Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

Category: Historical Fiction Page 1 of 2

Why I Write Historical Romance

When folks find out I’m an author the next question I’m asked is usually, “What do you write?” And when I respond, “historical romance,” the reaction is often a mixed bag. Many folks get hives at the thought of all those names and dates they had to memorize in high school. I’m assuming since you subscribe to this blog, that you’re not in that category.

I suppose the simple answer would be, I write what I love. But, the questions remains, why history?

Considering my high school American history teacher, Mr. Beard, rarely spoke to us, opting instead to give us worksheet after worksheet with the occasional historical film tossed in to mix it up, it’s a wonder I enjoy the subject. Not only that, I actually have my B.S. Social Studies Education from Messiah College and my M.Ed. in History Education from Penn State. Despite Mr. Beard’s attempt to make me loathe his class, I’ve only become more passionate about the subject.

As Long as I Can Remember, I’ve Loved History

 

Vintage Photo Collage–© Marsia16 Dreamstime.com

But I suspect my love for history began fermenting as a child when I tuned in each week to share the joys and struggles of the Walton family during the Great Depression or to watch Laura’s adventures on Little House on the Prairie. I slept in my night cap, had a slate and chalk to play school with, and even pretended to tote my lunch in a tin pail. When mom wasn’t looking, I donned my yellow, calico bonnet and sat on the back of the couch pretending it was the seat of our Conestoga wagon as we crossed the prairie through the Dakota Territory.

I’ve always enjoyed my paternal grandfather’s stories about our ancestors. He could regale us for hours with poems from his childhood or tales of life growing up on the Criste farm in Cresson, Pennsylvania. I remember staring wide-eyed when I’d learned that my maternal ancestors had been fur trappers and whisky runners on the Pennsylvania frontier during the French and Indian War. I loved the pictures of my father smiling proudly in his WWII naval uniform as well as the hats, spats and gloved hands in my grandparents wedding photos. From hat pins to war medals to my  mother’s worn and faded WWII ration book, I was captivated.

Dean Butler and Melissa Gilbert as Almanzo Wilder and Laura Ingalls from NBC’s Little House on the Prairie

Then one September night in 1979, Laura Ingalls peered lovingly into Almanzo Wilder’s eyes and called him “Manly” and I’d discovered something new—historical romance. However, it wasn’t until my sister introduced me to Love Comes Softly, nearly twenty-five years later, that I knew Christian historical romance existed as a genre. Not only did I devour the entire LCS series, but everything that Janette Oke had written. I quickly moved on to other authors and before long found myself lost in their story worlds.

It’s been a love affair ever since.

It seems as though I’ve always been wondering, always dreaming about what it might have been like to live “back then” whenever “then” might have been. Inspired by my youngest son, I decided to tinker with storytelling myself. It wasn’t long before my secret hobby became a God-given passion.

While I love dragging my family to museums and battlefields, I fully acknowledge I wouldn’t truly want to live then (although a short stint on a historical reality show might be cool to try). Writing historical romance allows me to ponder bygone eras and visit all those place I wonder about — a medieval castle, Civil War battlefields, a Regency estate, or a wagon train on the Oregon trail — all from the comfort of my twenty-first century home.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed

Congratulations to our winner, June Jacobs.

I’m giving away a paper copy of Homefront Heroines to one Romancing History reader. Homefront Heroines is a WWII novella collection from Johnnie Alexander, Amanda Barratt, Lauaralee Bliss, and Rita Gerlach. To enter, tell me your favorite historical site, museum, or battlefield in the comments below.

**Giveaway ends at midnight, Wednesday, September 8, 2021.**

Beyond These War-Torn Lands by Cynthia Roemer & a Giveaway

I’m so excited to welcome friend, fellow author, and critique partner, Cynthia Roemer back to Romancing History today. Cynthia’s latest novel, Beyond These War-Torn Lands, releases next Tuesday, August 3rd and I know y’all are gonna love Drew and Caroline’s story as much as I did!

As you can imagine, writing historical romance requires an author to delve into the time period—the clothes, speech patterns, foods, tools, and events of the era in which they write. Today Cynthia is going to share some of the behind-the-scenes research she did to bring her Civil War novel to life on the page.

And, Cynthia is giving away a signed, print copy of Beyond These War-Torn Lands, too! So make sure to see the Giveaway section at the bottom of this post and leave a comment!


When I decided to write a Civil War novel, I knew I was in for a lot of research. I’m not sure how I settled on The Battle of Monocacy Junction to start the novel off (timing, placement), but I soon found myself engrossed in learning about this lesser-known battle along the Monocacy River in Maryland. This battle, though a loss for the Union, turned out to be an ultimate victory for the men in blue.

Here’s why:

The Monocacy River, Maryland

The day-long battle began early in the morning of July 9, 1864 and lasted well into the evening. General Lew Wallace commanded the Union troops, while General Jubal Early led the Confederates. The two sides volleyed back and forth throughout the scorching heat until they landed smackdab in the cornfields and yards of some of the neighboring residents—the Best family, Thomas family, and Worthington family.

Several of the residents, such as six-year-old Glenn Worthington and his older brother Henry, hunkered in their cellars watching the battle through cracks in the walls. Glenn later wrote an account of the experience in his book, Fighting for Time.

Waves of skirmishes ended with Wallace’s men fleeing, leaving a horde of dead and wounded in their wake. The Confederate army had intended to storm Washington and take over the city. However, the delay at Monocacy Junction allowed the Union time to send for reinforcements and spare their Capital a takeover. Therefore, the battle at Monocacy became known as The Battle That Saved Washington.

As I was delving into my research, our hostess, Kelly Goshorn, and I had just become friends and critique partners. When I found out she lived within an hour of the very battle I was researching, and that the site had been preserved for visitors, I was ecstatic! Though Kelly hadn’t visited the site herself, she graciously offered to house me if I was able to make the trip out. I had high hopes of doing so and then … the Pandemic hit.

Followed by a cancer diagnosis.

Between the two unexpected challenges, I knew I would be unable to make the trip. But thank the Lord for carrying me through my health ordeal and for all the wonderful online resources available. Via the internet, I was able to access so much information about the National Battlefield at Monocacy Junction, among other historical events and people that found their way into my novel, Beyond These War-Torn Lands. Kelly proved a help as well, for she had visited some of the sites included in the book.

In the opening scene of Beyond These War-Torn Lands, my hero, Sergeant Andrew (Drew) Gallagher, is injured at the Battle of Monocacy Junction and would have become a casualty of war had my heroine, Caroline Dunbar not happened upon him while on her way to aid wounded Confederates at her neighbors—the Worthington and Thomas families.

 How I relished weaving my characters into history during one of America’s most challenging and fascinating eras. I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to discover, but I assure you, Drew and Caroline have quite a journey ahead of them before their happily ever after!

**One other historical tidbit I found in my research. If you’ve read or seen the movie, Ben Hur, you might find it interesting that it was written by none other than the retired Union General Lew Wallace!!


About the Book

The War brought them together ~ Would it also tear them apart?

While en route to aid Confederate soldiers injured in battle near her home, Southerner Caroline Dunbar stumbles across a wounded Union sergeant. Unable to ignore his plea for help, she tends his injuries and hides him away, only to find her attachment to him deepen with each passing day. But when her secret is discovered, Caroline incurs her father’s wrath and, in turn, unlocks a dark secret from the past which she is determined to unravel.

After being forced to flee his place of refuge, Sergeant Andrew Gallagher fears he’s seen the last of Caroline. Resolved not to let that happen, when the war ends, he seeks her out, only to discover she’s been sent away. When word reaches him that President Lincoln has been shot, Drew is assigned the task of tracking down the assassin. A chance encounter with Caroline revives his hopes, until he learns she may be involved in a plot to aid the assassin.

