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Book One, Pray For Justice
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Chance and Choices Adventures is a Christian Western novel series by Elisabeth Gay. Set in early 19th century Arkansas, at the time a state on the western frontier, the series aims to explore the concepts of fate and destiny. As the title says, sometimes it's chance, sometimes it's choice, and sometimes it's God's will.

The series follows the lives of the Williams sisters - Ann, Stephanie, and Sally. Their peaceful lives are turned upside down when a half-Native American man named Noah Swift Hawk arrives in town and is attacked by local ne'er-do-well Hank Butterfield. Hank is killed by the townsfolk but Noah is grievously injured in the conflict. The Williams sisters agree to take care of Noah, unwittingly drawing the wrath of the entire Butterfield Gang.

There are currently five books in the series. They are:

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  • Pray For Justice
  • Choose Your Consequences
  • No Remorse
  • Means of Escape
  • Torn Hearts

The entire series can be found through its website.


Tropes seen in the Chance and Choices Adventures series include:

  • Asshole Victim: Hank Butterfield's Death by Racism kicks off the plot. In the second book fellow Butterfield Gang member Gus has his throat slit in the night after attacking Ann, and the mystery of who did it becomes a driving force in the plot.
  • As the Good Book Says...: It's a Christian novel series, so The Bible gets referenced and quoted quite often.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The first book opens with the Williams sisters selling two of their horses to the Butterfield Gang. When the gang shows up again later in the story, only one of the two horses is still around; it's covered in injuries and is so badly traumatized that it can't go anywhere on its own.
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  • Bandit Clan: The Butterfield Gang are this.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Williams family and most of their friends are some of the nicest people ever who go out of their way to be good even to terrible people... but God help you if you push them too far. Special mention goes to Noah Swift Hawk nearly scalping Gus after the latter helped burn down the Williams Farm.
  • Bird-Poop Gag: As mentioned under Feathered Fiend, a bandit attack on the Williams Farm is thwarted by a murder of crows, apparently summoned by prayer. That said, the crows don't attack the way you might expect, instead driving off the attackers in a much more... smelly manner.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: Noah attempts this on Ann after they're found guilty of having a Maligned Mixed Marriage and the both of them are sentenced first to flogging and later to hard labor. Not wanting Ann to be punished he lies and tells the judge that he "just wanted to have his way with a white woman" and then, fearing people may be listening, he tells Ann repeatedly that he doesn't love her. She refuses to acknowledge any of it.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Love you to the moon and back" is a favorite phrase of the Williams sisters, to the extent that it's even used to pass hidden messages. For example, in book two when Noah is pretending that he never loved Ann and has a wife in Indian Territory, the sisters tell him to "go back to the Indian with a rope to the moon and back" which means "we still love you, meet us in the cave on our old farm." (The cave contained an old Native American skeleton with a rope.)
  • Cool Gun: The Lefaucheux 20-shot pinfire revolver. Yes, it's a real thing. It was invented by Casimir Lefaucheux in 1832, utilizing a two-layer cylinder and double barrels to allow for a 20 round capacity, and firing 7.65mm pinfire cartridges, also invented by Casimir Lefaucheux. In the books they're first used by the Butterfield Gang and later the Williams family get their hands on some. In real life, the Lefaucheux revolver saw some use during the American Civil War.
  • Cool House: The Williams Farm is pretty impressive, with a number of conveniences unheard of in most homesteads of the time, including a pipe for disposing of wastewater without having to leave the house, and a fireplace that opens into and heats multiple rooms simultaneously.
  • Death by Racism: Hank Butterfield, the leader of the Butterfield Gang, attacks the half-Native American Noah Swift Hawk for daring to sit in "a white man's saloon" and gets shot dead by the townsfolk for his trouble. His death kicks off the plot of the series.
  • Deep South: The series takes place in Arkansas, which at the time was still considered a frontier state.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Evil characters are almost universally ugly. (There is one notable exception in Hank Butterfield, who is described before his Death by Racism as being very handsome.) Commonly, it is noted that their faces are wrinkled through years of evil thoughts and grimacing expressions.
