A Most Precious Gift

Dinah Devereaux, New Orleans-born slave and seamstress, suddenly finds herself relegated to a sweltering kitchen on the Natchez, Mississippi town estate of Riverwood. Having never cooked a day in her life, she is terrified of being found out and banished to the cotton fields as was her mother before her. But when she accidentally burns the freedom papers of Jonathan Mayfield, a handsome free man of color to whom she’s attracted, her fear of the fields becomes secondary.

A gifted cabinetmaker, Jonathan Mayfield’s heart is set on finally becoming a respected businessman by outfitting a bedroom at the palatial Riverwood—until a beautiful new slave girl destroys his proof of freedom and his fragile confidence along with it.

When the mistress of Riverwood orders Dinah to work alongside the sullen Mr. Mayfield, sparks fly putting the two on a collision course. Is their mutual love for God strong enough to overcome deep-seated insecurities and set the couple on a path toward self-acceptance and love for each other? 

In Pursuit of an Emerald

Violette McMillan and Benjamin Catlett are as different as Tuesday and Sunday. An ex-slave washerwoman once an obese contentious manipulator, the now-subdued and lovely Violette seeks God’s redemption by finding a way to employ her gift of numbers to educate her fatherless daughter. But as a destitute black mother in 1869 trying to rear a defiant teenager, Violette desperately needs a better job—with anyone except Benjamin Catlett. 

Benjamin Catlett, a mysterious and handsome entrepreneur from Virginia, needs a bookkeeper, but—as suspicious of her tainted past as she is of his—he wants nothing to do with the Violette he remembers from the slave era. When his business begins to experience the backlash from the Civil War malcontents, he relents and hires her, and a series of heated interactions and revelations surface with a heaping of romance. Will they do further damage to each other, or will the Lord turn brokenness into wholeness for them both? 

Treasured Milestones from a Mississippi Girl’s Dream . . .

Christmas Stories From Mississippi

“They could have had lights this Christmas. She knew they could. The house was almost ready because Mr. Ollie’s handprints (he was the community electrician) were all around the carved-out circles on the unpainted ceiling, circles that were dead center in the tops of all four rooms, letting air in around thick fingers of black wires left hanging abruptly—incompletely. All they needed was juice, as Mama called it. Just a little bit of juice . . . .”

Excerpt from “Christmas Lights,” Christmas Stories from Mississippi, Jacqueline Wheelock, contributor

A Cup of Christmas Cheer

“Doll-Baby. Ordinarily Maureen cringed at the embarrassing little-girl endearment. But recognizing her grandfather’s focused calm as a sign of present danger, she braced herself against the dashboard and prepared to join the parents she’d never known in the sweet bye-and-bye. One eye open and the other squeezed in prayer, Maureen gasped—seconds before Pawpaw Wheeler, his brakes screeching desperation, jerked into the oncoming traffic lane to keep from hitting a stalled pulpwood truck.”

Excerpt from “A Bracelet for Christmas,” A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Jacqueline Wheelock, contributor

A Year in Mississippi

“Few, I think, would argue against the enormous value that integration has offered to people of African descent in the state of Mississippi. But for those of us whose memories are tied to African American schools—memories of football season and Friday morning chapel, homecoming weekends and academic rigor—we often find ourselves in covetous recollection of portions of our past. And for many of us, quiet as it’s kept, those new and often dangerous and divergent paths of the 1960s into a different educational setting didn’t budge our sentiments a whit from the relationships forged and the good times experienced prior to the racial revolution called integration.”

Excerpt from “The Great Magnolia Homecoming,” A Year in Mississippi, Jacqueline Wheelock, contributor

Daily Guideposts 2021

“Recently, a successful friend of mine spoke to me openly, admitting to a lifelong struggle. Multi-gifted, he’s nonetheless plagued with never quite feeling on par with his colleagues. The confession stung. Little did he know he was looking into a mirror, for often when God singles me out to complete a task, I quail, balking when my heart longs to embrace the call. ‘Who, me?’ I ask. Who am I to tackle this pharaoh?”

Excerpt from Daily Guideposts, 2021, Jacqueline Wheelock, contributor

A Most Precious Gift

“Jacqueline Wheelock’s novel, A Most Precious Gift, lives up to its name. it’s a gift to every reader. Reminiscent of the downstairs lives in Upstairs, Downstairs, it brings fresh perspective to the lives of slaves in a pre-Civil War southern town mansion. A love story written with rare perception, it reveals the plight of a beautiful slave girl, Dinah, who struggles to live free, love, and marry the man of her choice. With energy and a fierce devotion to her Christian faith, she fights for the right of self-determination. And like many of us, she does so amidst her own negative thoughts shouting, “you’re not good enough.”

— Judy H. Tucker, Editor/writer, Coming Home to Mississippi,
University Press of Mississippi, 2013

A Most Precious Gift

"If you love Downton Abbey, youmust read A Most Precious Giftby Jacqueline Wheelock. Her novel carries you along on a current as swift as the Mississippi River. Lyrical, dignified and uplifting, Mrs. Wheelock’s book is an unflinching glimpse of slavery in the Old Southfrom the slaves’ points of view."

—Diane Ashley, best-selling author of nine novels and two novellas and winner of Carol Award, 2012. www.dianeashleybooks.com.

A Most Precious Gift

"Jacqueline Wheelock will draw you into A Most Precious Gift with her wonderful characterization, her attention to detail and her historical setting. You’ll feel as though you are right there in Natchez with Dinah and Jonathan as they fight their own personal battles to realize what the Lord has in store for them. This is a story you won’t want to put down—and you will always remember."

—Janet Lee Barton, author, CBA and EPCA bestseller and a Romantic Timestop-pick author for Love Inspired Historical, 2014

A Most Precious Gift

"Author Jacqueline Freeman Wheelock has penned an engaging story in A Most Precious Gift, giving the reader an authentic look at the “downstairs” life in a Natchez plantation of the antebellum South. While the romance of Jonathan and Dinah captures the heart, the worth of this exceptional prose is in the deftly interwoven message of what true freedom really is. The title of this debut refers to this freedom, but the most precious gift is this amazing novel and what it leaves lingering in the heart of anyone fortunate enough to read its words."

—Aaron McCarver, CBA and ECPA best-selling author and Carol award winning author

The Journey Continues…

My passion has been to reimagine the mind of fictional antebellum slaves by moving them from the limitation of exceptional strength in body only to the full humanness of mind and soul—to treat them as the thinking, spiritual beings they were born to be by exploring, along with other human issues, how and why so many of them became Christians.

My journey as a writer includes “Christmas Lights” in Christmas Stories From Mississippi; two novels: A Most Precious Gift, listed among Amazon’s 100 bestsellers in Black & African American Historical and Christian Fiction works for weeks, and In Search of an Emerald; and a number of devotionals in Daily Guideposts beginning in 2019 and contracted through 2023.

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), my awards include the Zora Neale Hurston-Bessie Head Fiction Award from the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers’ Conference in 2000 and honorable mention for “Alaska, By and By” in the William Faulkner Awards for Short Fiction in New Albany, Mississippi. Among the many loves of my life are my husband Donald, my son and daughter and their spouses and daughters, the ocean, and God’s beautiful blooms—both flowers and people. Finally, my wildly-assorted interests range from mediocrity as a student of crochet to a connoisseur of seafood gumbo.