Getting to know Lady Margaret from The English Proposal, The French Encounter and The American Conquest by Jenna Brandt

WTTHS coversWhat do you want? I want to find peace and live a happy life.

Okay, but what do you really want? *Lady Margaret lets out a heavy sigh* It’s been hard; I’ve faced difficulties in my life that have changed what I’ve wanted in life. Safety is what I desire most. I want to keep my family safe and not be afraid anymore.

But what do you REALLY want? *Narrows her eyes into a glare, then blurts out* I want to stop making impulsive decisions that ruin my life.

What does the Viscount Rolantry offer you? Friendship. We grew up together. I care deeply for him.

What about the Vidame of Demoulin? Protection. Though he wishes for more, I cannot give it to him.

And what about Cort Westcott? A future. He rescued me in more ways than I can ever express.

And what about the Duke of Witherton? *She stands up and places her hands on her hips* He is a vile, awful man whom I refuse to talk about. If you bring him up again, I will leave and answer no more questions.

I’m sorry. I knew you had a troubled past with the duke, but I didn’t know to what extent. Let’s talk about something else. What things do you not like to do? *Reluctantly, she sits back down* I don’t like sitting still. Why is that? When I do, I have to think about the choices I have made and what happened because of them. I would rather stay busy than take stock of my life.

Tell us about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted. I mentioned I lost people. The list is so long, I had no idea one person could survive such tremendous loss. The list started with my mother though, who passed away in childbirth. Delivering twins and surviving was not in the cards for her. What did you learn from growing up without a mother? What a deeply personal, and rather rude, question. *Lady Margaret pauses several seconds before answering* I learned that the love of a father could be enough. The Earl was a wonderful parent to me, especially after the loss of my twin brother, Randall, when we were children.

Thank you for your time, Lady Margaret. It’s been a pleasure. 

The Window to the Heart Saga Trilogy: a recountal of the trials, adventures and relationships of the family and friends of Lady Margaret. The first three books detail her journey with compelling themes of love, faith and hope with each book having a happy ending. Purchase it now on Amazon or read it for free in KU. 

Jenna headshotJenna Brandt is an avid reader and loves to read as well as write. She enjoys sharing the stories that she comes up with in her head. She has a BA in English from Bethany College, volunteers at her church on First Impressions as well as the creative writing team. She is a mother of three daughters and one little boy and a wife to a retired police officer.

To find out more about Jenna, to sign-up for her newsletter, or to purchase her books, visit her website at http://www.jennabrandt.com

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Please Welcome Christian Hundley, Lord Easton from Miss Devon’s Choice by Sally Britton

Miss Devon FRONT COVERTell me about your parents. Deceased. My mother was an Italian merchant’s daughter, my father an English lord.

Where have you lived? Italy, England

What is your Job? Viscount, Heir to the Earl of Ivyford

Is marriage in the cards for you? Arranged marriage to Miss Rebecca Devon

Tell me about you friends. At present, though it is difficult to admit, my only companion is my Vizsla, Ajax.

Overall outlook on life. Duty to the family name comes before all else, and sentiment of any sort is dangerous to one’s well-being.

Do you like yourself? At times. As I keep my own company, I find I like myself better than I like most other people.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? If I could have prevented smallpox from infecting myself, and my mother, I would. Then she would be alive, my father likely would too, and I might’ve stayed in Italy with them both.

How are you viewed by others? As a scarred, withdrawn, half-breed Italian. They underestimate me. One day, they will all see what I am capable of.

What do you think of your physical appearance? I tower over most Englishmen, which doesn’t help when I desire to go unnoticed in crowds. I have my mother’s dark coloring, and the scars from the disease which claimed her life. High cheekbones, brown eyes. Nothing extraordinary, in my opinion. But a certain young lady has claimed she finds me handsome.

What do people think of your voice? Deep. Bass. Is this even a question? What does it matter?

What are your Strongest and weakest character traits? I am a man of honor, a man of my word. I keep myself closed to others. Exposing my weaknesses in the past resulted in physical and emotional pain. People do not tend to enjoy being around those who are different.

How much self-control do you have? Rather a great deal. Except, it seems, when Miss Devon stubbornly engages me in conversation about our future. She somehow brings out aspects of my personality I’ve tried to keep buried. How does she manage to do that?

What is your biggest fear? Losing someone I love. I’ve been through that too many times already. It’s easier to put away the ridiculous emotion than risk that kind of pain again.

Do you have any talents? I am a talented musician, though it’s something my grandfather wouldn’t have me advertise. A violin tucked beneath my chin puts me at ease. I also enjoy rowing. At university, it was a sport I competed in. I find it relaxes me to row until my arms ache.

What do people like best about you? I haven’t the faintest idea. As I haven’t a high opinion of many people, I imagine very few even bother to consider my character. But then, I suppose my betrothed has said – and who knows what inspired the idea – that I make her feel safe. Strange.

What interests you? My music keeps me interested, but I am finding an increased desire to become involved in politics. As I will one day sit in the House of Lords, I often study current events, the MPs, and I have been following the reports on the war carefully.

What books do you enjoy? Reading is one of my favorite entertainments. I’ve enjoyed Sir Walter Scott’s adventure novels, but I’ve taken to reading a novel Miss Devon enjoys, Mansfield Park. I admit, the author’s writing shows some talent, but I much prefer something less domestic.

What would a great gift for you be? Peace and quiet. Please.

When are you happy? When I’m playing my music, or out with Ajax. I’m not sure happy would be the correct word. I am content.

What makes you angry? Arrogant Englishmen behaving as if they are the only creatures on earth with half a brain. Imbeciles.

