A Chat With Peyton Quinn from Peyton’s Promise by Susan G. Mathis

About Peyton’s Promise:

It’s the summer of 1902, and Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position of upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.

Tell us a little about the Thousand Islands where you live.

I grew up in Clayton, NY, in the heart of the Thousand Islands. 1,864 islands are shared almost equally between New York state and Ontario, Canada. It’s where Lake Ontario narrows and becomes the St. Lawrence River, and the islands are known as The Thousand Islands. Here the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River intersect to become the world’s largest inland navigation system. Huge freighters pass by tiny islands along the main channel and share the waterway with all kinds of boats including kayaks and canoes!

In 1872, George M. Pullman invited President Ulysses S. Grant to visit his small island during the reelection campaign.When President Grant and his entourage came, the Thousand Islands became a national event. The press touted the Thousand Islands as THE place to summer for the rich and famous and common man alike. In so doing—and thanks to excited journalists—he launched The Thousand Islands season of the rich and famous buying islands and lots along the mainland and building castles, mansions, and magnificent summer homes. Calumet Island, where I work, is one of them.

You work in a castle on an island? Tell us more. 

Calumet Castle graces the entry point to the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario. It was one of the first castles that the ocean-going ships see as they travel downriver from Lake Ontario through the Thousand Islands to the sea. New York City tycoon Charles G. Emery purchased Powder Horn Island in 1882. Since the island reflected the shape of a peace pipe, he changed the name of the island to Calumet, a French word for the Native American ceremonial peace pipe. 

Calumet Castle has thirty rooms, including the largest private ballroom in New York. Several out buildings included a water tower, the caretakers home, a guesthouse, a boathouse, a men’s dormitory, and an ice house. I get to stay and work in the castle, and it’s simply magical.

How did you get into the man’s career of upholstery work?

I started out to be a seamstress, but when a couple in Watertown offered me an apprenticeship, it grabbed it. Yes, upholstery work is usually done by men, but Mr. O’Cleary taught Mrs. O’Cleary, and she taught me. Some of the townsfolk didn’t like that, but I excelled in the art and ignored their snubs.

You also got involved with the Suffrage Movement. What was that like?

The O’Clearys were deep into the movement in Watertown and drew me into it. Most of their friends were involved in fighting for women’s rights, and they befriended me. Unfortunately, my involvement with them and the movement kept me from church and finding Christian friends, so my faith took a backseat for a while.  

When you came to Calumet Castle, you reconnected with your childhood friend, Patrick. How’d did that go?

I couldn’t believe my eyes when Patrick appeared in the ballroom. Three years earlier, he had hurt me terribly, so we had lots of ups and downs before I finally chose to forgive him and embrace his friendship—and finally his love. 

You and Patrick helped your father with the Calumet Ball’s fireworks? 

The Emerys invited two hundred guests to the ball, but Papa got hurt and needed help putting on the grand finale fireworks extravaganza, so we stepped in. To our surprise, the New York Times even reported on the illustrious event.

And oh, what a lovely ball it was! Guests, including one of Queen Victoria’s former ladies in waiting, arrived at the island’s main dock to the Castle. Upon entering the castle ballroom, flowers decorated every corner, art nouveau furnishings graced the large room, and the orchestra played from the balcony. The violin, piano, violincello, and cornet blended in perfect harmony as the orchestra played from the inner balcony. The waltzing couples skirted each other as they glided gracefully around the room. Dancers twirled and moved like flowers until late into the night. Patrick and I were able to sneak a peek before helping Papa with the fireworks.  

After the ball, we put on an elaborate fireworks display from one of the smaller islands in front of Calumet, and our friend, Mitch, launched ten thousand Japanese lanterns onto the river. Hundreds of boats floated on the mighty St. Lawrence River and joined in the celebration. It had to have been an experience that rivaled the balls of the Vanderbilts and others. And Patrick and I were a part of it all.

Tell us three things we’d find if we looked under your bed? 

That’s a funny question. Under my bed you’d find a basket of upholstery tools including chalk, upholstery needles, a rubber mallet, scissors and needle guard. You’d also find several pamphlets on women’s suffrage wrapped in scrap material. 

