Trapped within the walls of the Jericho saloon, Lupita Belmonte struggles to free herself from her father's oppressive rule - never realizing that there are others there with far worse fates than her own. When an American doctor rides into town to treat her wounds, he makes a deal with her to escape in exchange for her help. Will she have faith to trust him, or succumb to her father's will once again?
It's neither money nor kindness that spurs Gabe Sante to answer the call of treating a notorious saloon owner's daughter. An army doctor serving as a spy, he's the most qualified to collect the information they need to determine if the saloon is a haven for Nazi soldiers. The last thing he expects is to find his loyalty tested when he meets a Mexican senorita with enough sass to turn his head.
The Fires of Faith are ignited with hearts set ablaze in the underbelly of 1918 Mexico. Here's an excerpt!
She felt silly all of a sudden. Here she was asking this doctor something that even he probably couldn’t explain. After all, he too was a man. It probably had never crossed his mind that she would be anything other than a patient. She looked away. “No, I suppose you don’t.”
“Perhaps if you would explain?”
“There’s nothing to say, really. I don’t think you could help.”
Gabe didn’t appreciate people telling him what he could or could not do. “Well, maybe I could, I tried. I am a doctor and that’s what I do – help people, that is. So, if you would just speak plain as to what ails you, then I could give you my best plan of treatment.”
She gave him her full attention again. “Alright then. However, you have to swear not to tell a soul. I know what everyone around here is like and there would be bromas all day long. I’d never hear the end of their laughter and the gossip would continue indefinitely. So, swear it to me. Swear it!”
He grew solemn. “I do not swear, but I will promise that anything shared between you and I will be completely confidential. That means anything ever. Agreed?”
“Good.” She forged on, “I would like to become a woman.”
“Wha—” Gabe sputtered. “Perhaps I gave you a little too much morphine.”
“Señorita, I’m the one who performed the surgery. I can guarantee you that you’ve already reached maturity. That’s why your father requested my services. Remember? There was fear that you wouldn’t be able to marry one day and bear children. Rest any fears you may have had, though. For as far as I could see, there was no extensive damage to the womb. Provided you follow the treatment plan for recovery, you should be just fine.”
“Do others know?”
Gabe shrugged. “Perhaps. I did inform your father and your friend, Amorina, who was in the room to assist me.”
“And were there no flowers? No visitors to wish me well?”
The doctor seemed at a loss.
“I’m sorry, there were not.” He suddenly appeared agitated, pacing the room as if being chased back and forth by el chumaco. “Is that what concerns you? That your many admirers have not come to pay their respects? Is that what it takes to make a woman happy? It cannot be enough for her to have one man who truly cares for her, she must have many that will act like fools only to prove their sanity later once they’ve found someone more to their liking.”
Now Lupita was confused. Was he referring to her?
“What are you talking about? I never said I have many admirers. In fact, I’ve never had a single one!”
Her declaration caused him to still. He stared at her as if he wasn’t sure whether or not he could believe her. He let out a slow sigh.
“I’m so very sorry. You are the absolute last person I should be raising my voice to. Not only are you my patient, but you’re own who just underwent an extensive procedure… and after such a terrible ordeal to begin with.” He looked at her with remorse. “Forgive me?”
It was the first time a man – anyone for that matter – had asked for her forgiveness. Usually, it was she who begged pardon for looking (or smelling) offensive, accidentally spilling a drink or serving a tortilla that had cooled too long.
She studied him for a moment, curious as to what she had said to offend him to begin with. Maybe if she knew, then she could decide if she should forgive him.
“Why did you yell at me?”
He fidgeted with his collar, pulling at it as though it had become a noose or something else equally unpleasant. “Your request for flowers and visitors reminded me of someone I once knew.”
Ah, that was it! She may not have had much experience in the way of love, but she certainly had seen others act foolishly when they believed they were being replaced by another.
“Did you lose someone you loved? Did she leave you for another?”
Gabriel scoffed. “Those are hardly appropriate questions. Besides, I don’t think it’s something we should be discussing as part of the doctor-patient relationship. It has absolutely nothing to do with your treatment.”
“Maybe not, but it helps me decide if you can help me.” Lupita placed a finger to her chin, carefully considering him and her options. “The more I think about it, though, the more I think that you cannot help at all. Not in the way I was thinking. However, perhaps I can help you.”
“I could help you get over your last love.”
Mimi Milan is an award-winning, bestselling author of both historical and contemporary fiction. She is a candidate for the MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University. When she isn't staring at a computer screen, she can be found spending time in the suburbs of North Carolina with her family, two black cats and her imaginary friends.
E.E.: What's your favorite cartoon character?
Mimi: My daughters have gotten me hooked on Monster High.
E.E.: What's your favorite movie of all time?
E.E.: Is writing or storytelling easier for you?
E.E.: If you couldn't be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
Mimi: Talk show host or radio DJ.
E.E.: What would you say is your most interesting quirk?
Mimi: I sweep the floors when I need to clear my head or really concentrate on something.
E.E.: Cast your book using a fairytale.
Mimi: Snow White all the way.
E.E.: Which era would you have liked to live in fashion wise?
Mimi: It doesn't exist. However, I would be a Steamer all the way if it did.
Today Mimi will be giving away a signed print copy of A Rebel in Jericho.