God, Send Sunday
Having lost her freeborn parents to a slave stealer at age six, tobacco-plantation fieldhand, Sunday Duval, is forever ruined for the hope of a lasting freedom. Resigned to her young son, July, as her only true happiness, Sunday is dismayed and angered by her husband Noah’s request to join him on the Underground Railroad. But her outraged dismay is only a prelude.
After using deceit to push Noah toward joining the Railroad alone, she finds herself brutally separated from July, locked into an all-male coffle, and bound for the Ohio River and all points South. But what awaits her in Vicksburg, Mississippi, is not only the War Between the States but a shocking revelation from her new master.
Will July and Noah forever be lost to her, or will a war she had never imagined offer her a chance she had labeled impossible?
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?
The Lords of Wensy Wells
Her mother is white. Her father is black. Her faith is dead.
Having escaped to New York City from her white grandfather’s Georgia sea-island cotton plantation, a little slave girl known only as Child is sold back downriver before her sixth birthday to a self-described Christian Mississippi planter named Hanson Wells.
Amidst suppressed memories of her Georgia grandfather-master’s abuse, also in the name of Christianity, she finds herself subjected to a second master’s twelve-year, ill-reasoned experiment to prove her—thus the entire black race—subhuman. But days before her seventeenth birthday, Wensy Wells, formerly Child, discovers the hatred buried within for both her grandfather and Hanson Wells, cementing her long-held belief that no slave in her right mind could ever consider serving the white man’s god.
Hanson Wells, a scheming yet disturbed ex-Pennsylvanian turned wealthy Mississippi planter, has long been in search of a suitable sacrifice in the biblical sense to atone for defying his Quaker father by owning slaves. Irrevocably attached to the greed of the cotton industry, he forces himself to pay an extravagant sum for a black child and sets out to prove, through the best of tutors, that all African descendants are intellectually inferior. But the experiment backfires as young Wensy signals genius and, as she develops into a stunning figure of a woman, his alleged Christian intention to use her as research turns lecherous.
Not until Wensy collides with the inner peace of Justice Hampton, an abducted free man of color, is she forced to consider another view of God, as well as a possible way to escape the “wet stares” of Hanson Wells which have grown increasingly disconcerting over time. But after a lifetime of serving two deranged masters, will she listen to Justice as he tries to convince her that God exists and cares?
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