Book Review: To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

 

Back Cover Copy:

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

My Review of To Claim Her Heart

Jodie Wolfe has created a lovely chemistry of opposites between Elsie Smith and Benjamin David as they each bring their dreams to the Cherokee Strip and fight for their right to the same piece of land. To Claim Her Heart is a beautiful story of perseverance, hope deferred, and reconciliation with God and fellow man. Wolfe draws the reader into the world of frontier settlers with impressive historical detail, revealing their daily struggles and battles against nature with realism. Her spirited characters, Elsie and Benjamin, have stayed with me long beyond closing the last page of the book. I highly recommend To Claim Her Heart to fans of inspirational historical romance!

A delightful read! Five stars!

As a side note, Ms. Wolfe precedes each chapter of To Claim Her Heart with a quote on etiquette for young ladies from Mrs. Wigglesworth. The author has compiled one hundred of Mrs. Wiggleworth’s 19th-century admonitions on how to behave in the presence of young men and suggestions for deportment to publish Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society. While I haven’t read this book yet, I’m sure it would make an enjoyable companion to this novel judging from the quotes in Ms. Wolfe’s novel.

 

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and its sequel, Secrets and Wishes. Kathleen wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband, Jack, and the sassy tailless cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Twitter @KathleenRouser. and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/.

 

 

Review: In a Pirate’s Debt by Elva Cobb Martin

In a Pirate’s Debt

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When confronted with a forced marriage, Travay Allston flees her stepfather’s Jamaica plantation and dives into the sea. Death would be preferable to life with Sir Roger Poole, a drinking, gambling, scoundrel whose advances make her skin crawl.

Lucas sails the high seas as the dreaded Captain Bloodstone. He is on a quest to find his mother, a woman last seen clapped in irons by the Spanish. As his ship slips past Jamaica, he spies a young woman plunge into the sea. A prize of such beauty must be saved and Lucas dives in to rescue her. The last thing Lucas needs is to get involved with Travay, a childhood friend who caused him nothing but trouble. Especially now that she’s become a stubborn, alluring young woman.

Lucas delivers Travay to her aunt in Charles Town and washes his hands of the affair. Or so he thinks. But when Sir Roger shows up demanding that Travay marry him or face the wrath of Charles Town’s newest council member, Lucas feels that familiar boyhood tug on his heart. Will this wanted pirate of the crown risk his life to save Travay a second time? Betrothed to a man she hates, will Travay repay her debt to a pirate by marrying Sir Roger in exchange for his promise to pardon Lucas? And if she does, will such a rascal keep his word? Falling in love with the pirate was never part of her plan …

My Review:

Travay Allston literally falls into the hands of Captain Bloodstone as she does her best to escape from marriage to the scoundrel, Sir Roger Poole, by diving off the edge of a cliff on her horse.

She doesn’t know that the young and handsome pirate, Captain Bloodstone, is Lucas, someone she knew and cared about as a child. He has been her protector before and will learn that to be Travay’s protector is no easy task. After all, he is busy seeking recompense from the Spanish and on a quest to find his mother, whom they captured. He doesn’t have time to become involved with the beautiful and haughty Travay any more than she is interested in romance with a pirate. Their voyage to romance is filled with troubles at every turn!

While Lucas is a fairly new believer and works hard to live a godly life, Travay wonders where God is. There is a strong faith thread as both hero and heroine wrestle with their questions of faith and life. Even though pirate stories aren’t my usual read, I highly enjoyed Elva Cobb Martin’s In a Pirate’s Debt. Her characters come to life in their detailed historical settings. More than just a romance, it’s a page-turner filled with adventure on the high seas. I highly recommend this enjoyable read!

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Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). Her first two inspirational novels, a romantic suspense, Summer of Deception, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt, released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, have both spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Elva is represented by Jim Hart, of Hartline Literary.

Interview with Duncan McKnapp from With This Peace

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We’re so happy to have Duncan McKnapp take a break from his travels of wild Florida to visit with Novel PASTimes.