Beyond These War-Torn Lands is available on Amazon

About the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an inspirational, bestselling author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the hearts of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the mid-1800’s prairie and Civil War era. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon bestseller, Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, a 2020 Selah Award winning novel.

Cynthia writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of almost thirty years. They have two grown sons and a daughter-in-love. When she isn’t writing or researching, Cynthia can be found hiking, biking, gardening, reading, or riding sidesaddle with her husband in the combine or on their motorcycle. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. To learn more about Cynthia and writing journey, sign up for her author newsletter or visit her online at: her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub, or GoodReads.


This giveaway is now closed!

Congrats to Lila, the winner of the signed copy of Beyond These War-Torn Lands!

Giveaway**

Cynthia is giving away one signed print copy of Beyond These War-Torn Lands to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell us what your favorite period of American history is to read about and why.

**Giveaway ends midnight, August 4th**

Book Review, A Tapestry of Light and a Giveaway!

About the Book


Title: A Tapestry of Light
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Kimberly Duffy
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Info: Bethany House Publishers, March 16, 2021, 433 pages 


Blurb

In 1886 Calcutta, Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon the skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger named Everett Scott appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in a cold, foreign land.

Amazon     CBD     Barnes & Noble


My Thoughts

What. A. Book!

I was completely enchanted by A Tapestry of Light. Duffy does an excellent job bringing the sights and sounds of colonial India to life. Through crowded streets, lush gardens, and the scent of Indian spices, I was transported to another world. Beautifully woven with a sprinkle of Hindi words and customs, we see 19th century India through, Duffy’s heroine, Ottilie Russell, a young woman of Eurasian (Indian & British) descent.

Ottilie is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. As her story begins, she is swept up in a tragedy that brings the vivid memories of losing her father and two sisters to cholera years earlier. Ottilie relies on her talent to embroider with iridescent beetle wings to support her family. Apparently this was a fashion craze in the 1800s and I’d never heard of it, so I looked it up. As you can see, It’s just lovely. I’ve had no idea those were the casings for beetle wings, would you?

https://doxiequeen1.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/dsc_3810-2.jpg?w=820&h=312&crop=1

Ottlie is guarded and fiercely protective of her only two remaining family members, her younger brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother. While this may shy some readers away, I urge you to read on. Who hasn’t suffered in this world? Who hasn’t wondered where God is when the circumstances of their life overwhelm them? If our faith is so fragile that we cannot voice our doubts in our grief or despair and come out stronger on the other side, like Ottilie, I would question how strong it was in the first place.

Just like in her debut, A Mosaic of Wings, Duffy has once again created characters that leapt off the page into my heart. The story is told through Ottilie’s perspective, yet the entire cast of secondary characters were well thought out and developed. They were my friends and I was sorry to part with them when the story ended. Even the antagonists recognized their flawed thinking and seek forgiveness by novel’s end. But it was Everett Scott, Ottilie’s friend and eventual romantic interest, that took my heart by storm. Everett is a kind, honorable man, with a strong faith, who never looks down on Ottilie because she is of Eurasian heritage. As feelings grow between them, Everett is torn between the woman he loves and the responsibility he feels to carry on his father’s business and make him proud, thus redeeming himself from the sordid details of his own ancestry. But in order to do that, he needs a proper British wife, the kind that can open the right doors for him. Despite the fact I  wanted to shake him at times for putting societal expectations above his growing feelings for Ottilie, Everett is one of my favorite heroes of the year. This flaw only made him more realistic, not only as a man of his era, but as a human being who needed to grow and be stretched. Seeing Everett open his heart to God, to allow God to prune him, and him being willing to let go of what he thought he’d always wanted, made Everett’s journey all the more satisfying.

And Duffy doesn’t shy away from tough topics like prejudice and racism. As a white woman living in one of America’s most affluent counties, I really appreciated the opportunity to see the world through Ottilie’s eyes. Although both her and her brother are Eurasian, Duffy shows the disparity between the way people treated her because she looked Indian where as Thaddeus looked British (white). She never felt fully accepted by either culture in India, but when she arrived in Britain, she felt alone and alienated in her own home, while her brother was touted as the next heir of Hazelbrook Manor. Her search for belonging, to be accepted for who she was, not what she appeared to be, is a theme I find especially relevant for today’s historical fiction reader.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“You must look deeper beneath what a person shows. There is always a story. Things are never what they seem.”

“…since I arrived in London, I’ve learned family is made up of more than those related by blood. And before I left India, Dilip told me that home was never supposed to be a place. It is the people.”

“You’re not anything like I imagined, but so much more than I’d hoped for.”

“People will always see what’s easiest to understand.”


About the Author

Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. Her first novel was the highly acclaimed A Mosaic of Wings. You can find Kimberly at www.kimberlyduffy.com.

 


    Giveaway*

**This giveaway is now closed.**

Congratulations to our winner, Megan!

I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of A Tapestry of Light to one lucky Romancing History winner. To enter, let’s chat about exotic settings in novels. I must admit that India wasn’t high on my list of places to travel but now I really want to visit this country that Duffy has brought to life in her first two books. What book has made you want to travel to another city or country? Why?

**Giveaway ends midnight, Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Author Interview with Alton Fletcher and a Giveaway!

I’m so excited to introduce my friend, Alton Fletcher, to Romancing History readers today. Alton writes historical fiction and his debut novel, Find the Wind’s Eye, released earlier this month. Another exciting first for Alton, he is the first male author I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing here on Romancing History!

Find the Wind’s Eye is a Antebellum tale with a message relevant for today’s reader about equality, the evils of prejudice and discrimination, and the condition of the human heart. I personally think Alton’s novel sounds intriguing and hope to read it next month so stay tuned for a review post when I’m done.

Alton has geneoursly offered 3 print copies of Find the Wind’s Eye to 3 separate Romancing History visitors so make sure you see the Giveaway section at the bottom of the post for details on how to enter the drawing.

Before we get to the interview, let’s learn a little more about Alton and Find the Wind’s Eye.


About the Author

Alton Fletcher enjoys sailing almost as much as he enjoys writing and sometimes wishes he could do both at once. He became enamored with the sea, sailing ships, and books upon his first reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island as a boy. For the past twenty years, after retiring as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, he has made Virginia his home, where he continues to sail and write to his heart’s content.

 

 

Connect with Alton on his Website, Twitter, or his Amazon Author Page.

 


About the Book

In 1854 Boston, Third Lieutenant Andrew Gunn of the United States Revenue Cutter Service questions the President’s direct order to extradite a fugitive slave, Anthony Burns, back to Virginia aboard his ship—a lawful order that he believes is immoral and unjust.

Torn between his own reverence for freedom as an American and his sworn duty, Gunn suffers the hazards of hard choices that threaten his own life, liberty, and happiness. His first real exposure to the scourge of slavery brings chaos to his ordered life, despite his desperate attempts to control it.

Set aboard a small ship in the midst of a gathering political storm, Find The Wind’s Eye is a timely, moving story about a man of principle trying to find his way in a fast-changing, increasingly ambivalent world. He strives to do the right thing, while struggling with the ugly truth of his own complicity in the national sin of slavery.

Find the Wind’s Eye is available for purchase on Amazon.

 


Author Q&A

Fast Five

  1. Dogs or Cats? Dogs
  2. Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin? Chocolate Chocolate Chip
  3. Night Owl or Early Bird? Night Owl
  4. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy
  5. Oldies or Country? Country Oldies, Sea Shanties, and Old Hymns

 

RH: Hi Alton, welcome to Romancing History. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve been writing? How many books you have published and what era you write about?

AF: Thank you for having me today. I look forward to meeting your readers. I graduated in 1977 from Geneva College, a Christian liberal arts college in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. My wife, Cheryl, and I were married in 1976, while still in college. We’ve been married ever since and have made our home in Manassas for the past 20 years. We honeymooned in Williamsburg, and we’ve always held a special place in our hearts for Virginia, so we were happy to finally settle here after the upheaval of seven cross-country military moves.