What makes you sad? Nothing. I have long since abandoned such a useless emotion.

What makes you laugh? An insipid question. I cannot think when—oh. I suppose Miss Devon made me laugh just the other day. I cannot think when, before…. She has an infectious laugh.

What are your hopes and dreams? To return to Italy one day, see my family there. I miss them. And to perhaps create an amiable match with my betrothed.

What has been the biggest trauma in your life? I was only a child when my mother died, following my illness. All I can remember from those last days with her was pain, the fevers, nightmares. The only thing that helped, that soothed me, was the sound of her voice singing Italian lullabies. And then she grew too ill. And she was gone.

What do you care about most in the world? Upholding the family honor. What else is there?

Do you have a secret? Having a secret would imply I care what people think of me. Although. Miss Devon has been something of a surprise. I’ve written my grandfather about the suitability of the match. I’m not certain this is going to work between us.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? That would be Miss Devon, I suppose. She’s an intelligent young woman. I suppose some would say attractive. She laughs and is one of the most cheerful people I’ve ever met. I find it hard to imagine her happy living in my grandfather’s house. She’s kind to everyone around her. She is unfailingly honest. I admire that. So many women of the tonare secretive, or say one thing and mean another. I suppose Miss Devon has many fine qualities. Hm.

Get Miss Devon’s Choice on Amazon Now

Miss Devon’s Choice: Rebecca Devon lives under the severe eye of her aunt and the iron will of her father. Though she wears what she is told and befriends the people they choose for her, she spends every moment longing to do as she wishes. Knowing freedom will only come through marriage, her hopes for a happy union are stolen away when her father arranges her marriage to a complete stranger.

Christian Hundley, Lord Easton, has learned the hard way that English society won’t accept a person who looks or behaves differently than their ideal. He has hidden himself away from scornful eyes for years, until his aging grandfather takes matters in hand and finds Christian a bride. Knowing he must agree to the marriage, Christian shields his heart. If the whole of society cannot accept him, why should his bride?

Rebecca knows she must have love in her life, but Christian is convinced there is nothing so fraught with danger and pain as entrusting one’s heart to another. Rebecca does everything she can to change his mind, but Christian is determined to remain aloof. Can an arranged marriage ever be anything other than a business partnership?

Purchase Miss Devon’s Choice on Amazon

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Sally Britton is sixth generation Texan, received her BA in English from Brigham Young University, and reads voraciously. She started her writing journey at the tender age of fourteen on an electric typewriter, and she’s never looked back.

Sally lives in Arizona with her husband, four children, and their dog. She loves researching, hiking, and eating too much chocolate.

 

 

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Introducing Abigail Larsen and Levi Emerson from Lawfully Wanted by Jenna Brandt

Lawfully-Wanted-GenericIf you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Levi: I would want to spend it with Abigail. I don’t care what we do as long as we are together.

Abigail: You’re sweet, Levi. (She says turning to him). I would want to spend the day with you too. Maybe, go on a picnic.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

Abigail: More open now. The old me before I went away to school didn’t stand up for myself, but the new me shares my thoughts more openly.

Levi: Probably stand-offish, but it’s mostly because of the job. I have to keep myself closed-off as a bounty hunter and always on alert.

What’s your idea of a good marriage?

Abigail: I never really wanted to get married–I don’t want a man to tell me what to do, but a good marriage for me would mean my spouse treats me as his equal.

Levi: What she said (He says with a crooked grin)

What are you most proud of about your life?

Abigail: I try to be a compassionate person and help others.

Levi: I’m loyal.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done?

Abigail: I would love to start my own local chapter for the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Levi: I’m pretty happy with my new life in Rockwood Springs. I can’t think of anything.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

Abigail: When my mother died, my father sent me away. I needed to be close to family, but instead ended up alone. It did make me stronger though.

Levi: Feeling I had to lie to Abigail. I didn’t realize the consequences it would have.

What are you most afraid of?

Abigail: Disappointing my father

Levi: Losing Abigail

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Abigail: She cared about others deeply and fought for what she believed in.

Levi: He was a good man who served God and those he loved.

If you would like to get this book for $2.99 or any of Jenna Brandt’s other books, you can visit Jenna Brandt on Amazon

13177985_10206441133811000_1529186980204341074_nAuthor Bio: Jenna Brandt is an international bestselling author who writes Christian historical and contemporary romance. Her historical books span from Victorian to Western to WWI eras and all her books have elements of romance, suspense and faith. Her debut series, the Window to the Heart Saga, as well as her multi-author series, The Lawkeepers and Match Made in Heaven Series, have garnered praise and love from readers.

She has been an avid reader since she could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. She has been published in several newspapers as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper while there. Her first blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News, CNN Health, and Good Morning America websites. She is a contributor and curator for the website, Novel PASTimes, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Writing is her passion, but she also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading, engaging in social media and spending time with her three young daughters and husband where they live in the Central Valley of California. She is also active in her local church where she volunteers on their first impressions team, in the crisis care ministry as well as writes for the church’s creative team.

To find out more about Jenna, to sign-up for her newsletter, or to purchase her books, visit her website at http://www.jennabrandt.com

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Meet Mary Coffin Starbuck from Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Light Before Day

Name: Mary Coffin Starbuck

Parents: Tristram and Dionis Coffin 

Siblings: Too many to keep track of!  