Novel PASTimes: Duncan, welcome to Novel PASTimes! Can you tell me where you come from and where you live now?

 Duncan: Thank you for letting me be part of Novel PASTimes! I never thought anyone would be interested in anything I have to say. My brothers always thought I was beyond help. Ha! Well … where did I come from? I was born in the rolling mountains above Dahlonega, Georgia. The place is called, Beckler’s Cove. It sure is beautiful there. I miss it. Right now, I call central Florida my home. Kinda wish I didn’t claim this swamp as a home. Seems like I’m either sweating, swatting bugs, tripping over alligators, or tramping through snake-filled, warm water.

 Novel PASTimes: I don’t think that sounds like much fun!

I heard you father passed away. I’m so sorry for your loss. How are you coping with your grief right now?

 Duncan: Yeah, he passed on to his reward. He was a good man. How am I coping with his death? Not very good for a tough woodsman. Staying in the swamps or hiding in the woods, refraining from contact with other humans is how I can heal. When he died, I barely made it home in time to be at his mountain funeral. There was so much I should have said to him, while I had the chance—in earlier years. I guess I was always at odds with my father. But I loved him. Loved and respected him. Know what I mean?

 Novel PASTimes: Which of your Dahlonega, Georgia brothers is your favorite and why?

Duncan: Ahh, I don’t have a favorite! That wouldn’t be nice! Jim always kept me “in line”. He could be tough. Samuel had a gentle spirit about him. Phillip was too young for me to connect with. I guess Jim would be my favorite, that’s because we were closest in age, and he sure could make me feel remorse for my sins. I miss Jim. I can’t sit and talk with him, no more. But I feel his presence with me in the woods, and I hear his chiding when I do stupid things.

 Novel PASTimes: I hear you are friends with Ella Dessa. Are you sweet on her? Or are you interested in another girl?

Duncan:  When I was too young to be smart, I was in love with a girl named Fern—like the feathery, green plant you’d find in the mountains. I wanted to be with her all the time. I hurt her. Messed it up. I didn’t open my mouth and say the words, “I love you!” Ella Dessa is a sweetheart. I don’t think any man alive wouldn’t fall in love with her. She makes a man long to have a wife just like her. She has a soul of gold. But I always knew she wasn’t for me, but I once tried to catch her attention.

Novel PASTimes: What made you decide to leave the farm?

Duncan: Ahh, I hated farm work. Who wants to milk cows all their life? I like being a free man. I like beautiful women and exploring new land. Florida has always pulled at my heartstrings … if there’s such a thing in me. I’m amazed at the white beaches and rolling waves on the shores. I like the natives. I like warm weather, and I don’t mind huge alligators. They make a man watch where he steps or wades, but keeps a man on his toes. You see, I tend to go barefooted a lot. And by living in Florida, not many people are goin’ to go searching for me. It’s too wet, too hot, too muggy, too wild, and too dangerous. I can let my wooly, red hair grow long, and no woman demands I cut it off.

 Novel PASTimes: You sound very independent, but despite that, do you still miss your family? Why or why not?

 Duncan: Let’s keep this question to ourselves. Yes, I miss them more than ever, as the years roll on. Miss my mother the most. She held our family together. I miss my father, because he taught us boys how to be a good man—even though I didn’t follow his teachings all that well. I miss my brothers and my sisters, because I counted on them to keep me straight. They were the homemade glue that cemented me to my past and who I was supposed to become. But a man makes his own way in life. Sometimes he lets go of the things most important … like family.

 Novel PASTimes: What would you like to do for the rest of your life? Do you have any goals?

 Duncan: Goals … hmm. Most people who know me would say, “He ain’t got no goals. Duncan has left the good life behind. He’s left the mountains, left his home, and chased away the love of his life.” But they don’t know the future. There’s one young woman I’m going to track down. I need to ask her forgiveness for something in the past. And … I’ll let you know one thing. This thing I tell you is between you and me … not for the world to know. I think I know where that one young woman ran off to. In the future, I may see if I can find her. I need to see how her life has turned out. And if there are second chances in this world, I just might change my ways, in order to let her know how much I’ve always loved her.

