Between the Star and the Cross is the span of time, 33 years that Jesus spent on earth. Today, there is much talk about a person's life span being the dash as shown on the tombstone, the line between the dates of birth and death. I prefer to think of the time each of us spends in this world as our time 'between the star and the cross.'
My latest book is "The Heart of the Spring Everlasting" and is the fourth in the Bennett Spring series, beginning in 1967. Tabby Shine, youngest child of J.C. and Becky Darling-Shine, wakes up in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco to discover that California dreamin' is not what she had hoped for. Coming home to Bennett Spring, she quickly finds herself caught up in the construction of the new Catholic Sportsman's Chapel. While her family opens their home to a young Cuban refugee, a childhood friend returns from Viet Nam in a wheelchair. As America confronts the many issues of the turbulent 1960s, Bennett Spring residents must do same and Tabby looks for her place in a world that is changing fast.
"The Heart of the Spring Comes Home" is the third novel in the Bennett Spring series. Esther Darling, the baby born at the end of the original "The Heart of the Spring" in 1924 is now a Navy nurse returning to her home at Bennett Spring in 1946 at the end of World War II. Like so many others, she is struggling to find her way in a world that did not wait for her while she was away. Her best friend from childhood is missing and her beloved Bennett Spring Church of God is in danger of being lost forever. As Esther grapples with issues from her past while facing an uncertain future she also learns that the love and peace she yearns for is never far from Bennett Spring.
"Between the Star and the Cross: The Election" shares a second set of adventures for Sheriff Dale Harper and his close friend, Milagro Palacios. He is involved in a tough re-election campaign while investigating two baffling murder cases in Crossland County. Two different mysterious intruders in the area and a jail suicide also threaten to complicate this election season. Meanwhile, Milagro proposes a different spiritual solution to the stresses of the job, one that catches Dale Harper by surprise. Even more surprising to him, is when he tries putting her idea into practice. Come back to the Ozarks town of Serenity and the Crossland County Sheriff's Department where people who really care still fight for those who can't always fight for themselves.
"Just purchased both of your Between the Star and the Cross books at Bennett Spring and read them both. I couldn't put them down. Would love to know if you planning another in that series and if you are, when it comes out." - Jesse H.
The Heart of the Spring Lives On, is the sequel to my first Bennett Spring novel, The Heart of the Spring. The story picks up with the Darling family once again, 11 years later after the establishment of Bennett Spring State Park. Becky's younger brother, Ben Darling is a new deputy with the Laclede County Sheriff's Department in Lebanon. While visiting his family at Bennett Spring, he discovers a young woman disguised as a man, hiding out and working with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1935. The CCC built many of the features we know and love today at Bennett Spring. While Ben grapples with bank robbers and the other challenges of his job, Jessica scrambles to guard her secrets, including her true identity. Ben discovers that Jessica's real talents include rescuing those she loves and he soon hopes to be counted amongst them.
"What an awesome book. It's the best one! For real. I can't even tell you enough"....Dorothy R.
"Laura I got your book in the mail on Tuesday, started reading it and couldnt hardly put it down I finished it today Saturday . I loved it and I am hoping that there will be more coming"....Larry W.
"Just read your new book. Love it. The first one was very good, but I think
the second one is the very best one. Thanks." Janice
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Between the Star and the Cross: The Choice is the story of a small town county sheriff and the Salvadoran woman who comes to his town to run the Christian mission there. Sheriff Dale Harper is busy fighting meth cooks in his county, investigating an old murder-suicide and a new arson case when he finds a homeless feral child. Milagro Palacios, the new director of Serenity's Christian mission, may prove to be a far greater help in all of this than he ever imagined. As he struggles with his own personal battles, including the shooting death of his wife the year before, he comes to understand that part of the life of service that he loves, is learning to accept both his own choices and those made by others.
As a 10 year veteran of the Laclede County Sheriff's Department, it's been my privilege to work with many different people from all walks of life and it is now my pleasure to bring to life this story inspired by many true events.
"You kept me up two nights in a row,,,LATE! I couldn't quit reading!" - Brad G.
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The Heart of the Spring is my first novel, a new book about an old story, the coming of Bennett Spring State Park in 1924. Eighteen year old Becky Darling and her family are long time residents of the valley known as Bennett Spring and while Becky finds the whole idea of a new state park exciting, she is taken aback when her father says "we have to find a way to stop it!"
Life before the park in the tiny town of Brice, 12 miles west of Lebanon, Missouri, includes fishing, the beauty of the spring, the struggle to make a living in the Ozarks, moonshiners and the importance of family.
As a 30 year resident of Bennett Spring, I've written many a historical piece about this beautiful place and the folks who first settled this valley. As a novelist, it is my privilege to blend a bit of history with a family's story of love and transition in the face of an uncertain future.
The Heart of the Spring is a summertime story of challenge, joy,
romance and change. Today, we all enjoy and appreciate the beauty that is Bennett Spring State Park. Come spend a little time and learn how it all began in 1924.
Just finished your book and it's wonderful...can't wait until your new one is out....Diane N.
I've just read Chapter One and I am enchanted...your descriptions, even the manner of speaking of the characters plus their jargon...I miss our Bennett Spring!....Ruth M.
We love your words and insight into the beautiful Bennett Spring history...the Ya-Ya Sisters Book Club
See the Portfolio Page of this site to order your own copy of any of these novels.
Meanwhile, the question before each of us, is how will we spend the time we have between our star and our cross. Jesus called us to follow the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love one another. As a freelance writer, I try to spend much of my time writing articles and books, to celebrate and encourage people to love and serve one another.
It is my hope that what you find here will be encouraging to you. Browse through the pages and see what I've written in the past. Hopefully there is something here that will inspire you or perhaps spark an idea of something new. Currently, I also write features regularly for Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, a regional farming newspaper. If you know someone in the Ozarks who might make an interesting feature for this farm publication, please let me know.
Dios te bendiga - God bless you!
Laura L. Valenti
Author and Freelance Writer