I had wanted to be a writer since high school, but after college, life happened. Work, kids (three daughters), more work, house payments, career, braces, college tuition, weddings, and so on. In addition to raising a family, I served for 22 years as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard, retiring in 2003. Though gratifying and exciting, my days in the military were often long and exhausting, with extended periods of travel and temporary duty in remote places. Hard to find time to write. I retired a second time after a very busy, productive, and successful life in private industry in 2015. Actually, I drove home from work in heavy Washington Beltway traffic one day and decided I’d had enough. It was a now or never kind of thing. At age 60, I quit my day job and started writing fiction. And I haven’t stopped.

After more revisions than I can count, I’ve recently published my first historical novel, set in the 1850s. It’s a fascinating period of major transitions in technology, philosophy, religion, science, politics, and psychology that caused enormous social upheaval and personal turmoil. That turbulent period shaped the modern world as we know it today. We can’t really understand ourselves if we don’t know how we got here. That’s what I like to discover. What were people thinking back then? How did those huge changes affect them in their daily lives? How different were they from us? Have we really made progress since then? Though we are much wealthier, generally speaking, than those who lived two centuries ago, in many ways we are much poorer, especially spiritually and religiously. We live in an age of materialism and apostasy, which stems directly from its mid-nineteenth century roots. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think that growth in the wrong direction isn’t progress.

RH: I totally agree with you about the relevance of understanding history and learning from the past. BTW, my daughter attended Geneva College as well. Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

AF: I suppose the quirkiest thing about me is that I’m a contrarian. I suspect that’s what those who know me best would say. As I was thinking about this question today, I looked up into a gray, overcast sky to watch a large flock of seagulls pass overhead, maybe fifty or so flying eastbound. A lone gull, apart from the others, was headed west. I had to laugh. That’s me.

One of my favorite phrases is, “Yes, but.” I love a good argument. Total agreement is overrated. I find it dull and boring and somewhat fake. Such a mindset didn’t serve me well in a military career, I can tell you. Neither does it make for conciliatory book club discussions. Yes, but … it might well suit me as a writer. At least, I think so, though I may be alone in that thought.

RH: Hmmm, I kind of resemble that remark. My mother used to tell me I’d make a good lawyer because I liked to argue. I’m not sure she meant that as a compliment. Which historical figure, other than Jesus (because who wouldn’t want to meet Jesus?), would you like to meet? Why?

AF: Mark Twain. He had a contrarian point of view about most things, from which derives his humor, I believe. I’d love to have a discussion with him about Huck Finn and white suits, among many other subjects. I wore a white tuxedo for my wedding. I’d like to meet Jesus for the same reason. Talk about being a contrarian. And James, his brother. (What must that have been like?!)

RH: Hahaha! Your comment about James made me chuckle. I wonder if Mary ever had to tell James to stop arguing with Jesus? Which 3 words describe the type of fiction you write?

AF: Timeless, thoughtful, and truthful. Also, historical, nautical, and literary, if such is at all possible.

RH: From the quote below, I’d have to agree with your description of your writing. I’m looking forward to reading Find the Wind’s Eye. What is your writing kryptonite?

AF: A favorite movie and a rainy day. I can’t pass up Master and Commander, if it is on TV. Or the arrival of a new book. Equally deadly to a writing day.

RH: I saw a recent tweet of yours about Master and Commander with Russell Crowe. I’ve added it to my list of films to watch. What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

AF: Portraying intimacy (not sex). What do women actually say when out of earshot? I’ve long lived in a family of four women and still don’t know.

RH: This answer made me chuckle as well. I’d love to fill you in on what women talk about when men aren’t around but I’ld be breaking the sisterhood code. What was the inspiration behind your debut, Find the Wind’s Eye?

AF: I found the facts of the true story of the rendition of Anthony Burns both compelling and incredible upon reading James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, a remarkable history of the events leading up to the Civil War. McPherson features this event as being so volatile as to almost touch off a civil war in 1854. Our country was terribly divided over social and political issues. I was absolutely astounded to learn that the United States government was complicit in returning a fugitive slave to the horrible life from which he had recently escaped. It might have been lawful, but was it just? The story spoke to me, because I had experienced similar moral conflicts while serving on active duty in the Coast Guard. I wondered what I would have done in those circumstances and at that time. I had to find out.

RH: That is an intriguing answer. So now I”m wondering if your character’s response would have been the same as your own? That will be a question to follow up on after I finish your novel.When and where is your story set? (Any pictures you can provide would be nice for this question.)

AF: Find The Wind’s Eye is set in antebellum Boston in June of 1854. However, most of it takes place at sea aboard the government vessel that was ordered to return Anthony Burns to Virginia, sending him as a prisoner back to a life of slavery.

RH: Are you at liberty to share with Romancing History readers something that didn’t make it into the final copy like a deleted scene.

AF: I wanted to depict the courtroom trial of Anthony Burns, in which he was represented pro bono by Richard Henry Dana, a famous writer and civil rights attorney in Boston at the time. The outcome of the trial, which was all but pre-determined, depended entirely on the answers to two questions: (1) Was the man on trial Anthony Burns; and (2) Was Anthony Burns an escaped slave? Nothing else really mattered. Dana’s arguments for Burns to be set free during the week-long trial were eloquent and evocative, although he lost the hard-fought case. As I said, I’m enthralled by a good argument. However, I sensed that the opening chapters of my book required more dramatic action, which meant that it had to begin with the riots in the streets outside the courthouse after the judge passed the verdict that sent Burns back. So, I was forced to cut the first several chapters from the book. They were pretty good, though. It hurt to cut them.

As it turns out, the opening chapters depicting the riot outside the courthouse draw some interesting parallels to what happened on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol, even though they were written five years ago.

RH: Those scenes sound intriguing and might make a great giveaway for newsletter subscribers. Do you have a favorite quote from Find the Wind’s Eye you’d like to share?

AF: My favorite passage, I suppose, is the opening to Chapter 28, as the ship carrying Anthony Burns approaches the coast of Virginia after eight days at sea, headed to Norfolk. It speaks of arriving in this beautiful place with a purpose that wasn’t so pretty.

“As would any sailor worth his salt, [Third Lieutenant Andrew] Gunn sensed the nearness of land, like detecting the perfume of an alluring woman in the next room. Virginia beguiled them all, however, and kept them waiting just out of reach, her seductive scent borne on the light and variable breezes of late spring.”

“Meanwhile, the Morris labored on, her progress steady, but slow, standing up from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay under the expert guidance of the pilot. Both wind and current had conspired against the ship nearly the whole way, as though the entire natural world opposed her mission.”

RH: Those quotes gave me goosies. You are an excellent writer. What do you hope readers will take away after reading Find the Wind’s Eye?

AF: My book depicts the ageless conflicts between mind and heart, duty and conscience, self-interest and sacrifice that lie at the center of the quest for freedom, justice, and equality in American society. Many elements of the story are relevant to current events in our nation today. I hope it raises timeless questions that the audience is compelled to answer for themselves.

RH: I think that is our job as writers of  historical fiction and historical romance—to bring those questions to the forefront through an examination of the past. What are you working on now?

AF: Currently, I’m writing the sequel to Find The Wind’s Eye, which doesn’t yet have a title. I hope to complete a series of five novels, taking the same MC through the Civil War, depicting the devastating effects of divisive social conflict and war on him, his family, and friends over a period of ten years.

I’m told by agents and publishers that historical fiction doesn’t sell very well these days. Yes, but … we as a people have a lot to learn from our past. Those vital lessons could save us from a horrible future, if we will heed them.

