A Conversation with Aimee Jarre of Amanda Cabot’s A Tender Hope

A Tender Hope-Book Cover
NOVEL PASTIMES: Good morning, Aimee. Did I pronounce your name correctly?

AIMEE: I’m afraid not, but don’t feel badly. Most Americans have trouble with it. It’s eh-MAY, not Amy.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Of course. You’re French.

AIMEE: You might not think so from my accent, but I was born right here in Texas. That makes me a Texan, doesn’t it? It is true, though, that until a couple months ago, I lived in France.

NOVEL PASTIMES: So, why did you come to America, or am I being presumptuous in asking?

AIMEE: It’s not a secret. I wanted to find my mother – my birth mother, that is. You see, when my parents died – my French parents, that is – I learned that I’d been adopted.

NOVEL PASTIMES: That must have been a surprise.

AIMEE: A surprise, yes. Also a shock, but it explained so many things.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Like what?

AIMEE: Like … Would you mind if we talked about something else?

NOVEL PASTIMES: Of course not. Please believe me when I say that I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. It’s simply that I’ve never met anyone who lived in France. What was it like?

AIMEE: Beautiful but old, and the people are more … how do you say it? Reserved. That’s the word. Reserved. I find Texans friendlier.

NOVEL PASTIMES: We pride ourselves on that. We’re curious too, which is why I want to know more about your trip here. I heard that you came to Cimarron Creek with our new midwife. What’s she like?

AIMEE: Thea’s wonderful. I’ve always wanted a sister, and she’s as close to one as I could ever have dreamt. Truly, God led me to Ladreville at the perfect time. If I’d arrived a month later, I might never have met Thea.

NOVEL PASTIMES: The ladies are all happy that we have a new midwife, but I heard some of them say that sometimes Thea seems sad.

AIMEE: That’s only natural, don’t you think? After all, she lost both her husband and her baby this year. Wouldn’t that make anyone sad?

NOVEL PASTIMES: Of course, but I sense that you think there’s something more.

AIMEE: I shouldn’t say anything.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Whatever you say, it’ll just be between you and me. A secret. I promise.

AIMEE: Thea says there are no secrets in Cimarron Creek.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Then she’s wrong. There are plenty of secrets. But if you don’t want to tell me more about her, I won’t press you.

AIMEE: One thing I can tell you is that I hope she finds another man to love and maybe even marry.

NOVEL PASTIMES: What about the Ranger who’s been spending so much time in town?

AIMEE: Jackson seems like a good man. He might be the right one for Thea.

NOVEL PASTIMES: What about you? What kind of man would be the perfect husband for you?

AIMEE: Me? I don’t plan to marry anyone.

NOVEL PASTIMES: You don’t expect me to believe that, do you? You’re a pretty girl and a smart one. I’m sure all the single men in town are standing in line to court you.

AIMEE: That’s not so, and even if it were true, there’s only one who’s caught my eye.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Who’s that?

AIMEE: It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t feel that way about me.

NOVEL PASTIMES: But he might change his mind.

AIMEE: Maybe, but I think it would take a miracle.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Miracles do happen.

AIMEE: Not to me.

Well, thank you, Aimee. We are eager to hear the rest of your story!

***

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart and A Borrowed Dream, as well as the Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds series. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at www.amandacabot.com.

Cabot_Amanda

Book Review: To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

 

Back Cover Copy:

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

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

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

My Review of To Claim Her Heart

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

A delightful read! Five stars!

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

 

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

 

 

Interview with Em from Rachel Fordham’s The Hope of Azure Springs

Today we welcome Em, a character from The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham.

Name: Growing up my parents and sister called me Emmy but that seems like a very long time ago. For seven years I’ve been simply Em.

Parents: My parents were John and Viviette. I say were but even with them both dead I still think of them as my parents. I’ve missed them so much. It hurts sometimes just thinking of them and how things used to be.

