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  • Here Burns My Candle
  • Written by Liz Curtis Higgs
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  • Here Burns My Candle
  • Written by Liz Curtis Higgs
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A Novel

Written by Liz Curtis HiggsAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Liz Curtis Higgs



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On Sale: March 16, 2010
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-307-44659-6
Published by : WaterBrook Press WaterBrook Multnomah/Image

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Read by Liz Curtis Higgs
On Sale: March 16, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-71484-8
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Read by Liz Curtis Higgs
On Sale: March 16, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-71485-5
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.
 
Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.

One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Excerpt

One
 
Night’s black mantle covers all alike.
GUILLAUME DE SALLUSTE DU BARTAS
 
Milne Square, Edinburgh
14 September 1745
 
Lady Marjory Kerr heard a frantic tapping at the bedchamber door, then her name, spoken with marked urgency.
 
“News from the Royal Bank, mem.
 
At this hour? Marjory lifted her head from the pillow, her gaze drawn to the wooden shutters, closed for the night. The coals in the fireplace had faded to a dull glow. She squinted but could not read the clock on the mantelpiece. Had she slept at all?
 
“What is it, Peg?” Marjory called out.
 
Her maidservant answered in a breathless rush of words, “They’re moving the bank’s effects to the castle.”
 
The hair on the back of Marjory’s neck rose. Transporting money and documents from the foot of New Bank Close to Edinburgh Castle involved a long climb up a winding street where brigands and thieves lurked in the shadows. The Royal Bank would never embark on so risky a venture. Not unless the day’s alarming reports had proven true.
 
“ ’Tis the Hielanders,” Peg whispered through the crack in the door as if the word itself might bring a hoard of savages thundering up the stair, brandishing their swords. “Folk say the rebel army will reach Linlithgow by morn.”
 
At that, Marjory flung off her bedcovers, any notion of sleep forgotten. Linlithgow Palace was less than twenty miles west. The army was too near her door. And far too near her sons, one of whom stood ready to bear arms at the slightest provocation. Was there nothing she could say to dissuade him?
 
She hurried across the carpet barefooted, too distraught to hunt for her brocade slippers. All of Edinburgh had followed the ominous approach of the Highland rebels led by their bonny Prince Charlie. Determined to reclaim the British throne for his exiled father, James—Jacobus in Latin—the young prince and his loyal Jacobites were marching toward Scotland’s capital, intent on capturing the city.
 
“May it not be so,” Marjory said under her breath, then swept open the bedchamber door to find her maidservant perched on the threshold, her linen cap askew, her brown eyes filled with fear.
 
“What are we to do, Leddy Kerr?”
 
“Bolt the door at once.” Marjory tightened the ribbons on her sleeping jacket, warding off the night air that seeped in, however fast the shutters. Her trembling had nothing to do with the fearsome Highlanders, she told herself. Nae, not for a moment. “Make haste, lass.”
 
She watched Peg scurry through the darkened drawing room into the entrance hall, holding aloft her candle stub, which cast a pale circle of light on her tattered nightgown. Small for her seventeen years, with hair the color of a dull copper ha’penny, Peg Cargill was hardly a beauty. Her eyes were set unbecomingly close together, and her small nose disappeared amid a sea of freckles.
 
By the fire’s glow Marjory caught a glimpse of herself in the silvery looking glass by her side. She quickly turned away but not before her thoughts came round to taunt her. Hardly a beauty. She touched her thinning crown of hair and her sagging chin, then sighed, wishing the glass offered better news. Had it not always been thus?
 
In her youth few gentlemen had taken note of her until they learned she was the daughter of Sir Eldon Nesbitt. Even then their gazes had fallen on her father’s impressive property rather than on her unremarkable face or figure. Time had not improved matters.
 
Peg reappeared, bobbing a curtsy. “ ’Tis done, milady.”
 
Marjory gestured toward the adjoining chambers, where her sons and their wives had retired for the night. “Have you told the others the news?”
 
“Nae.” A faint blush tinted Peg’s cheek. “I heard them…that is…Mr. Kerr…”
 
“See they’re not disturbed,” Marjory said firmly, wanting no details.
 