RH: Unfortunately, I’ve been told the same but we must write what the Lord lays on heart. It is not our place to worry about the size of the audience because truly, we write for an audience of One.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Alton. I hope and pray that audiences will find your book. It definitely sounds like a wonderful read.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winners — Vivian Furbay, Emily Sellers, and Lori Altebaumer!

Alton has gracioulsy offered 3 print copies of Find the Wind’s Eye to three separate Romancing History winners. To enter please share your thoughts on current trends to either “whitewash” history or revise to fit better with today’s social narrative. Do you think we do ourselves a disservice to hide historical truths because they make us uncomfortable?

**Giveaway ends at midnight, March 3rd, 2021.

Book Review: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

About the Book


Title: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Jaime Jo Wright
Genre: Time Slip

Book Info:  Bethany House Pubishers, September 1, 2020, 400 pages


Blurb

Welcome to Bonaventure Circus where misfits come to hide.

1928
The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day
The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

                           Amazon          B&N         CBD


My Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to read a Jaime Jo Wright novel for quite some time and have nearly, if not all of them on my bookshelf or Kindle, but honestly, the title and cover of this book drew me in and thrust it to the top of my TBR pile.

As a lover of historical fiction, Wright captured my imagination and interest immediately with life in a 1920s circus as seen through the eyes of the disabled circus owner’s adopted daughter, Pippa. As Pippa grows increasingly curious about the circumstances surrounding her birth and adoption, she is drawn to the Watchman and deeper into the forbidden, secret and very dangerous world of the Bonaventure circus.

The contemporary thread introduces us to Chandler Faulk, a single mom with a demanding career who is struggling with Chronic Lyme disease. As Chandler works to renovate the old circus depot, she learns about a series of murders that occurred around the circus during its heyday in the late 1920s and accidentally stumbles onto clues that may shed light on who had actually committed them.

I found both the modern-day and historical mysteries thrilling, and Wright had me guessing to the end who the murderer actually was. I can honestly say, I hadn’t seen that coming!

I really liked both of these heroines. I give Wright great kudos for writing both of them with difficult physical disabilities that provided many challenges for them throughout the story. The two women also shared an intense inner struggle to be seen and heard, to figure out who they are. As the novel developed, each realized that their journey was really one of self-acceptance and to fully embrace themselves the way God created them, flaws and all.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“You’re enough, Pippa. You’ve always been enough.”

“Sometimes God brought peace in the most unusual and outside-the-norm ways.”


About the Author

Jaime Jo Wright is the author of five novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. She loves to read—and write—fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap’n Hook; and their littles, Peter Pan and CoCo. To learn more, visit her website.

 

 

 

 

Author Interview with Kimberly Duffy and a Giveaway!

I’m so excited to introduce my Romancing History readers to author and new friend, Kimberly Duffy. I discovered Kimberly’s debut novel, A Mosaic of Wings, quite by accident. She posted in the Facebook group, Avid Readers of Christian Fiction, that she was looking for people to join her launch team. When I discovered that her story was set in India during the latter part of the 19th century, I was all in. And when I reached out to her, she graciously agreed to do an interview on Romancing History.

And that’s not all! Kimberly is offering a paper copy of A Mosaic of Wings to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, see the Giveaway Section at the bottom of the post!

Before the interview, let’s learn a little about the author and her fabulous book. Click here to read my full review.


About Kimberly

Kimberly Duffy enjoys writing historical fiction that takes readers back in time and across oceans. Her books often feature ahead-of-their-time heroines, evocative settings, and real-life faith. When not writing or homeschooling her four children, she enjoys taking trips that require a passport and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. A Long Island native, she currently resides in southwest Ohio.

You can connect with Kimberly on her website, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

 


About the Book

It’s 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she’s graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father’s footsteps by getting her master’s degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father’s legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.

India isn’t what she expects, though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India–and of Owen–fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.

In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices–between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she’s always thought she wanted and the man she’s come to love.

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Author Interview

Fast Five

  1. Coffee or Tea? Tea, but only herbal because I’m, sadly, allergic to caffeine.
  2. Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Colin Firth, but I would choose him in every role so I’m not completely impartial.
  3. Sound of Music or Hello Dolly? Sound of Music
  4. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy
  5. Dogs or Cats? Neither. Allergies make it hard to enjoy them

RH:  Welcome to Romancing History, Kimberly. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

KD: I’ve been writing since I was twelve, and seriously pursuing publication for about seven years. My debut released with Bethany House on May 5. My first three books are all set in the late 19th century and I’ll probably stick with that era for a long while since it’s my favorite (I might venture into early 20th, though.)

I’ve been married twenty years and we have four children. I grew up in New York, met my husband in India, married in Pennsylvania, and now live in Ohio. I’m a very reluctant homeschooler—I adore everything about it except the part where I have to actually be with people all day long. I’m going to write a book one day—The Introverted Homeschooler. There’s only going to be one sentence in it—“Your goal is to get your child as independent as possible as quickly as possible and then you will be okay.”

RH: That is so funny. I’m sure it would sell like hot cakes! Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

KD: I have the world’s ugliest handwriting. It’s embarrassing. And not at all correctable (I’ve tried but no amount of practice or focus improves it.)

I also have a truly awful memory. My husband teases me for it—he’s introduced me to his cousins dozens of times, but I still don’t recognize them if we run into each other. For the most part, I’ll forget the details of a movie or book almost the minute I’m done with it. I cannot for the life of me remember my youngest child’s birthday. If we get into a fight, just wait a couple hours, because I will have completely forgotten why I was mad at you.

RH: We’re opposites on the handwriting but only because my mother was a stickler for neat penmanship. No doubt a throwback from her Catholic school upbringing. She made me practice for hours each week. Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?

KD: I LOVE this story. Okay…picture a kind of preppy girl from the rather well-off Long Island suburbs who excels at writing contests, youth group functions, and carrying very heavy Russian novels into the lunch room. Then throw in a boy raised in the projects of a dying Ohio industrial city who regularly dyes his hair blue, is in a punk rock band (she only listens to Caedmon’s Call and Newsboys), and has never eaten a real bagel. Send them to Bangalore, India where they are to do non-profit work (him teaching music and her teaching children) and make sure no one understands their jokes and movie references, there are rats and spiders the size of medium-size dogs (this is perfect for setting him up to be the hero), and the only place that feels like home is a restaurant literally called The Only Place. It’s a match bound to happen.

***Also—our first kiss happened while watching Aristocats during Everybody Wants to be a Cat.

RH: What a great story! I just love hearing how couples meet. I met my hubby when he crashed my birthday party to flirt with my friend hosting the party! What was the inspiration behind your debut novel,  A Mosaic of Wings?

KD: A Mosaic of Wings was inspired by my now thirteen-year-old daughter who has wanted to be an entomologist since she was five. When I told my family I was writing my first historical novel, she suggested I write about a female entomologist because “there probably aren’t any books like that.” Nora came to me immediately and almost fully formed. I knew a woman who lived in the 19th century and pursued what would have been a male-dominated profession would have to be smart, driven, and focused.

RH: I think its really cool that your daughter was behind the idea of Nora being an entomologist. I’m very curious to know if she’s still planning to pursue entomology herself. Back to Nora—I’m so glad that you brought up the fact that you wrote her character to be a smart, driven, and focused heroine. Not only is she a strong female protagonist, she’s quite flawed. From my experience, the flaws authors give their main characters are oftentimes not really flaws at all. What made you decide to portray your heroine with imperfections (willful, stubborn, and a bit self-centered) that might ruffle some readers feathers? How has she been received?

I am so happy you asked about this! ALL of my characters are flawed. Because that’s part of the human condition. I want readers to see Nora and think, “Well, I’ve been stubborn. And I’ve been self-centered at times. And I’ve been willful. Yet…God, in all of his grace and love and goodness, still yearns to bless me. Still desires my heart. And his plans are so much bigger than my mistakes.”

