Bittersweet Memories – First Wildcard Tour

June 5, 2009 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Bittersweet Memories

Heartsong Presents (June 2009)


Cecelia Dowdy is a world traveler who has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. When she first read Christian fiction, she felt called to write for the genre.

She loves to read, write, and bake desserts in her spare time. She also loves spending time with her husband and her young son. Currently she resides with her family in Maryland.

The three books in this series are: John’s Quest(Maryland Wedding Series #1), Milk Money (Maryland Wedding Series #2), and Bittersweet Memories (Maryland Wedding Series #3).

Visit the author’s website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $2.97
Publisher: Heartsong Presents (June 2009)
ISBN: 9781602603547
Binding: Mass Market
Pages: 176 pages


Karen burst through the church doors, tears streaming down her face. “Pastor Smith, I can’t believe Lionel is still missing!”

The reverend and his wife, Candace, pulled the hysterical woman into a hug, patting her back. After they released her, Candace stroked Karen’s hair. “Honey, thanks for coming as soon as we called. The police detective is in the boardroom, waiting to talk to you. Are you sure you’re up for this?”

Karen wiped her eyes, struggling to gather her thoughts as the events from the past couple of weeks played through her mind like a nonstop movie. Her fiancé, Lionel Adams, had been fired as church treasurer after being accused of stealing thousands of dollars from their megachurch. And it was rumored that the assistant treasurer, Michelle James, who had recently resigned, had aided him with the theft.
Like the rest of the congregation, Karen had been shocked when the allegations against Lionel were announced at church two weeks ago. And since Lionel had left town the day before, she hadn’t been able to contact him to find out what was going on.

Karen turned toward Candace, her trembling lips attempting a smile. “I’ll—I’ll do the best I can to—to answer his questions.”

The threesome began walking slowly down the hallway, toward the boardroom. A moment later, the pastor stopped outside a closed door, placing his hand on Karen’s shoulder. “Karen, Michelle is missing also.”

Karen gasped, stepping away from the pastor. “That. . .that can’t be true.”

He nodded. “Unfortunately, it is.” Speaking softly, he said, “The church leadership team is concerned for both her and Lionel’s welfare. We want to find them, but we can’t ignore what’s happened.”

Candace took her hand. “Honey, we have to do all we can to locate them. What if there was foul play involved? Don’t you want to make sure Lionel is safe?”

Tears rushed from Karen’s eyes, and she wiped the moisture away. Her head pounded as she leaned against the cool wall, the contact bringing relief to her heated skin.

“Are you okay?” asked Pastor Smith.

Pulling herself away from the wall, she silently prayed, God, give me strength. “I–I’m okay now.”

The pastor’s kind dark eyes offered comfort. “The detective is in here. We called you to be questioned first since you know Lionel so well.”

Karen glanced at Candace. “Nobody told the congregation exactly how much money Lionel may have stolen. We just know it was thousands of dollars. How much cash was

The woman released Karen’s hand and looked at her husband, frowning. In a calm voice, the pastor paused before speaking. “Fifty thousand dollars.”

Karen’s head started spinning. With a muffled sob, Karen turned away, wiping her eyes. “Lord, please help me deal with this pain.”

“We’ll take this one day at a time,” Candace said. “The Lord will see us through.”
Karen looked back at the closed door, hesitating. “Is it okay if I go to the restroom be–before talking to the detective?”

“Of course,” Candace said with an understanding smile.

Leaving the couple, Karen walked to the bathroom, pushed the door open, and entered the room, desperately seeking a private moment with the Lord. Her heart skipped a beat when Tara Baker, the church secretary, dressed in an immaculate cream-colored suit and sporting stylish hair and polished fingernails, stepped out of the stall. Spotting Karen, her dark eyes widened.

While the secretary wordlessly washed her hands, Karen regarded her own worn jeans and faded T-shirt before touching her hair, which she’d pulled into a ponytail in her
haste to get to the church. She suddenly felt rumpled and dowdy. “I always thought Lionel and Michelle were up to no good,” Tara finally mumbled, drying her hands with a paper towel while glaring at Karen.Karen gritted her teeth, shocked at the rudeness of a woman who’d once flirted with Lionel.“I find it hard to believe that you had no clue what your fiancé was doing behind your back,” Tara said then turned on her heels and strode out of the restroom.

