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Courting Miss Adelaide (The Courting Series, Book 1) (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #16) Mass Market Paperback – September 9, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Noblesville, Indiana, spring of 1897

Adelaide Crum stepped to the open door and peered into the judge's chambers. Her heart hammered beneath her corset. Now that the moment she'd waited for had arrived, her courage faltered. She considered turning tail and scurrying home. But then she remembered the quiet, the emptiness of those rooms. She closed her eyes and sent up a simple prayer. I don't ask often, Lord, but I'm asking today. Please, let them say yes.

Squaring her shoulders, she crossed the room, then sat on one of the two chairs and faced the four men who held her future in their hands. To fill the vacant chair with something, she laid her purse on the seat, a seat that mocked her singleness.

Mr. Wylie, a large man who owned a farm north of town, folded his sausagelike fingers on the table. "I've dropped my wife off in front of your shop more times than I can count, Miss Crum." He chuckled. "Usually costs me, too."

She smiled a thank-you for his business.

Beside the farmer sat Mr. Sparks, the town banker. The little tufts of hair fringing his bald head reminded Adelaide of a horned owl. "Perhaps you'd better tell us why you've come, Miss Crum. Do you have recommendations for this committee?"

"I've come for myself." Adelaide laid a calming hand on her midriff to offset the growing urge to deposit her breakfast on the table in front of her. "To ask for a child."

Mr. Paul's nostrils flared, giving him an air of disdain, not a cordial expression for an elder at her church and the town's Superintendent of Schools. "For yourself? You're a single woman, are you not?"

"Yes, but—"

"I hope you can appreciate how unfair it would be to place a child in your home, where, if something happened to you, the youngster would be homeless."

"I'm in excellent health, Mr. Paul." She'd take this opening to plead her case. "I have sufficient funds to meet a child's needs. And a skill to teach, enabling a girl to make her own way. When I pass on, I'd leave her my worldly assets."

She took a deep breath, pulling into her lungs the overpowering scent of Mr. Paul's spicy cologne. "I'll see she's educated and brought up in the church. I've lived in Noblesville all my life. You remember seeing me in Sunday school, Mr. Paul. Mr. Sparks, I bank with you. Numerous people in town can vouch for my character." She'd rehearsed the words countless times and they tumbled out in a rush.

One man remained silent. Charles Graves. Her gaze darted to the new editor of The Noblesville Ledger, whosat at thefar right of the table. Rumor had it he was single. Mr. Graves's generous mouth softened the square line of his jaw. Deep grooves marred his forehead, an indication, perhaps, that a newsman's life wasn't easy. And yet the cleft in the middle of his chin gave him a vulnerable air. Undeniably handsome, broad-shouldered and tall, he overshadowed the other men in the room.

He stared as if scanning the core of her, possibly looking for a flaw that would declare her unfit to rear a child. Their gazes locked and the intensity of his inspection sent a shiver down Adelaide's spine.

Mr. Paul rose and came around the table. "Miss Crum, I believe your character to be without blemish. I'm sure you can do all you say. However, the fact remains you're a maiden lady with no experience dealing with children."

"We have childless couples begging for a baby," Mr. Wylie added. "Couples, with acres of ground and not enough hands to till it, seeking boys. We have tried-and-true parents who've shown their abilities by rearing their own children."

Heat climbed Adelaide's neck. Fiddlesticks! If I'd had the good fortune to be a tried-and-true parent, I wouldn't be here.

How frustrating to have men make all the decisions, as they always had in Noblesville. She might be single, but that didn't mean she couldn't bring up a child. She had the capacity, the intelligence, to sit on a committee like this one, to help make important decisions. Why couldn't men see women had a unique perspective with value, married or not?

"Gentlemen, I've proven my abilities by running a successful business while I tended to my sick mother. I can rear a child and do it well."

Her gaze collided with the editor's. Did she see compassion in his warm brown eyes?

Mr. Wylie pointed to the paper in front of him. "We'll only be getting twenty-eight children, mostly boys. We're unable to meet the demand. I hope you understand."

She understood all right. They didn't think she could handle the job. Lord, give me the words to convince them.

"Gentlemen, please hear me out. The fact I'm unmarried will give me more time to devote to a child. I realize boys are needed in the fields. My desire to rear a girl won't interfere with that." She bit her lower lip. "I'd be a good mother, if you'd give me a chance."

