A successful woman lawyer falls in love with a TV-evangelist accused of sexually molesting a child. She loses the case and while on appeal he escapes the country. She leaves family and new husband and child to follow him to Africa. She is faced with deep questions about who he really is and she returns in penury to try to rebuild her life and career only to discover the devastating effects of unrequited love.

Award finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

William H. Coles is the award-winning author of short stories, essays on writing, interviews, and novels in contests such as The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the William Faulkner Creative Writing Com­pe­tition, among others. He is the creator of storyin­literary­fiction.com, a site dedicated to educational material, a workshop, and examples for writers seeking to create lasting character-based fiction with strong dramatic plots that stimulate thought about the human condition. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"An exceptionally fine novel!"
"Poetically Haunting read that goes beyond the plot line and taps into the psyche."
"Great storytelling....wonderful read"
"This was one book that stayed with me long after I read the final word"
"Once picked up, you won't want to put this special story down - don't miss it!"
"It is very Shakespearean in the sense it taps into unfiltered and very relatable human emotions, wants and needs."
"A great read, with captivating characters."
"Another William H. Coles success!"

— Amazon Reviews

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Chapter 1

Luke Osbourne drove two and a half hours north of Atlanta to the lake facility of the Atlanta Club to arrive after seven. Inside the clubhouse ballroom, more than two hundred guests, mostly couples, gathered in daisy-cluster conversation groups or sat at small round tables munching buffet-style dinner food served by waiters in white jackets and tuxedo pants. A layer of cigarette smoke hovered over the crowd dimming the lights of the two giant, wedding-cake-tiered, crystal chandeliers. The mood was buoyant. Wine and cocktail glasses were raised high in congratulatory toasts as sweat beaded on the brows of men in tuxedos, and the women—many in off-the-shoulder, full-length gowns—clandestinely dabbed hankies and tissues to their underarms. These were the donors who had helped make the new Eye Institute possible, and A.J. MacMiel had made it happen by wooing donors and securing public and private grants. He climbed onto the bandstand. He grabbed a microphone; the orchestra stopped with a drum roll. With a voice more exhausted than exuberant, he thanked the crowd for attending and for their generous giving. The bar would remain open until midnight.

Thank you, thank you.

At first, Luke chatted with MD colleagues he knew, then moved on to other stray singles or abandoned significant others. He had neither the social status nor the money to be considered for membership at the club. He tried to appear confident and justified in attending, although he didn’t really know why A.J. had invited him. After an hour, A.J.’s wife, Agnes, sought him out and took his hand with more enthusiasm than was warranted by their few brief meetings over the years. “Come,” she said. “I want you to meet my two babies.”

He’d met her daughters, Lucy and Elizabeth, more than a few times before. Now they were standing together near the band, and neither seemed to recognize him when he was introduced. Agnes immediately excused herself to work the crowd.

Lucy, a light-bronze-skinned, dark-eyed, stunningly beautiful woman of thirty-four or thirty-five stared at the singer on the bandstand without a word. She was a lawyer, famous for little tolerance for inferior intelligence. Engrossed in the music, she walked away.

“Impressive,” Luke murmured to Elizabeth, gazing at the revelers in the ballroom.

“I’m proud of what my father’s done,” she said. She shared none of the stunning characteristics of her sister. But she was not unattractive. Her delicate features and sharp blue eyes complemented her fair, blemish-free skin. But her slightly overweight figure, with sturdy legs and thick ankles had no resemblance to Lucy’s slim beauty.

“Were you involved in the institute?” she continued.

“Not directly,” he said. She seemed thoroughly bored, which, given the circumstances of conversation with someone she couldn’t remember, he decided was forgivable, if not understandable.

“Are you a donor?” she asked.

“I work with your father.”

“Oh.” She thought for a few seconds. “Haven’t we met before?”

“A few times,” he said.

Lucy returned, nibbling a bacon-wrapped scallop on a stick, and stared. “Who are you?” she asked.

“Mother just told you,” Elizabeth said. “Luke Osborne, isn’t it? He’s in daddy’s department.”