Siblings: For many years my whole world was my sister. We rode the orphan train together. I helped her not be afraid by telling her stories. I never thought we’d be separated. It’s been seven years now since perfect Lucy found a home and I was put back on the train. Dreaming of being reunited with her is what kept me going all those hard and lonely years.

Places lived: I was born in New York. I moved with my parents from shared tenements to a little apartment and then with their passing I lived on the streets. I don’t like talking about that though. Those were dark days. After the orphan train ride I lived with George until being rescued and taken to Azure Springs.

Jobs: The only job worth mentioning is what I’m doing now. I work for Margaret Anders at her boarding house. She’s an eccentric woman but I adore her. She’s a dear friend.

Friends: Margaret Anders and all of the Howell family. I’ve also gotten to know Caleb Reynolds the sheriff. I like to think of him as a friend.

Enemies: I came into Azure Springs with a wound in my side. I suppose it’s safe to say I have enemies. I’d love to put a name to them but I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on.

Dating, marriage: I stood on train platforms as an orphan. No one ever wanted me. I was too plain as a child and even now with food in my belly and a little meat on my bones I’m still not much too look at. I can’t imagine that a man would ever want to marry me. But there was a time when I hoped. Perhaps someday, no, it’s foolish to hope.

Children: I’ve always adored children but I’ve none of my own.

What person do you most admire? That’s a hard question to answer. I’ll always admire my mother. Now living in Azure Springs I find myself wondering if I could ever be like Abigail Howell or Margaret Anders. It’s strange I’d pick those too. They are both very different, but they are both so good and kind. Only one is quiet about it and the other loud. Their kindness has changed my life and I’ll be forever grateful.

Overall outlook on life: At first I was living only to survive but the longer I’m in Azure Springs the more I believe and hope for brighter things ahead. I’m not one to wallow in my miseries. I aim to make the most of what I’m given.

Do you like yourself? I like that I’ve a body that I can use to work hard but I’ve never cared much for the way I look. There are days when I feel weighed down with regrets and I can’t help but blame myself. But I keep trying and I think that counts for something.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I’d change so much. But most of all I wish I could have found a way to stay with Lucy.

How are you viewed by others? When I lived at George’s I don’t think anyone thought much of me. In Azure Springs I think those that have sat by my bed and spoken to me consider me a friend. Some take pity on me. There are others though that judge my appearance or gossip about my history. I wonder how the Sheriff would describe me. He looks at me sometimes like he is trying to decide what he thinks of me.

Physical appearance: I was frail and skinny when I first arrived. I hadn’t eaten enough for a very long time. I also have burns on my arm that I try to hide. Some call me waifish or plain. But one of my little seven-year-old friends told me I was beautiful and for a moment I felt I was.

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Dull yellow

Voice: Often quiet

Right- or left-handed? Right

Characteristics: Hard working, loyal, forgiving, gentle, kind and loving

Strongest/weakest character traits: self- worth

How much self-control do you have? I’d say this is one of my stronger traits. I could ration my food for weeks or months even when I was so hungry at George’s place. I can wait when I must. I can also teach myself things even when it means doing something over and over again.

Fears: Never seeing Lucy again, being hungry or cold and failing to keep my promise to my mother.

When are you happy? I was happy the other day when I was racing Caleb up a tree. It sounds so childish telling you about it, but it was a beautiful escape from reality. For a moment it was just us and the vast sky. I could almost forget about the threats and unknowns that were in my path.

What makes you sad? I’ve been alone so much I often dreamed of friendships and family. I overheard girls my age gossiping about my past. It was lies and it hurt. I wondered in that moment if I was worth befriending. Why me? I didn’t understand, and it hurt.

What makes you laugh? I share a room with two seven-year-olds so laughter is easy to come by. They are always telling me the most adorable things. The other day they suggested that Caleb was the Prince of Azure Springs. We all laughed but the title stuck, and they’ve referred to him as such often since. I laughed with them but the more I think about it the more I think he is rather princely.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I told Lucy I’d always be there for her. I remember looking into her round little face and telling her that I’d always take care of her. Days later we were torn apart and I’ve regretted it since. I blame myself.

