What is your motivation behind The Certain Hope? Why did you want to write it?
The Certain Hope is the third book in the standalone hope-themed series. Book three highlights thirty-something love, which can be as precarious as younger love. By that age, we’ve weathered numerous life storms. Living life can, and often does, alter our opinions, circumstances and outlook.
The doorbell chimed what she termed his signature ring: one long peal, followed by two shorter ones. Saying goodbye might ruin her. Hair patted into place, she opened the door with an unsteady hand.
Andy leaned on the rail, watching the door fling open. The six men who worked with him stood at his side. Silence reigned. They stood there, grinning at her.
Tara couldn’t resist returning the smiles. Their noisy camaraderie while they worked would be missed.
The house needed only a minor overhaul. He was the man for the task if he was able to buy the place. Luke enjoyed restoring old houses. Especially one he hoped to make his own. As he’d climbed the steps, he was assessing the fair market value.
Then Tara had opened the door.
Luke had fallen in love on sight.
“So you prefer dating a man who works at McDonald’s?” Marcie asked.
Mindy laughed until she coughed.
Giggles erupted around the table.
“Tara would if his name was Andy,” Mindy finally said.
Tara batted dream-filled eyes. “I love a man I’ll never see again.” She paused, eyeing Mindy. “Honest enough for you?”
Tara’s hopeful nonchalance intrigued Luke more than it ever had. He’d finally found his sassy, laidback lady that would love him. She was a snappy work of art he couldn’t resist. Her projected innocence snagged him the first time they met.
Things are moving in the right direction. How do I bring my lovely lady along for the journey?
Before long, Olivia took a much-needed breath. The lull in the conversation reminded him about the other people in the room. He leaned his mouth close to Tara’s ear while speaking in a stage voice.
“The Certain Hope is a story of love at first sight and I really enjoyed it. . . . This was a unique story that showed the positives and negatives of falling in love so quickly and throws in a few surprise twists as well. This was my first book by author Jackson and I look forward to more of her stories.”
“Your sad eyes don’t sway me.” Her hip butted him out the way. “It’s too late to show remorse. You set me up.”
Luke raised three fingers. “Scout’s honor. I had no expectations either way. The choice was always yours.” His voice softened as his gaze caressed her face. “Beautiful as always.”
Tara steeled herself against the compliment. Real facts deserved more than a passing remark that missed the point.
“Overall, I did enjoy the story. For me, Luke’s personality caused me to want to keep reading, because I wanted to find out what happens with the two. . . . And I feel Ms. Jackson does an excellent job of weaving the issues together so the plot runs so smooth. This is the second book I’ve read from Ms. Jackson, and I enjoy her writing. So I encourage you to check out The Certain Hope as well as other books by this author.”
“…there are stories of love-at-first-sight marriages that are going strong, so even if it’s not your reality, it is entertaining. And may also serve as a cautionary tale to not jump into anything too quickly, especially if the people you trust are conflicted about your decision. And through it all, I was cheering for Tara’s happily-ever-after.”
“Should you read it? YES! I still recommend it, especially if you love a good romance. I am actually really interested in reading some of the authors other works as I did enjoy it overall.”
The vase received a place of honor above the fireplace while the open chocolate box tempted them on the cocktail table. A faint disinfectant scent lingered in the air. Luke always found a faultless house when he visited. It was the perfect backdrop for his prim and proper miss. “Are you a true neat freak, or will stuff drop on my head if I open a closet door? I vote neat freak.”
“We’re simpatico. Guests can eat off your floors.” Tara nestled into the arm Luke draped around her shoulder. “Mmm. I like sitting close to you. How was your day?”
“It’s over. I’d rather discuss us.”
This family has a fixation with that woman. “I’m a free man. I can date whomever I choose.”
“The grapevine says she’ll arrive in St. Louis on Friday. A month earlier than planned. Guess she didn’t accept your answer.”
Luke chuckled. “Now she knows that proposing to a disinterested man has consequences. Besides, holding false expectations is a character flaw I hate.”
“. . . an entertaining read if you enjoy romance. . . . better suited to those who like Insta-love, since that’s basically the premise of the relationship. It’s a Lifetime movie in print.”
