1896, PhiladelphiaIn this sequel to In Name Only (FQP 2009), A Subtle Grace continues the story of the wealthy and unconventional O’Donovan Family as they approach the dawn of a new centuryAt 19, Kathleen (oldest daughter) is unmarried with no prospects. Fearing the lonely fate of an old maid, her impatience leads to an infatuation with the first man who shows interest. The suave, handsome son of the local police chief seems a perfect match. But will her impulsive manner prevent her from recognizing her true beloved? A disturbing turn of events brings a dark shadow that threatens the life-long happiness she desires.Dr. Luke Peterson (the family’s new physician) also makes quite an impression on Kathleen. His affection for her leads him to startling revelations: about Kathleen, about his practice and, most importantly, about himself.Will (oldest son) believes God may be calling him to a religious vocation. Eventually, he discovers the hidden circumstances of his humble beginnings compelling him to embark on a pilgrimage to Rome.Although A Subtle Grace is the sequel to In Name Only, each book can be read independently of the other.
EXCERPTI witnessed another human being coming into the world.Kathleen tossed back and forth as sleep eluded her. How could she possibly rest after what she had just witnessed? And would she see other births at nursing school?While she looked forward to college, she wished that her non-married state had not necessitated her choosing a college at all. She would have been happy to be married by now, but thus far, no eligible bachelor — at least one with whom Kathleen approved — had shown serious interest. The clock downstairs struck quarter past three. Her younger siblings hadn’t wakened during the night – Mama had kept fairly quiet – but in the morning, her brothers would be excited to discover that they had a new sister.After five brothers, it seemed like having a sister was an impossible dream. For a moment, Kathleen thought of her own vocation, confident that it was marriage and motherhood. At 19, her “coming out” reception last year was a tremendous success. Why, then, was she not married yet? Two of her friends from high school, Margaret and Anne, had already married. Kathleen was beginning to think she might become a spinster or, heaven forbid, an “old maid.” Kathleen turned up the oil lamp, got out of bed and sat at her desk. She reached inside the top drawer for her journal. She picked up the pen, dipped it in ink and began to write in her journal: August 16, 1896This is one of the happiest days of my life! I am officially a big sister...again! Maureen Caroline O’Donovan made her entrance into the world this day, or shall I say, morning, as she was born at two a.m. Besides Mama and Papa, I am the only O’Donovan child who possesses this wonderful information! And even more wonderful: I am to be Maureen’s godmother! I am extremely pleased by this news! Oh, but I forgot to ask who her godfather would be!She picked up a small holy card with a picture of St. Agnes holding a lamb, two doves hovering nearby. St. Agnes, where is my sweetheart? Please send him to me soon!After reading her inspiring story a few years ago, St. Agnes, patron and martyr, had become Kathleen’s favorite saint. In the fourth century, Agnes’ virginity was preserved despite the young saint being stripped naked and taken to a brothel to be violated by a group of men. The saint was saved when most of the men could not go through with the heinous act. The man who wanted her to forcibly marry him was struck blind. She was eventually martyred. Kathleen paged through the earlier entries until she came to January 20th of last year, on the eve of St. Agnes’ Feast Day, where she wrote down a prayer/poem to St. Agnes.January 20th, 1895 Now good St. Agnes, play thy part, And send to me my own sweetheart, And show me such a happy bliss, This night of him to have a kiss. On that January day a year and a half ago, she had recited the prayer, then had finally fallen asleep. Indeed, she had dreamt of a man. His face was blurry like an Impressionist painting, except with less detail. The man leaned in to kiss her, but his lips only gently brushed against hers. Immediately, Kathleen knew that this was her beloved. She couldn’t explain how, but she could tell that his heart was pure and true and good. All of a sudden, the man vanished and in his place was a blue and green hummingbird hovering above her. How would she recognize her sweetheart if she could not see his face?