Places lived: Moved to Nantucket Island in 1660

Jobs: Wife, mother, ran a trading store for most of my life

Friends: Everyone I met 

Enemies: None that I know of, or care to know of

Dating, marriage: Married Nathaniel Starbuck when I was 17 years old; he is the love of my life 

Children: Ten children, eight of whom lived to adulthood

What person do you most admire? Peter Foulger—a true Renaissance man

Overall outlook on life: Optimistic and realistic, both

Do you like yourself? I am both content and grateful

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? Other than losing two children to an early grave, there is nothing I lack 

How are you viewed by others? A curious question! John Richardson, an early Quaker preacher said of me, “The Islanders established her a Judge among them, for a little of moment was done without her advice.” 

Physical appearance: Small but mighty

Eyes: Brown

Hair: Once brunette, now salt and pepper

Voice: Gentle in tone, forceful in content

How would you describe yourself? As a woman who has been fortunate to find an important role to play in a man’s world  

Characteristics: Intelligent, logical; some say blessed with wisdom 

Strongest/weakest character traits: It is both—my ability to see what needs to change, and my tolerance in allowing time for change to occur

How much self-control do you have? More with every passing year

Fears: Standing at the grave of one I dearly love and facing life without them

Collections, talents: I have a quick mind for details and accounting

What people like best about you: Friends kindly refer to me as the Deborah of Nantucket

Food, drink: Mullein tea on a cold foggy Nantucket day

Books: The Bible, of course; books are scarce on an island 

Best way to spend a weekend: The same way as every other day

What would a great gift for you be? To have all my children together, under one roof…and all their children, too

When are you happy? Every single day brings a moment of joy

What makes you angry? Mistreatment of those who are less fortunate

What makes you sad? Same as what makes me angry

What makes you laugh? Little children, baby animals…oh, and my husband Nathaniel makes me laugh

Hopes and dreams:For our island to have unity, without oppression (remember, we came from the mainland, where the Puritans fined us for every little infraction)

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? While still on the mainland, I stood by and watched friends and neighbors hurl rocks and stones at a Quaker woman 

Greatest success: When Quaker missionary John Richardson came to Nantucket in 1701 and I had a spiritual awakening

Biggest trauma: Burying two of my dear children

What do you care about most in the world?My family, my island, my faith

Do you have a secret? Oh my! There are no secrets on an island

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book?Well, they’re all my great great granddaughters!

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Absolutely nothing

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be:To end my life well

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: Here is an example, taken straight from my journal: 

Stephen Hussey came into the store this afternoon. He settled into Father’s rocking chair by the fire and drank gallons of my mullein tea, talking to every person who came in. He carried his ear trumpet with him, which struck me as ironic for, despite being a Quaker, he is not fond of listening, only of talking. Stephen Hussey never had a thought that he couldn’t turn into a sermon. 

            Today, though, he remained quiet until the store was brimming over with customers. He rose to his feet and announced in his loud shrill voice, “I have a riddle for thee, Mary!”

The store grew quiet, all eyes turned to Stephen, as everyone enjoyed a good riddle, and he enjoyed a good audience.

“What’s gray and old and likes to be everywhere at once?”

“Nantucket fog,” I said, hoping he would now go home. 

“Nay. The answer is…Mary Coffin Starbuck!” He laughed and laughed, thoroughly amused with himself, until tears ran down his cheeks.That man! He sorely tries my patience.

Thanks for allowing this peek into your story, Mary!


Suzanne Woods Fisher
is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Phoebe’s LightMinding the Light, the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peaceand The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher and Facebook at SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor.

Introducing Louisa from Jessica Fellowes’s Bright Young Dead

Thank you for doing this. You appear very loyal, willing to threaten your job as a nanny to defend your friend who is accused of murder. You live in an exciting time because society is changing and it appears your hopes are changing as well. 

Elise Cooper: Why did you decide to become a nanny of sorts?

Louisa Cannon:I needed to get away from London and my friend Jennie was with Miss Nancy when I bumped into her just before Christmas 1919. Miss Nancy mentioned that the nursery maid had left and they were in need of another, what with Lady Redesdale expecting another baby at the time. I thought it couldn’t be too hard to pick up what to do, and I’m good enough at sewing too, because of helping my mother with laundry and mending the linens for the big houses. 

EC: Now that many of the girls are older you have morphed into a chaperone-what is that like?

LC: Nanny Blor looks after the littlest ones, and I think because Miss Nancy and Miss Pamela and I are not too far apart in age, it was more natural for it to be me going with them to London. Although I know London, I don’t know it the way they know it. I’d never have seen the insides of some of the houses they go to, let alone the parties and the nightclubs. Sitting with Miss Nancy or Miss Pamela I hear all kinds of conversations that the likes of me would never be party to usually. 

EC: You have become an amateur sleuth-why?

LC:I didn’t mean to! But Mr. Sullivan became a friend of mine, when he was working for the railway police – he’s a sergeant with the Metropolitan Police now – got me interested. Nanny Blor’s sister knew the nurse who was murdered on the train, and that got everyone involved somehow. I didn’t really want to get caught up in it all but somehow it happened, and knowing Miss Nancy and hearing what the police were investigating. it meant I was the one who could put the pieces together I think. 

EC: Alice Diamond is a larger than life criminal-are you afraid of her?

LC:Yes, but not because I thought she would be violent. It was more that she was the most powerful woman I’d ever seen. I didn’t know a woman could command attention in a room like she could. And she does whatever she wants. I’m not saying those are necessarily good things and she’s a thief – that’s bad, of course. But there’s something amazing about seeing a woman know what she wants and go after it, with no man stopping her.

EC: Do you ever wish that you can trade places with the “Bright Young Things,” those you work for, and become part of the rich and famous?