 “And keep the stair door bolted.” She dismissed the girl with a nod, then locked the chamber door behind her. Let the Highlanders storm the crumbling walls of Edinburgh. They would not gain entrance to the Kerrs’ apartments. Mr. Baillie, the merchant who owned her residence, would see to that.
 
Alone once more Marjory lit a candle at the fireplace, then drew a steadying breath and knelt beside the canopied bed, as if preparing to offer her nightly prayers. Instead, she reached down and loosened one of the boards along the edge of the thick, woven carpet. Her servants, even her family members, believed the Kerr fortune rested safely among the Royal Bank’s effects, now bound for the castle. She alone knew the truth. Lord John Kerr had never trusted banks.
 
The board gave way, revealing a musty repository between the joists. Marjory bent closer, her nose wrinkling at the dank smell, her eyes seeking a cluster of leather purses in the flickering candlelight. There. The mere sight of them put her mind at ease. Nearly two dozen purses lay hidden beneath her chamber floor—a tribute to God’s provision and her late husband’s prudence.
 
She chose the nearest one, taking pleasure in its weight before slowly emptying the purse onto her bedding. One hundred gold guineas poured out, each coin stamped with the profile of her sovereign, King George. Marjory counted the lot, then set aside a few guineas for the coming week’s expenses and returned the bulging purse to its nesting place.
 
Greengrocers and fishmongers expected payment upon purchase. But mantua makers gladly extended credit if the Kerr women might display their gowns at the next public ball. Although a nervous town council might demand its citizens remain withindoors, ending their festive Thursday evenings at Assembly Close…
 
Nae, surely not!
 
Marjory sank onto the edge of her bed with a soft groan. What a dreary social season lay ahead with the rebel army afoot! No weekly visits to Lady Woodhall’s drawing room to share cups of tea and savory tidbits of gossip. No rainy afternoons spent with Lady Falconer, listening to country airs sung by a daughter of the gentry. No rounds of whist in the affable company of Lord Dun. Nothing but royalist dragoons patrolling the High Street, bayonets at the ready.
 
A sharp knock at the adjoining bedchamber door made her jump, nearly spilling the handful of guineas from the bed onto the carpet. “Who is it?” she asked, unhappy with herself for sounding frightened.
 
“Donald,” came the low reply.
 
Lightheaded with relief and grateful for his company, Marjory deposited the money on her dressing table and ushered her older son within, then closed the door as quickly as she’d opened it. With no central hallway in their apartments, each room had adjoining doors, one chamber leading to the next. Even among Edinburgh’s wealthiest residents, privacy was rare.
 
“Forgive the intrusion, Mother.” He looked down at her, candle in hand, his smooth brow gleaming. The cambric loosely tied at his neck could not hide the sharp lines of his collarbones. Ten years of dining on Edinburgh’s finest mutton and beef, and still his frame remained as slender as a youth’s. “ ’Tis late, I know,” he apologized.
 
“The hour matters not.” Marjory touched his cheek affectionately, struck afresh by the family resemblance. Donald had the same long nose Lord John once had, the same thin-lipped smile. “Look how the father’s face lives in his issue,” she quoted, testing him. It was a favorite pastime between mother and son.
 
“Ben Jonson,” he answered, naming the playwright without hesitation.
 
Few gentlemen in Edinburgh were better read than Lord Donald. She’d made certain of it. Heir to the Kerr title and lands, he’d proven himself an attentive son and a faithful husband. If he was not yet a doting father, that was no fault of his.
 
“Still in your boots,” Marjory observed. “I thought you’d be off to bed by now.”
 
The corners of his mouth twitched. “I will be shortly.” He scanned the chamber, his gaze finally landing on the pile of coins glimmering in the candlelight. “Do you think it wise to leave your gold where anyone might find it?”
 
Donald not only looked like his father; he sounded like him. Marjory swept the coins into her silk-fringed reticule and pulled the drawstrings taut. “We have far greater worries this night. The rebel army is nearing Linlithgow.”
 
Aye, Gibson told me.” The stoic Neil Gibson, manservant to the household, took pride in keeping Donald and his younger brother well groomed and well informed. “I’ve come to put your mind at ease, Mother.”
 