About the author:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. She has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. Susan has seven in her fiction line including, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, Katelyn’s Choice, Devyn’s Dilemma, Sara’s Surprise, Reagan’s Reward, and her newest,Colleen’s ConfessionPeyton’s Promise and Rachel’s Reunion release in 2022 and she just finished book ten, Mary’s Moment. Her book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, three American Fiction Awards, two Indie Excellence Book Awards, and two Literary Titan Book Awards. Reagan’s Reward is a Selah Awards finalist. 

How can we connect with you? 

Social media links: Website |AuthorCentral |  Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Goodreads | Instagram  | CAN | 

Peyton’s Promise Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE39GyUfMjA

Interview with Calliope Jeffers from Donna Schlacter’s Calli

Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Calliope. What can you tell us about yourself?

Calli: Thanks so much. I’m glad to be here. Let me introduce myself. My name is Calliope Jeffers, but everybody calls me Calli. I guess you’d call me the heroine of the story, although that makes me sound so brave, and I’m anything but. You could call me the love interest, but that would be telling the end before the beginning. I’m a recent widow, my husband having died suddenly on duty here where we live in Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory. I’m stepping out in baby steps, figuring out what comes next.

Novel PASTimes: Okay, Calli. Please tell us something about where you live.

Calli: As I said, Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory. It’s an exciting time, 1870. There are still wagon trains heading west. Not so many as there used to be, I’m told. The fort is a popular stopping point for supplies, medical care, a blacksmith, and the town itself has several saloons, although I’ve not seen them personally. There are more than a hundred men stationed here, plus a good many civilian employees and military wives. Even a few children.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a cherished possession?  

Calli: The Bible my parents gave me. When my husband was stationed in Fort Bridger, he said I could bring one suitcase. Can you imagine? How to choose amongst my beautiful dresses, coats, hats, and shoes? But, as he reminded me, we would have nowhere to wear such fripperies, and so there was no point in bringing them. So instead, I filled my suitcase with medical books. And my Bible. It’s the only thing I have from them. I still had room for two dresses, a pair of boots, underclothing (which I won’t mention here), and essentials such as a hairbrush and hair pins.

Novel PASTimes: How do you feel about your occupation? 

Calli:  I love being a nurse. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to help people. Of course, back then, boys grew up to be doctors, and girls grew up to be nurses. Perhaps one day, that won’t be true. I do almost all the same things Doc Wheldon would do if he were there, which he often isn’t. And while I can, I still like the personal care of the patient, listening to them, talking to them, writing letters home for them. Most of my patients are soldiers and their wives, both of whom have made a huge sacrifice to serve their country. We should keep them in our prayers.

Novel PASTimes: What is your deepest, most closely held secret? 

Calli:  I struggle with the fact that I loved my husband so deeply that in simply looking at another man, I’m doing both a disservice. Yes, I understand marriage is “til death do us part”, but every time I see Bradley Wilson, I think of my husband. The only thing I can do is trust that God has a plan, and if Mr. Wilson is part of that, then love will come again. How lucky a woman could I be, to love deeply and eternally twice in this life!

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a personal relationship with the Lord? 

Calli:  I thought I did. I mean, I prayed. Read my Bible. Went to church. But when my husband died, I was angry with Him. He could have saved him, couldn’t He? So why wasn’t he worth saving? That’s what I wanted to know. And the platitudes from the women at the fort didn’t help. God needed another angel. Then why didn’t He simply make another like He did with the first of creation? I was certain my husband died because I didn’t have enough faith.

Novel PASTimes: Has it changed? Why? 

Calli:  When I had that tiny baby depending on me, seeing the way she needed me for food, changing her diaper, keeping her safe, I saw what God wanted to have with me. When I didn’t have what she needed, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t depend on somebody else to save us—I had to turn back to God. Knowing I’m a daughter of the King of kings has changed my life.

Novel PASTimes: That makes a big difference, I agree! What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

Calli:  I’m told I shouldn’t give away the end of the story but suffice it to say that now that my relationship with God has deepened, I know He will be with me all the way. Currently, there are several bright opportunities on the horizon, placed there by God, planned by Him especially for me, so whatever happens, it is well with my soul. Hmm. That sounds like another great hymn in the making.