LC:I don’t think that I want be rich and famous, I want to be myself. But I don’t see why I shouldn’t be myself and have a little of what they have sometimes. I do like those beautiful dresses. It’s all just pretend in a way, like putting wallpaper up. What you look like on the outside – does that mean that’s what you are on the inside? I don’t know. I feel sometimes like what I wear betrays me and that if someone could really see me, they’d see me in something different. But I am who I am, I can’t change that and I don’t know that I really want to. 

EC: How would you describe your relationship with Guy?

LC:Oh. That’s hard to do. I like Guy, I like him a lot. We’ve been friends for some years now and I know he has been sweet on me in the past. It’s just complicated because I want to work, and if I marry, I have to quit my job. But for Guy, life could go on just the same as before, only he’d have a wife instead of his mother doing his washing and cooking his meals. It’s an exciting time for women right now – 1925! We can go out to work and earn our own money, and not have a father or husband telling us what to do. I want some of that. 

EC: Since this is 1925 are you a supporter of women’s suffrage?

LC:Yes, of course. We’ve got the vote now – well, sort of, if you’re over 30 years old and a house owner. But it’s better than the nothing we had before. I believe in women’s rights. There aren’t enough men around since the war and women have to be able to go out to work to support themselves. 

EC: Do you think he is unusual in that he treats women as equals-considering his police partner is a woman?

LC:Yes, I think Guy is unusual, which is why I like him and why it gets complicated between us. He does show real respect for women, and he listens. Not many men do that. Though I don’t know that he’s very interested in trying to change the world, he’s quite happy to keep the status quo, I think. So he’ll be good to women but I don’t think he wants them in charge or anything like that. What man does? 

EC: Is it more fun to be around Nancy or Pamela?

LC:They’re both very different. Miss Nancy is quite sharp, you have to be careful not to be on the wrong end of her. But she can also be very funny, and a lot of fun. She’s the most daring, the most willing to try something new. If it wasn’t for Miss Nancy I wouldn’t have had the courage to go to the 43 nightclub, and I’m grateful to her for that. Miss Pamela is quieter but she’s steady and kind. The others rely on her to be their rock. If you were in trouble, Miss Pamela’s the one you’d want on your side. 

EC: What do you like doing for fun?

LC:I don’t get much time for fun but I like reading – Lady Redesdale tells me books to read for history and she is kind enough to let me borrow from their library. Otherwise, I go for long walks with the littlest girls – Debo and Decca – and I love learning more about the flowers that grow in the country. I grew up in London and didn’t see much more than the odd patch of grass and oak trees. Out here in the country you can see for miles and miles, nothing but fields and hedgerows and birds soaring in the skies. It makes me feel free. 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

LC:I don’t know that I dare think beyond next week. But I suppose it would be nice to think that I might be a woman of some significance somehow, one day. That seems a bit silly, I know. I had to leave school at fourteen and I don’t know any science. I’m not sure what work I might be able to do but I’m always looking about, you read about things in the newspapers that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago. 

THANK YOU!!

JESSICA FELLOWES is an author, journalist, and public speaker, best known for her five official New York Times bestselling companion books to the Downton Abbey TV series. Former deputy director of Country Life, and columnist for the Mail on Sunday, she has written for the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, She has knowledge of the 1920s era and has now ventured into writing  a series of historical crime fiction with returning characters Louis Cannon and Guy Sullivan. 

Book Review: Everything She Didn’t Say by Jane Kirkpatrick

Everything She Didn’t Say

by Jane Kirkpatrick
Revell, 978-0-8007-2701-7
September 2018

Reviewed by Cindy Thomson
Everything She Didn't Say-Book Cover
Jane Kirkpatrick’s newest novel is based on the diaries of Carrie Strahorn, a woman who during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century accompanied her railroad employee husband as he wrote promotion for westward settlers and later helped him build several new towns when he became an investor. Carrie wrote her own published pieces for magazines along with her account of their adventures in the American West.

It’s hard to imagine how pioneers grappled with establishing settlements in deserts, and the accounts of how they rode on stage coaches in Indian territory very much exposed with little to defend themselves with gave me shivers. Carrie’s longing for a family and how she resolved issues in her marriage made her a character readers will root for, even though modern readers can’t truly relate to the magnitude of her struggles.

Kirkpatrick takes the view that Strahorn probably gave a tidy version of her experiences in her memoir and in letters to her family, so she imagined what life had really been like for her based on historical accounts. There were parts of Carrie’s actual writings that do give the reader the idea that she’s not telling the whole story. These appear at the end of the chapters and are what Kirkpatrick built upon. The author is a master at this kind of storytelling. I’m a Jane Kirkpatrick fan. I love how she brings life to real historical figures, people that I probably never would have learned about if I hadn’t read her novels. The historical notes at the end of the book are not to be missed.

It did take me awhile to get into this story. If that’s the case for you, I recommend you keep reading. For me the pace really picked up in the last third of the book. The problem sometimes with telling the story of a real-life person is that there any many things that occur during a lifetime, and some of those things don’t move the story along at a pace fiction readers expect, and yet they really happened so the author wants to include them. Overall, I enjoyed the story. If you are a historical fiction fan, and it’s likely the readers of this blog are, I think you will enjoy Everything She Didn’t Say.

I was given a review copy by the publisher with no obligation to post a review. I have given my honest opinion.

Interview With Callie Jennings from A Musket in My Hands by Sandy M. Hart

MusketCover (002)Callie, just where is Cageville, Tennessee? What is your home like?

The town of Cageville is in western Tennessee. It was named for Licurgus Cage, one of our first merchants. The town became known as Alamo in 1869. They renamed it as a memorial to folks who died at Battle of the Alamo—and to Davy Crockett.