Do you have a secret? Everyone keeps trying to put together the clues of my past and why I arrived with a wound in my side. Poor Caleb is forever pestering me to remember more. I try to tell him that I lived in the barn and I don’t understand it myself. I do have secrets, but the ones people are after I can’t seem to figure out myself.

Thanks for letting us get to know you, Em!

Rachel Fordham started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. Finally she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing, and she hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

https://rachelfordham.com

https://www.facebook.com/RachelFordhamFans/

 

William Seward, Secretary of State

Known for his purchase of Alaska, an unpopular event in its time, William Seward was also a major player behind the scenes during the Civil War.

Thought to be the leading contender for the presidency in 1860, his anti-slavery speeches caused many in his party to view him as a radical, and so they backed his competition, Abraham Lincoln.

It seems surprising in this day and age of political infighting that President Lincoln would appoint his rival to be Secretary of State, but he did on January 10, 1861.

Like so many of Lincoln’s unconventional moves, this one proved beneficial to the Union. The relationship between Lincoln and Seward was never warm, but they worked well together. The move Lincoln does an excellent job of portraying their relationship and is worth watching for that alone.

The big-picture complexity of the Civil War and the balance of powers internationally is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the history books, but Seward was a bulwark in the administration who helped keep foreign powers out of our internal struggles. The outcome of the war could have been much different without him at Secretary of State.

If you enjoy reading Civil War historical fiction, Smitten Historical Romance has A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart and The Planter’s Daughter by Michelle Shocklee. And look for Michelle’s post Civil War-era novel, The Widow of Rose Hill, releasing in February!

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

Book Review: Swept Into Destiny

Swept Into Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Released May 24, 2017 from CrossRiver Media Group

Book Description from Amazon:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Digging deep with Clementine Hutton from Treasured Bride

51Lu9QxVOXLNovel PASTimes: If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Clementine: I would love to spend the day searching for new specimens for my rock collection. I’m a closet rock hound, much to other people’s chagrin. It’s simply not done for a decent young lady to be playing in the dirt. *grins widely* And I adore it!

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

Clementine: I think they believe I am clumsy or shy.

Novel PASTimes: What’s your idea of a good marriage?

Clementine: I believe having acceptance and friendship makes a good marriage. People aren’t perfect. I don’t believe you should expect perfection out of yourself or a spouse. Love them for who they are.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most proud of about your life?

Clementine: My strength and perseverance.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most ashamed of in your life?

Clementine: Believing that I had failed as a wife with my first marriage, when in fact, I had the wrong husband the whole time.

Novel PASTimes: Do you believe in God?

Clementine: Absolutely! I had once thought I was abandoned but then he brought me my own angel.

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

Clementine: I think perhaps I would like to discover a new rock formation or mineral

Novel PASTimes: What was the best and worst thing that’s happened in your life?

Clementine: Worst was when I was lost. I fell and was trapped. I almost died! The best thing? Finding myself and my Micah.

Novel PASTimes: Tell me about your best friend.

Clementine: Oh, that is easy! Micah. I have never had anyone support me like he has. He loves me unconditionally and it amazes me every day.

Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why?

Clementine: My goodness! Well, I… uh… I disobeyed my first husband. I guess that was the worst? He would get really angry when I acted out of line. I hate disappointing people so I try to treat everyone like they are family.

Novel PASTimes: What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Clementine: Very simple: Beloved wife and mother.

Novel PASTimes: Describe your ideal mate.

Clementine: Understanding, loving, strong morally

Novel PASTimes: What are you most afraid of?

Clementine: enclosed spaces

Novel PASTimes: What do you like best about yourself? Least?

