By Emilie Richards
Series: Goddesses Anonymous (Book 4)
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: 7/28/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
The deeper the darkness, the brighter the light
For more than a decade minister Analiese Wagner has felt privileged to lead her parishioners along a well-lit path. Her commitment has never been seriously tested until the frigid night she encounters a homeless family huddling in the churchyard. Offering them shelter in a vacant parish house apartment and taking teenage Shiloh Fowler—a girl desperate to rescue her parents—under her wing, she tests the loyalty and faith of her congregation.
Isaiah Colburn, the Catholic priest who was her first mentor and the man she secretly longed for, understands her struggles only too well. At a crossroads, he's suddenly reappeared in her life, torn between his priesthood and his growing desire for a future with Analiese. Divided between love and vows they've taken, both must face the possibilities of living very different lives or continuing to serve their communities.
With a defeated family's trust and her own happiness on the line, Analiese must define for herself where darkness ends and light begins.
About the Author
I was raised in Florida, and after years in Louisiana, Virginia (twice), Pennsylvania and Ohio, I’m now a resident of the Sunshine State again, living on my very own Happiness Key.
My husband and I met at Florida State and went on to marry and become VISTA volunteers in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, an experience that changed us forever. Anxious for a case of real culture shock, we moved to Berkeley, California, where Michael attended seminary and I fell through the looking glass.
In Roanoke, Virginia, my husband’s first church, I pursued a master’s degree in family development at Virginia Tech, and a career in mental health. By the time we were settled in New Orleans, I knew I needed a new profession, one I could pursue during the hours I was not making cupcakes or checking homework. I began writing just to please myself, realized I would be even more pleased if other people read me, and set out to make that happen. Seventy plus novels later, I think I’ve succeeded. Website
A special thank you to Harlequin/Mira and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A long-time devoted fan of Emilie Richards, would not miss one of her thought-provoking books! The Goddesses Anonymous series is no exception, set in the beautiful mountain town of Asheville, NC (where I visit as often as possible, when in NC from Florida).
Having read all the previous books in the series, THE COLOR OF LIGHT, (Goddesses Anonymous #4) is a special beautiful story, featuring my favorite and original Goddess, Reverend Analiese Wagner. Where we get first hand exposure to a female minister’s challenges, and learn of social and economic ills prevalent in our society today. Homeless and abuse.
Goddesses Anonymous Series
A group of women in Asheville, NC band together to find ways to help women who need them.
One Mountain Away, Book #1
Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, Book #2
No River Too Wide, Book #3
At the end of One Mountain Away, the first book of the Goddesses Anonymous series, Charlotte Hale wills her family farm in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina to a group of friends and asks that they use the property and their many talents to help other women.
The friends decide to call themselves the Goddesses Anonymous to honor Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, a powerful figure to Buddhists and Taoists, with many different names and representations in Eastern Asia. Kuan Yin turned back on her journey to heaven when she heard the cries of the suffering on earth and asked to stay and minister to them anonymously until no more suffering remained.
When the series began the minister of the Church of the Covenant in Asheville, Analiese Wagner, was is in her late thirties. As Charlotte’s minister Analiese challenged and supported her, known for speaking her mind. With both beauty and brains, Analiese a successful broadcast journalist, prior to entering the seminary. A surprising choice for the large, traditional Protestant church, this is her first ministry, and she is their first female minister. Unhappily married in her twenties and prior to his death, she was gathering strength to divorce him. She remained single afterward.
Now, in Book #4, her old flame and mentor, Isaiah Colburn is back from the past, and her feelings may be changing, as she longs for a partner and a family, as she is getting older, and at a crossroads in her life. Poor Analiese, gets hit with double barrels, (should say triple), when an array of obstacles blindside her at one time. She is feeling pressure of ministering to a large, active congregation with contentious lay leadership. Exhaustion makes her question her own calling. Also the fact, she is getting older and her biological clock is ticking.
She is also concerned about the issue of the homeless, and while attending a rally, where she is a guest speaker, prior to arriving on stage, she is knocked to the ground. Afterwards she sees a man, who helped her up, who looks like Isaiah, from her past. She would know his eyes anywhere. Where did he disappear to. Is she seeing things?
They have been in love for years, but as a Roman Catholic priest, Isaiah could not act on, or acknowledge his feelings. Then he shows up during one of her sermons. What is he doing here in North Carolina?