Our farm is about a mile outside of town. We don’t have any close neighbors, just lots of trees near our cleared fields. Empty now, except for an acre plot that I planted to keep us from starving. I hope it’s too small for the Yankees to notice it much.

The biggest city nearby that you might have heard of is Jackson. I’ve never been there, but Louisa—my sister—and I told our comrades that we came from a place outside of Jackson. We didn’t want the other soldiers to find out where we were from and tell our pa where to find us.

What are the living conditions like where you are at this point in the war?

Oh, things are bad. After the Yankees took our crops, Pa stopped planting. Said he wasn’t going to plow and plant just so the Yankees could steal it from us.

Louisa works at the mercantile. They pay her in food so that helps. I planted a garden, hoping the Federal soldiers that ride by our farm don’t take notice of it. It’s not much, but that food should keep us alive this winter.

Other folks in town are doing about the same as us.

 I hear your pa is a Confederate ranger. What are he and the Confederate soldiers fighting for? And has it been worth the toll it’s taken?

Yep, Pa is too old for soldiering, but he found a way to fight for his country. He and his friend, Ezra Culpepper, joined a cavalry guerrilla group. They go out on missions and then come home, pretending to be nothing more than average citizens while in town.

I know the South needs all the help they can get to win this war, but I hate what being a ranger has done to my pa. He never used to drink like this. I think he drinks to forget about those missions.

Are you really engaged to your pa’s friend? Rumor has it that your heart belongs to someone else!

No! I’m not going to marry a man thirty years my senior, no matter what Pa agreed to on my behalf. Pa’s mind is made up so I have to figure out something.

I love Zachariah Pearson. Zach never courted me before the war and now the fighting is about all he thinks of. But I’m the only girl in town he writes to—I know because I asked all the other single ladies. That makes me special, doesn’t it?

 Tell us something about your true beau, Zach?

Oh, what I could tell you about Zach. We’ve been friends since his aunt and uncle took him in after his parents drowned. That was when he was fourteen, eight years ago. It was a tough time for him. He and his cousin, Nate McClary, grew as close as brothers.

Zach is a handsome man, especially in his Confederate gray. I love his green eyes and the way his brown hair curls right before it gets cut. I always thought he might court me … and then the war started. He trained at Camp Trenton in September of 1861. I’ve only seen him on his furloughs since then.

 How would you describe yourself?

Oh, I’m not much to look at. Louisa takes after Ma. With her blue eyes and blonde hair, she’s the real beauty of the family. She knows it, too.

I got my auburn hair from Pa. His brown eyes, too. My hair is curly so I have to keep it pinned in a bun on top of my head. Wish I was pretty, though. Maybe Zach would notice me.

How do you plan to avoid marriage to your pa’s friend and how does your sister, Louisa, fit into all this?

Oh, Louisa’s got a plan. She’s the adventurous one. She’s been reading newspaper reports about women disguising themselves as Confederate soldiers. She’s been after me to muster into the army to avoid marrying Mr. Culpepper.

But Louisa has her own reasons for joining the army. She’s heard reports that her fiancé, Nate McClary, has been flirting with other women. I don’t want to think badly of him … but I’m afraid the reports are true.

Aren’t you worried your disguises might be found out? What will you do if that happens?

Louisa and I have done our best to disguise ourselves as men so we can muster into the army. I’ve sewn trousers, coats, and blouses for both of us. Louisa sewed padding onto our underclothing to hide our shapes. Our blouses and coats fit loosely so that should help.

We’ve practiced walking like men, talking like men.

I hope we’re ready.

About the Author: 

SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2

Award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Sandra Merville Hart loves to uncover fascinating historical facts for her stories. Her debut Civil War Romance, A Stranger on My Land, was IRCA Finalist 2015. A Rebel in My House, set during the historic Battle of Gettysburg, won the 2018 Silver Illumination Award and second place in 2018 FHL Readers’ Choice Award. A Musket in My Hands, where two sisters join the Confederate army with the men they love, released November 8th. Her novella, Surprised by Love in “From the Lake to the River” released in September of 2018. Trail’s End, in “Smitten Novella Collection: The Cowboys” releases in August of 2019.

Find her on her blog, https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Enya from Cindy Thomson’s Enya’s Son

Finally Home LOHello, Enya. I’ve heard this is not the correct spelling. Could you tell us your correct name?

 

Greetings. It’s my pleasure to speak with you today. My name is Eithne, but my author did not think modern folks would understand my name so she changed it a bit. I really don’t know why. It is pronounced Awn-ya.

 

Oh, well, that makes sense. You are after all, from the sixth century, aren’t you?

 

You are correct.

 

At the beginning of the story, your author mentions a Bible verse from 1 Samuel: I am a woman who is deeply troubled. Was that referring to you?

 

Well, it’s referring to Hannah of the Scriptures, of course. But yes, I was also a woman deeply troubled, and just like Hannah, a priest misunderstood when I was praying. He thought I was drunk or some such thing. I’m not one for whispering or keeping quiet at all.

 

You were praying for a child, then?

 

Aye, I was, and God heard my prayer.

 

Was becoming a mother all you hoped it would be?

 

(Laughing) I had no idea what an adventure I was in for! My heart never stopped aching for that lad.

 

Because you sent him to be raised in the church?

 

That and more. ’Tis a hard thing for a mother to let go, and here in the wild landscape of Ireland anything can happen, and often does.

 

The plague, for example?