Clementine: The best: I particularly like how strong I have become mentally and how much I feel like I have grown. I have been through a lot and feel like I can handle just about anything now. What do I like least? I hate being antsy or nervous.

Novel PASTimes: What do you like best and least about the other characters in your book?

Clementine: I found a few new acquaintances in Virginia City. Doctor Brown and his wife were a godsend! Such a warm and loving family. They took me in when I had no one and nothing left. I think they were my guardian angels when I needed them.

Novel PASTimes: We have enjoyed having you share with us Clementine. Good luck with your endeavors in Virginia City.

Author bio: Ginny Sterling is a pen name for an Indie romance writer. She has lived in several different parts of the United States and settled finally in Kentucky. She spends most of her free time writing, quilting, shopping or watching a select few television shows.

Ginny has a twisted fascination with collecting Starbucks coffee mugs from all over the country and adores the smell of coffee brewing. Her collection has literally filled over six kitchen cabinets…and does she stop? No.

Ginny loves to write (and read) books that make her smile, laugh, or cry. She has been known to cry at Hallmark commercials and still cannot watch the movie “Titanic” or “The Notebook” to this day without bawling for hours. Softy!

If you would like to learn more about Ginny, you can reach her on her website or on Amazon.

Talking with Charlene Lehman from The Sheriff and the Miner’s Daughter

Sheriff and Miner's Daughter cover 2_resized - Amazon

Novel PASTimes: Are you dating anyone?

Charlene: Nobody right now. But I am sweet on Jubilee Springs sheriff – Jim Hawkins

Novel PASTimes: What person do you most admire?

Charlene: My father, Amos and the sheriff

Novel PASTimes: Overall outlook on life?

Charlene: Go for your dream or it just won’t happen

Novel PASTimes: Do you like yourself?

Charlene: Not at first, but once I got out from under Aunt Lucretia’s thumb, I have learned to like myself.

Novel PASTimes: What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?

Charlene: I want to be married and have a family of my own

Novel PASTimes: How are you viewed by others?

Charlene: Everybody likes me

Novel PASTimes: Quick facts

Parents: Amos and Kathleen Lehman

Places lived: Burlington, Iowa – Fulton, Mssouri – Jubilee Springs, CO

Jobs: Clerk for the Misouri School of the Deaf

Friends: Earl and Bessie Janney and their son, Donald in Missouri.  In Jubilee Springs – Josephine Jacobs and many of the town folks

Enemies: Aunt Lucretia

Physical appearance: Thin, but shapely, pretty, average height

Eyes: Very light blue

Hair: Medium blonde, like a wheat field

Voice: Soft, lilting

Right- or left-handed? right

Novel PASTimes: How would you describe yourself?

Charlene: Sometimes stubborn and insecure, I used to be a very untrusting person, but that seems to be changing.

Novel PASTimes: Strongest character trait

Charlene: When I love, I love with all my heart.

Novel PASTimes: How much self-control do you have?

Charlene: I have self control UNTIL I’m pushed beyond a certain point – then look out!

Novel PASTimes: What is your biggest fear?

Charlene: Something will happen to people I care for and I’ll be alone

Novel PASTimes: What do people like best about you?

Charlene: I’m a kind person who will help folks any time I can.  I have a good sense of humor and a ready smile.

Novel PASTimes: What makes you angry?

Charlene: People who are cruel or mean spirited

Novel PASTimes: Hopes and dreams?

Charlene: To have a family of my own

Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why?

Charlene: I broke into my Aunt Lucretia’s room and rummaged through her drawers to find money she had stolen from me.  It was then I found years worth of letters from my father.

Novel PASTimes: Greatest success?

Charlene: Making enough money to leave my Aunt’s house and go find my father.

Novel PASTimes: What does you care about most in the world?

Charlene: My father and his new wife Josephine.  I also care deeply for Jim Hawkins and his daughter.

Novel PASTimes: What do you like best about the other main characters in your book?

