REVIEWSCritical Reviews and Praise for ‘A World Such as Heaven Intended’:“Amanda Lauer brings history to life in this fast-paced, emotionally charged, splendid tale. Extremely enjoyable.” May McGoldrick, author“The South of 1864 springs to life in A World Such as Heaven Intended. Rich in details of language, setting and social mores, Lauer takes readers on the journey of her protagonist, Amara McKirnan, a strong woman ahead of her time who wrestles with her blended family and the horrors of the Civil War to find the peace and happiness she is convinced awaits her.”Marni Graff, author, The Nora Tierney Mysteries“A World Such as Heaven Intended is a fast-moving historical romance which will keep you turning pages until the very end! An excellent read.”Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, Author, The Catholic Baby Name Book"A charming romance with well-drawn characters and clear imagery, offering the reader a chance to slip away to another era and come home refreshed."A.K. Frailey, Author, The Deliverance Trilogy
EXCERPTMay 30, 1864Atlanta, GeorgiaShe was ill-prepared for the sight her eyes beheld as she stood in the entryway to the sizeable room. Cots filled nearly every square inch of the space that had once been a grand ballroom. Scanning the area from end to end, the surreal fog she had been living in for the last three years was whisked away like a sheer curtain being torn from a window. The godforsaken men lying upon makeshift beds became very real to her—no longer just souls spoken of discreetly behind fans held in the fingertips of Atlanta’s ladies of good quality. Amara had been in this room many times before but under far different circumstances. She could recall an incident from her childhood where she stood on this very same spot. After tiptoeing up the curved stairs to the entryway, she had peeked around one of the massive double doors to observe countless duos sweeping across the gleaming wooden floor in perfect synchrony. As the small orchestra performed a waltz, one couple in particular stood out. The stately gentleman covered the space agilely, an enchanting woman in his arms. She was cloaked in a beautiful aqua gown that flattered her slender figure. The two were entranced in each other’s gaze, oblivious to their daughter’s loving perusal. That was one of many fond memories tucked deep away in Amara’s mind. Fresher, much less pleasant snippets filled her head to the point where Amara began to wonder if the good days had ever actually existed. As if on command, the recent recollections of her mother came to her—watching her fade away over the course of several months as the consumption drew the life out of her. Although it had been four years ago, the sense of helplessness and despair felt so real that it could have happened yesterday. Shaking her head, Amara refocused on the scene before her and realized what she witnessed in her mother’s last days paled in comparison to the view before her at this moment. “They’re the fortunate ones,” said the orderly, after clearing his throat to get Amara’s attention. “These fellas are the ones who stand a chance of survival and, if it’s the will of God,” the man paused to swipe the cap off his head and hold it over his heart, “they’ll live to rejoin their Confederate units. The fate of the soldiers in the rooms below, I won’t lie to you, Miss, it’s grim. I can show you around down there when you have a few minutes.” Amara shook her head in the negative. There was only so much she could handle at once. She was already doing her best to quell the urge to pick up her skirts and scamper back down the stairs and out the front door she had just stepped through minutes before. What in the world have I gotten myself into? “No, thank you, sir. But I appreciate your kind offer. I’m sure I’ll see everything in due time.” The orderly repositioned his cap and proceeded into the room. Amara stepped in behind him, keeping close to his heels. She tried to keep her eyes focused past his shoulder to the crucifix hung on the far wall but she couldn’t stop herself from glancing around the room as they made their way across the space. Hail Mary, full of grace… A number of men were wrapped in blood-soaked bandages. The Lord is with thee… Some had head wounds and several had broken bones set in splints. Blessed art thou among women… The bile rose in her throat at the ghastly display of raw stumps from missing limbs. And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus… If the sight of the injuries wasn’t bad enough, the stench in the room was unbearable. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners… Amara pulled the lavender-scented handkerchief from her sleeve and held it over her nose. The odor engulfing the room gagged her, yet her guide seemed oblivious to it. Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.