Novel PASTimes: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

Calli:  I’ve learned that the only One I can truly trust in is God. I’m an independent woman, secure in my profession, able to earn a living for myself. When my husband died, I thought, “Well, this is just another chapter in my life. I must move on and do what I need.” But I couldn’t forget my husband. He seemed in my thoughts every day. And when I met Mr. Wilson, I found myself comparing him to my husband. And always falling short. I realized that unless I had a deep and meaningful relationship with God, unless I trusted in His Son Jesus, I would always fall short in God’s eyes, too. So please, if you haven’t surrendered your life to God and your heart to Jesus, do so. It’s simple. Here’s a short prayer: Dear God, I know I’ve ignored You for a long time. But I give my life to You. Do with it what you will. And Jesus, I know you paid the price for my sin. Please forgive me. I will strive to follow you all the days of my life. Amen. Next, tell somebody of your decision, then find a Bible-believing church. If you’d like to share with me, you can contact me at donna AT livebytheword DOT com

***

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Calli works as a nurse with the US Army at Fort Bridger, Wyoming in 1880. When a wagon train full of discouraged emigrants passes through on its way east, a pregnant widow delivers her baby then dies. Bradley Wilson, leading this train, has few options. He asks Calli to travel with them until they find a relative to take the child in St. Joe, Missouri. Calli, drawn to both this dark and quiet man and the child, resists. But when she disappears, he wonders if she’s run away or been kidnapped. Can these two put their pasts behind them and move into a new future together? Or will Calli insist on having things her own way?

BUY CALLI HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A hybrid author, Donna Schlachter writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter at my website!

Donna’s Blog

Previous blog posts at: History Through the Ages and All Bets Are Off.

Facebook and Twitter.

Amazon, Bookbub, and GoodReads.

Etsy online shop of Donna’s original artwork..

Interview with Colleen Sullivan from Colleen’s Confession by Susan G. Mathis

Welcome, Colleen, we’re so happy to have you here at Novel PASTimes today. How did you come to work on Comfort Island? And where is that?

My aunt Gertie is the cook for the Clarks on Comfort Island and secured a position for me. I grew up in an orphanage, but just before I aged out, they found Aunt Gertie and contacted her, so Auntie had the Clarks hire me.

That was very kind of her.

Comfort Island is in the Thousand Islands in upstate New York in the St. Lawrence River. It’s a small island the Clark family owns, and there’s a beautiful cottage on the island that’s almost as big as the orphanage I grew up in.

Wow! I’ve heard the Thousand Islands area is very picturesque. Tell us about your job.

I’ve been doing laundry at the orphanage for nearly a decade, so that’s what I continue to do. I hate it.

Laundry isn’t my favorite thing to do either. Do you like your employers, the Clarks?

The Clark family are wonderful people. Mr. Clark is deceased, and Mrs. Clark is very nice. So is her son, Alson Skinner Clark, who is a famous Impressionist artist. He painted murals all over the cottage. I love to draw, so he helped me develop my skills.

To have mentorship from a famous artist is very fortunate for you!

I heard you were engaged. What became of your fiancé?

Goodness…poor Peter Byrne perished on his way to meet me when The Empress of Ireland sunk in the St. Lawrence. Aunt Gertie arranged a marriage between him and me with his mother, but I never met the man. 

I’m sorry for your loss. 

What or whom do you like least on Comfort Island?

That’s easy. The Ogre. Oh, I mean, Mrs. Marshall, my supervisor, who is a cruel taskmaster. 

Yikes, Colleen! She must be pretty awful to nickname her the Ogre!

I heard about a handsome groundskeeper from Austria. What can you tell us about him?

Jack Weiss is more than handsome. He’s become a trusted friend and confidant. Maybe more. 

Do you think you and he have a future together?

With World War I looming, Jack keeps talking about going back to Austria and fighting in the war. I hope he doesn’t. He’s the only friend I’ve ever known. To be honest, he’s more than that…

He sounds like a good man. I hope he won’t have to leave.

 I’ve heard you’re artistically talented. Tell us what and how you like to draw.

Awww…I love to sketch and draw anything and everything. It’s my way of sharing and experiencing the world more fully. Jack says I’m gifted. Mr. Alson does too. But I have so much to learn. 

Want to know the whole story? Susan G Mathis has put it all down in her book, Colleen’s Confession. Here’s a glimpse:

Summer 1914

Colleen Sullivan has secrets as she joins her aunt on Comfort Island to work in the laundry and await the arrival of her betrothed. She loves to draw and dreams of growing in the craft. But tragedy strikes when her fiancé perishes in the sinking of the ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland on his way to meet her. With her orphan dreams of finally belonging and becoming a wife and an artist gone, what will her future hold?