“The pleasure is mine,” he said, nodding slightly to Lucy and offering his hand, which she ignored.

Lucy would not look at Elizabeth. “You’re an eye surgeon?” she asked Luke with a touch of disdain.

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Reviews from Indie Book Reviews:

– Well-written, creative, and thought-provoking, “The Spirit of Want” by William Coles is a great read for fans of literary drama and romance novels. This book has a cast of great characters and plenty of unexpected intrigue and twists to keep us interested. We really feel like we are in the characters’ head and heart, and I feel Mr. Coles did a great job of bringing in a fresh voice to a literary genre and it felt original, both in plot, voice, and narrative style. I didn’t feel like I’ve read this million times before. It is very character-driven and fast paced (almost TOO fast at times), with great dialogue and conversations that engage us in Luke, Lucy’s, Bain’s, and the others’ story. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the ending, though… kind of sad and the epilogue just sort of ‘summed up’ everything. Would have preferred to see it play out more. And it could benefit from some better editing – because the pacing, while fast, was erratic (lots of dialogue talking about not much, then some narration that rushed over some very important events). Things like that. Nothing terrible, could just use some smoothing out. Overall an engrossing and complex story and I’d love to read more from William Coles. Happy to see he’s written several others! (4-5 stars)
– I really enjoyed “Spirit of Want” by author William H Coles. I was drawn to the description and liked the easy writing style of the author in the sample, so I read the whole thing. I was really impressed! I liked Coles’ way of writing… it is intelligent and literary and very descriptive and insightful. There are bouts of narrative ‘telling’ that slow the pace, and I think it could have used more heightened tension at times…but I do like going through Lucy and Luke’ highly charged and emotional journey as they go through their struggles, from getting married then her taking on the case where she meets and falls for Bain… her pregnancy and abandonment of her family, Luke’s relationship with Elizabeth… the shocking reveals and other harsh realities of life. This book seems to have so many subplots it’s hard to not stay interested, but I would have preferred more focus. The ending gives satisfaction and I like that we see where and how everyone ends up. Recommend. (4 stars).
– This story was great! I really liked it, even more than I thought I would. It’s quite different than what I was expecting from the description, and I mean it in a good way! There are humorous moments, some poignant and philosophical, some sad… definitely different from many books I’ve read lately. The characters of Luke, Lucy, Rev. Hower Bain, AJ, and all the others (great supporting cast here) were interesting and provided an impressive depth to the story dynamic. Even though at first I thought this would just be about twisted romance, it’s about so much more than just that. It’s about struggles and ups and downs and danger and drama and relationships and the crazy parts of life with unusual characters that will take you by surprise time and time again. Never predictable or boring, “The Spirit of Want” is a fast paced and passionate literary drama that entertain and make you think and make you feel. It is nice to see that William H. Coles has several other books out… starting the next one now! (5 stars)

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William H. Coles could not have chosen a more appropriate title for his book. He was able to create this constant tension in the relationships between people by exploring their perverse and inexplicable need to self-immolate. It is not easy to create such complex protagonists that force the readers to plough internally for some sense of empathy. He meticulously uses his character developments to shine a light on the narcissistic behaviors of human beings. This is particularly evident in Elizabeth’s willingness to be a donor even though Lucy who would not have even considered it if the roles were reversed. The lack of remorse or sense of accountability is almost borderline psychopathic. Read the entire review at OnlineBookClub.org…

William H. Coles created a really beautiful story with a lot of relatable content and I couldn’t help but keep reading. He gave his main character everything that is normally longed for in life and then went on to make her choose the one thing that is mostly sacrifised in life, contentment. He put her contentment on one side, all supposedly good things on the other side and then made her choose. This created a roller coaster of emotions in me because I would hope for her to never have to choose between those but rather have one as a result of the presence of others. I found myself getting in her shoes and having a really difficult time.
I absolutely loved the book and I am already recommending it to everyone I know who loves reading. Read the entire review at OnlineBookClub.org…

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