You can blame the Bible for that because it’s absolutely riddled with flawed people making terrible decisions. People like David and Paul and Moses. And God used and loved every one of them. I’m a big believer in the beauty of grace. And how can I show grace in my books if I don’t write characters who need it so desperately?

People are sometimes ugly. There’s a scene where Nora has a particularly bad attitude toward another character. It’s such a defining moment because after she thinks uncharitably, she recognizes her hypocrisy. And isn’t that life? We’ve all said and thought things and then the Holy Spirit does his work and nudges us toward forgiveness and restitution.

I’ve always been drawn to deeply flawed literary characters—Scarlett from Gone with the Wind, Angel from Redeeming Love, Mary from The Secret Garden—and I prefer books that portray real life. I like when a character grows, but in a way that is believable. People don’t make one mistake and learn from it. Usually we have a few characteristics we particularly struggle with, over and over and over again.

Personally, I love Nora. I relate to Nora. She’s capable, yet fully willing to climb a tree and embrace childlike glee over a nest of ants. She’s prickly, but when she trusts, her vulnerability is made more beautiful because of it. She’s driven to success, but love is a bigger temptation. Nora is complex and that’s so much more interesting than perfection.

This is a subject I’ve given a lot of thought to and when I began writing, I made a very conscious decision to write against the grain and not feature heroines who fit into the standard Christian fiction mold.

That means some people are not going to like my characters—if you’ve read my reviews, you’ll see that—but that’s all right. Because the people who do like my characters, relate to them on a deep level.

RH: Truth be told, Kimberly, I saw a lot of myself in Nora. I’m very stubborn and willful as well. I hope, like Nora, that I’ve grown and learned from my  mistakes, too. And just for the record, I did not think her flaws made her unlikeable. You did an excellent job bringing the sights, sounds, and smells of India alive on the page, not to mention the sweltering heat. Why did you choose an exotic location like India as the setting for a majority of your novel?

KD: I was having a brainstorming session with the amazing Kristy Cambron and she suggested I send Nora somewhere interesting. Because I had lived in India and had access to some wonderful Indian friends to help me along the way, and there is a massive diversity of butterflies in the country, it seemed a great place to send Nora to.

RH: It was an excellent decision in my opinion. You immersed me so completely in the setting I felt a part of the scene. Do you have a favorite quote from your recent release you’d like to share?

KD: I have a lot of favorite quotes and most of them are of the descriptive variety, but I think this one speaks to me most at the moment because I’m missing it so much:

“India, and everything that happened there, spoke to her in whispers that caressed her memories, wrapping everything in exotic perfume and sultry, cicada-song nights.”

RH: That is lovely. You are such a vivid writer. What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

KD: I hope they discover what an amazing country India is and perhaps decide to visit someday. I hope they notice God’s artistry and creativity, displayed in this vast, beautiful world he’s given us. And I hope, more than anything else, they recognize that that they are loved, wholeheartedly and unreservedly, by a God whose plans are always better and bigger and more amazing than our own.

RH: Amen. Before you leave us, can you tell us a little bit about what are you working on now?

KD: I am working on edits for book two which releases winter of 2021. It’s set in 1887 Calcutta and Wiltshire, England and is about faith and home. I’m also working on the draft of book three that is set in 1897 Poona that features some bizarre similarities to what is happening in the world today.

RH: Well they both sound intriguing, especially that little teaser about book 3. I look forward to reading them both. Thank you for visiting with us today on Romancing History.

KD: Thank you for having me. I enjoyed chatting with you and your readers.


Giveaway**

THIS GIVEWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

CONGRATULATIONS TO our Winner — KATHY BAILEY!!

Kimberly is generously offering one paperback copy of A Mosaic of Wings to one lucky Romancing History reader. (Sorry, but only U.S. residents are eligible). An electronic copy is available for international guests. To enter, tell us about the most exotic place you’ve been able to visit in person or through the pages of an amazing novel!

**Giveaway ends midnight, June 19, 2020.

Author Interview with Amanda Barratt and a Giveaway!!

I’m so excited to introduce my Romancing History readers to the amazingly talented author, Amanda Barratt. Amanda and I met online when I heard the buzz about her previous novel, My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love. And if you’ve been following my blog or on social media, you know I gushed over this book. You can see my full review here.

Amanda’s most recent novel, The White Rose Resists: A Novel of the German Students Who Defied Hitler, released last month from Kregel Publications. I was honored to be part of the launch team for this book.

The White Rose Resists follows the story of university Hans and Sophie Scholl who dared to keep silent and urged their fellow Germans to speak out against the Nazi regime. The novel is told from Sophie’s point of view as well as two fictional characters, Annalise Brandt and Kirk Hoffman.

I first learned about Hans and Sophie Scholl when my husband and I traveled to Germany in 2007. We had the opportunity to see the memorial dedicated to their sacrifice at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. It captures the moment that Hans and Sophie scattered leaflets in the university’s main atrium moments before they were apprehended. When I learned that Amanda was writing a novel to tell Sophie’s story, I couldn’t wait to read it.

Amanda did an astounding amount of research and weaves actual quotes from letters and diaries of those inside the White Rose into this book making for a spectacular, heart wrenching story! Themes of faith and truth run through The White Rose Resists, reminding the reader of the eternal fight of good versus evil and will leave you questioning what price you would pay for freedom. Please, folks, do yourself a favor and read this book! See my full review here.

Amanda is generously offering a $5 Amazon gift card to one Romancing History visitor. See the details at the bottom of this post.


About Amanda

Amanda Barratt is the ECPA best-selling author of over a dozen novels and novellas, including My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a two-time FHL Reader’s Choice Award finalist. She and her family live in northern Michigan. Connect with her on Facebook, or visit her website.


About the Book

Inspired by the incredible true story of a group of ordinary men and women who dared to stand against evil

The ideal of a new Germany swept up Sophie Scholl in a maelstrom of patriotic fervor–that is, until she realized the truth behind Hitler’s machinations for the fatherland. Now she and other students in Munich, the cradle of the Nazi government, have banded together to form a group to fight for the truth: the White Rose. Risking everything to print and distribute leaflets calling for Germans to rise up against the evil permeating their country, the White Rose treads a knife’s edge of discovery by the Gestapo.

Annalise Brandt came to the University of Munich to study art, not get involved with conspiracy. The daughter of an SS officer, she’s been brought up to believe in the Führer’s divinely appointed leadership. But the more she comes to know Sophie and her friends, the more she questions the Nazi propaganda.

Soon Annalise joins their double life–students by day, resisters by night. And as the stakes increase, they’re all forced to confront the deadly consequences meted out to any who dare to oppose the Reich.

A gripping testament to courage, The White Rose Resists illuminates the sacrifice and conviction of an unlikely group of revolutionaries who refused to remain silent-no matter the cost.

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Author Interview

Fast Five

Coffee or Tea? Tea!I drink coffee as a treat at coffee shops (love mocha lattes) but I enjoy a cup of tea on an almost-daily basis.

Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Colin Firth forever.

Bookmark or Dog Ear Pages? Which for me is usually a random piece of paper, rather than an actual bookmark.

Mexican or Chinese Food? Tacos are a weekly staple at our house. I love them topped with fresh salsa and homemade guacamole.

I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy. I’ve seen the episodes so many times I practically have them memorized. I love the comedy and Lucy’s fabulous 50’s fashion.

Author Q&A

RH: To get the ball rolling, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

AB: I’ve been writing for about eight years. During the years before I was published, I completed 7 full-length manuscripts, all of which are safely nestled away in files on my computer, where most of them will remain. 🙂 I signed my first contract in 2014, and in 2015, two of my novellas released in anthologies published by Barbour. This year will see the release of my 3rd novel and my 12th  novella. While my novellas are historical romance, my last two novels are historical fiction based on true stories. Every book I write reflects my love for history, whether the story is based around historical events, delves into the lives of little-known historical figures, or illustrates how circumstances we face today—falling in love, dealing with loss, or entering a new season of life—were not so very different in days gone by.