Austrian immigrant, Jack Weiss, enjoys being the island’s groundskeeper and is smitten by the lovely Irish lass. But Colleen dismisses him at every turn, no matter how much he fancies her art, tries to keep her safe, and waters the blossoms of love. When Jack introduces her to the famous impressionist, Alson Skinner Clark, Colleen seems to find hope.

But rumors of war in Europe prod Jack to choose between joining his family’s Austrian army and staying safe in the Thousand Islands to make a life with Colleen. Will she finally embrace his love for her, or will Jack lose the battle and join the war? With the Thousand Islands’ summer ending, he hopes she will.

You can get it here at Amazon.

About Susan: 

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out May 2022. Colleen’s Confession is her newest title, andRachel’s Reunion is coming soon. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas CharitySara’s Surpriseand Reagan’s Reward are also award winners. Susan’s book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, three American Fiction Awards, two Indie Excellence Book Awards, and two Literary Titan Book Awards. Reagan’s Reward is also a finalist in the Selah Awards. 

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world but returns each summer to the islands she loves. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com/fiction for more.

Social media links: Website |Author Central  Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Goodreads l Instagram  | CAN | 

Book Review: Miss Wetherham’s Wedding: The Brides of Mayfair, Book Three by Linore Rose Burkard

Lettie Wetherham lost her husband Steven to searching for more diamonds in a previously productive mine. Her resulting reduced circumstances and the promises she made to him hang like a pall over her future. She resorts to becoming a “hobby” matchmaker, relying on the generosity of those families for whom she has helped find mates for their loved ones. But her services are never advertised as that would be beneath her station in life and those whom she hopes to influence. 

Nick Dellacourt, a spoiled gentleman who is used to having his own way, can’t stand the thought of the subject of his recent affections so easily becoming engaged to an earl without any thought to his sentiments. He’s sure that she doesn’t love the other man and it galls him to have her out of reach. Nick may have the reputation of being a rogue and he may not intend to marry the young lady but being out of control of the situation is unthinkable!

When he observes the attractive young widow, Miss Wetherham, as they call her, at a gathering at Almack’s, he hatches a scheme. Soon he approaches her with his devious plan. Would she be willing to help him lure his former love interest away from her current intended and perhaps ensnare a loveless, but very rich match for herself—for hire?

Lettie is aware of Dellacourt’s reputation but finds herself and close relatives in a pickle because of the loss of funds in the diamond mine. If she’s willing to do the unthinkable and work for him it may bring the security she lacks. Yet, it goes against her Christian ethics, and her promise to Steven that if she marries again, it would be to a good man she loves. If only Dellacourt wasn’t so persuasive and… handsome! 

Linore Rose Burkard again weaves a wonderful Regency romance with historic detail and believable characters which draw you into their world. While it may seem to start a little slow, it sets up the characters’ conflicts, plot, and pace nicely. The author also takes on a little-used point of view: omniscient. This takes you outside of the heads of the characters to that of a narrator or observer. Omniscient POV seems very appropriate for a Regency novel and is reminiscent of Jane Austen’s writing and that of other 18th century authors. 

Lettie is a bit of a different heroine, though she is young and beautiful, she is also a widow, still bound by her love for her dead husband. Ms. Burkard delivers depth of character and Lettie is someone the reader will want to see have the best outcome. With Nick Dellacourt’s character, the author hints beyond the hero’s seeming impenetrable surface to the depth of his pride and surprising care for others which becomes evident as the story moves along.

As always, the detail of her Regency world is impeccable. It there’s an unfamiliar word or a term cannot be deciphered via context, there is a helpful glossary at the end of the book.

Miss Wetherham’s Wedding delivers the expected conundrums of marrying for love or money, misunderstood intentions, and evasive social interactions that fans of Regency romance have come to expect. There is a hint of a faith basis which fits with the time. It is a fun, sweet, and clean read I truly enjoyed. Brava, Ms. Burkard! 

A Chat with Jules Walker from Taming Julia by Jodie Wolfe

Jules, welcome to Novel PASTimes. What would you like to tell us about yourself?

JW: Howdy! Pleasure to be here. Name’s Jules Montgomery now that I got hitched. I’m one of those mail-order brides, although it seems like a funny name to me. It’s my first time to be settled and livin’ in one place. I kind of like it.