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Karen Campbell Prough’s love of the 1900’s fuels her stories of a bygone era. She is the author of short stories as well as a series of three books,
which include: The Girl Called Ella Dessa, Within the Candle’s Glow, and With This Peace. She and her husband live in Florida, near the beautiful Peace River–
the setting for With This Peace.

Interview with Ness of the Catuvellauni

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Novel PASTimes: Ness, tell us about your people, the Catuvellauni. I’ve never heard of them!

Ness: The Catuvellauni are a Celtic tribe in Britannia. The Romans conquered us decades ago. We are farmers not warriors now. For the most part, we live at peace with the Romans, but Britannia’s new legate, Vocula, is an overweening tyrant. He raised taxes again. My village is suffering.

 Novel PASTimes: How did you meet the Tribune Aquilus?

Ness: I didn’t really. He was just there. It all happened so quickly. Must we speak about this? I used up every last ligula of patience I have with him months ago. Ecce the man could make Zeno, father of stoicism, lose all stoic calm. Also, if I ever meet Zeno, I’d like to ring the man’s neck.

Oh, you’ve never heard about stoicism. Let me explain the Stoic philosophy. Let’s say you’re in a difficult situation, perhaps your horse fell in a ditch, or you left your wife for months on end without so much as writing a letter, or you made a life-altering decision about your son without even asking your wife’s opinion. Stoicism prompts a person to think, what would a normal, empathetic human being do in this situation? Very well, let’s make sure we never do that. Can I just paint on some wode and scream like a berserker right now? If you haven’t guessed, Aquilus is a stoic.

Novel PASTimes: What made you decide to marry him?

Ness: Not my finest moment. How about we talk about my horse, such a beautiful creature, or the sheep farm I’m planning, or really anything in the empire besides why I married that man. Have I no wits?

 Novel PASTimes: Can you tell us about where you and Aquilus live?

Ness: People mill everywhere, bumping against each other, sending up a stench, helping the Italian sun overheat the capital of the known world, Rome. The people here are spiteful. The women hate me. They pass judgment on me because I’m a Celt and label me as a savage barbarian. I miss Britannia. I miss my sister and my best friend.

 Novel PASTimes: How is marriage to a man from a different people, with different values going for you?

Ness: I’m getting a divorce. Does that answer your questioon? 

Novel PASTimes: So, ah, not going so well. Do you love Aquilus? What do you think your marriage holds in store? Is there any hope?

Ness: I thought I did, I mean . . . I’m starting to cry now. I never do this. I don’t cry. It’s like he doesn’t even care I exist. Why doesn’t he care? I had so many dreams for him and me. It was all supposed to be, well, different. Does that make sense?

I mean, who on their wedding day plans for divorce? I tried very hard to make things work. He hates me. In truth, he does. Nothing I ever do pleases him and he’s obsessed with the glory of Rome.

If he does hate me though, then why doesn’t the stulte man just sign the divorce papers I’ve been thrusting at him? He refuses to. In Rome with confereatio usus marriage, the husband has to give the wife permission to divorce him. That’s the most woman-hating law I know. Celts do things much differently, I’ll have you know. Anyway, Aquilus refuses to sign the divorce papers and I cannot comprehend why.

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Why won’t he? Could he still love me?

I’m done contorting my wits over this. Self-reflection is not my strong point. I don’t know why you’d want to read my story really. It’s a catastrophe, maybe I’m a catastrophe too. Personally, though I think it’s probably Aquilus who is the most a catastrophe. Or, I don’t know, just read my story if you care to. Romance novels always have a happy ending, they say, but I don’t see how that could possibly work out in my story. Maybe if I marry Cedric.

Novel PASTimes: Hmm . . . I guess we’ll leave it there, Ness. Thanks for taking the time for the interview with us.

