PERSONAL: Born in TX; married; children: two sons.
Education: Degree in English.
ADDRESSES: Home—Texas. Agent—Janet Kobobel Grant, Books & Such, 4788 Carissa Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95405.
The Fugitive Heart, WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 1998.
The Hidden Heart (sequel to The Fugitive Heart), WaterBrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 1998.
The Living Stone, Waterbrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO), 2000.
Lullaby, Tyndale House (Wheaton, IL), 2002, published as Dear Baby Girl, 2005.
Something Old, Something New ("Tales from Grace Chapel Inn" series), Guideposts (Carmel, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Inspirational writer Jane Orcutt's debut novel, The Fugitive Heart, is set in the period following the U.S. Civil War. When Nathan Hamilton returns to Kansas after six years as a soldier, childhood sweetheart Samantha Martin finds him to be a changed man. While Samantha's faith has remained strong, Nathan's has suffered, and Samantha becomes determined to heal her wounded sweetheart. Library Jour-nal contributor Kristin Ramsdell noted that the novel's religious message may be best suited for only "the most conservative Christian readers."
Romance Reader writer Lesley Dunlap similarly said of the sequel, The Hidden Heart, that it "is very heavy on the religious focus," but added: "It is also the best story set in the post-Civil War American West I've read in a long time." Elizabeth Cameron's mother and sister are raped and killed in a Comanche raid, but Elizabeth is allowed to live because she is able to recite the Lord's Prayer in Comanche. Adopted by the tribe, she is given a name that translates to "Speaks of Her God" and is taught healing by the tribe's medicine man, whose daughter, Sunbeam, becomes Elizabeth's friend. Elizabeth converts Sunbeam to Christianity but keeps from her the fact that Sunbeam's husband, Eyes like the Sun, is repeatedly raping her. Sunbeam, her son, and other tribal members are killed when soldiers attack the village, and Elizabeth, now pregnant with Eyes like the Sun's child, returns to her widowed father, to deal with her uncertain future.
The Living Stone is a contemporary, cross-cultural inspirational romance about Leah Travers, a woman whose faith is tested when her husband and young son are killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, Manuel Garcia, who is sent to prison for the killing. After being involved in her own automobile accident, Leah is rescued by and begins to date Jacobo Martinez, who has dropped out of law school to care for his sister, Dolores, and the five Garcia children. The younger, motorcycle-riding Jacobo helps restore Leah's faith when he brings her to his welcoming nondenominational church.
Booklist reviewer John Mort noted that in The Living Stone "Orcutt develops the drunk driver's family with great care and compassion; they are as devastated as Leah." A Publishers Weekly writer felt that "readers will fall for this fast-paced romance, empathizing with Leah as she grieves and heals, cheering for Jacobo as he woos her." Rachel Potter wrote in a review for the All about Romance Web site that "Leah's personal tragedy and the bitterness and reclusiveness that result are portrayed clearly and poignantly," and called the novel "an inspirational."
In Lullaby, another contemporary story. Merrilee Hunter is a Texas teen whose mother recently committed suicide and whose father abandoned her long ago. At age fifteen she is pregnant as the result of a rape. Merrilee travels to Austin to live in a home for unwed mothers and to arrange for the adoption of her baby girl. She chooses Nora and Steven Rey, an older couple with fertility difficulties, because their dog's name is Lucky, but when they meet, all parties involved are forced to reexamine their choices. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "this sweet, inspirational novella gently unfolds a tale of how God redeems tragedy for three people in difficult circumstances, without resorting to heavy-handed proselytizing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2000, John Mort, review of The Living Stone, p. 2110.
Library Journal, February 15, 1998, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Fugitive Heart, p. 129; September 1, 1998, Melissa Hudak, review of The Hidden Heart, p. 164; April 1, 2002, Melanie Duncan, review of Lullaby, p. 90.
Publishers Weekly, July 10, 2000, review of The Living Stone, p. 42; March 4, 2002, review of Lullaby, p. 57.
All about Romance Web site, http://www.likesbooks.com/ (May 20, 2005), Ellen Micheletti, review of The Hidden Heart, Rachel Potter, review of The Living Stone.
Christianbook.com, http://www.christianbook.com/ (May 20, 2005), interview with Orcutt.
Romance Reader Web site, http://www.theromancereader.com/ (May 20, 2005), Lesley Dunlap, review of The Hidden Heart.
RomanticTimes.com, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (May 20, 2005), Diane Johnson, review of The Hidden Heart; Roberta Blair, review of The Living Stone.