We’re pleased to have you for a visit. I heard you are living in Kansas. How is it different from where you came from?

JW: Kansas is mighty flat and seems like the wind is blowin’ all the time. I came from Texas mostly. My brother and I lived along the trail, so it’s a lot different since I’m livin’ in a town now.

What do you think of your new husband, Drew Montgomery?

 JW: Drew’s pretty special and good-lookin’. He’s mighty particular about the way he likes things. It’s takin’ me a while to learn his ways. I expect he’s adjustin’ to me as well.

Sounds like you might be growing rather fond of him, Jules. Could you share some examples of what Drew’s so particular about?

JW: My Drew has certain things you can talk about and other things I’m supposed to keep quiet-like. Only trouble is, I never know which of those things are the ones that can be spoken.

Hmm… sounds like you two need to work on communication. How do you feel about becoming a minister’s wife?

JW: I didn’t exactly know what a minister’s wife was on account of never goin’ to a church service until we got hitched. I’m still tryin’ to figure out what all that means.

What are some of the expectations you are struggling with in becoming minister’s wife?

JW: Having to wear a dress and to not speak my mind when something comes up in church. Those church ladies can be mighty hard to deal with sometimes.

I have to agree it’s a mite easier to wear pants than to be trussed up in a corset and a dress. You have my empathy.

 Do you have any goals for the future?

JW: I want a family and to stay in one place. I think that would be right nice.

It is nice to be in a stable place and have a family. I sure hope you and Drew can work things out. Thank you for stopping by Novel PASTImes this week. 

About the author:

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and COMPEL Training. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She’s a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at http://www.jodiewolfe.com.

A Chat with Grant Cummings from Janet Grunst’s The Year Without a Summer

Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Grant Cummings. Could you please tell me a little bit about your family and what you do for a living?

GC I’m from the Highlands. My family has lived south o’ Inverness in Tullochgorum near the River Spey and Cairngorm Mountains. My folk have been crofters for decades, but tis just my Ma ‘n’ Keith now since Pa passed. Ma was a flax spinner ‘n’ Keith is but a wee lad.

I’m a builder ‘n’ was workin’ on the lochs at Telford’s Highland’s Caledonian Canal.

What caused you to move to Ulster?

GC When Ma took ill, I returned to Tullochgorum. With her passin’, I needed to care for Keith, ‘n’ needed to find work. We had no kin left in the Highlands as many had emigrated to Northern Ireland or America.

Ma left me a note askin’ me to go to her sister Katherine Grant in County Londonderry, Ireland. Katherine would care for Keith and I could find work there. Since I never wanted to be under the heel of the local laird, when the evictions came, I saw the wisdom of my Ma’s wishes.

What do you think of your new landlady Molly MacGregor?

GC Ahh, that Molly MacGregor, she’s a bonny lassie to be sure with her blue eyes ‘n’ golden locks. Her pa also passed recently ‘n’she has a brother about Keith’s age. Katherine’s cottage was a wee bit small for the three of us so she directed us to Molly who had a hut to let. Seemed the perfect answer for both of us. But the lass has strange notions of Highlanders. She’s a kind ‘n’ generous soul underneath her reserve. Molly stirs me in ways I’ve never known, but the walls she’s built around her heart are formidable.

What kind of work have you been able to find near your home?

GC Aunt Katherine suggested there might be construction jobs a few miles east at Agivey Bridge. For now, tis hopeful ‘n’ Keith is getting the care he needs.

Do you think you want to return to your home or stay in Ulster and why?

GC There’s na future for us in the Highlands with the Clearances. There’s hope in Ulster so we’ll give this a go, or who knows. We’ve cousins in America, so that is a possibility too.

Thank you for visiting with us on Novel PASTimes today, Grant. May God guide you to the right place! 

About The Year Without a Summer , a novella in The Highlanders, a Smitten Romance collection:

Shoved off his family’s land in Scotland in 1816, Grant Cummings looks for work in Ulster, Ireland. He needs money and a home to raise his young brother. Molly MacGregor loses her father and his income, but she has no time to grieve as she sews and spins to earn enough to keep her and her young brother alive. Renting out the hut on their land might be the answer, but only if she can overcome her prejudice against the handsome Highlander who moves in. Her heart might soften toward him, but not when he plans to set sail for America.