RH: Twelve novellas? Wow! I didn’t realize that you had so many published works. Congratulations! What do you like to do when you’re not reading or writing?

AB: I love baking, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and watching costume dramas.

RH: Ahh, costume dramas. My hubby and I have been known to binge-watch those as well. Some of our recent favorites include Downton Abbey, Poldark, and Victoria. Describe the most unusual place you’ve had your fictional characters kiss.

AB: In My Dearest Dietrich, my characters shared several kisses in a prison visitation room. I loved exploring the juxtaposition between the innocence of new love and the harsh reality of confinement under the Nazi regime.

RH: Since I read and reviewed My Dearest Dietrich, I should’ve seen the answer to that one coming! What is your favorite place/time of day to write and why?

AB: Mid-morning. Though I admire authors who get up at 5 a.m. to write, alas I am not one of them. I don’t think I could write “See Spot Run” at that hour, much less a coherent chapter of a novel! I usually get up, spend a half hour reading the Bible and another non-fiction book (I’ve been enjoying lots of C.S. Lewis lately), have breakfast, and after checking email and social media, dive into my current WIP. Sometimes I’ve met my set word count before lunch, other times I work into the afternoon.

RH: I’m one of those early writers you mentioned above. I usually have the alarm set for 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. What was the inspiration behind your recent novel?

AB: While writing My Dearest Dietrich, I came across the story of Sophie Scholl in a book on youth in Nazi Germany. As I read about how a twenty-one-year-old woman formed an underground resistance group along with her brother and fellow students at the University of Munich, I was captivated. I wanted to discover her and answer the question: What made these men and women risk their lives to undertake resistance while their countrymen remained silent? The more I researched, the more Sophie’s story grabbed hold of my heart and begged me to share it.

White Rose Resistance Memorial, Munich, Germany; Photo courtesy of Picture Alliance via Getty Images copyright 2018

RH: Their bravery astounds me. I’d like to think I’d stand up for truth, justice, and freedom at any cost like Hans and Sophie, but I think that is something we will never truly know about ourselves unless we are tested. There were so many wonderful secondary characters in your The White Roses Resists, one do you think will resonate with readers? Why?

AB: Anyone familiar with the story of the White  Rose knows the names of Hans and Sophie Scholl. Yet they were far from the only ones involved in the student resistance. I was captivated by the stories of the other men and women I encountered during my research, particularly Alex Schmorell, who worked closely with the Scholls from the beginning of their resistance. Alex was charming and handsome, and had a deep affinity with his Russian heritage, as his mother was from Russia. His love for the Russian people and culture was unique at a time when German propaganda termed the Russians as “subhuman.” Like many of those in the White Rose, he was a committed Christian, and the letters he wrote to his family in the weeks before his execution are incredibly moving. You might say I fell a little bit in love with Alex while writing the novel.

RH: I enjoyed Alex’s story as well, especially the scenes during their summer stationed on the Russian front. Do you have a favorite quote from your recent release you’d like to share?

AB: “Each of us has been given one life. It’s ours to spend as we will. Every voice matters. If they arise as one, change can happen. But first, one has to rise. There has to be a beginning.”

RH: Amanda, that just gave me the chills all over again. Thank you so much for visiting with my readers today.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now CLOSED. Congratulations to Kiki Stanton, the winner of the $5 Amazon gift card.

Amanda is giving away a $5 Amazon gift card to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, please tell us if you’d heard of Hans & Sophie Scholl or The White Rose Resistance, or any other groups that defied Hitler during WWII (Bonehoeffer, The Confessing Church, etc). What price would you be willing to pay for truth, justice and/or freedom?

** This giveaway ends, midnight, Wednesday, June 10th, 2020.**

Claiming Canaan & A Giveaway

I’m thrilled to welcome dear friend and fellow Pelican Book Group author, Barbara Britton, back to Romancing History today. The third book in Barb’s fabulous Daughters of Zelophehad series, Claiming Canaan, just released. Although I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, it is on my TBR pile and I’m anxiously awaiting the conclusion of this amazing series.

And, Barb has graciously offered to giveaway an Ebook copy of one of the books in the series, Winner’s Choice! Details to enter the Giveaway are below.


Saying Good-bye to Historic Girls

Guest post by Barbara Britton

Thank you for having me back on the blog, Kelly. I appreciate you faithfully reading my series on the daughters of Zelophehad.

The daughters of Zelophehad are five orphaned sisters who went to Moses and asked to inherit their deceased father’s land. Moses deferred to God, and God agreed with the girls. God said that if a man died without a son, his daughters could inherit his land (Numbers 27:1-11). The sisters’ “bold ask” was new to me a few years ago. Now, as the last book in the series releases, I am sad to say good-bye to Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

In “Claiming Canaan,” the girls receive their land. We know from Joshua 17:3-6 that the sisters approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua, and the leaders of Israel. The girls remind the powerful leaders of Israel about their historic inheritance. These girls had guts! But they also knew that it had been several years since God’s decree about their land, and at this point in time, Moses was long gone.

As an author, I had to decide what type of land the girls would receive. I placed them in the Jezreel Valley near Canaanite cities that were inhabited by idol worshipers. What would faith in action look like for these girls? I bestowed on Milcah, the protagonist in this final book, a (spoiler alert) vineyard. You could probably discern Milcah’s inheritance from the book cover. Would a vineyard be controversial?

I delved into Scripture and discovered that the “Proverbs 31 Woman” planted a vineyard (Proverbs 31:16-17). How had I missed this purchase? She also works vigorously which is something Milcah discovers comes hand in hand with owning a vineyard. Farming is not easy.

I placed the daughters of Zelophehad in the Jezreel Valley. The valley is lush and green. We see later on in Scripture in I Kings 21 that Naboth owns a vineyard in Jezreel. He does not sell his vineyard to King Ahab because it is part of God’s promised land. Tribal lands were important—a gift from God. God places restrictions on the daughters of Zelophehad and who they could marry in Numbers, chapter 36, so their land would not jump to the tribe of their husband. Land bestowed on the tribes needed to stay with that specific tribe. Naboth understands the importance of keeping his God-given land, but unfortunately it costs him his life. The sisters understand the importance of keeping their land within the tribe of Manasseh when they respond to their restrictions with faith.

Numbers 36:10 says, “So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the Lord commanded Moses.”

So, my series ends with girls staining their feet while stomping grapes and going forth with God into a land filled with hardship and unbelievers.

I hope the faith of Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah inspires us all.

Are these brave girls new to you?


About the Book

When the tribal elders make marriage a requirement for claiming her land, Milcah bat Zelophehad must find a betrothed straightaway. The only problem in finding a husband is that all her suitors were slain while conquering the land of Canaan. Men avoid her in order to stay alive.

After praying to God to send her a bold suitor, a man from her father’s clan plummets from a tree right on top of her. Is this God answering prayer, or a foolish antic by Eli, the war-scarred brother from one of her clan’s rival families?

Will settling in Canaan sort out Milcah’s troubles, or have her woes just begun?

Find the finale on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and where books are sold.


Excerpt from Claiming Canaan

Who is stealing grapes from Milcah and Eli?

Traveling toward the road, they carefully counted the lines of grape plants until they had reached the seventh row. Eli tapped his sword and motioned for her to give him a berth to draw his weapon. He unsheathed his blade. Muted light gleamed on the worn iron.

From grape plant to grape plant, they slipped closer to the thieves. The width of the plants and bush-like thickness of the grape leaves and clusters, blocked their bodies from view.

Her palms dampened as they neared the pickers. She wished she had drunk her fill before hurrying into the field, for her tongue could not find a drop of saliva. Was Eli as frightened? Or did year upon year of battles, prepare one for a fight?

Eli stilled.