 

Awful business, that. My son lost his close friend to that pestilence, and I nearly lost my husband Fe to a terrible fever. Life is uncertain in my world.

 

Tell us about your husband.

 

Fe is the strongest man I know, and I don’t just mean muscle. He is my rock. It took me a long time to realize what a wonderful blessing God had given me. You see, I came from a family in the south who did not treat me right. They thought I was special because of my birth order.

(Taps finger on chin.) And, I suppose I might be special after all. Not the way they assumed, but special to God. I cannot tell you why. My author is shaking her head at me. Please read my book and find out!

 

Thank you, Enya. We would like to take a trip to sixth-century Ireland with you in your book!

***

Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, third in the Daughters of Ireland series based on ancient legends. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also written articles for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today magazines, and children’s short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. She has also co-authored a baseball biography. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families, and can be found online at www.cindyswriting.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/cindyswriting and on Twitter: @cindyswriting.authorphoto4cindy-thomson-LR-3

Meet Bess Crawford from Charles Todd’s A Forgotten Place

Thanks for joining us!

41GH+Si0kELPeople have described you as independent, steadfast, intelligent, and resilient. You always seem to find a patient who needs your help and you never turn your back on them, even if it means risking your life. You are a nurse who will not back down from a situation or a mystery.  But you also have scars from being on the front lines and seeing so many men maimed and killed during this Great War.

Elise Cooper: Why did you choose to become a nurse? 

 

Bess Crawford: After my father retired from the army we went back to England. Then war came. Of course, I couldn’t march off with the regiment to France, however much it meant to me. The next best thing was to be a nursing Sister, and save as many of the wounded as I could. Unfortunately, some of those we saved had to go back into the line and were killed. But we did what we could, and I believe we made their dying easier even when we couldn’t make them well.  It was difficult, not an easy task, there on the front lines. I saw some terrible things, and sometimes I dream about them. But I have no regrets. And I am so grateful to my parents for letting me train for the Queen Alexandra’s. They could have said no, but they understood why I felt I must do this.

 

EC: Do you think WWI brought more power to women, as many took on professions? 

 

BC: The answer must be no.  We didn’t achieve any power at all, not really. It was always made clear that we were replacing men who were needed in the field. Even the nurses knew that many Army officers were appalled at the thought of women so close to the Front, and they’d have been just as happy to have orderlies take over our work. The fact that we were trained to deal with wounds didn’t enter into it. We were women.  I’ve heard that some of the Australian nurses in Egypt were denied resources, to force them to give up. They didn’t, of course, but it was a rough patch, and it was the patients who suffered.  However, I think we showed our country that we could pull our weight when England was in danger, and she didn’t collapse from our mismanagement. (Bess smiles.)

We grew vegetables, we took over desks where men could be spared, we worked in factories and drove omnibuses—and we did it all well. That was what mattered. And after the war, some women will be allowed to vote, if the Government keeps its promise to the Suffragettes. There will be restrictions, I’m sure, and I probably shan’t be old enough.  Nor do I own property or stand as head of a household. Still, it will be a beginning. Although some men will go on claiming we aren’t emotionally capable of wise decisions. I ask you!

 

EC: When the War is finally over would you like to be a detective? 

 

BC:(Laughing.)  I don’t think so. Heavens, no.  I did what I had to do, out of duty and a sense of what was right.  But my cousin, Melinda Trent, also a soldier’s daughter, tells me that trouble always knows where to find me.  (Laughter fades.) That could be true. I was part of a regiment, however small a part that was. And I expect that will shape my life for a long time. When someone is in very great trouble, how do you shake your head and just walk away?  The Army never runs. How could I?

 

EC: How has your dad influenced you? 

 

BC: We call him Colonel Sahib, which is what the native soldiers called him. It’s a term of respect, rather like Colonel Sir. He was such a good officer, and the Army called him back during the war to do certain missions and deal with certain matters—my mother and I never knew what these were. But he continues to serve in any way he can. And that’s good, because he’s wise and experienced and level-headed. I have always admired and loved him, and I can speak to him on any subject, and he listens to me and gives me his honest opinion. He dealt with a regiment and he still found time for a small daughter.

 

EC:  Do you think he admired you for serving during WWI?

 

BC:Although he’s never said it, I think he was very proud of what I did in the war. Even though he must have been terrified for me there in the forward aid stations, he gave me permission to go. He didn’t want me to have my own motorcar, either, but he just shook his head and accepted it when I drove up.

 

EC: How has your mom influenced you? 

 

BC: My mother’s rather exceptional too!  As the Colonel’s Lady, she had a good deal of responsibility toward the wives and children of the men in our regiment, and she took that quite seriously.  She’s the daughter of a country squire, well-educated, brought up with great marriage prospects because there was money in the family. And then she fell in love with a handsome Army officer, and my poor grandparents were appalled!  But they had the good sense to see that it was really love, not just the uniform, and they agreed to the marriage. She insisted I learn to play the piano, draw, sew and cook and run a household, while I was more interested in riding and other exciting things.  And I am so glad she did, because even wild little girls grow up to be women. She’s warm-hearted, sensible, calm in emergencies, a good tennis player, and I love her more than I can say.  She married a man with responsibilities, grave ones, and she’s given him the support and love he needed to be his best. I hope I can do the same one day.

 

EC: How come you have not had any intimate relationships? 

 

BC:(Laughing).  This is early 1919, Elise, nice women don’t have “intimate relationships.” And I respect my parents too much to be anything but the woman they want me to be. I’ve had so many friends, many of them men because of my upbringing, and I enjoy working with them and talking to them. I didn’t expect Sergeant Lassiter to propose, you know.