  • Eye Awaken: Subverted in book four, Means of Escape. After Roy Butterfield is shot dead and his body has been taken inside, his eyes suddenly snap open making everyone think he's suddenly woken up. The local sheriff simply puts some pennies over his eyes to hold them down, and informs everyone that rigor mortis is a thing.
  • Feathered Fiend: A rare helpful example in the first book, with a murder of crows appearing to drive away the Butterfield Gang when they attack the farm, summoned by the Williams family's prayers.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Later on, Judge Daniel Hall, who is unreasonably outraged by the idea of a white woman and a half-Native American being Happily Married, and basically makes it his life's goal to destroy them.
  • God Is Good: One of the major themes of the novels, and said word-for-word by numerous characters, especially the Williams sisters.
  • Good Feels Good: A common reaction by bad people who encounter the Williams family is to get swept up by their overwhelming positivity.
    • A very notable example is Ben in the second book. Knowing he'll soon die for his crimes, he chooses to repent and spends the trip to Little Rock listening to Bible stories, fishing, and talking with the others. He specifically says it's the most he's enjoyed his life since he was a child.
    • Also Subverted from time to time. For example, while Ben repents of his evil in the second book, his fellow outlaws Gus and Roy have the opposite reaction, becoming even more cold-hearted specifically because they see how happy good people are and they hate it.
  • Hanging Judge: Judge Daniel Hall sentences Ann and Noah to hard labor rebuilding the Cadron Creek ferry for their Maligned Mixed Marriage. When he discovers that they got back together afterward he makes it his life's goal to destroy them, even calling in bounty hunters to chase after them. We also see him in book two illegally leading a lynch mob looking for a man named Bemis, who has apparently had children by one of his slaves.
  • Happily Married: Most married couples, but especially Ann and Noah, and Eli and Stephanie. It would be faster to list the few married couples who aren't happy, like Minnie the bridge keeper whose husband Harry is always away.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Ben, the Butterfield Gang member who repents of his sins on the road to Little Rock in the second book.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: After Gus tries to strangle Ann on the road to Little Rock, Noah strangles him right back. Sheriff Smitty forces Noah to stop, saying that everyone deserves the right to a fair trial and can't just be executed out of rage.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: The Butterfield Gang, while being attacked by the crows as mentioned under Feathered Fiend, try to kill the birds assaulting them by shooting directly into the air. The result is one of them getting hit in the shoulder with a bullet, which then becomes infected and results in his death.
  • Knight Templar: Judge Daniel Hall is a knight templar against miscegenation, and is willing to go to insane lengths to break up any and all mixed relationships.
  • Loophole Abuse: Legal maneuverings are commonly used by the heroes to outsmart corrupt authorities.
    • In the first book, Judge Atwood exonerates all the Butterfield Gang members of their crimes (because Roy Butterfield is his brother-in-law) and orders the people of Harmony to pay $100 restitution to Roy for killing Hank. The people are outraged and Judge Atwood's attempt to keep order results in his gavel breaking the glass counter of the store he was using as a makeshift court, causing injuries from broken glass. He promises to pay the medical fees resulting from this. The people of Harmony decide to name the medical fee as exactly $100, which the Judge can't pay, and so he finally agrees to pay Roy's restitution himself in exchange for having his own debt dropped.
    • In the second book, Judge Hall sentences Ann and Noah to forced labor for their Maligned Mixed Marriage, and they must rebuild the Cadron Creek ferry by themselves. Realizing the job of felling trees is too difficult and too dangerous for two people alone, Army Specialist Jeremiah Pratt comes up with an excuse to help them, saying he'll use half the trees to build a fence around their work camp.
  • Magical Native American: Noah Swift Hawk is one, as are most other Native American mystery men. For the most part its real medicines and scientific principals being explained as magical potions and spells but not always.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Ann Williams, a caucasian, gets married to Noah Swift Hawk, a half Native American, which was illegal in the 19th century. This seems to be a special Berserk Button for Judge Daniel Hall, and ends up being the reason he's Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence.