Waves of pain floated through Karen’s head as she struggled to blot out the secretary’s words. Turning her focus to the Lord, she prayed, “God, please help me. Help us to find Lionel and Michelle. And keep them safe. Amen.”

Somewhat soothed, she rejoined the pastor and his wife. Pastor Smith gestured toward the now-open door. “Karen, I’m so sorry about this.”

Karen gave him a halfhearted smile then entered the room, praying for strength. The detective sat in a chair near the front of the room.

The minister spoke, his voice full of kindness, “Detective Ramsey, this is Karen Brown.”

“Good morning, Karen,” greeted the detective.

“Good morning,” Karen mumbled, taking a seat near the detective. She turned to her minister. “Can you stay here with me, Pastor Smith?”

The clergyman touched her arm, gazing at the detective. “Is that okay with you, detective?”

Ramsey shrugged, opening his notebook. “If she wants you to stay, that’s fine.”
Pastor Smith settled into the empty chair beside her.

The investigator asked his first question. “Do you know where Lionel is?”

“I. . .” She paused, chewing on her lower lip. “The day before the church announced he was fired, he told me he was going to go out of town to visit his cousin. I haven’t talked to him since, and th–that was two weeks ago.” She paused, gripping the arms of the chair. “I—I haven’t been able to contact him since he left.” She took a deep breath. “He won’t answer his cell phone. I figured he wanted some time alone and I would see him when he returned for his hearing.”

The detective looked up from the notes he was writing. “Where does his cousin live?”
As Ramsey’s questions went on and on, Karen felt overwhelmed with worry, fatigue, and nausea. Hot tears flowing down her cheeks, she prayed, Lord, will I ever feel normal again?

Her head pounded with pain, and she began rubbing her temples.

Pastor Smith touched her elbow. “Are you all right?”

“My head. . .hurts.”

“Detective, is it okay if we stop the questioning for a few minutes while I get Karen some aspirin?”

“I don’t mind at all,” said Ramsey.

Karen heard Pastor Smith’s retreating footsteps as she closed her eyes and rubbed her aching head. Her pain worsened as she leaned back into the chair. And then the world faded out.

Here are a few reviews from the tour. Be sure to stop by these blogs and leave your own comments:

Sunny Island Breezes Blog

You all know that I’m a fan of Cecelia Dowdy, and this book did not disappoint me. Ms Dowdy has a way of capturing my attention and pulling me in right from the beginning of the book. We all know that being a Christian doesn’t automatically make a person perfect, but we really don’t expect a church treasurer to disappear with a large chunk of the church’s money. Especially when his assistant ends up missing, too.

But this is what Karen’s fiance’ did. This story takes us through the course of Karen’s life as she tries to understand what happened and how she’s going to deal with it. On top of it all, she has to deal with her mother’s plumber, Keith, who’s intersted in getting to know her better.

This is a good story that holds you to the end. It also brings some of her friends from the first two books of this series into the story line. This interaction adds a nice touch. But this isn’t all. There’s a subplot that involves Keith’s brother.

You’ve got me hooked, Ms Dowdy. I’m waiting for Anna’s story now. I see enough characters to keep these Maryland weddings going for awhile.

Jeanie’s Heavenly Treasures Blog:
I so loved this book! This is my first book that I read of Cecelia Dowdy but it sure won’t be my last! I absolutley love how she writes. In Bittersweet Memories she mixes suspense with some romance. So, I think it would appeal to many people looking for a book to read. I found myself not wanting to put the book down. Cecelia made the characters in the story come alive! That to me is a good author and a good read! Thanks Cecelia for writing this book. I look forward to reading all of your books!

Word-Up Studies Blog:
“Bittersweet Memories” by Cecelia Dowdy is the story of Karen Brown, whose fiancé has just abandoned her and run off with another woman and $50000 of their church’s money. Rather than contend with the ugly comments from church staff and members, Karen runs home to Mom in Annapolis to lick her wounds and build a new life. What she finds is her mother’s neighbor, a blunt plumber who already knows Karen’s story. How can she possibly heal, now?