 Bio: Anne Garboczi Evans is a military spouse, mental health counselor, and mama to an opinionated little boy named “Joe-Joe” and a very dramatic baby named “Chip.”
Connect with Anne on:

Book Review: Swept Into Destiny

Swept Into Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Released May 24, 2017 from CrossRiver Media Group

Book Description from Amazon:

One brave decision leads to serious consequences. Maggie is secretly educating the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor. But the manor’s serenity is soon threatened by abolitionist John Brown. A new republic looms on the horizon and with Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, her countrymen’s anger escalates as secession spreads across the southern states. With the fires of civil war glowing on the horizon, Maggie is swept into its embers realizing she is in love with the manor’s hardworking, handsome Irishman Ben McConnell. Ben joins the Union Army and Maggie is forced to call him her enemy. An unexpected chain of events leads her into choosing where her loyalties lie. Conscience and consequence—did she care more for Ben or for her beloved South? As the battle between North and South rages, Maggie is torn. Was Ben right? Had this Irish immigrant perceived the truth of what God had predestined for America?

My Review:

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield’s flowing descriptions pull you into Swept Into Destiny and keep you immersed in the world of the Antebellum south and beyond. This isn’t just a world of beaus, belles, and balls, but of moral ambiguity and searches for truth. As much as the readers are shown the beauty of Spirit Wind Manor, deep struggles are also revealed.

Maggie Gatlin secretly teaches the slave children to read and cares for them in real ways. The kindness she and her mother show to the slaves wins them more enemies than friends amidst the southern economy.

Enter Irish immigrant, Ben McConnell, who values freedom and principle above wealth and ease. Treated like dirt by those who hire him, his father, and friends for menial labor, such as clearing the swamp, he readily identifies with the plight of those enslaved.

As Maggie and Ben become attracted to one another, the war separates them as Ben fights for the Union Army. Maggie struggles with the questions of unity versus secession; all the while clinging to the Savior they share. Will the war separate Ben and Maggie forever?

Brakefield has researched the era well and adds details to evoke the reality of suffering at the time of the Civil War, bringing actual historical events and people into play through much of the novel. With a romance as tumultuous as the war that divides Maggie and Ben, Brakefield doesn’t leave any loose ends. Fans of historical fiction with a strong faith message will greatly enjoy Swept Into Destiny.

Fictional Character Interview: Maggie Galloway, Baker Extraordinaire, from Secrets and Wishes

Maggie Galloway is the sister of Reverend Ian McCormick, from my first book, Rumors and Promises. She can be feisty sometimes, but has as Ian has said “a heart of gold.” And sometimes even has a good sense of humor. I thought I’d invite her for a chat.

Novel PASTimes: Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Maggie. I was wondering if you missed keeping house for Ian since you moved to Apple Blossom cottage?

Maggie: Sometimes I do, but I’m sure my sister-in-law, Sophie, is taking good care of him and the house, though my little brother can be a handful.

Novel PASTimes: I noticed you refer to him as “Little brother” quite often, but he must be almost a foot taller than you are.

Maggie: Well, he is my younger brother by four years and I don’t like him to forget that. (Maggie laughs.)

Novel PASTimes: I heard you have some good news lately. Would you care to share it with us?

Maggie: Oh dear, I suppose Ian and Sophie have been talking. I wish they didn’t feel like they had to brag. I mean I’m excited about it and all, but it’s not that important.

Novel PASTimes: Tell me, please! I’d like to hear it from you.

Maggie: I recently received a letter from the Silver Leaf Flour Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You see, I entered their “Don’t Rest on Your Laurels” baking contest and won second place for my original pecan snickerdoodle recipe.

Novel PASTimes: Congratulations! Were you disappointed not to win first place?

Maggie: Perhaps a little at first but I was truly excited to have placed at all. I will receive a silver laurel pin and my recipe will be in their nationally distributed cookbook. Isn’t that exciting?

Novel PASTimes: I’m so happy for you! What does that mean for your future? Will you try next time to win first place?

