Great Love

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Texas Miz Mike #7 mystery-romance-suspense “Bridge Home” was released—but, wait! It is not the best love story ever written.

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Great love stories light our inner fires and inspire us. Some of the most famous include William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet,” Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” Leo Tolstory’s “Anna Karenina,” Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago,” and Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Other great love stories revolve around remarkable people like John Smith and the Indian Princess Pocahontas, Marie and Pierre Curie, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

This is just a fleeting mention of some of the world’s greatest love stories because nearly all life-changing, life-impacting stories contain an element of love. Not surprising since God’s Word proclaims, “Love never fails,” and “Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians, Chapter 13).

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My favorite love stories tend to be embedded in musicals. The social commentary and unforgettable music in “Show Boat;” faith victorious in “The Sound of Music,” rollicking fun in “Calamity Jane” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” and the soul-plumbing “South Pacific.” And of course the musical everyone in Scotland hates—but I’ve always loved, “Brigadoon.”

Whether they end in tragedy, or joy and “happy ever after,” love and love stories make life worth living.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Don’t forget to read the greatest love story ever written. It’s written in God’s blood. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Then He proved it by dying for us.

“For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

God’s love story about us and for us is greater than any love story ever written by humans—even William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” which is still ranked #1 in love stories 400 years after it was written.

As for “Bridge Home,” well, I hope you’ll read it, enjoy it, and leave a review—but trust me…it won’t the list.

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http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

The Biggest Losers

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Look up loser or biggest loser on the internet and you will find folks who have lost huge amounts of weight—or huge amounts of money. These are not the biggest losers.

The biggest losers are those—no matter how successful, professional, or well known—who find no joy in a child’s smile, a kitten’s soft fur, or the unconditional love looking back at them from the eyes of a dog. The biggest losers are those who have never stopped in awe to enjoy the riotous glory of spring wildflowers, a flaming sunrise, or a full moon playing tag with night-touched clouds.

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The biggest losers are those so seeped in their own self-importance that they have no time to notice the tears on a lonely face, the meager clothing and frail frame of the homeless, the expectant face of an elderly person hoping for a greeting.

The biggest losers are those who have no time to contemplate God and the perfection of creation, no time to sit in church and feed their souls, no time to give any of their time to help another person, a homeless animal, or a needy charitable organization.

Biggest losers of weight are applauded. Biggest losers of money are scorned. God is only interested in one kind of loss—sin.

“Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14.

Biggest losers, biggest winners.

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http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Mysteries

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I love mysteries. That’s why I write them.

One of my recent blogs showcased a mystery about the “angel bus.” I was in downtown Inverness waiting for a city bus that never came. The overhead sign kept promising the bus would arrive—but it never did. It was freezing with sleety rain and my fingers were numb and throbbing even inside gloves. Finally an old white bus with no city markings and no lettering at all limped to a stop in front of me and the door opened. When I asked the driver if the bus went to the retail park, he said, “If that’s where you want to go.” I got on the bus. It was empty. Momentarily, I thought I had been kidnapped, but quickly dismissed that idea. I’m too poor to garner a ransom. The old bus deposited me at my location. I’ve been back to Inverness several times since then. I have never seen that bus again. To me, it will always be an angel bus.

Now the mystery of the angel glove—or more aptly—the glove that an angel returned. This close to Christmas, with extra services and visiting, the last thing a pastor has time (or money) to do is rush into the city to buy a pair of new gloves, yet one of Alan’s gloves was missing. We hunted for it in the house. We crawled around on our hands and knees searching the car. We walked the cement slab path between the car and the house several times. We looked under the rosebushes. No glove.

Yesterday, after several days of vainly pursuing said lost glove and trying to figure out a good time to go into town to buy a new pair before the forecast winter weather mix hit—we found the missing glove. In plain sight. I was returning from handing out Christmas cards and cookies when I spotted the lost glove right beside the cement slab path where we had searched so diligently. We use that path several times a day.