Charlene: Jim Hawkins is extremely handsome, though when I first met him he thought I was a gold digger.

You can purchase The Sheriff and the Miner’s Daughter on Amazon.

PennyPenny Estelle is a best selling author who writes for all ages, from the early reader to adults. Her books range from pictures books for the little ones, to fantasy. time-travel adventures for ages 9 to 13. She also, under P. A. Estelle, has written adult stories including a family drama and contemporary, paranormal and historical westerns romances.

Penny was a school secretary for 21 years. She and her husband moved to their retirement home in Kingman, AZ, on very rural 54 acres, living on solar and wind only.

Penny and her books can be found on her website, Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Goodreads.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Novel PASTimes: What do you mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Character Interview with Harrison Mark Taylor from West of Forgotten

 

West ofForgotten_w11514_750.jpgNovel PASTimes: Where have you lived?

Harrison: Family home in Straight Creek, KY; New Orleans; drifted around a bit, and landed in Federal, Wyoming Territory

Novel PASTimes: What job have you had?

Harrison: Cavalry officer during the War of Southern Rebellion, and now, U.S. Marshal

Novel PASTimes: What person do you most admire?

Harrison: That’s a toss-up between two people—my wife and A.J. Adams. Rachel is head-strong, determined, smart as a whip, and I’m not ashamed to admit, most of the time, she’s a better person than me. Doesn’t hurt I think she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, even when she’s dressed in denims and a chambray shirt.  A.J….he’s the most honorable man I’ve ever known.

Novel PASTimes: What is you overall outlook on life?

Harrison: Life’s what you make of it.

Novel PASTimes: What if anything, would you like to change about your life?

Harrison: Right now, not a single thing. Guess you could say I’ve got everything a man needs to be happy and content—a good woman at my side, a job that most of the time should kill me with sheer boredom interspersed with moments of utter insanity, a kid that’s as smart as his mother, and another one on the way.

Novel PASTimes: How are you viewed by others?

Harrison: Most people would say I’m a straight shooter.

Novel PASTimes: How would you describe yourself?

Harrison: I’m a little taller than most men but appearance wise, I’m no better looking than the next man.

Novel PASTimes: What is your strongest and weakest character traits?

Harrison: Rachel says that I can’t see shades of grey, that everything is black and white in my world. Guess that could be both a strength and a weakness.

Novel PASTimes: How much self-control do you have?

Harrison: When I was younger, I had a wicked temper. I’ve learned to control that.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a talent?

Harrison: I’m pretty good at reading people. Made winning at poker a lot easier.

Novel PASTimes: What do people like best about you?

Harrison: I don’t beat around the bush.

Novel PASTimes: What’s your favorite food and drink?

Harrison: I’m a steak and potatoes man. Never did like all that fancy French food in New Orleans. And, give me a smooth, mellow bourbon over anything else.

Novel PASTimes: What book are you reading at the moment?

Harrison: Reading one by Robert Stevenson called An Inland Voyage.

Novel PASTimes: Best way to spend a weekend?

Harrison: What is a weekend? Rachel and I own one of the largest spreads in the Territory and I’m a deputy U.S. Marshal. Friday and Saturday nights get a little busy in town and I’m spending those nights breaking up fights in the saloons. There’s times, I think the ladies of the morality preservation group have it right, that the saloons should be shut down.

Novel PASTimes: What would a great gift for you be?

Harrison: If someone could turn back time for me to June 30, 1863. I would have let A.J. go back to his troops and not taken him prisoner.

Novel PASTimes: When are you happy?

Harrison: When I’m with Rachel. Don’t even need to be doing anything, just sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and knowing she’s in the house…

Novel PASTimes: What makes you angry?