Maggie: Maybe, but what I’m most excited about is that perhaps with this behind me, the bank in my hometown will approve a mortgage for the bakery I’ve had my eye one there. It has a cozy little apartment above it, just the right size for my son, Philip, and me. It would be so nice to have a home of our own again.

Novel PASTimes: But don’t you like it here in Stone Creek?

Maggie: I do. It’s a lovely little town. I will miss Ian and his little family dreadfully, but sometimes I miss Buffalo and all the memories there. (Maggie sighs.) That’s where I lived with my dearly departed husband, Robert, and his family is still there. It would be good for Philip to get to know them better.

Novel PASTimes: I heard Philip had a fistfight with the new pharmacist’s son, Zeke Harper, was it? Are you leaving town because of that?

Maggie: Of course not! They were just having a little fuss about whose father was the better pharmacist. Philip got his feelings hurt, but you know how boys can be when their tempers flare. I took him to Harper Apothecary to make up and now the two boys seem like old chums.

Novel PASTimes: I’m glad to hear they patched things up. What do you think of Harper Apothecary and its owner, Thomas Harper? I believe your husband was a pharmacist, wasn’t he?

Maggie: Why, yes, Robert was. And a good one at that. Better than—dear me, I’m starting to sound like Philip. I don’t mean to be a braggart, but Robert was excellent at his job. Having a drugstore in Stone Creek is a good idea. I’m sure it’s about time. I’m just not sure about the proprietor.

Novel PASTimes: What do you mean?

Maggie: I know they moved in recently, but the shop was a bit of a mess. Actually, more than a bit. And his four children, poor motherless dears, they are quite rambunctious. Thomas—that is—Mr. Harper has lost another housekeeper to their pranks and has very little control over the children. And he had the nerve to try and sell me some newfangled pills. I guess they’re called aspirin. I just wanted to buy some white willow extract from him.

Novel PASTimes: So you didn’t really like him?

Maggie: It’s not that. Well, he does have his faults. He’s a rather handsome man, but he has such a sad look in his eyes. (Maggie blushes.) I suppose he’s still deep in grief over his wife. He needs lots of help, but I don’t have the time to give it to him.

 Novel PASTimes: I see. Perhaps things will change. In the meantime, Ian told me that the man bringing your award from the Silver Leaf Flour Company is someone by the name of Giles Prescott? Your brother said you had an old beau by that name. Is this true?

Maggie: (Blushes again.) Honestly, I don’t know why he brought that up. I’m sure there’s more than one Giles Prescott in the world, aren’t you? If you’ll please excuse me I really should be starting dinner.

Novel PASTimes: Thank you for your time, Maggie. I can see you don’t want to discuss Mr. Prescott at this time.

More about Secrets and Wishes:  Stone Creek, Michigan, April, 1901 –  Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper clash after their sons collide in a fistfight. Both widowed, they’re each doing their best as single-parents. Outgoing Maggie has dreams for a home of her own and a business to provide for her son as she searches for God’s path for her life as a widow. Reserved Thomas struggles to establish his new pharmacy and take care of his four rambunctious children while wondering how a loving God could take his beloved wife.

When Thomas becomes deathly ill, Maggie is recruited to nurse him back to health. Taking the children in hand, as well, is more than she bargained for, but she is drawn to help the grieving family. Both nurse and patient find themselves drawn to each other but promptly deny their feelings.

A baking contest sponsored by the Silver Leaf Flour Company brings former beau, Giles Prescott, back into Maggie’s life. When Giles offers Maggie a position at their test kitchen in Chicago, he hints that, along with assuring her a good job, it will allow them to possibly rekindle their relationship.

But then a charlatan comes to town, and tragedy soon follows. Maggie and Thomas discover the miracle potions he hawks aren’t so harmless when an epidemic hits Stone Creek. Thomas and Maggie realize they must work together to save lives.

Maggie finds herself caught up in battles within and without—the battle to help the townsfolk in the midst of illness and chicanery, and the battle to know which man—Thomas or Giles—deserves to win her heart.

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and the novella, The Pocket Watch. She is a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of 35 years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.}