 

EC:  Why didn’t you accept it?

 

BC:That was such a terrible moment, because I knew he meant his proposal, and I wasn’t ready to fall in love. Well, I couldn’t, could I? I’d have been dismissed from the Queen Alexandra’s. And this was my work, my duty–I’d taken it on and I wanted to keep serving as long as the wounded needed care. Several of my friends, including my flat mate, Diana, had to keep an engagement secret for several years, or lose her own place. I didn’t feel I could do that. I tried to let him down as gently as I could, but that’s painful all the same.

 

EC: How would you describe Simon and your interactions? 

 

BC(Smiling.)  Simon is Simon.  He lied about his age, you know. Tall and strong as he was, he got away with it, but he was just a wild boy. He exasperated my father, but the Colonel Sahib could see beyond the wildness, and he knew what Simon could be capable of.  He took him under his wing, made him a man, and he asked him to go back to England to train as an officer, but Simon refused.  I think my father knows something about him that my mother and I don’t, because he never insisted on Simon going back. My mother did something for Simon out in India that he owes her for. Something rather serious, I think, but I don’t know about that either. And it’s Simon’s secret, not mine. He’s become the son my father never had. And that’s precious to me.

 

EC:  So do you consider him a brother?

 

BC:Simon is also the brother I never had, in and out of my life since India, since I was small. (Looking away.) I’m terribly fond of him.  And he’s been such a rock…

 

EC: What effect has the war had on you? 

 

BC: There was fighting out in India, wounds, men dying, trouble with the tribes along the Frontier with Afghanistan. We saw that and I thought I’d seen war. But the Great War was so much worse. And I was grown, a nurse. No one spared me the bad news, as they tried to do in India when I was small.  I have nightmares, as I’ve mentioned. And I have had to learn to put my emotions aside and try to help a patient, no matter how terrible his wound might be.  A nurse must remain calm, no matter what. And the discipline I learned in India, where it could be so dangerous, and the discipline I learned in nursing, to be objective and sensible, have helped.  I hope some of what I’ve seen will fade with time. One day I’ll want to marry, have children, and I don’t want them to see the shadows of war in me.  My mother is a good model there—she never let me feel threatened or afraid of anything, even when she was most worried about my father out in the field in India.

 

EC: From your viewpoint what effect has the war had on the fighting men? 

 

BC: Of course, there are the dead, so many, many of them.  And the missing. Many men were taken prisoner during the fighting too. This is never good for morale, but they were all so brave, the men I worked with.  You know, they didn’t fear death as much as they did losing a limb or being terribly disfigured—burns, facial wounds, ugly scars. I have worked with so many amputees and burn victims, and I have sometimes seen them break. Especially when they realize they can’t support their family. The last thing they want is to be a burden. Even now since the war is over, we’ve lost too many to depression. I find it so sad.

 

EC:  There are emotional wounds?

 

BC:  These are the other wounds you don’t see. Of the mind. Shell shock. People who don’t know anything about war call that cowardice. I know too well that it is the shock of losing so many men in too short a time.  The officers felt this most particularly.  New recruits would arrive, and before anyone could learn more than their names, they were killed. And an officer had to send men back over the top even when he knew it was useless to try again. There were the men caught in shell blasts, who died without a mark on them. Others deafened or shocked senseless by the tunnels going up.  I was so proud of our Army. But when a battle lasts for months, as it did on the Somme, men will break. Some will be stronger afterward, though.  I have seen that too.

 

EC: What have you learned about yourself after serving in the War? 

 

BC: I went into nursing with great hopes of saving lives. I had to learn that one can’t save them all, no matter how skilled the doctors and nurses might be. I had to learn how to sit beside a dying man and keep his spirits up to the end, with smiles and a brave front.  I had to face German soldiers taking over my aid station and keep calm, keep my patients safe.  I had to watch over them in ambulances being fired upon from the air, or crossing countryside where there were no roads and my patients suffered. I’ve crossed seas where U-boats were waiting, and knew that if we went down, I might not survive, but none of my patients had a chance. I’ve had other problems to cope with, of course, helping people in various ways. I’ve learned to be braver than I thought I could be, but I try never to be foolish. Still, I hate injustice, I hate to see people being hurt or taken advantage of. I always have. The war hasn’t changed that.

 

EC: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you want to go considering you have been to many places? 

 

BC: I’ve had an invitation to a wedding in Ireland!  A nurse I served with on Britannic. The ship sank, but we survived.  I’m so happy for her.  First, I must go back to France for a few weeks. Matron has something she wants me to help her to do there. And I want to go back to India. Melinda Crawford, my cousin, would like me to travel with her when it’s safe to go. We want Simon to come with us. He’s reluctant to return to India. But Melinda will persuade him, I think. And my parents would feel happier if we weren’t traveling so far alone.  Melinda was a heroine in the Great Indian Mutiny. Imagine that. She’s traveled everywhere. I’d like to see South Africa. Perhaps Canada or America. So much of the world is unsettled now, so perhaps I shall have to be patient. (Smiles.) Or I might marry and never travel at all. Who knows?

 

EC: What do you do to relax? 

 

BC: I used to ride quite often in India. Horses didn’t fare well in Africa, with the tsetse flies and other diseases, and so I didn’t learn to ride until I was in India. I enjoy a fast game of tennis. I enjoy reading. I had a very good governess who made reading exciting. My father taught me to play chess, too. As a child, I liked putting up fruits and jams with my mother and our cook, but my favorite thing was helping make our Christmas Puddings.  And eating them too, of course. (Smiles.) I love to drive my own motorcar but don’t have many opportunities at present. I’ve driven Simon’s—it’s larger and more powerful than mine, but I can manage it. Although the first time I turned the crank on that one, I thought my elbow would break!  My mother drives as well. I enjoy parties, but we haven’t had many since the war began. I’m quite a good dancer, and I rather enjoy that too. But so many of my dancing partners are dead now. So sad.