Branches rustled on the next planting.

With the stealth of a predator, Eli shifted into the middle of the path.

Someone ducked from under the grape leaves, basket in hand. A boy. Not much older than Jonah. Ten years of age at most.

The young man did not flee, or attack, or give a defense. He stared. Dropping his basket, he leapt backward and tripped, felled by the girth of the basket brimming with grape clusters.

“Where did you run off to, Yarrat,” a woman’s voice asked in a harsh whisper.

Suddenly, crawling from underneath the tall stalks of the plant, a babe appeared. A girl with cheeks darkened by Milcah’s grapes. The girl’s face crumpled. She collapsed onto the path and whimpered. Her round-eyed gaze fixated on Eli’s sword.

These bandits were a family. Milcah’s heart hollowed at the sight of the little girl’s torn covering.

“Answer me, son.” The woman ducked from the next row, tossed her grapes at a half-filled basket, and shrieked. A spooked lark catapulted toward the night sky.

The little girl wailed. The boy remained prone on the ground, feigning a corpse.

“Do—do not harm my children.” The woman dropped to her knees. Her words and her clasped hands begged Eli to spare their lives.

Eli remained a sculpture of flesh.

“We mean you no harm.”

Milcah approached and stood by Eli’s side. “This vineyard was given to us by the One True God. It is an inheritance from my father.”

The boy scrambled to his feet. Hands fisted, he yelled, “You killed my father.”

Finally, the little thief had spoken.


About Barbara

Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little-known Bible characters to light in her stories. Look for Barb to venture into Christian Historical fiction in June with “Until June.” Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Find out more about Barb’s books on her website: www.barbarambritton.com.

Barb is also on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.


Giveaway**

Barb is graciously giving away an Ecopy of one book in her Daughters of Zelophehad series (Lioness, Heavenly Lights, or Claiming Canaan) to one lucky Romancing History reader–winner’s choice. To enter, tell us which Biblical heroine inspires you the most!

 

**Giveaway ends at midnight on April 6, 2020.

Author Interview with Heidi Chiavaroli & a Giveaway

I’m so thrilled to welcome women’s fiction/split time author, Heidi Chiavaroli, to Romancing History today. I had the pleasure of getting to know Heidi when I snagged a coveted position on the launch team for her third novel, The Edge of Mercy.

Heidi’s most recent novel, The Tea Chest, released earlier this month and is a stand alone split time story. I’m sure my Romancing History readers won’t be surprised to learn that the historical thread is my favorite. I really enjoyed this book (see my review) and was tickled when Heidi said she’d do an interview with us.

Heidi has graciously offered a signed copy of The Tea Chest to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, see the details in the Giveaway section at the bottom of this post.

Before we chat with Heidi, here’s a little bit about her and her new book.


About Heidi

DSC_0282Heidi Chiavaroli (pronounced shev-uh-roli…like Chevrolet and ravioli mushed together!) wrote her first story in third grade, titled I’d Cross the Desert for Milk. It wasn’t until years later that she revisited writing, using her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since!

Heidi writes women’s fiction, combining her love of history and literature to write split time stories. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut.

Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of sixteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Heidi

Website   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   GoodReads   BookBub


About the Book

Boston, 1773
Emma Malcolm’s father is staunchly loyal to the crown, but Emma’s heart belongs to Noah Winslow, a lowly printer’s assistant and Patriot. But her father has promised her hand to Samuel Clarke, a rapacious and sadistic man. As his fiancée, she would have to give up Noah and the friends who have become like family to her―as well as the beliefs she has come to embrace.

After Emma is drawn into the treasonous Boston Tea Party, Samuel blackmails her with evidence that condemns each participant, including Noah. Emma realizes she must do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, even if it means giving up the life she desires and becoming Samuel’s wife.

Present Day
Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth is determined to be the first woman inducted into the elite Navy SEALs. But before her dream can be realized, she must return to Boston in order to put the abuse and neglect of her childhood behind her. When an unexpected encounter with the man she once loved leads to the discovery of a tea chest and the document hidden within, she wonders if perhaps true strength and freedom are buried deeper than she first realized.

Two women, separated by centuries, must find the strength to fight for love and freedom. . . and discover a heritage of courage and faith.

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     CBD


Interview with Heidi

Fast Five

  • Dogs or Cats? Dogs most definitely.
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea all the way.
  • Bookmark or Dog Ear Pages? And hurt the book?! Bookmark!
  • Kindle or Paperback? Paperback. I tried to get into digital reading but for me, there’s just something about the experience of holding a book with pages.
  • Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird. I’m usually ready for bed by 9!

Q & A

RH: Heidi it’s been fun getting to know you through your launch team. Can you share something unusual about yourself with my Romancing History readers? Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

HC: I’m a bit obsessive compulsive about a clean house. I have one day a week that I set aside for cleaning and groceries, and I have trouble ignoring this day even when I’m on deadline. I simply can’t concentrate if it’s not done!

RH: I like a tidy house, too, but if I’m cleaning toilets either company is coming over, or I’m avoiding edits or writing a tough scene. Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?

HC: The first time I saw my husband we were freshmen in high school. I will always remember that day because he looked just like a boy I dreamed about the year before. (Not kidding!) But we didn’t hang out much. He was a vocational kid and I was busy with my honors classes. It wasn’t until senior year that he came up to me at lunch and asked me out. The rest is history!

RH: Aww, that’s so cute. I love hearing how people meet their spouse. What do you like to do when you’re not reading or writing?

HC: I love to hike. I also love to quilt, cross-stitch, watch movies with my family, bake, dance in my kitchen, and sing.

RH: Wow! You have such a wide variety of hobbies and talents! I love to sing around the house as well but I “can’t carry a tune with a handle on it” as my mama always said (and my hubby would whole-heartedly agree). When did you know you wanted to write?

HC: Ever since early elementary school, when I discovered the library and the power of a story, I wanted to write. In third grade, I attempted my first novel, I’d Cross the Desert for Milk. A masterpiece! 😉

RH: I love that you still remember the title of a story you wrote in third grade! That’s adorable! What unpublished story do you have in your stash that you really hope sees the light of day someday? 

HC: The second story I wrote, which actually won ACFW’s Genesis contest in 2014, is a historical novel based on a leper colony off the coast of Massachusetts in the early 20th century. For so many reasons, that’s the story of my heart. It needs a bit of work, and I’m not really sure how many readers want to spend time in a leper colony (I would, but that’s another one of my quirks!), so who knows if it will ever actually see the light of day.

RH: Wow, what a unique idea. As a lover of history, I think that would be a fascinating read!What was the inspiration behind your recent novel?

HC: This inspiration definitely came slowly for me! Since I knew I wanted to write about the events of the Boston Tea Party, I dove into researching everything I could about the circumstances surrounding it. My historical heroine, Emma Malcolm, was birthed when I read an account of the brutal tarring and feathering of customs official John Malcolm. This servant of the crown was quite a character in his own right—very outspoken and stubborn with no patience for the antics of the Patriots. And yet I found myself feeling compassion for him. He was treated cruelly and inhumanely by those we find ourselves lauding as heroes today.

I imagined what it’d be like if he had a daughter—one who sympathized with the Sons of Liberty…one who sympathized with the very political side her father was intent on squelching. What if his daughter befriended those plotting to dump the tea? What if she aided them? What if she were even in love with one of them?

Once I had the historical story line down, I thought it might be fun to explore a contemporary woman who also longs to fight for her country and prove herself the best way she knows how. In my research about women in the military, I learned that in July 2017, it was announced that for the first time, a woman would enter the training pipeline to become a Navy SEAL. I imagined what this unidentified woman had gone through and what propelled her to enter such rigorous training. I decided to explore her story in fiction.

Emma and Hayley, my contemporary heroine, both long to serve their country despite broken families. They both long to prove themselves and seek a greater worth and identity.