“I see.” She chose her next words with care, keeping her tone light. “Does that mean you’ll not be joining the Gentlemen Volunteers?” She watched his blue eyes for a flicker of interest. Hundreds of young men had enlisted in support of the royalist troops, many from Edinburgh’s finest families. Lord willing, her sons would not be numbered among the recruits.
 
“I’ve no such plans,” Donald confessed, “though I cannot speak for Andrew. You know his penchant for flintlock muskets.”
 
She did know, much as it grieved her. Lord John had urged their second son to pursue a career in the military, despite her motherly protests. Pistols, swords, and a dozen French muskets decorated Andrew’s bedchamber walls. Even walking past his many weapons unnerved her. Monsieur Picard, their fencing master, had trained the lads well. But he’d
done so for sport, not for battle.
 
That very afternoon Andrew had observed the Volunteers drilling in the College Yards. Marjory had counted the hours until he returned home for supper, then listened with a heavy heart as he regaled the family with stories of grizzled sergeants marching the lads through their paces. “Have no fear,” Andrew had said soothingly at table. “The Lord Provost took no notice of me, Mother.”
 
She was unconvinced then and even less so now, with his older brother paying a late-night visit. “I have your word?” she prompted Donald. “You’ll not encourage Andrew to take up arms against the Highland rebels?”
 
He brushed aside her concerns. “Whatever you say.”
Donald began circling her chamber, with its oil paintings and Chinese porcelain, its silk bed hangings and red lacquer commode. Piece by piece she’d had her favorite plenishings delivered from Tweedsford, their estate in the Borderland, until their rented Edinburgh rooms were filled to bursting.
 
When Donald paused at one of her windows and unfastened the painted shutter, Marjory’s breath caught. Might a Jacobite spy be abroad at this hour? Pale and fair-haired, Donald would be easily spotted from the High Street below.
 
“No moon in sight,” he observed, resting his forehead lightly on the glass. “No Highlanders either.”
 
“They’ll arrive soon enough.” Marjory extinguished the candle by her bed, shrouding the room in darkness. “Sleep while you can, Donald. And keep that bonny wife of yours close at hand.”
 
“Aye.” The smile in his voice was unmistakable. “So I shall.”
 
He left by way of the drawing room door rather than the one leading to his bedchamber. Bound for the kitchen, no doubt. He’d eaten very little at supper. Mrs. Edgar, their housekeeper, would not let him retire on an empty stomach.
 
Marjory closed the shutters, then returned to bed, determined to sleep however dire the news. Her beloved sons were safe beneath her roof. Nothing else mattered.
Liz Curtis Higgs

About Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs - Here Burns My Candle

In her best-selling series of Bad Girls of the Bible books, workbooks, and videos, Liz breathes new life into ancient tales about the most infamous—and intriguing—women in scriptural history, from Jezebel to Mary Magdalene. Biblically sound and cutting-edge fresh, these popular titles have helped more than one million women around the world experience God’s grace anew.
 
Her best-selling historical novels, which transport the stories of Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Dinah, Ruth, and Naomi to eighteenth-century Scotland, also have invited readers to view these familiar characters in a new light. Now, with The Girl’s Still Got It, Liz offers a twenty-first century take on the book of Ruth, dishing out meat and milk, substance and style, in a highly readable, always entertaining, and deeply personal journey with one of the Good Girls of the Bible.
 
Liz is the author of nearly 30 books, with more than 3 million copies in print. Her popular nonfiction books include Bad Girls of the Bible, Really Bad Girls of the Bible, Unveiling Mary Magdalene, Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, Rise and Shine, and Embrace Grace.

She’s also a best-selling novelist, creating both contemporary and historical fiction, including her latest award-winning novels, Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night. And she’s written five books for young children, including Go Away, Dark Night.
 
Her children’s Parable Series received a 1998 ECPA Gold Medallion for Excellence, her nonfiction book Embrace Grace won a 2007 Retailers Choice Award, and her novel Whence Came a Prince received a 2006 Christy Award for Best Historical Novel. Here Burns My Candle was named 2010 Best Inspirational Romance by Romantic Times Book Reviews, and her 2011 novel, Mine Is the Night, was a New York Times bestseller.
 
