Author: Stephany Tullis
Genre: Inspirational Fiction
CAN KEVIN AND DEE'S MARRIAGE SURVIVE THE LOSS OF ONE OF GOD'S GREATEST GIFTS? When stunning Deidre Torres, the new HR Director, introduces herself to Kevin O'Connor at an Executive staff meeting, Kevin's heart forewarns danger. When he invites her to have coffee with him the next day, she hesitates but accepts. The following week, she flatly refuses his dinner invitation citing company policies that prohibit co-worker dating. After six months of Kevin's non-stop persistence, Deidre risks her job and agrees to have dinner.
Deidre and Kevin follow their hearts despite the objections and advice of well-meaning family and friends who advise of the complexities of interracial dating. In a fairy tale-like wedding, they vow to each other and before the many doubting wedding guests that nothing will ever separate them. Six years later, they not only violate their vows but for the first time question the depth of their love for each other. Previously unknown racial stereotypes, beliefs and differences threaten to destroy their marriage when their three-year-old son is killed by a stray bullet at a local community event. Will Kevin's hatred of his son's killer unmask feelings he never knew he had? Can their marriage tolerate the escalating inter-family turmoil?
Life had been perfect or, so she thought until she met Kevin. After a few first false starts, she opted to go with the flow. She was cautious for more than one reason. She hadn't dated a lot in college. She was too focused on her education and activities to get caught up in any serious relationships. Besides, she and her friends participated in group events—male and female. This made it easier to travel and see the world because they shared expenses and she hung with kids who liked the same things that she liked. As a graduation gift to themselves—her tribe as they called themselves-- toured Europe.
Despite the old childhood chant sung by her and her preteen friends, “First comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes Dee Dee with the baby carriage”, she'd never thought of herself as a mother. As their relationship developed, Kevin excitedly raised the idea of having three or four children—three boys and one girl, his ideal family—she inwardly cringed. At times, she still had nightmares about her childhood. She was embarrassed to share her horrendous childhood with Kevin because his life seemed so perfect. His parents were still married. Hers were semi-divorced. He had two sisters and a brother. She and her brother Harrison rarely spoke.
Growing up, she didn't understand her mother's tirades. After her mother’s scream-and-shout attacks, her father would usually invite her to take a walk, and he'd share with her his dreams for her future. The limited nurturing, she received came from him, and, ironically, none from her mother.
She decided in her mid-teens, unlike her friends, that she might remain single. She dated a few guys in college, but they all seemed shallow and focused on their goals with little thought of her—making it clear that it was her appearance that drew them to her and not her personality or interests.
Kevin was different. Yes, he was handsome, and from the beginning, he made it quite clear that he thought she was beautiful. Unlike the others, he exhibited a caring perseverance that caused her over time to second guess her initial rejection of his interest. He responded to her repeated refusals to join him for morning coffee at break time by dropping off a fresh cup of coffee, yogurt, and a blueberry muffin when he returned from his solo walk around the corner from the office to the coffee shop.
Despite her sometimes-snippy remarks that she was truly not interested—that he was not her type—he’d smile and nod, drop off her daily breakfast, and stop by her office at the end of each workday on his way out to wish her a great evening.
When she found herself shopping for a few items to brighten up her suddenly ‘old' office attire, she dismissed her thoughts that Kevin might like the new teal green dress she bought. She questioned the logic behind her purchase when she recalled he'd told her that her favorite sea green blouse made his day.
One of her favorite memories of their unacknowledged but evolving relationship was the morning she found herself humming, “can’t afford to pass it by ... let the slide show begin … hurry, hurry!” Images of the singing group caused her to laugh out loud. On a whim, she tried to imitate the synchronized steps of the old Rhythm and Blues group in their sky-blue tuxedos. Her dance maneuvers came to a grinding halt when she tripped on the scatter rug in her front vestibule. Deciding she'd made the right career choice, she chuckled and checked her makeup, touched up her lip gloss, and smoothed the sides of her hair thankful that she'd opted to pull her shoulder-length curly black hair into a chignon.
When she arrived at her office, Kevin was sitting in the waiting room thumbing through one of the HR magazines giving the impression he had an early morning meeting with her.
His eyes lit as he looked up from the magazine that never had his full attention anyway.
His official sounding cheery “Good morning, Ms. Torres,” concealed the emotions he couldn’t express. The sparkle in his blue eyes messaged his feelings quite clearly.
Dee’s heart received the greeting that her outward appearance had to disregard due to office protocols…
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Father’s Day is the perfect time to read about the power of love, family, forgiveness and the significance of one’s marriage vows. Kevin and Dee commit to each other despite their awareness of the challenges they will face as an interracial couple. Prepared to withstand such challenges and convinced that they have an everlasting love— they never envisioned their first-born son would become the target of an errant bullet. Love Strengthens is the perfect example of ‘What Love Can Do.’
5***** Reader Review: “Love Strengthens is a heartbreaking journey into the life of a family being torn apart at the seams. This is a well written story. The characters are true to life, the story flows, and unfolds, at a realistic pace, and the interpersonal relationships are spot on.
A journey well worth taking…from despair, to indifference, to confusion, and finally to redemption.
This is an inspirational must read!”
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Stephany Tullis is the USA Today and Amazon bestselling author of character-driven edgy inspirational fiction including The Master’s Plan, A Novel, her What Love Can Do, Angelica Mason and Chandler County Series. Stephany grew up in upstate New York and fell in love with books on her first trip to the library, influenced by her mother who was an avid reader!
Her motto, 'writing with purpose', reflects her intent to have her stories not only entertain readers but to inspire and uplift their spirits. Her readers write: " As is the norm with this author, she has a firm grasp on human nature and what makes them (people) tick.
Stephany is energized by the sun, thrives on music (all genres) and is inspired by the serenity of the ocean. She loves to travel and summer is her season. Beach-based outdoor music festivals allow her to creatively combine these interests.
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