Sam Gardner never dreamed he would be thanking God for Harmony's self-appointed general of the religious Right, Dale Hinshaw. God does indeed work in mysterious ways.
Amanda Hodge, who has been living with her Uncle Ellis and Aunt Miriam since her parents abandoned her years ago, now faces their return and their desire to be a part of her life again. Dale Hinshaw hovers on the brink of death, in dire need of a heart transplant The whole town is abuzz as the beautiful Deena Morrison marries the town's most eligible bachelor, Dr. Pierce. And in the midst of these triumphs and tragedies, Pastor Sam Gardner helps the people of Harmony negotiate the sometimes rocky road of family life, faith, and forgiveness.
Although Harmony's characters develop and grow with each novel, one thing remains constant -- Philip Gulley's ability to capture both the flavor of small-town America and the paradoxical beauty of our own humanity.
A Monument to Romance
It was the Tuesday after Easter, and Sam and Barbara
Gardner were reclining underneath a palm tree, their eyes
closed, their bodies ghostlike after a long winter.
"This is the life," Sam said, sipping his ginger ale, then sighing
"It's not quite what I had in mind," Barbara said.
"What do you mean, it isn't what you had in mind?"
"When I agreed to be in charge of the church's Easter program
in exchange for your taking me somewhere with palm
trees, I wasn't thinking of the Holidome in Cartersburg."
"You should have been more specific," Sam pointed out.
"We could have at least spent the night."
"Are you crazy? They want eighty dollars a night."
"And you're sure we won't get in trouble for using the pool?"
"Not so long as they don't catch us," Sam said. "Just act like
Barbara sighed."Steve Newman is a podiatrist and has a vacation
condominium in Florida."
"Who's Steve Newman?"
"A guy I dated in college, before I met you. He wanted to
marry me, but I turned him down. Now he owns a chain of
podiatry offices in Ohio and spends the winter in Florida."
"Why didn't you marry him?"
"He gave me the creeps. He kept wanting to touch my feet."
Sam gazed at her feet."I can't fault him.You have lovely feet."
"You think so?" She lifted her feet to inspect them.
"I especially like your thin ankles."
"Oh, Sam, you always know just what to say."
"It's a minister thing. Seventeen years of being diplomatic."
Barbara reclined her lounge chair until it was flat, then turned
to lie on her stomach.
"Would you like me to rub suntan lotion on your back?" Sam
"In case you haven't noticed,we're inside."
"We can pretend, can't we?"
"In that case, sure."
Sam squirted out a gob of lotion in his hand and began rubbing
"Be careful not to get any on my feet," she cautioned."I don't
want the sand to stick to me."
"Now you're catching on."
They sat by the pool another hour, then rose and made their
way to a table to eat lunch. Baloney sandwiches with ketchup,
which Sam had made at home, along with potato chips and
HoHos. Sam went to the vending machine and bought them a
Coke to share.
They lasted another hour before the manager invited them to
"I believe that was a record," Barbara said on the drive home.
"What record is that?"
"The cheapest date ever."
"I thought it was creative," Sam said, slightly hurt.
"Dr. Pierce is taking Deena scuba diving in Belize for their
"I thought you liked our honeymoon."
"Sam, you know I liked it. Cincinnati was nice." She reached
over and took his hand."I just thought when you said you'd take
me somewhere with palm trees, you didn't mean Cartersburg.
Those weren't even real palm trees."
"Speaking of Dr. Pierce and Deena," Sam said, eager to
change the subject, "I had a good premarital counseling session
with them. Did you know his great-grandfather was the Pierce