Harrison: Look, I know this isn’t a popular sentiment and when there’s a war, someone has to win and someone has to lose, but that anger aimed at the South in this country right now makes me angry. I’m not arguing that the War of Southern Rebellion mowed down more than half a million lives. I’m saying that the men who fought for the Confederacy were just like me and almost all the other men who fought to save the Union. I won’t say if they were right or wrong in their assertions of state’s rights and over-taxation. But, I will say that for the most part, those men were as steadfast and brave as any man who wore Union colors. And, to blame them for the war—it was a war, like any other. Rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight. I guess someone has to take the blame for tearing this country apart but it makes me angry to hear it.

Novel PASTimes: What makes you laugh?

Harrison: Rachel. And her—no, our son, Joshua.

Novel PASTimes: Hopes and dreams?

Harrison: That Joshua never experience anything like that war.

Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why?

Harrison: I told you that Rachel says I can’t see grey areas, that it’s all black and white to me. She’s wrong. After the war was over, I realized that there has to be grey, somewhere, but orders are orders. At Tullahoma, I captured my best friend. I was personally responsible for sending him to a prisoner camp in upstate New York. And, he’s dead because he was in that camp and I blame myself to this day for his death.

Novel PASTimes: Biggest trauma?

Harrison: Seeing Rachel held at gunpoint and not being able to keep her safe.

Novel PASTimes: What do you like best about the other main characters in your book?

Harrison: I like that Rachel doesn’t take any guff from me and she gives it right back in full measure. It makes me real happy when Joshua says I’m his father, even though I’m not. I’m the only father he’ll ever know.

Novel PASTimes: What do you like least about the other main characters in your book?

Harrison: I can’t and I don’t hold it against either Rachel or Joshua, but it does bother me who that boy’s father is.

Novel PASTimes: If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be?

Harrison: I want to be a better father to Joshua than my father ever was for me.

Novel PASTimes: Fast Facts

Parents: Joshua and Kyla

Siblings: Two sisters and a half-brother, Jason

Eyes: Hazel, I guess.

Hair: Rachel says it’s a brownish-blond. I never thought about the color—though there is some grey in it now.

Voice: Deep

Right- or left-handed? Right-handed

author picture betterAbout Lynda J. Cox: Once upon a time there was a little girl who said when she grew up, she was going to have dogs like Lassie, own horses, and live on a ranch just like the Ponderosa. Two out of three isn’t bad. If she can’t live on a ranch, Lynda J Cox writes about characters who do. She writes steamy westerns, what one reviewer called an authentic blend of Old West action and happily ever after romance. She has won The Laramie Award for best debut novel, short listed for The Laramie for her third book, and her last three books have all been given 4.5 to 5 stars by InD’Tale Magazine. You can found out more about Lynda on her Amazon Author Page, FB Author Page, or Author Web page.

 

 

Interview of Tavin Knox and Gemma Lyfeld from The Reluctant Guardian, a LIH Regency.

susie coverThe pair arrive in the drawing room of a Mayfair townhouse. After exchanging pleasantries, taking our seats and pouring tea, we begin with small talk.

Novel PASTimes: Gemma, I like your red cloak.

Gemma: Thank you, ma’am. So do I.

Tavin: I wish you’d have worn something else. That cloak has caused naught but trouble.

Novel PASTimes: Trouble?

Gemma: Mistaken identity. Someone else has one like it.

Tavin: Someone dangerous. And it almost cost your life.

Gemma: Well, it didn’t, thanks to you.

Novel PASTimes: Can you elaborate?

Gemma: A female smuggler who operates near my home wears a red cloak like this, and a smuggling ringleader known as The Sovereign thought I was she. Since I am not—and I saw his face and can identify him—there is some concern I might be in danger. Which I am not. The Sovereign does not know who I am, and dozens of ladies wear red cloaks. Besides, he is in Hampshire, and I am now here in London for my Season.

Tavin: I agree that you are not in danger, but I still say you shouldn’t wear that thing anymore until things are. . . settled.

Tavin’s gaze occasionally flickers to the door and windows, as if certain someone will barge in on our interview.

Novel PASTimes: Let’s move on. Where were you born?