Doubters will claim that neither Alan or I are getting any younger and that at our age, the eyes can fail. Doubters will claim that it’s a busy time of year and we were just too rushed to look as conscientiously for the lost glove as we thought we had. If doubters are happy walking around under their weight of normalcy, that’s fine. But I love mysteries! I love solving mysteries. My solution to this mystery is that the glove was indeed lost. Alan had accidentally dropped it somewhere between our house and Inverness. God realized our low ebb of money and energy—and He sent an angel to bring it back to us.

God loves His human creations so much that He intervenes in their daily lives to bring them joy. He sent Jesus to us as a gift for eternity and the angels sang over His birth with joy. Our Christmas glove brings us joy. I have my angel bus—Alan has his angel glove.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Christmas = Freedom

One of the hardest things I’ve done in my adult life was to complete driving lessons here in the U.K. and take the driving test. After 48 years of driving my way – I had to learn to drive someone else’s way.

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Until a person passes the driving test here, they must attach “L” plates (Learner Driver) on their vehicle every time they get behind the wheel. The L plates must be taken off again when a licensed driver gets behind the wheel. We’ve been held captive by L plates four years, putting them on when I drive, taking them off when Alan drives, and replacing them when the wind blows them away. Needless to say, a learner driver can only drive the car with a licensed driver beside them.

If I had realized what a sense of freedom would follow passing the test and discarding the L plates, I would have done it sooner. It’s a Christmas gift to myself – freedom. This spring, I can take the car out hunting for adders to photograph. Alan, who is not keen on snakes of any size or kind, can stay home.

Christmas is about freedom. We decorate in glad joyful colors, we send Christmas card with Baby Jesus in the manger, we cook a lovely meal for family and friends, we exchange gifts – but the reason for the season is freedom.

Jesus was born into this world as a baby, but that’s not the end of the story. The end of the story is His death – which purchased our freedom. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Jesus died for us, but that’s not the end of the story. The end of the story is His resurrection. Jesus arose from the grave and lives forever. He lives inside us in the form of the Holy Spirit if we invite Him.

Christmas = Freedom. “O Death, where is your sing? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just as UK law can no more hold me to having another driver beside me or putting L plates on the car because passing the test purchased my freedom from that law, Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection purchased our freedom from death and gifted us with eternal life.

Jesus is the reason for the season – but so is freedom.

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http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

My Version of Hell

Most have probably heard the Biblical description of hell: a place where the fire is not quenched and the worm never dies.

My version of hell is a bit different. Cold.

I like to inject humor into the things I write, both my books and my blog. But, honestly, I just don’t find cold or being cold funny.

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Cold was funny when we were kids. My siblings and I would throw lemon drops across the frozen pond and watch our Great Danes slip, slide, and skate across the ice to snatch the candy. We laughed like maniacs as the poor long-legged beasts sprawled time and again on the ice. But now…that seems cruel, not funny. What if the ice had broken and the dogs had drowned? What if they had broken their legs or sustained permanent soft tissue damage? Of course, we were out there slipping, sliding and falling right along with them.

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Seriously, how can one find humor in something like cold that can kill you? I remember the time we walked two miles to a neighbor’s house to get two adorable puppies with the idea that our parents would let us keep them once we had them. Wrong. They were the cutest bundles of fluffy brown and white that we had ever seen. We sneaked them past our house and stashed them temporarily in our neighbor’s barn. That meant walking through ice and snow several times a day to feed them, because it was an unusually cold winter. We all suffered frostbite. To this day, my fingers become numb and burn after only a short time in the cold—even when I’m wearing gloves, and my toes are not far behind. It was humiliating to be forced to return the puppies to their owner and admit that our parents would not let us keep them. We cried the two miles from our house to their house to take the precious pups back home. Yet what I remember being even more painful…was the cold.

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Another cold-induced misery I remember is when, as an adult, I went on a church outing in northern Nevada so Luke could have the joy of picking out his own Christmas tree. He had the proper coat and boots for the occasion, and although he got cold like the rest of us, I don’t remember him suffering. As a single parent, I had only been able to outfit one of us with water-proof boots. So while he tromped around in the snow with the other children, engaging in snow battles and building a snow fort while searching for the perfect tree, I walked around in tennis shoes. I think it was the next day before I could feel my toes again.