Author’s Bio:

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight. She lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Brought up in a Navy family, she’s lived throughout the United States as well as Spain. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, inspire, and encourage readers. You can find Janet at: https://JanetGrunst.com

She is the author of the A Revolutionary War series:

A Heart Set Free, A Heart For Freedom, and Setting Two Hearts Free (releasing Oct. 2020)

A Chat with Becky Campbell from Double Jeopardy by Donna Schlacter

It’s nice to meet you, Becky. What is one important thing you’d like us to know about you?

I am determined to be the success my father always wanted to be.

 I’m so sorry to hear you lost your father, but I hear he’s left you behind with a ramshackle homestead and a silver mine? How’s that going for you?

 Who knew that mining could be such hard work? I hired a local rancher and a couple of laborers to help with the heavy lifting, but those men can be so pigheaded sometimes. Especially that Zeke Graumann.

Have you learned anything about your father’s murder? Are you going to try and solve it?

I know that the sheriff isn’t looking very hard, so it’s up to me. I mean, leaving him lying there dead like so much trash is hard to accept.

How has the adjustment been to living in mining territory compared to living in New York City?

 Ah, New York City. I surely do miss the Big Apple. The theaters. The shopping. The parties. Oh, and my mother, too. Yes, it’s been an adjustment. At home, I didn’t have to lift a finger. Mother paid for whatever I wanted. Here, I have to work really hard just to make a few cents, let alone dollars. But there is a rugged beauty here that I find makes me long to stay here. To settle down. To call something my own.

 Have the people been very friendly?

 Absolutely. Almost right away, I met Polly, who works in the mercantile. She can’t read or write, and I’m going to teach her. My landlady, Mrs. Hicks, was very kind to me. Mr. and Mrs. Dixon at the mercantile are a sweet couple. And apart from two drunks who almost accosted me the first day I arrived, people have been nice.

 What about your foreman, Zeke Graumann? How do you to get along?

 “Get along” is the right phrase. If I didn’t need his help, I’d tell him to get along. Seems no matter what I say, he says the opposite. He has ideas about what a woman should do and shouldn’t do, and no matter how hard I try, I’m always in the ‘shouldn’t do’ camp. Then again, he is easy on the eyes, as Polly says.

 Do you think you’ll keep him on? Why or why not?

 Since I hired him, I’ve managed to pay all the bills and put aside a few cents each week. Before that, I was losing money every week. He’s increased production, keeps the laborers in line, and doesn’t quite eat me out of house and home. Will I keep him on? Hmmm. Did I mention he’s easy on the eyes?

 What do you think the future holds for you?

 The future? If that includes the next two weeks or so, I’m pretty certain I can keep my head above water. Beyond that, I don’t know. The laborers—and Zeke—complain constantly about my cooking. There’ve been all these accidents that don’t quite feel like accidents, if you know what I mean. I’m not sure I trust Zeke or the laborers, but if they aren’t trying to drive me out of business, I don’t know who is.

Thank you for spending time with us, Becky. I hope things work out for you!

About the Author:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. As a hybrid author, she writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas and full-length novels. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Sisters In Crime, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; and teaches writing classes online and in person. Donna also ghostwrites, edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Book Review: Sara’s Surprise by Susan G. Mathis

About Sara’s Surprise:

Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?

My Review

A Sweet Holiday Romance Novella

Sara’s Surprise is a sweet romance which will capture readers with its lovable characters. Tenacious and kind, Sara O’Neill desires to become an independent and a successful pastry chef. She doesn’t expect the obstacles set in her way by her demanding and sought after boss, but new friends support her in her endeavors. Feisty little Madison Graham, who needs a mother, charms Sara. And Madison’s dad, Sean Graham, is the kind of man who is worthy of her regard. Their story, set during America’s Gilded Age in the Thousand Islands, will warm your heart this winter. A fun Christmas-time read, so snuggle down in a chair by the fireplace, sip a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy!

 

Book Review: Forever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard

About Forever, Lately::

1816, England
Julian St. John needs a wife. An oath to a deceased guardian must be kept. Miss Clarissa Andrews, a vexatious beauty, has dangled after him all season but he has no intention of choosing such a she-devil.