Tara joined the line of cars headed from the park. Her haggard brain was ready for a nap. Approximately fifty buses stood between her car and the road home. She drummed her fingers on the steering wheel, instead of succumbing to what she really desired to do. Her mind hankered to blow the horn until reaching Kingshighway. Sort of a celebration cheer and “get out of the way” rant combined in one.
The relaxing evening she imagined with Luke fueled her determination to hurry home. Next on the agenda was a marvelous dinner. The legwork was prepared that morning. She only had to pop the casserole into the oven and prepare a salad.
“The Certain Hope is a story of hope, love and faith. . . . I am giving The Certain Hope five plus stars. I recommend it for readers who love a beautifully, well written and clean stories. I believe it is a must read and I highly recommend it. I would love to read more like this one by EC Jackson in the future.”
While drying dishes, Tara jumped as soap suds hit her face. She spun around when Luke laughed, right before lobbing another soap ball at her. She ducked. Only trickles of water dusted her hair.
Her reflexes immediately kicked in. The water pitcher was in her hand before thinking better of her next move. The shock on Luke’s face stilled her hand. He was soaked. Water slid from his hair, and over his body, until it streamed across the floor.
“Oops! Blame yourself and not me,” she yelled, charging past him.
Love at first sight. It’s every girl’s dream. But Tara Simpkins is finding out it’s not as easy as it seems. Is this truly the man God sent to be her husband, or is she just desperate to escape her loneliness? The recent loss of both parents has left her reeling, and close friends don’t think she’s in any position to make major life decisions. She and her new-found love are convinced they can live happily ever after in the home of their dreams. His family thinks he’s moving way too fast and might disappoint the kind-hearted woman he’s fallen head over heels for. And then there’s Leah. Leah is supposed to be part of his past, but what if she decides she’s his future? Tara’s match made in Heaven may be over before it truly begins.
Other Books in the Series
About the Author
…Pajama Party is adapted from a play I wrote many years ago. I hope you enjoy the peek inside the lives of nine girls who stole my heart. My prayer is that they steal your heart as well.
— E. C.
“…the concept was great. What if we all had taken the initiative and time to evaluate our friendships and had the courage to change them for the better when we were young? . . . When the story is over, readers of all ages will be challenged to examine friendships and determine whether they are uplifting or harmful.”
“Real issues are discussed and dealt with, but all is done within the context of the Bible and a Christian worldview. For that fact alone, I am eternally grateful. . . . this is a book that would definitely appeal to teenage girls, especially those from around 13-16. . . . the most important thing about the book is its message which came across quite clearly.”
Karen left the room and plodded up the stairs. She stopped outside her parents’ bedroom at the far end of the hall. Quickly knocking on the double door, she entered the room without an invitation.
“I’m home, Mom. Diane is changing clothes in the guest bedroom.”
Annette Duncan replaced the telephone receiver on the hook before looking up. “Good. I just talked to your grandmother. She sends her love and good wishes for your party tonight.”
Her friend leaned against her. “You know that Lisa constantly picks on me. Tonight, I’ll be stuck in this room while everyone laughs at her jokes. I think about her insults long after they stop.”
“That won’t happen this time. Lisa’s already promised to behave herself tonight.”
Surprise sprang into Diane’s eyes as she pulled away from Karen. “Oh no!” She moved across the room until she stood inside the doorway. “Why did you discuss me with Lisa? Everyone will think I cry to you for help.”
Speechless, Karen searched for the right words. She’d never seen Diane upset before. Was telling Lisa to behave herself the wrong thing to do? I was trying to make it go easier for Diane…
“If you have a teenage girl, this book would be a great read for her. Though it’s a great read for any age, teenage girls will be able to relate to what is going on with this crowd! The book is fun, entertaining, and just what you think it would be with this many girls in one house together! The characters are realistic, I felt as though I was in that house with them! I want to encourage you to check out this book for yourself, as well as any teenage girl you may know.”
