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What’s in a Promise?

ImageWelcome to the Front Porch Romance Tailgate Blog for the month of October. I’ll begin by saying hello to all of you who are reading my blog for the first time. Please take a moment to share your opinion on the topic of keeping promises. Please remember to check out all the other Front Porch Romance bloggers at  There is another chance to win one of several e-books written by myself and my  fellow Front Porch Romance authors at

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What’s in a Promise?

How many times have you been asked to do something and answered, “Sure, I’ll be there” or “I’ll do that,” and added, “I promise,” without even thinking about it? Sometimes we keep those promises, but more often than not, we forget all about them. We promise to call; we promise to visit; we promise to get together soon. We promise to buy a particular item or to give to a charity, but sometimes things happen that force us to set those promises and others aside.

Sometimes, the promises you make are to yourself. In Coming Home, the book I co-wrote under the pseudonym, Misty Matthews, both Alana and Connor make promises to themselves that they inevitably can’t keep. Lana vows she’ll never return to Chance, and Connor swears he won’t get involved with anyone from Chance and yet, for reasons of their own, neither character can keep that promise. If you can’t keep a promise you make to yourself, how much harder is it to make a promise to others?

There was a time when people were more aware of what they said—a time when a promise was a sacred vow, not to be given or taken lightly. Take wedding vows for example. Marriage used to be forever—a life’s sentence if you will.

I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded wife/husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.

Thousands of people make similar vows each year, yet according to Stats Canada in 2010, 4 out of 10 first marriages ends in divorce! Broken promises. Why? Was it because the promises were made rashly? Was it because those making the promises didn’t really understand the pledges they were making? Was it because some of those making the vows knew they had no intention of keeping them from the get-go? Or was it that, like so many things in the twenty-first century, promises just can’t always be kept?

The words, “I promise”, don’t seem to have the same power today that they had in the past. At one time, a person’s word was their bond. If they said they’d do something, then you could be sure it would get done. They didn’t make promises or vows lightly and there were consequences to not keeping your word. Today, promises like so many other things, seem to be disposable.

In The Captain’s Promise, Etienne makes two vows, neither of which he takes lightly, but vows that he knows are conditional. There were forces at work in seventeenth century France, just as there are all around the world today, that made it impossible for him to keep his promises in the way those who exacted them expect, but when push comes to shove and circumstances demand action, Etienne stepped up to the plate. He put himself and others at risk to keep his promise, and the reward was everything he could have hoped for and more.  

Excerpt from The Captain’s Promise:

“Elle, my fortune lies across the sea in the New World. I wish you could see how beautiful it is. New France is a wild place of majestic splendour with wondrous plants and animals, but Martinique, where I have chosen to build my new life, is a green paradise, an Eden in a turquoise sea. I shall make my home there and grow rich on the profits from my ships. The Rose is the first of what we hope will be a fleet of specialized trade ships. She will carry goods between New France and the French colonies to the south and vice versa. Other ships will take those goods to France and bring French goods which I will convey to Hispaniola, Martinique, and Cayenne.”

She smiled ruefully. This was the youth she remembered—the one with all the grand plans for adventure—but back then, she had thought those plans had included her. It had broken her heart to know that she had never really been a part of those dreams, just as she was not part of them now. While she had loved him, wanted to marry him, she had simply been the young tomboy who had shadowed him during his teenage years. When she thought of how she had thrown herself at him that night, her cheeks flamed. Elle wondered fleetingly how he would react if she begged him to take her away from here and let her join in his adventures. He would be mortified!

Etienne stood, and paced a few feet away from her. His face had grown solemn, as if he were about to broach a serious matter, one she suspected from the frown he wore that he found distasteful. His posture made her uncomfortable.

“Elle, I came here today for two reasons, the first was to see you and offer my condolences on the death of your husband. The second was to honor a promise I made to your father on your sixteenth birthday.” He cleared his throat.

Confused, she watched him pace. She had not known that he had made a promise to her father. What promise could her father have asked that he had kept even from her? And why would such a promise disturb him? She could tell by the way he held himself so rigidly, that this was not what he wanted to do.

“The last time I was here, before I left to fight the Turks, your father had me promise to watch out for you and help you should the need arise. I understand that your husband’s death has left you in a precarious financial condition. I would like to help you, if you will let me. I have a lot of my wealth invested in my ship, but whatever else I have is at your disposal. You only need to ask.”

How stiff and formal he is, she thought sadly. He sees me as an obligation, a debt he must honor to my father. He does not even remember the promise he made to me.

Etienne’s clipped words stabbed her as she let them sink in. She had misunderstood. He had not come back for her; he had come out of obligation to her father. He was still talking, and she forced herself to listen to his words.


The Captain’s Promise and Coming Home  are  available at: 



Finally retired after more than 30 years as a teacher! Now, I get to spend my time gardening, enjoying my grandchildren, and writing. I finally completed the number one item in my bucket list and Crimson Romance published my first novel, Fire Angel, in April 2013. Since then I have published 24 manuscripts to date and don't plan to quit writing for a long time yet.

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