Cecelia Dowdy has a gift for weaving a creative story. Sometimes her dialogue is a bit stiff and too perfect, but the appeal for me is that this story tackles one of the most difficult issues facing the church today – a lack of love for each other! For the most part, the characters are likeable, although I found Karen to be a bit childish and obnoxious in the beginning. Still this is an enjoyable read that will hopefully get people thinking about how they are showing their own love for their church family.

SAGA Blog:
This is a nice sweet love story. Girl’s heart is broken, tries to escape by leaving town, meets new guy (but won’t admit she’s falling for him), obstacles in the way and a resolution of them living happily ever after. Sometimes I just really enjoy a happy story with a happy ending with no big surprises.

From Aus Jenny’s Blog:
I thought this was the best book so far by Cecelia, I enjoyed all the books so far with this being no exception. I like the way that both Karen and Keith both have issues to deal with and Cecelia didn’t give them the easy option to fix the issues. It was good to watching this story unfold. I really hope there will be another book in this series as there is room for a follow up to answer some questions particularly about a couple of charactors. Even if you haven’t read the first 2 you would be able to follow this story. 5 out of 5 for this book.

From Books Hidden Corner Blog:
This book had such a lovely story with such a cute romance between the two main characters and I really enjoyed the story line…It was an extremely alluring plot and I really wanted to find out how love would bloom between the couple. I haven’t read the other two books in this series, but I’m sure that they are just as sweet!

From Mari’s Morning Room Blog:
I enjoyed this book. I’ve said before I’m not big on romance novels but I might get converted LOL.

I enjoyed the way the relationship between Karen and Keith developed slowly and even to her surprise. I really connected on the scenes with the teen ministry at the church, since that is a ministry I find important and significant. Even though there wasn’t a lot of character development with the teens, Cecelia did give you a deeper glimpse into a couple of the characters, which was nice.

I will say that early on, I could tell which phrases were some of her favorites because they tended to cluster together over a couple of chapters. That happened a bit early on and then I didn’t see it so much anymore.

I also loved how the Christian message was woven in without beating you over the head or smacking you in the face. It was great that everything was not tied up with a neat little bow at the end of the book, because that’s more realistic. Things aren’t always neatly worked out like I see in some Christian books and movies.

I definitely recommend this book. I plan to go back and read some of her other titles.

From Ramblings ‘N Writings Blog:
…I enjoyed the storyline of Bittersweet Memories, a romance with a tiny bit of suspense thrown in (what happens to Karen’s fiance’)….With that being said, Bittersweet Memories is a wholesome read filled with reminders of how we are to manage confrontations and problems as Christians. It is also a suitable for teenage girls seeking to know more about how relationships work.

Martha’s Homeschooling Blog – (see June 6 entry):
I enjoyed this little story, i felt like it had great elements and is was well written. It is a wonderful story for these net summer days when you need something light to read!

From En Route To Life Blog:
Bittersweet Memories takes us on a journey of overcoming pain and taking a chance again on trust. …I enjoyed every little bit of detail in Cecelia’s book. Each character was so clearly written. Kevin was THE type of man I hope every Christian woman finds, but he is not without his own sorrows and worries. I loved that Karen began to work with the youth group….Other things that worked for me was the pace of the romance between Keith and Karen….It isn’t surprising to find oneself attracted to someone even when you have been hurt by the opposite sex.

As a side note…I was thoroughly mesmorized by the yummy food descriptions. It took a lot to not raid my fridge after reading about some of these sumptuous meals. This may be a little thing to you, but ohhhhh yeah! Loved it.

All in all, I really enjoyed Bittersweet Memories. This is the first book that I have read by Cecelia Dowdy, and like they say, “It will not be my last.”

3 Responses to Bittersweet Memories – First Wildcard Tour

  1. Wendy says:

    Congrats on all your wonderful reviews!

  2. Wow, this book is really a winner! If you haven’t read it yet, then you should go out and purchase a copy!

  3. Kandy Kane says:

    I just logged onto my computer to enjoy some internet time while I sip a nice glass of French wine! I was pleased to see all these great reviews!! This book is definitely a keeper!

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