Next, Analiese and Ethan Martin discover a homeless family in need of a place to spend the night, she offers them an empty apartment in the church parish house. Thereafter some of the council members feel she overstepped her authority(however, I feel if they elect her for such position, the church should trust her judgement and give her the authority to make those decisions, accordingly). Instead, there were some reactions of church council criticism, so Analiese is under added stress with deadlines and in her heart, torn - she knows the right thing to do is help this family. Now she has a congregation breathing down her neck to get the family out of the apartment into something more permanent. Easier said than done.
Analiese takes the homeless family under her wing, feeling responsible. It is in the middle of winter, the mother is very sick (diabetes), and the family was going to spend the night camped out in the church yard. When an old sexton’s apartment is sitting unused upstairs, only for storage. The family is heartbreaking, as the father lost his job in Ohio, and they moved to SC to live with family as long as possible. Now they have been living on the streets with a daughter (who was in AP class) and a son (who has ADD). They are a nice family, down on their luck. No drugs, alcohol, or abuse, just an ordinary family suffering from misfortune, with poor health care and diet; could happen to anyone. If the church is not there to help, what hope do they have of getting back on their feet in a down job market?
The committee has given her a deadline of two weeks to find them a more permanent place to live, and here they are approaching the Christmas holiday season. She pulls out all the stops and resources, and continues hitting a dead end. First she has to get the kids in school, register them, plus she has to help cleanup the father’s appearance with a haircut and better clothes to interview, get the mother to a doctor, get them proper food, clothes, plus do all this without hurting the man’s or family pride, plus fighting against council members.
She has to call in the Goddesses (Harmony) for assistance with the strong willed daughter, 14 year-old daughter Shiloh (loved her), who is primarily the one holding the family together, by taking her to the consignment shops, and convince her to get back in school, since she has been out so long, with a lot of work to make up. She is at the age with a lot of peer pressure, when other teens make fun of homeless kids with bullying and later other issues she is facing when she gets a part-time job. Now Analiese really feels bad.
Georgia and the other Goddesses are also there to help out when needed. She cannot throw this family out on the street, and in order to get food stamps and other assistance, they need a permanent address. All this plus her sermons to prepare, keeping the council members happy, while taking care of her church duties and other members, and now she has her old love back in town, and her own future to think about.
However, Isaiah may be just what the doctor ordered. He is experiencing some life changing decisions of his own, and using this time in a nearby log cabin to decide on his future, wrestling with the final vows he has not yet taken. In the meantime, he is a God-sent and steps in to help with this family, especially the father and the son with the help they need from a man’s perspective. Is there hope for this couple and their future together? Analiese is tested, throughout the book in many ways.
The author is a pro at this subject matter since she is married to a minister, so sure she could tell some stories. We sometimes forget the challenges facing ministers (male or female), and the novel highlights some of their struggles, of balancing work and personal, and outspoken church members; plus making the right decisions, with an array of opinions from others.
As Emilie mentions in reference in the reader’s guide, 1700 ministers leave the ministry each month! Citing among other problems, exhaustion, depression, and negative impact on family. These are realistic feelings and I have worked in the church for years, starting as early as high school as church secretary, and later held offices, group leaders, teacher, director, committee chair, etc… and was married to a Minster of Music for fifteen years, so understand the politics, and many harsh words while trying to please a large group of people. Can only imagine what a minister experiences, especially female. My heart goes out to them.
So glad Emilie featured this character, as in the previous books, you always wonder how she can be so perfect and everyone has her on a pedestal. She is human, like the rest of the group, and we are able to see a more personal side, which is refreshing.
Fans will enjoy the original Goddesses making appearances or mentions: Georgia, Samantha, Taylor, and Harmony, and baby Charlotte (Lottie Lou) and also the new Goddesses: Christy, and Rilla. I have a feeling after this book, we may see another exceptional homeless young lady, we met here in COLOR OF LIGHT as a potential Goddesses candidate, as she seems to look up to the women, especially Analiese.
"The church is not a work of art. It's difficult and sometimes dirty and disappointing, but a church is about the people we befriend, the love we give, the difference we make. A church is the unflinching light of day and the rainbow-colored light of hope. We need both. The real life of a church is always beyond the walls of its sanctuary"
An inspiring story, and as always, Emile Richards speaks from the heart. A master storyteller, and an author which always leaves you with "food for thought"! Highly recommend this series- Can’t wait for the next.
Thank you ,for tackling the subject of the homeless. As Richards reiterates, "The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that 41% of the homeless population are families, and homelessness disrupts virtually every aspect of family life. Poverty and the lack of affordable housing are prime causes." A wake up call to us all-- to help those in need. We may find ourselves in the same position, one day.
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