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Oh, and not to forget the time I caught a snake at the pond to see if it was poisonous or harmless. It was venomous. The water moccasin took exception to being caught and bit me. So while the hospital waited for the anti-venom to be flown in from Atlanta, they froze my arm in a tub of ice water. Once they administered the shot, they thawed my arm. To this day I’m not sure whether it hurt worse to have my arm freeze or thaw.

Nope. I do not find snow beautiful, nor do I weather cold climates well. I’m amazed that after five years of almost never being warm, I’m still in Scotland. It is a lovely country with scenic views in every direction…but it is COLD.

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So keep your Biblical version of hell as a place of raging fire and worms feeding off flesh. That’s the way Jesus described it and Jesus is always right. But I will keep my personal version of a place where it never warms up, my teeth are clattering like ice cubes hitting a glass, and every muscle in my body is stretched painfully tight until I feel like I’m shriveling up like an abandoned pumpkin after Thanksgiving. Oh, yes…and there would be fire in my version of hell because my fingers and toes would burn.

Thankfully, I won’t ever go to hell to see what it’s like because I have Jesus in my heart and He promised, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

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And, thankfully, readers—you won’t have to go find out for yourselves either. Sometimes the best knowledge and wisdom we possess comes not from sticking our hand in the flame to see if it really burns—but in watching someone else and making the decision not to follow their example.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Cotton Candy Wolves

A viewer condemned the producer of a wildlife documentary for showing a wolf catching a rabbit and tossing the squealing victim into the air before tearing it into pieces and eating it. The viewer would have been pleased if the production team had taught the wolf to eat cotton candy instead.img_2026

While I might sound like I’m condemning the clueless viewer, I understand. I refuse to watch Old Yeller ever again and I know when to close my eyes during movies and wildlife documentaries.

Just think of a cotton candy world where everything is soft, fluffy, and sweet! Unfortunately, this isn’t it.

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It’s strange even to me that I write mystery-romance-suspense books with unhealthy doses of murder included. Perhaps it’s because my experience in the world so far—starting when I was a child rape victim—has included evil. Writing or reading cotton candy stories doesn’t appeal to me. Evil is real, alive, and lives in this world. Thankfully, so does good – and God gives everyone a choice. The battle between good and evil and the triumph of good is infinitely more fascinating to me than a diet of feathery sugar. And as Evan says in Texas Miz Mike’s Bridge to Brigadoon, “Aye, murder is nicer in books. We are safely distanced from it.”

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Dixie lived next door. She eschewed God and mocked Christians for reciting “do nots” while she “had fun” hanging out in local bars. She was seldom home and her young daughters often called out-of-town grandparents to rescue them when their mother vanished with a new conquest – often a just-released felon from prison. Dixie left this world at 34 in a motorcycle crash just down the road from her favorite bar.

Author Alan McKean’s mom recently turned 100 and received a birthday card signed by Queen Elizabeth II. God holds life and death in His hands. Only He knows the secret of longevity. However, I find it noteworthy that Alan’s mom reads from the Bible, sings hymns, and prays every day.

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Cotton candy wolves will exist in the future. Isaiah, Chapter 11 promises that after Jesus returns, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb. The leopard shall lie down with the young goat. The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD.”

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A cotton candy world! Meanwhile…I’ll keep writing mystery-romance-suspense books with an unhealthy dose of murder thrown in because evil is real and present in this world and wolves don’t eat cotton candy…yet.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Mistakes!

Mistakes. We all make them. At least, I do.

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Not all mistakes are bad. Naval engineer Richard Jones dropped a tension spring, watched it bounce – and invented the Slinky toy.

Sir Alexander Fleming was searching for a “wonder drug” when he found penicillin – by accident. He had discarded a contaminated Petri dish. He noticed the contamination was dissolving the bacteria around it.

One of my favorite mistakes was made by Ruth Wakefield, owner of Toll House Inn. She was attempting to make regular chocolate cookies – but had run out of baker’s chocolate. So she broke sweetened chocolate into the dough…and invented Toll House chocolate chip cookies.