Arms folded across his chest, Mr. Paul leaned toward her. "The Children'sAid Society does not seek single parents, except in the rarest of cases. If we weren't overrun with applicants, perhaps we might consider your marital status more leniently."

She searched their faces for help. Mr. Paul's features appeared carved in granite. Mr. Sparks fidgeted in his chair. Mr. Wylie gave her a kind look, but showed no sign of intervening.

Mr. Graves wore a slight frown. He cleared his throat. "Miss Crum made some valid points about her suitability. Any chance, gentlemen, of stretching the rules?"

Adelaide held her breath. Oh, please, God, change their minds.

Mr. Paul tapped the edges of the paperwork in his hand. "Charles, we aren't here to make history. Just to make certain these children have good homes. Besides, placing a child in a fatherless home is unscriptural."

Mr. Graves arched a brow. "Would that be Third Timothy Four?"

Adelaide knew her Bible. There was no Third Timothy. Surprised at the jab and pleased he knew the Scriptures, she smiled at the editor. He winked. Warmth spread through Adelaide like honey on a hot biscuit. Could this handsome, successful man be on her side?

Mr. Paul harrumphed. "Perhaps you find that funny, Mr. Graves, but I do not. The Bible makes it clear the man is the head of the family. It isn't right to put a child into a home with no paternal guidance."

Adelaide tightened her hands into fists. Mr. Paul's fifteen-yearold son Jacob perpetually terrorized the town. A few months ago, she'd had to report him to the sheriff after she'd caught him setting fire to Mr. Hudson's shed. The boy had run off and thankfully, she'd been able to douse the flames. Yet, Mr. Paul had the gall to preach paternal guidance. "I had no father growing up. I'm no worse for it."

Mr. Paul leaned forward and patted her shoulder. "I didn't mean to insult you. There are circumstances over which we have no control, but that's not the case here."

Adelaide glanced at Mr. Graves. His gaze had narrowed but he said nothing. What had she expected? He didn't know her. None of them really did. They saw a spinster—nothing more.

"I'm sorry we can't help you." Mr. Wylie stood and walked toward the door.

She wanted to scream, but that would only prove her to be a hysterical female unfit to rear a child. She hated being powerless. Hated being at their mercy. Hated being unable to change a thing.

Adelaide grabbed her purse and rose. At the door, she looked back one last time, searching for some sign of softening on their faces, but no miracle came. Tears stung her eyes, but no matter what, she would not let them see her cry.

Mr. Wylie opened the door. "I'm sorry," he murmured again.

Unable to speak, she nodded an acknowledgment. Head high, she strode through the door into the waiting area, past her staring neighbors, and into the courthouse corridor, holding herself together with the strength of a well-honed will.

Every step pounded in her head, reiterating again and again and again. I failed. I failed. I failed.

In the hallway, she sidestepped a couple blocking her path.

"Please, Ed, we can't replace our boy. I'd like a girl—"

"A boy is what we agreed on," the man snapped. "I'm trying to put this family back together, and all you do is whine."

The woman's gaze darted to Adelaide, and then dropped to the floor. Frances. Before Adelaide could greet her, Frances followed her husband to the door. Ed turned to open it, giving Adelaide a glimpse of his face. Anger blazed in his eyes. Then, like a shade dropping over a window, he controlled his expression, leaving his countenance smooth and pleasant.

"Miss Crum," he said, giving her a friendly nod.

Adelaide couldn't believe this irate man could be the same person who'd picked her up after a childhood tumble and declared she'd be fine. All these years later, she still remembered his kindness, the gentle way he'd cleaned her scrapes with the red bandanna he'd dampened at a nearby pump.

Losing their son must have changed him. Whatever the cause, if Ed carried that much anger, the Drummonds shouldn't be considered for a child. But they probably would be, since marriage seemed to be the committee's only condition.

The pain of the rejection tore through her. Adelaide bolted for the entrance. She shoved open the heavy door, gulping in air. As she started down the steps, low-slung clouds released their moisture, spattering her face as if nature shed the tears she would not weep. Lightning zigzagged overhead and thunder rumbled, then the sky burst under the weight of its watery load.

In the deluge, her sodden garments grew heavy, but didn't slow her progress. With both hands, she hiked her skirts and hustled across the street. As she trudged to the back of her shop, closed for this momentous day, the mud grabbed at her shoes. Her shoulders heaving with exertion, she pried the dirty shoes from her feet and dropped them outside the door, indifferent she'd ruined their fine leather. Then climbed the stairs to her quarters above the shop.