Maine, Present Day
Author Claire Channing is desperate to write a bestseller to save her failing career. She moves into her grandmotherʼs abandoned cottage to write the book, but a local resort baron wants to raze the place. Without the deed, the clock is ticking on how long she can stay. She thinks she’s writing St. Johnʼs story. But when she discovers an old prayer shawl and finds herself in his Regency world, she falls in love with him, a man she thought she invented! Miss Andrews, however, is also real—and she’d rather see Julian dead than in another womanʼs arms!  Claire must beat the clock to prevent a deadly tragedy, but can love beat the limits of time itself?

My Review:

A wonderful romp through the world of the Regency England through the eyes of a modern-day woman. Truly fun time travel by supernatural means rather than a time machine. The romance is poignant and sweet with both the hero and the heroine having to make tough choices. Julian St. John and Claire Channing seem to be meant for each other. The only thing that separates them is time! Author Linore Rose Burchard adds clever plot twists and dialog. It’s the kind of book worth reading a second time. I truly enjoyed it. Highly recommend!

An Interview with Etta Collier of Mail-Order Misfire by Davalynn Spencer

Nice to meet you, Etta. What is one important thing you’d like us to know about you?

I desperately wanted children and long wondered why the Lord didn’t share that blessing with my husband and me. After a while, I stopped begging and simply accepted the situation for what it was. Yet later, I realized how difficult it would have been to provide for even one child once I was on my own.

What did you like about your job as a dressmaker?

I loved the smiles of women and girls when they tried on what I crafted for them and I saw that oh-I-feel-beautiful look in their eyes. That’s how I knew I’d given them exactly what they wanted.

That is a special talent, Etta. That must have given you much satisfaction!

I hear you were recently widowed. I’m so sorry for your loss. What were your greatest fears when you found yourself alone?

Many fears run through a woman’s mind when she finds herself suddenly alone. Not that loneliness hadn’t been creeping into my heart with William’s distractedness over his debts and failures at erasing them. But when one’s husband is shot in a brawl it is somehow a more devastating loss than an illness or accident. It is more of a theft. A blatant robbery of one’s hopes and dreams. Add to that the inappropriate advances of the banker who held the note on our home, and I wasn’t quite sure which I feared more—the man’s insinuations of how I could pay that debt off or the temptation to lace his tea with strychnine the next time he darkened my door.

What an awful situation to be in! I heard you received a letter from a little girl, Gracie, who wanted you to be a mail-order bride for her widowed father. It’s kind of a crazy idea. How did you feel about it before you left?

You are right. It was absolutely a crazy idea. Crazier still when my own pastor suggested I be the one to answer the child’s letter. However, I was about to lose my home because my dress-making was not earning any more than what it took to keep body and soul together. If I answered Gracie’s letter, I could relocate away from the repugnant banker, find at least a temporary home, make a fresh start, and help ease a little girl’s loneliness. With my agreement to merely visit the family I was free to leave if her father were a rogue or ruffian. If not, well, that was a chance I was willing to take.

 What do you think of Sheriff Bern Stidham since you’ve met him?

The man has the most unusual gray-blue eyes—oh, pardon me, you didn’t ask about his appearance.  Well, he is all man. What I mean is, um, he does the best he can where keeping house is concerned. I’ve never seen such dust. But he loves Gracie more than life. He cares also for the townspeople, some of whom attend Sunday morning where he fills in as interim pastor for a small congregation. I enjoy his sermons, for he makes God sound approachable. Reachable. And, well, if I were quite honest, I can see myself as more than just his cook and housekeeper and Gracie’s nanny. I can see … Ah, dreams again. One must not get ahead of one’s self in that matter.

 Do you think there is a future for the three of you as a family?

 I truly hope so, but I’ve not been completely open with Bern about my past—fairly fleeing from Independence, leaving my home behind, and defaulting on my debts. I should have told him at the very beginning of our arrangement. But I’ve learned that should have doesn’t do anyone any good at all. I’m afraid I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with Gracie—the little girl I always wanted. And, well, her handsome father is so strong yet gentle. At times stern and ill-tempered, but always kind. Yes, I admit, my dreams are spinning in a family direction.

Then I wish you the best of luck, Etta! Sounds like it would be the right fit for all three of you.

About the author:

Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she writes romance for those who enjoy a Western tale with a rugged hero, both historical and contemporary. She holds the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, teaches writing workshops, and plays the keyboard on her church worship team. When she’s not writing, teaching, or playing, she’s wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with Davalynn athttps://davalynnspencer.com. and at Facebook, Twitter,and Pinterest.