George Crum lost his temper over a hard to please customer and invented potato chips from a plate of fried potatoes. Silly putty, the microwave oven, pace maker, and saccharin were all birthed by failure – mistakes.

I love the legend about a cook in China who was experimenting in the kitchen – and invented fireworks! It seems that charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter were common in kitchens 2,000 years ago. The cook accidentally mixed these substances together and compressed the mixture into a bamboo tube. BOOM! It exploded. I’m not sure what happened to the unnamed cook.

I recently read a book where a male calico cat is one of the heroes. Due to genetics, almost all calico cats are female. The book portrayed opossums as cat-eaters. Opossums are non-aggressive and will play dead rather than attack. Cats are far more likely to kills possums than possums are to kill cats. In the Texas Hill Country, possums came up regularly and shared the cat food with the cats. No one ever had a spat or got hurt. Sometimes books and authors get it wrong.

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I love the Bible account about men bringing an adulterous woman to Jesus. “The law says she should be stoned. What do you say?” If Jesus said, “Let her go,” they would condemn Jesus for disregarding the law. If Jesus said, “Stone her,” His followers would leave Him because He preached mercy and grace. Jesus said, “Let the one without sin throw the first stone.” The accusers left. Jesus told the woman, “go and sin no more.”

It was easy for me to forgive the author’s mistakes about calico cats and opossums – especially after “Captive of Fear” was released and I read the kindle copy. BOOM! Desert instead of dessert – twice! (Now corrected.) This after professional editing & me reading the edited copy.

Authors should be forgiving and humble. You never know when a cat-eating possum might stumble into your book!

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https://www.amazon.com/Captive-Fear-McKean-Stephanie-Parker-ebook/dp/B01M1KLFRE/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474965703&sr=8-1&keywords=captive+of+fear+stephanie+parker+mckean

The Cure

The Bible tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and God looked at his creation and saw that “it was good.”

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Then Adam and Eve sinned and sin entered the world, bringing death and destruction with it. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground for your sake…both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth.” To me…that explains nettles, fire ants, scorpions—and all the other uglies and nasties. They came into the perfect world God created when sin ruined the perfection.

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My first exposure to Scottish nettles was…rather embarrassing. That expression, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.” The gotta hit me during a long woodland hike soon after I arrived in Scotland from Texas. So I waded into high weeds away from the path to do the necessary. Let me just say…you don’t ever want to expose bare skin on any part of your body to nettles—especially not that part!

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But where sin brought a curse, God placed a cure. Broad-leafed plants called dockens will stop the pain and burning when applied to the affected area.

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Most recently, I accidentally ran the back of my hand across nettles when I was walking the dog. I couldn’t find a docken. We were eating dinner when I mentioned the pain to my husband. Alan looked at the redness and swelling…then…just like Brigadoon, he vanished. He was gone so long that I thought about going to look for him. He returned with docken leaves and they stopped the burning and pain almost immediately.

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Because we are living in a sin-infested, imperfect world—there will always be nettles, either physical or spiritual. But where there is a curse, there is a cure. Jesus died to set the captives free from sin, pain, sorrow, illness, and the finality of death. He is the ultimate cure.

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http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

This Queen Serves a King

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From my memory of childhood fairy tales, kings and queens were nearly always portrayed as cruel tyrannical villains. Thus, it was heartening when poor downtrodden folks won a victory over the proud aristocrats.

This perception from childhood made it difficult for me to engage respect and appreciation for the Royal Family when I first arrived in Scotland, but childhood perceptions are often flawed.

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch in British history. At age 90, she still works 40 hours a week, feeds her own dogs instead of delegating the chore to someone else, and rides a horse. She attends church regularly, even while on vacation. She doesn’t use profanity.

Being a monarch does not insulate anyone from grief, problems, and trouble. The Queen called 1992 ‘Annus Horribilis.’ Tragedies for the Queen included a fire in Windsor Castle; Prince Andrew’s separation from his wife; Princess Anne’s divorcing her husband, and a biography of Diana which confirmed her unhappy marriage to Charles and resulting affair, and Charles’ affair with Camilla. Queen Elizabeth’s response was to thank people for their prayers.

