by Ellen Gable


1896, Philadelphia In 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 century At 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.
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EXCERPT I 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, 1896                     This    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?                              
REVIEWS Critical 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 Footprints This 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 "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 "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"  
Religious Drama