RH: I really like the aspect that your heroines, though separated by nearly 250  years, were both seeking to belong and found that new identity in Christ. If you were to pick a particular Scripture verse as the theme of your novel, what would it be? Why?

HC: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

The Tea Chest explores what it means to find our worth not in our past, not in what we do or how well we do it, but in whose we are, and in who we trust in.

RH: Amen. When and where is your story set?

HC: Colonial Boston/1770s

RH: My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in Boston a few years ago. They’ve done such a fantastic job preserving our heritage. Fans of historical fiction & romance love the details that your research provides. Was there anything particularly interesting that you learned while researching your book that you were able to use or not use in your story that you’d like to share?

HC: Before I did the research for this book, I really didn’t understand the concept of tarring and feathering. All the colonial cartoon pictures depicted it as an almost funny event—a full grown man with a coat of feathers being paraded through the streets. Sounded silly to me! Not until I dove into my research did I really begin to understand how humiliating and dangerously painful this experience was. Those Patriots could certainly be brutal!

RH: I had no idea either until I read The Tea Chest. That was the first time I actually thought about how painful tarring & feathering must have been. I thought you portrayed that very well. Which secondary character do you think will resonate with readers? Why?

HC: Sarah Bradlee Fulton was a real historical person, but in The Tea Chest she is a friend and mentor to my historical heroine, Emma. Sarah is given credit for coming up with the idea of Mohawk disguises the night of the Boston Tea Party. She also did some other pretty courageous things to help the cause of the Patriots. Her bold courage inspired me, and I hope she will inspire readers!

RH: I did love Sarah’s strength of character and commitment to help the cause of Independence. Her determination was definitely inspiring. What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

HC: I hope readers are touched by the ultimate hope the characters find. I hope they feel it is possible to break away from a troubled past, to make peace with it, and to find renewed hope in a God who loves them.

RH: Yes, I loved the theme that you are not defined by your past or your family, but by the choices you make. The most important being where you place your hope and trust. What are you working on now?

HC: I just finished edits for my next book with Tyndale, scheduled for release next year and tentatively titled The Orchard House. So I’m in the wonderfully beautiful place of dreaming up a new book!

RH: I’ve really enjoyed your stories, Heidi, and look forward to your next release. I’m just not sure I’ll be able to wait an entire year! I had so much fun chatting with you today. Thanks for visiting with my readers.


Giveaway**

 

This Giveaway is now CLOSED! Congratulations to Connie Porter Saunders, the winner of the signed copy of The Tea Chest!!!

In The Tea Chest, Heidi’s historical heroine, makes a choice to leave her loyalist family and join the Patriot cause defying not only her strict father, but societal expectations. But not all men and women of that day agreed with cause of liberty. Many identified as English subjects and chose to remain loyal to the crown. If you lived in Boston on the eve of the American Revolution, would you fancy yourself a Patriot and risk being labeled a traitor? Or would you feel the moral road led to working with the crown to resolve your problems and remain a Loyalist? Tell us why in the comments below to be entered to win the signed copy of The Tea Chest.

**Giveaway ends midnight, March 4th, 2020.

Book Review: My Dearest Dietrich

About the Book


Title: My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Amanda Barratt
Genre: Historical Fiction with Strong Romantic Elements

Book Info: Kregel Publications, 360 pages, June 9, 2019


Tag Line

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison.


Blurb

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk–and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.


My Thoughts

I’ve been looking forward to the release of My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love since I first saw author Amanda Barratt‘s post that she’d signed a contract for the novel. Well folks, the wait is over and I can honestly say the book was everything I’d hoped for and so much more.

The depth of research that Barratt undertook to write this novel is staggering. It takes a talented writer to bring the love story of a well-known hero of the Christian faith to life even when the ending is inevitably known. Using numerous excerpts from the private love letters exchanged between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his young fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, Barratt gives the reader a glimpse into the deep faith and tender romance between these ill-fated lovers.

Barratt doesn’t paint an overly-romanticized version of their relationship either. The nearly twenty year difference in their ages raises concern on the part of Maria’s mother as well as Dietrich’s involvement in subversive activities that, if discovered, could bring not only heartache to Maria, but danger for everyone she holds dear. Nor does the author avoid the dark circumstances surrounding Nazi Germany when the two inexplicably fall in love. She accurately portrays the horrific realities of WWII and life in Tegel prison—atrocities, heartbreak, endless interrogations, and constant surveillance, yet seemlessly weaves hopeful threads of triumph, strength, courage, endurance, and the ever present faith that carries the main players through all that stands in their way.

As a writer of historical romantic fiction myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous historical details Barratt employed throughout making the setting and time period come alive without bogging the story down. From black out curtains and rations, to air raid sirens and secret plots, Barratt never lets us forget who her characters were and what was at stake for them. I especially appreciated the sprinkling of German words—mutter, vater, kaffe, and kuchen (just to name a few), that were not overdone or distracting from the story. I often found myself reading many of the other lines with my own feeble German accent.

It’s not uncommon for characters to stay with me long after I’ve finished a novel, but My Dearest Dietrich is a story I cannot stop ruminating over. With heart-wrenching angst and gut-twisting turmoil, Barratt kept me turning the pages and left me completely undone. I can honestly say that I’ve only reread a few books in my adult life, but I’m confident My Dearest Dietrich has earned a coveted spot among those rare titles whose story I will want to revisit time and time again.


Favorite Quotes

“Always remember. It is only space that separates us.”

“I’ve given you so little, but if my unending love is worth anything, then it is yours. Know that whatever comes, it is and will always be…yours.’

“Our love was destined to begin just when we parted…You felt you ‘couldn’t go on.’ So tell me, can you go on without me? And if you feel you can, can you still do so if you know that I can’t go on without you?”

“You, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, are my gift. And I need no other.”

“Lives would be taken by the Reich. Who knew when each of them might be required to surrender theirs. But spirits would live on, and someday, someday their stories would not be silent.”


Spiritual Takeaway

“What was faith if it was not living fully and completely in all of life—its joys and sorrows, burdens and blessings? Taking hold of what one was given, instead of fearing what may come.”

I imagine the previous quote tells you more about the spiritual takeaway from this story than anything I will expand upon here. I was greatly moved by the depth of Bonhoeffer’s faith in the spite of such horrific circumstances. To see this great man of the faith, struggle with questions of morality in the face of such evil made me realize that just because we may wrestle over the “right” Christian response, doesn’t mean we are weak in our beliefs. Actually, its quite the opposite. When our faith is strong and our desire to seek God’s will is earnest, we will grapple with applying our faith to the challenges the world around us presents. All we can do is what we sincerely believe to be “right” in that moment.

I was also deeply moved by the portrayal of Bonhoeffer’s life inside Tegel prison. While having much on his own plate to worry about—the fate of his family and fellow conspirators, his fiancée, and whether or not his own life would be spared, Dietrich put others first—ministering to those in the sick ward, those injured when Allied bombs struck the prison, and even comforting the prison chaplain who felt the strain of shepherding so many souls sentenced to death for “subversive” activities. Sometimes I think as believers we feel we need to have experienced extreme circumstances to have a testimony. Perhaps Bonhoeffer’s true legacy, even more than the great works he authored, is that he was quite simply a Christian who ministered to others right where he was in spite of his own weariness and difficult circumstances. He stepped outside of himself, and put others first.

Through the pages of My Dearest Dietrich, we not only see the well-known theologian but Bonhoeffer as he saw himself—an ordinary man living his faith daily to the best of his ability. This book has left a lasting imprint on my soul to love those around me to the best of my ability, be a breath of encouragement no matter the circumstances, and to stand strong in my beliefs.

“Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Amen, Dietrich. Amen.


Links for purchase

Amazon           Barnes & Noble          CBD


About the Author

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. Her novel My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love, releases from Kregel Publications in June 2019.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

 

 

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