She removed her soggy skirt, and then wilted onto the bed, dropping her hat on the floor. A curtain of rain veiled the window, darkening the room. Her mother's words echoed in ...


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Steeple Hill; 1st edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373827962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373827961
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,076,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Palmer on July 18, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Adelaide Crum and Charles Graves makes an interesting pair in this story. Adelaide is a true lady who owns a hat shop and believes in equality among the sexes in a way that doesn't go against the Bible. She is a single woman at spinster age and wants to adopt a little girl from the orphans coming in on the train. She's turned down because she's a single woman. Charles is a newspaper writer and has lived a bitter life. His late father used to beat him and he stopped believing he had any use for God or love a long time ago.

The two come together on several circumstances. Adelaide is convinced two children are placed in an abusive home, she's left part of the paper and nobody knows why, and she likes to do things her own way. But no matter what her faults are, Charles can't help falling in love with her!

The story kept me interested. I knew where the story would end up, but still enjoyed getting there...
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Spinster Adelaide Crum longs to have a child, and to provide a loving home (something she never had). The plan is to adopt one from the orphan train. But the men on the placement committee refuse to give a child to a woman alone. Then she finds one man on the committee who might just sympathize with her. Charles Graves.

Charles has bitter memories of his past and refuses to fall for Adelaide. But as the two of them fight for what's right, can they overcome their pasts and maybe find love in the process?

An excellent book! I loved the story, and I still hear Adelaide's voice in my head (the sign of a great story, in my opinion)! You won't want to miss this debut novel from Janet Dean. I look forward to future books by this author.
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I read this amazing story when it was first published. I just finished reading it a second time, and I am so glad I did. Miss Adelaide had so much love to give, but since she was single she was denied the chance to adopt two children who arrived in town on the orphan train. This novel brought me to tears - tears of sorrow and tears of joy. I recommend this novel to anyone who wants a story that will stir your emotions and leave you smiling as you come to the end - unless you are sad because you didn't want the story to end.
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I really liked this book because in addition to being a strong Christian woman, Miss Adelaide, was also ahead of her time. As a single woman, she wanted to raise a child, on her own. She owned her own business and she wrote articles for the local newspaper on the suffrage movement.

In addition to all that, she had a healthy respect for God and didn't hesitate to speak her mind.

A truly delightful story, with a dash of thriller. You will enjoy this read!
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Small-town spinster Adelaide has never found a husband but she believes she has a chance to be a mother. She applies to adopt a child off an orphan train. Bitterly disappointed over being rejected, she goes back to her job creating beautiful hats and ponders how to give the love in her heart to a child in need.

Charles has just inherited the newspaper right across the street from Adelaide. All of the stiff-necked men refused to even consider Miss Adelaide's adoption application...except Charles. Then one of the children turns out to need something only Adelaide can offer and Adelaide believes maybe her dream can come true. And the handsome Charles is encouraging her as she works to keep this child she has come to adore. Adelaide hopes that she can adopt a child and maybe even find a husband to love.

But Charles has been burned by love and he's rejected his faith thanks to the hypocrisy of his abusive father. Courting Miss Adelaide is just wonderful. It's funny and poignant and full of love and heartache and charm.

Janet Dean did a terrific job with her debut novel. It rated a 4 ½ stars in Romantic Times magazine and deserved every one of those stars and more.

When you finish this book I promise you will close the pages and start hunting for more from Dean. Which will be coming soon.
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Kindle is cheaper than shipping cost. Regardless of ebook, LgPrint, or softcover, this is a first book by advancing author Janet Dean that needs read. It is her debut novel, but reads like a seasoned author's book. It's not just romance, it has suspense and mystery, it has historical content, and it has a Christian lifestyle emphasis. Now that you're warned that this book is a mix of genre and is openly Christian, if you're still reading... get this book.

Two protagonists, a news editor and a women's shop owner, will collide in spirit and...being romantically inclined...become somewhat predictable in the love outcome...but hold on to your 1897 fruit-and-birdnest-decorated-hat. The single gal wants to adopt all by herself when a train of NYC orphans come to town for distribution (orphans historically correct). Conflict, since it's late 19th century. Then she gets entangled with writing about women's voting rights and...well...conflict. Then the crime spree begins...yes, conflict. It's the journey of these two unlikely love birds that drives the reader to compulsive reading. Even for me, a man.

I enjoyed the central Indiana setting of this book, being Hoosier myself.
I'm late in finding Janet Dean as an author, but there are more of her books now available.
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