  • Meaningful Name: When making up false names for themselves in book 3, most of the group choose fake names based on relatives they respect. Noah, who is masquerading a traveling physician, goes by the name Luke Smith, named for Saint Luke the Evangelist, who is believed to have been a physician.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: Native American mysticism is also a manifestation of Christianity. Wakan Tanka is God and all the Native American spirits and deities are either angels or demons.
  • Reasonable Authority Figures: Though most judges and bureaucrats seem to be fairly corrupt, particularly Judge Atwood and Judge Daniel Hall, plenty of other authority figures are fine. Particularly military personnel are depicted as being quite reasonable, even when their jobs require them to take actions that are hurtful to innocent people (such as guarding Ann and Noah after they get in trouble for their Maligned Mixed Marriage) they try to make things as easy as they can on the people. Specific examples include Sheriff Smitty and Specialist Jeremiah Pratt.
  • Religion Is Magic: Most definitely. Praying to God can summon crows to attack your enemies, or conjure invisible warriors to stave off would-be assailants. Native American mysticism is also real, but is actually also a manifestation of the Christian God's power.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Roy Butterfield, so much. Judge Atwood exonerates him and the rest of the Butterfield Gang of their crimes, only ordering them to stay away from Harmony, Arkansas. Instead, Roy and the gang come back and burn down the Williams Farm.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Much ado is made of a cursed swamp the Williams family and their friends must pass through in Torn Hearts. It turns out the curse is actually a Bandit Clan that attacks under cover of night, using poison darts and the like to dispatch their victims. By pretending to be supernatural they keep potential victims off their guard. The Williams family survives thanks to a combination of their own good planning and divine intervention.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: What allows the Butterfield Gang to operate with impunity in northern Arkansas. The local Circuit Judge, Judge Atwood, happens to be a brother-in-law to Hank and Roy Butterfield. Upon realizing this, the Williams family elects to drive the surviving Butterfield Gang members to Little Rock for trial instead.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: As punishment for their Maligned Mixed Marriage, Ann and Noah are sentenced to rebuild the ferry at Cadron Creek, plus docks and moorings, all by themselves, with US Army Specialist Jeremiah Pratt sent along with three other soldiers to guard them and make sure nobody offers them any help. Realizing the job is too difficult for two people to do alone, Specialist Pratt first makes an excuse to help the two fell some trees for lumber, arguing that he'll use half the trees to build a fence for their work camp. Even later, the two nearly die twice - once when the temporary dam they built so they could work on the creek bed burst and almost drowned them, and once when a giant mooring post fell over and nearly hit them. At this point Specialist Pratt orders all his men away so he and Sheriff Smitty can help the two without anyone knowing.
  • Shout-Out: The Cursed Swamp scene in Torn Hearts in which the Williams family are protected by phantom soldiers that only their would-be attackers can see, is a direct reference to a well known sermon about missionaries in Africa being protected from a tribal ambush in the same way.
  • Shown Their Work: The work is fairly accurate to the time period, and even makes use of some otherwise obscure items from the period, such as the Lefaucheux 20-shot revolvers.
  • Spy Speak: The Williams family and their allies have a system of knocks as a Trust Password when entering a door into a safe area. The Underground Railroad also uses coded communication.
  • Symbol Swearing: Cursing is replaced by symbols, at least in the first book.
  • Title Drop: Each book has its own title said somewhere in it.
  • Trauma Button: Sally develops a phobia of caves, after getting trapped and nearly dying in one in the first book.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Most of the landmarks and towns are real, but the details are made up. For example, while there really is a Harmony, Arkansas located near Spadra Creek, it never contained a Yates Mercantile nor was its sheriff named Smithfield Wyman.
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