REVIEWSCritical Reviews and Praise for A Subtle Grace:"Ellen Gable's A Subtle Grace is a masterfully written illustration of the difference between lust and love, between rashness and fortitude, between mere existence and truly living." AnnMarie Creedon, author, Angela's Song"The plot tugs at the heart and gets the heart racing. Reading A Subtle Grace was like riding a Victorian-era wooden roller coaster: a luscious historical setting that provides a tantalizingly dangerous thrill ride." Erin McCole Cupp, author, Don’t You Forget About Me“A Subtle Grace is a compelling read, a great addition to the genre of Catholic fiction.”Patrice Fagnant MacArthur, author, The Catholic Baby Name Book“Fascinating read with meticulous historical detail and great suspense built around true-to-life characters...”Karen Murphy Corr, freelance writer"A Subtle Grace is the sequel to the lovely book In Name Only, yet A Subtle Grace can be enjoyed independently. Of course, readers of the first book won't want to miss this one! The story kept me so interested that I hardly realized this was, in fact, a lengthy book. A Subtle Grace is a novel to stir your heart, your emotions, and your soul. I highly recommend it!"Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author, Frozen FootprintsThis is one of my favorite contemporary works of Catholic fiction. The storytelling is masterful, the characters fascinating, and the writing is of high literary quality. People are imperfect—past, present, and future—but each is given the opportunity to grow, change, learn, and be redeemed. In this story it’s shown how the greatest mistake of our lives can be turned into one of the most amazing blessings and even be a source of hope for others. Life’s messy. People are complex. We’ve all got some skeletons in our closets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t also fit some trophies and triumphs in there as well.A Subtle Grace has all of the elements that good Catholic fiction should.Trisha Niermeyer Potter, Prints of Grace Blog"Do you like historical fiction? Do you like books that are Catholic without, you know, shoving it down your throat? Do you have a few days to spend with Ellen Gable’s latest book? Because, yes, it is the kind of book that will suck you in, hold you captive, and leave you better for having read it. It’s a good story, well told, and I can heartily recommend it."Sarah Reinhard, author, Snoring Scholar.com"In A Subtle Grace, Gable shows us through her characters, what happens when an individual lives his/her life based on principles rather than on passions. She clearly conveys the differences between love as a feeling vs. love as a choice, illustrating the consequences of each. Themes of redemption, forgiveness, discerning one’s vocation, healing, hope, and joy, all contribute to make this a story that tugs at the heart. A sequel to In Name Only, A Subtle Grace works well as an independent, stand-alone novel. You will definitely want to read both. A Subtle Grace is excellent read for historical romance fans. Those who enjoy Christian romance and suspense novels will find this story particularly enjoyable. This is a winner!"Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire"I took this book to the beach and could not put it down....When my vacation ended, I cheered myself up with the fact that at least I could look forward to reading Gable's A Subtle Grace on the plane ride home; it was THAT good! Gable specializes in wholesome, romantic, thrilling, historical, family dramas--all with a Catholic angle. I really enjoyed reading about Catholicism right before the turn of the century, the advent of electric lighting, and the different types of carriages. I won't give away any plot lines or spoilers here, so I'll just say that Gable's characters are compelling, and the reader soon grows to care about the O'Donovan family, anticipating their thoughts and feelings, feeling their sorrows and joys."Nancy Carabio Belanger, author "The Gate""The O'Donovan family is a cast of characters that are totally believe able in their time and setting. Just enough thrill, mystery and horror to keep the story from settling into sweet jell-o. I loved it from beginning to end. Perfectly balanced throughout." Deanna Klingel, author booksbydeanna.com"I'm a fan of Ellen Gable Hrkach's writing. She draws her characters well and has a gift of writing suspense within romance. In this novel we encounter a starry-eyed 19 year old with romantic notions of love who is partially driven by fear of becoming an old maid. Kathleen O'Donovan is too immature to understand the difference between a good-looking package on the outside and what a real man is on the inside, but she soon finds out. Ellen very capably paints a psychopathic personality, violent and driven by lust ....I enjoyed the portrayal of family life in this novel as we learned of the tensions and conflicts everyone under this roof faced quite apart from the central figures of the story. For those who enjoy romance novels, this is a fun and interesting read."Barbara Schoeneberger " blogging barb""A Subtle Grace" is part edge-of-your-seat suspense novel and part heartwarming period romance novel. Gable masterfully mixes the two genres, while infusing the whole work with beautifully explained Catholic theology—but it’s not at all 'in your face'…it’s subtle. This story will subtly get under your skin as you turn the pages. When you come to the end, you will find yourself anxiously awaiting the next book in the O’Donovan Family saga. (Please tell us there’s another one coming, Ellen!) Highly recommended."Laura Pearl, author, "Finding Grace"