Liz was also an award-winning columnist for Today’s Christian Woman for ten years. Additional articles by Liz have appeared in Faith&Friends in Canada, WomanAlive in Great Britain, and Enhance in Australia. And more than 4,500 churches nationwide are using her video Bible study series, Loved by God.

A gifted professional speaker, known by her audiences as An Encourager®, Liz has presented more than 1,600 inspirational programs in all fifty United States and fourteen foreign countries, including Israel, Thailand, Portugal, and Indonesia. When the National Speakers Association honored her with their Council of Peers Award for Excellence, Liz became one of only thirty-five women in the world named to their CPAE-Speaker Hall of Fame. Her alma mater, Bellarmine University, presented her with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005, and she received an Honorary Doctorate from Georgetown College in 2010.

Feature articles about Liz have appeared in more than 250 major newspapers and magazines, as well as on Salon.com, Beliefnet.com, Spirituality.com, HopeforWomenMag.com, Kyria.com, and many other websites. She has been interviewed on more than 600 radio and television stations, including guest appearances on PBS, A&E, MS•NBC, NPR, TBN, CBC Canada, BBC Radio Scotland, Shine TV New Zealand, Radio Pulpit South Africa, Focus on the Family, Life Today, 100 Huntley Street, and Midday Connection on the Moody Network.

On the personal side, Liz is married to Bill Higgs, Ph.D., who serves as Director of Operations for her speaking and writing office. Liz and Bill enjoy their old Kentucky home, a nineteenth-century farmhouse in Louisville, and are the proud (and relieved!) parents of two college grads, Matthew and Lillian. Visit Liz’s Web site: www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.

Praise

Praise

Praise for Here Burns My Candle

“Liz Curtis Higgs has an unmatched ability to illuminate the depth of human emotions while taking her readers on a breathtaking journey through the darkness and light of another time and another place. With the deft hand only a master storyteller can apply, Higgs reaches back to the past and weaves a multi-threaded tapestry into a brilliant tale of betrayal and challenge, love and redemption. Her gift continues to shine.”
—BJ Hoff, author of The Emerald Ballad series

“A wonderful retelling of the story of Ruth by one of my favorite authors. Here Burns My Candle is rich with historic detail and living, breathing characters that engaged me from page one right through to the perfect ending.”
—Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love

“Prepare to burn your own candle well into the night as Higgs treats us to a verra wonderful Scottish tale of faith, forgiveness, love, loss, and secrets. I couldna put it doon!”
—Deeanne Gist, author of A Bride in the Bargain

“Settle in with Here Burns My Candle, Liz Curtis Higgs’s imaginative reworking of the tale of Naomi and Ruth, and venture back to a dangerous and fascinating time with characters who are as endearing as they are flawed. You can almost hear the drums of war and the swish of kilts and satin.”
—Angela Hunt, author of Let Darkness Come

“Higgs’s pen flows with gold when it turns to Scotland. Enticing from gripping first page to satisfying last, Here Burns My Candle will sweep you away!”
—Tamera Alexander, author of Beyond This Moment

“Once again Liz Curtis Higgs pens an exceptional story of intrigue, romance, and spiritual faith. Her attention to historical detail gives this story a life all its own, and the characters were so real I found myself thinking about them throughout the day. I simply could not put this book down.” 
—Tracie Peterson, author of Dawn’s Prelude

“Liz Curtis Higgs writes with a cinematic eye—color, texture, emotional depth. Her words give breath to this fresh twist on a beloved Old Testament story. Here Burns My Candle radiates the author’s love of Scotland and its mesmeric history in this story of women bound by obligation yet tethered to devotion. It will keep you up all night until you’ve turned the last dramatic page!”
—Patricia Hickman, author of The Pirate Queen

“I love a story that engages the heart first, the mind second. While reading Higgs’s novel, I became her noble heroine and was convicted by similarities to her antagonist, learning through it all. Come away to an enchanting glimpse of ancient Scotland and beyond. Truly amazing.
—Lisa Tawn Bergren, author of The Begotten
 
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