Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Say No More is the second book in KR’s Sacramento series. I really enjoyed the first book, so I’m looking forward to this one. Karen Rose is literally the master of romantic suspense. If you haven’t read her yet, I highly suggest that you do.
Say No More by Karen Rose
Series: Sacramento #2
Also in this series: Say You're Sorry (Sacramento, #1)
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Length: 24 hours
Add It: Goodreads
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Mercy Callahan thought she'd escaped the cult decades ago, but its long fingers are reaching out for her again in this electrifying novel in the Sacramento series...
Seventeen years ago. That was the last time Mercy Callahan saw Ephraim Burton, the leader of the twisted Eden cult where she was raised. But even though she escaped the abuse and terror, they continue to haunt her.
When her brother Gideon discovers new evidence of the cult's—and their victims'—whereabouts, Mercy goes to Sacramento to reconnect with him. There, she meets Gideon's closest friend—homicide detective Rafe Sokolov. From Rafe, she receives an offer she never knew she needed: to track down Ephraim and make him pay for everything.
But Ephraim, who had thought Mercy long dead, discovers she is in fact alive and that she is digging around for the cult's secrets. And now he'll do anything to take her back to Eden—dead or alive.
Amos Terrill rubbed his thumb over the lines of the script he’d just carved into the lid of the hope chest. He was almost finished with it, this special project on which he’d been laboring for the past five months, mostly in secret. He’d made countless hope chests, coffee tables, kitchen cabinets, armoires, and jewelry boxes over the thirty years he’d lived in Eden. All of them had been gifts for the membership or items to be sold to bring money into the community coffers.
This was the first time he’d ever made something for himself. Something he didn’t intend to share with anyone.
No one except his Abigail. His heart.
A splinter caught at his thumb and he pulled it out, sucking at the small wound before returning to his task. He could sand the hope chest later. He didn’t have much more time to himself. Everyone knew he stopped working at suppertime, and then people would start dropping by.
Amos, can you fix this? Amos, a minute of your time? Amos, need a pair of strong hands to help with… It didn’t matter what. It was all the same after thirty years.
He picked up the detail blade, his favorite of all of his carving tools. He’d brought it with him to Eden, when he was young and full of hope, ready to change the world.
Now he knew the truth and every day had become a struggle, each harder than the day before.
He had to stay positive. Had to keep smiling. Had to stay patient. Had to nod and pleasantly reply that all was well when he was greeted in passing.
In other words, he had to lie.
He finished carving the last word and took a look at his work. It had become something of a trademark, a personal signature he’d added to all the larger pieces of cabinetry he created.
The words were carved in a scrolling, old‑fashioned script: Surely Goodness And Mercy Shall Follow Me All The Days Of My Life. Psalms 23:6. Anyone in the community would think it simply a beautiful Bible verse, one that matched the song that used to be in his heart.
But it wasn’t. It was a tribute. Penance, even. His way of trying to make it up to a beautiful little girl whom he’d failed. So utterly.
Mercy. He thought of her often, especially after the birth of his Abigail, whose name meant father’s joy. As with most things in his life, Abigail’s birth had been bittersweet, losing her mother just minutes after they’d held their baby for the first time.
He’d thought he’d lose them both. Like he’d lost his first family. Mercy. Gideon. Rhoda. Dammit, Rhoda, I’m so sorry. You tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen.
He hadn’t wanted to listen.
But now he knew the truth and he needed to get Abigail out. To safety. To freedom.
He wouldn’t fail her like he’d failed Mercy, Rhoda, and Gideon.
He picked up the hope chest and turned it over effortlessly, a lifetime of woodworking giving him more strength than most men. He began to carve his true signature into the base of the chest, no larger than a dime. A small olive tree with twelve branches. It was exacting, but, at the same time, something he could do with his eyes closed, he’d done it so many times.
Amos startled, the knife in his hand skipping over the wood, and pain ripped into his finger. “Ugh!” he cried, unable to stifle the sound. “Papa?” Abigail bounded into his workshop, with the same energy with which she tackled everything else in her life. “Tackled” being the operative term. Abigail never walked when she could run, never sat when she could stand. Never whispered. Ever.
His lips curved up into a smile even as he grabbed a clean rag to press to his finger.
“Abi‑girl,” he said with genuine warmth. Abigail was the only one who could summon anything close to happiness for him. She was the only thing that was real and had been for the past six months. Ever since Amos had witnessed Brother Ephraim calmly breaking the necks of Sister Dorcas, her husband, and their sixteen‑year‑old son, three of the dearest people in the world. Amos’s throat burned every time he remembered Brother Ephraim so carelessly tossing their bodies into an unmarked grave.
After which Ephraim had returned to tell the membership that Dorcas and her family had chosen to return to the world after the untimely death of their dear Miriam.
Miriam, who’d walked around with shadows in her eyes. Who, the last time Amos had seen her, had been bruised and bloody and begging to die.
Sister Dorcas had begged Amos for his help. Please help us get her out of here. Please.
Amos had done his best, or he’d thought so at the time, working through the night to fashion a hope chest similar to the one he was now building for Abigail. It wasn’t ornate and hadn’t had a false bottom, but it had been large enough that Miriam had been able to hide inside. Her father and brother had hoisted the hope chest into the bed of Brother DJ’s truck when no one was around to see their muscles strain under the added weight. Miriam was supposed to have climbed from the back of the truck and run for freedom the moment that Brother DJ had slowed enough to make it possible.
But it had all been for naught. Miriam must have been attacked by an animal because her body had been returned to them, too damaged to be identified. And, as punishment for their part in her escape, Sister Dorcas, Brother Stephen, and their son, Ezra, had been murdered in cold blood.
I failed them, too.
But he would not fail again. He would not fail his Abigail.
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