 

EC: If you had a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years? 

 

BC: Oh my!  In five years?  I shall surely have finished nursing. Unless there is another war, of course.  Married?  I shan’t even be thirty by then. Before the war I’d be considered a spinster now! (Laughs.) Ah well. Perhaps someone will still wish to marry me. Simon tells me that I’m too stubborn. Well, he isn’t married either, so there!

 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams? 

 

BC:For peace. I’ve seen enough death. It’s time the world learned to get along.

 

EC: Anything else you would like to say that has not been asked? 

 

BC:  You’ve been quite formidably thorough, you know. I’ve found myself thinking about things I haven’t put into words even to myself.  I just got back from a most beautiful part of Wales. There were some rather awful things going on there, but some happiness came of that too.  I’m glad. I’ve been summoned to London to the Queen Alexandra’s HQ to speak to Matron about an assignment in France. They’re talking about Peace there, but they don’t seem to be very friendly about it. I don’t know just what I’m to do there, but I’ll find out in London.  Wish me luck. But there’s the Irish wedding in June, that’s to look forward to. My parents are a little worried about Ireland, but I shall manage, After all, I’m an Army Nursing Sister. What harm could come to me in Ireland? I nursed Irish troops during the war…

 

BC: Thank you, Elise. It’s been a pleasure. (Laughs) I don’t believe I’ve ever been interviewed before. Life is always full of unexpected things. And there’s Simon, arriving to drive me home. He’s amused by all this. I shan’t hear the end of it, you know.

 

 EC:Thank you for doing this, much appreciated!

***

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels.CharlesTodd_7861_retouched

 

 

Interview with Heather Stewart of A Heart for Freedom by Janet S. Grunst

 

Heather, tell me something about Stewarts’ Green, the ordinary you and your husband run.  How does it compare to your previous home?

 Up until about four years ago, Matthew, his children, Mary and Mark, and I lived in the small cottage on the farm he and his late wife, Elizabeth, established in the Virginia countryside. We built Stewarts’ Green and live in part of it. Our tenant farmer and his family live in our old cottage. Stewarts’ Green is near a thoroughfare between Alexandria and the western settlements, and close to the Potomac River where a ferry provides transportation between Virginia and Maryland, so it seemed like a perfect spot for weary travelers to eat and get rest.

It certainly sounds like it! How would you describe yourself?

I’m thirty-four and a very happily married to Matthew Stewart. We have his two children, Mary and Mark, and our son, Douglas. We lost a child but are happily expecting another. I do have a tendency to worry with all the friction taking place between the colonies and Britain.

Your worry is certainly understandable. I’m sorry for your loss.

I heard you were once indentured. Is this true? How were you freed from that?

 I came over from Scotland in 1770 as an indentured servant, rather impulsively. My family were fabric merchants and my father had just passed. With little resources, I needed to escape a brewing scandal. I expected to start a new life at the end of my seven-year indenture in the Virginia colony, but life took an unexpected turn.I’ve shared that amazing story of God’s provision in A Heart Set Free.

Oooh, I am intrigued! I’m also glad to learn that you were able to be truly freed from your indenture.

 Would you please tell me about the unrest in the British-American colonies?

Ever since the fighting in Massachusetts, arguments have broken out between families, friends, and neighbors. Some people are loyal to the crown and others are talking about taking up arms against England. Our colonies are not equipped to go up against the most powerful army and navy in the world.

Has anyone close to you gotten involved in the rebellion against the crown?

Aye! Several of our friend’s sons have joined the militia or the Continental Army.

 If war breaks out are you concerned your husband, Matthew, might enlist?

More than once he has mentioned that the time is coming when all of us will have to align ourselves with the Loyalists or Patriots. Fortunately, he has not yet mentioned anything about joining either cause.

 Is there anything concerning you about your relationship with Matthew?

Matthew is a devoted husband and father, but lately he has seemed unusually preoccupied. I’m sure he is worried about the future and our safety during these troubled times.

 Do you feel your family is safe at this time?  

We live out in the country where the political bickering is not as widespread. I’m concerned though because Mary and Mark are traveling to Philadelphia where they will spend the summer with their mother’s parents. The Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia, so I’m certain it will be a contentious place and time.

 Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Please pray that the resolves or petitions between the colonies and England can settle this matter so that we can live in peace.  Having spent my first twenty-nine years in Scotland, I am well acquainted with the enduring consequences of war with England.

Of course, thank you for your time, Heather. It’s been nice getting to know you.

More about A Heart for Freedom:

He longs for freedom, but he won’t risk those he loves.

Matthew Stewart wants only to farm, manage his inn, and protect his family. But tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting. When he’s asked to help the Patriots and assured his family will be safe, he agrees.

She’s seen the cost of fighting England, and she wants no part of it.

In Scotland, Heather Stewart witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. She wants only to avoid war and protect the family and peace she finally found in Virginia. But the war drums can be heard even from home in the countryside, and she has no power to stop the approaching danger.

The consequences are deadly.

When Matthew leaves for a short journey and doesn’t return, Heather faces the biggest trial of her life. Will she give up hope of seeing him again? Will he survive the trials and make his way home? What will be the consequences of his heart for freedom?

About the Author:

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Freewas the 2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. 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, bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.