Oh well. Too late to tune out now. I might as well listen. Karen watched the girls lug their sleepover gear to the steps. For once, their nonstop chatter had been abandoned. But having their hands filled with stuff failed to explain their subdued behavior. Unless …
Joann broke the silence after she reached the steps. The five-six, raven-haired, blue-eyed beauty towered over the other girls. “I don’t see Angela’s or Linda’s cars. Good. I’m glad we’re the first ones here.”
“Too bad, we’re not. Diane Meredith went home with Karen after school today,” said Lisa.
Her pouty speech concerned Karen. She pressed her forehead onto the glass as she remembered her promise to Diane. Lisa was still upset about seeing Diane and Karen walking home together after school. She acted awful whenever she became angry.
“Within the first couple chapters, I was hooked. I found this quick story to be inspiring with an element of faith, hope and the power of forgiveness. . . . I recommend it, especially for preteen and young teenage readers. They would definitely relate with the characters and what they are going through. Many readers would learn some very important lessons.”
“I didn’t know that. At first, Karen seemed snooty when I met her. She’s cool. But her friends act weird. Today they were complaining because she only invited three of them tonight. Why did she include you and me but leave them out? Have they always been buddies?”
“Of the girls invited, four of us started kindergarten together. Angela was in second grade. Joann, Kathy, and Diane came to Jefferson Middle in sixth grade. The rest of the group came in seventh grade. Why are you frowning?”
“It’s because you all grew up together but barely talk to each other. I’ve only seen Diane with Karen. Their group is hard to figure out. I used to think they hated each other until I saw them away from school. I’ve spotted them around town, but Karen is never with them.”
“Well, you know how Lisa and Diane react to each other, but Lisa’s argument with Evette surprised me. I know,” she said when Sandy did a double take. “The entire scene was unbelievable to watch. There’s more to Evette than we suspected.”
Angela raised her eyebrows. “Did Evette and Lisa argue about something specific? What set it off?”
“I told you she was a paradox.” Karen looked at her as if that comment answered the question.
“Yeah, I had to look up the word to refresh my memory. It isn’t a word that I use every day. I don’t see how the definition fits Evette.”
In your new book; PAJAMA PARTY: THE STORY, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
With a guest list certain to create conflicts and plenty of drama, the pajama party served a higher purpose than the hostess ever imagined. All Karen wanted was an opportunity to live the life she had enjoyed before seventh grade. Was it an achievable ambition? Maybe. That was the year she abandoned many true friends for some artificial ones. She’s now older and wiser, but she also has a new host of problems she’d never imagined.
Eight other girls embark on the same roller-coaster ride. From the time of their arrival, preconceived notions, false assumptions, selfishness, and self-doubt surface with each interaction. Do the girls know one another as well as each one believes? Or will they learn secrets and uncover unknown truths, even about themselves?
The stakes are high as the teens face a variety of challenges throughout the night.
Although it was freezing outside, Karen wanted to move the conversation onto the front porch. She hated that the girls were huddled in the foyer. Her mother and sister sat on the top step. They’d listened to every word so far. Annette stared at her. She probably thought about what had happened to Karen last May.
Stop worrying about me, Mom. I’m fine. That will never happen to me again.
Most sleepovers are simple. Food, fun, and pillow fights. But sixteen-year-old Karen Duncan has bigger plans for her slumber party. Family troubles have changed her over the past year, and she’s no longer the petty, selfish girl she used to be. Now she’s ready to shake things up with her friends. The guest list comes as a surprise to some and a slap in the face to others. This popular girl has invited some not-so-popular guests. Even more shocking, she’s left out some of the girls she’s hung out with since middle school.
Diane and Evette are outsiders, nervous about being stuck in a house with the same girls who tease them at school. Kathy, Lisa, and Joann come to the party with the confidence of the in-crowd, but they’re masking inner-turmoil that is bound to surface. Sandy and Angela are usually the voices of reason…usually. And then there’s Linda, the friend that got away. She may not ever forgive the girls who abandoned her years ago. Karen hopes to change her mind.
Her agenda is ambitious, and it could spell disaster. But Karen is convinced God will use this party to spark a new beginning for everyone involved. This companion book to A Living Hope gives us the inspired story Sadie Cummings wrote for the girls of Shiatown.
About the Author