The Queen celebrated Jesus’ Birthday in 2013 by stating, “It is my prayer that on this Christmas Day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”

The Queen noted in her Christmas 2015 address, “Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout His short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence, but simply that we should love one another.”

Example through leadership is important to Queen Elizabeth. She takes her example from Jesus, quoting: “God sent His only Son to serve, not to be served. He restored love and service to the center of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.”

Happy 90th Birthday on April 21st to Queen Elizabeth II, a queen who serves the King.

(Thanks to Author Alan T McKean http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alan-T.-McKean/e/B00BR1PM5Y/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 for the pictures of Balmoral Castle where Queen Elizabeth stays when she’s in Scotland.)

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Seeing the Wind

For some reason, people like believing impossibilities. For example, they say, “You can’t see the wind. It’s invisible. No one can see the wind.”

I can. I learned to see the wind from my seven-year-old son. We were living in the Nevada desert helping friends run a small gold mine. Luke kept insisting that he could see the wind and I kept parroting the impossibility. “Luke, you can’t see the wind. It’s invisible. No one can see the wind.”

Luke led me through the sagebrush to a vantage point that gave us a clear view over 40 miles of desert and described what he was seeing. Then I saw it too; the dips, swirls, circles and waves of wind playing tag with mountains and sky. It’s a gift from my son that I treasure.

Luke was told he couldn’t climb scrubby cedar trees in the Texas Hill Country because the branches would snap. Yet when we saved a baby possum, Luke climbed upside down in the cedar trees, going from tree to tree without touching the ground, teaching the baby to climb. Not a single limb broke.

When we moved back to the desert, Luke invented “wind surfing.” He tied ropes to the corners of a huge black tarp and let the wind skate him along the ground. One day a sudden gust picked Luke up off the ground, flew him into the window of the house next door, then whisked him into the plowed field behind.

Luke was told, “People can’t fly.” But he did, and with lasting benefits. The alcoholic next door was sitting at the table drinking when Luke flew past the window. The man gave up drinking. “I knew I had to,” he told us, “the day I saw a boy fly past my window.” Somehow…we kept a straight face and never explained about the flying boy!

Luke never believed impossibilities. He was told, “Your ears were damaged by severe ear infections. You can’t do music.” So he learned to play the trumpet and the piano.

Luke was told, “You can’t learn to fly an airplane. Your math isn’t good enough. You’ll never pass ground school.” He learned to fly a plane and flew from North Carolina to California. Then he bought his own plane.

Luke was told, “The Marine Corps will never accept you. You won’t pass the physical. You have scoliosis. You need a metal rod in your back.” Luke prayed and Jesus healed him. He was 37 and just short of retiring from the Marine Corps as a Major when his plane crashed.

My mystery-romance-suspense “Bridge Beyond Betrayal” is dedicated to Luke and includes the prophetic poem he wrote a year before his death. Not only is Texas Miz Mike’s son Ron loosely patterned after Luke (who always gave sound advice and was almost always right—even as a child), but Luke was a constant inspiration in negating impossibilities. Texas Miz Mike learned from his example!

When Miz Mike spots a dead body in the back of a pickup truck, no one believes her. She is told that people don’t tote corpses in the back of their trucks. When she identifies the dead man, no one believes her. His business partners insist he is alive. When energetic Doc is arrested for murder and the town celebrates, no one believes Mike that Doc is innocent. Mike must thrust aside her own dislike of Doc and prove that he is innocent.

Not even romance is safe from impossibilities. Mike and her cowboy hero are just about to get hitched when Doc teaches Mike to dowse for bones. Believing it is witchcraft, Marty is scandalized and breaks off their engagement.

When Mike gets locked in an office building with a nefarious night watchman, it is artist Frank—not Marty—who rescues her. That’s when Texas Miz Mike faces the greatest impossibility of all—choosing between two suitors…if she gets out of being arrested and survives the killer who is determined to make her disappear forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Beyond-Betrayal-Mike-Book-ebook/dp/B00NP3RVB0/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411134397&sr=1-2&keywords=bridge+beyond+betrayal+stephanie+parker+mckean

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