to the decor of their home and enabled her to be a gracious hostess,
community volunteer and capable executive wife. But in many ways, she was
still the sweet little Southern Baptist girl he had married.
She remained a bit reserved, but only strangers or casual acquaintances
interpreted her restraint as indifference or conceit. Her calm served to
counterbalance Troy’s vitality and spirit. Conversely, living with him
had influenced her to openness and spontaneous shows of emotion, particularly
affection, to family and friends, and they came to know her as pretty,
genial and happy in her role as homemaker.
But only Troy saw her as she was behind the reserve; only he knew the depth
of her devotion to their children and her near idolatrous love for him.
And their friends would be shocked out of their gourds if they had any
idea about her prurient streak that surfaced from time to time.
He reached into his inside breast pocket and withdrew the envelope to give
the contents another look.
The gift certificate was homemade and Patty had done a terrific job with
the calligraphy and the intricate border. It entitled the bearer to a session
of hot, wild sex at the time and location of his choice: (a) in the master
bedroom at home on a week night, (b) on a big, cushiony sofa at the lake
cabin over the weekend or (c) in a rent-by-the-hour room at the No-Tell
Motel on Highway 41—on his lunch break.
He looked at her portrait again, smiled and said under his breath, “Oh,
With a soft laugh, he marshaled his thoughts and brought his attention
back to the challenging work on his desk.
and Short Romance Reviews
that's concise and silky to read.... the harrowing rush to the book's conclusion
is a riveting reading experience.
story of marriage vows under stress and of politically targeted individuals
facing social and career extinction....refreshingly written from the viewpoint
of the traditional family values that made our culture the world’s envy....a
novel with political bite....grippingly exposes the underside of corporate
harassment policies that have inadvertently brought misery to many innocent
employees....a well written story, with prose that’s concise and silky
to read..... sparks with rising excitement as it gathers momentum...the
harrowing rush to the book’s conclusion is a riveting reading experience....a
love story of refined elegance. Entire
that focused the moral messages of monogamy, truth, and trust in family,
friends, and God.
by Shawn Weisser
has written a sensitive, though provoking, emotional, Christian love story.
She was able to write sexy love scenes between Troy and Patty without being
a prude but without being graphic as well. ...very realistic in the
sense that we are all human and prone to human needs and desires as well
as weaknesses of faith and self-esteem. Entire
recommend with a pitcher of sweet tea and a place to perch your feet.
by Emily H
has written an inspirational story of hope, love, and forgiveness.
She tackles a sensitive issue and writes it with compassion. The
love between Patty and Troy is evident from the first time you read about
the two of them. Each page is filled with the love they have for
one another and the faith that love conquers all. Entire
are real.... a delightful story worth the read.
flowing storyline that kept this reader interested. The characters are
real. ... Troy and Patty were good players as husband and wife, as they
sought to maintain order in their life. Connie Chastain tells the story
of a loving couple who... find a way to face any temptation in their path.
She chronicles a good tale, instilling, warmth and emotions in her players,
to create a delightful story worth the read. Entire
by Audrey Johnson
and Patty met, she was still in high school and he in college. Their fairytale,
whirlwind romance adhered to their religious and personal morals, both
of which continued into their marriage. One night, though, Troy has too
much to drink and the consequences on the family are devastating...just
when it seems the family’s relationship is back on track, Troy is accused
of sexually harassing a coworker. Patty and Troy must weather the horrific
accusations together. SOUTHERN
MAN is the story of an upright man and the difficulties he faces in being
the best husband, father, employee and community member he can be. Entire