Gemma: Hampshire. The New Forest area. ‘Tis beautiful, so green.

Tavin: Scotland.

Novel PASTimes: Oh? I detect no noticeable Scottish burr.

Tavin: I was educated in England. My mother was English. It was important to her family that I sound English. I haven’t been to Scotland in years.

Novel PASTimes: Would you like to go back shortly? To visit family?

Tavin: I’m a little busy these days.

Novel PASTimes: Ah, yes. You’re a spy for the Revenue Agency.

Tavin: No, you’re mistaken. I’m in the import business.

Gemma: *shaking head*:We may speak freely here, Tavin. She won’t tell anyone. *Turning to interviewer* Of course he’s a spy. “Import business” is a euphemism for his secretive work for the Revenue Agency. He was hunting down the Sovereign when I intruded upon his investigation. He’s been ordered to guard me for the time being.

Tavin: I’m not accustomed to playing nursemaid. I should be back in Hampshire to bring that rogue to justice.

Gemma: If it was up to me, you would be. Believe me, I do not like you watching me, disapproving of everything I do.

Tavin: I don’t disapprove. Unless you’re careless. Which you are, far too often for my liking.

Gemma: You’d have us live in a cage. The boys cannot be confined.

Novel PASTimes: The boys?

Gemma: My brother’s children. They adore Tavin. Their parents allowed me to bring them to London with me for the Season. They’re my greatest joy.

Tavin: She’s more of a parent to them than their own mother. And they love her, those imps.

Novel PASTimes: You’re smiling, Tavin. Thinking of the boys?

Tavin: They’re a mischievous pair. They love castles and knights and making trouble. I’m. . . fond of them. In my line of work, a family is out of the question. Perhaps spending time with them is making me realize what I shall never have.

Gemma: You could, someday.

Tavin: Not in my line of work, and I’ll not leave it until—well, that is neither here nor there. I have one occupation: capturing The Sovereign.

Gemma: Then let us finish this once and for all. Let’s make a plan I shall return to Hampshire and lure the Sovereign out. If he wants to kill me because I can identify him, he is sure to take the bait—

Tavin: Ach, no—that’s the maddest thing I’ve ever heard—

Novel PASTimes: Wait a second—I hear a trace of Scottish burr in your voice that I didn’t detect before, Tavin.

Gemma: That happens when he’s upset.

Tavin: *scowling* Forgive me.

Gemma: There’s nothing to forgive. It’s the real you.

Tavin: *still scowling* Next question?

Novel PASTimes: Um, all right. There’s been gossip about town regarding your relationship. People think you’re courting.

Tavin: As I’ve said, a man like me cannot have a family. I’ve had to stay close to her to protect her, but everyone has been told we are family friends. ‘Tis no lie. Those gossipmongers say what they like.

Gemma: His closest friend is my brother-in-law.

Novel PASTimes: So you wouldn’t be together at all, ever, by choice?

Gemma: No. I mean—if circumstances were different. . .

Tavin: I—well, I suppose not.

Gemma: But we are friends, are we not?

Tavin: Of course. And it hasn’t been all bad, spending so much time together.

Novel PASTimes: So you’re friends and that’s all? You’re sure there are no romantic feelings underlying things here?

Tavin: No. Next question.

Gemma: None whatsoever. Our relationship is strictly platonic. A matter of business ordered by the Crown. Tavin doesn’t. . . and I do not. . . there are no feelings of that nature.

Novel PASTimes: That’s not what your book says. I see a kiss on page—

Gemma: Oh my.

Tavin: That’s enough. Interview over.

The Reluctant Guardian Blurb: When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she’s rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her…

Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he’d be.

SD author photoSusanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the award-winning author of over a dozen historical romances who’s seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, genealogy, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos.

If you would like to connect with Susanne Dietze, you can sign up for her newsletter or visit her website, Facebook, Twitter or Amazon pages.