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

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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: The Heart’s Charge by Karen Witemeyer & a Giveaway!

About the Book


Title: The Heart’s Charge
Series: Hanger’s Horsemen, Book #2

Author: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info: Bethany House Publishers,     June 1, 2021, 381 pages


Blurb

For Years They’ve Been Nomads for Justice, but a Final Mission May Just Lead Their Hearts Home.

Members of the legendary Hanger’s Horsemen, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks arrive in Llano County, Texas, to deliver a steed, never expecting they’d help deliver a baby as well. Left with an infant to care for, they head to a nearby foundling home, where Mark encounters the woman he nearly married a decade ago.

After failing at love, Katherine Palmer has dedicated her life to caring for children, teaming up with Eliza Southerland to start Harmony House. Eliza understands the pain of not fitting society’s mold, being illegitimate and of mixed ancestry. Yet those are the very attributes that lead her to minister to outcast children. The taciturn Jonah intrigues her by defying all her stereotypes of men, but there are secrets behind his eyes–ghosts from wars past and others still being waged.

When the Horsemen hear rumors of missing children, they stay to investigate, sticking close to Harmony House and its beautiful owners. As they work together to uncover the truth, love and danger grow hand in hand until a final sinister scheme threatens to destroy them all.

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My Thoughts

Karen Witemeyer’s books keep getting better and better! Just call me a sucker for handsome, strong, godly soldier types. I wasn’t sure about reading a story with four points of view. I wondered if one of the couples would take center stage while the other lingered in the background but that wasn’t the case with The Heart’s Charge. Both Jonah and Eliza’s story line, as well as Mark and Kate’s, were well-developed, compelling romances nestled in a mystery about missing children. And I didn’t see the culprit coming either!

I also want to give Witemeyer a shout out for writing such endearing children. Oftentimes children in romance novels are just underfoot and underdeveloped characters. Not so in The Heart’s Charge. Kate and Eliza run a home for Foundling Children and these sweet children, especially Abner, stole my heart. The boxcar children, orphan boys who ride the rails, were also well thought out characters that added to the story.

With The Heart’s Charge, Witemeyer delivers another solid dose of scriptural truth, humor, mystery, and romance that is sure to delight every reader. My only complaint was I wanted more of Matthew and Josie Hanger and Preach from book one.

I’m definitely looking forward to book number three in the Hanger’s Horseman series!


Favorite Quotes

“But if each man and woman were defined solely by their greatest sin, what hope would there be for any of us?”

“Regrets are heavy, son. The fewer you carry around the better off you’ll be. But when they come, and they will, remember you got a Father who will carry them for you if you let him.”

“God don’t need fancy words,” Jonah encouraged, “just true ones.”


About the Author

For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Recently voted #1 Readers’ Favorite Christian Romance Author by Family Fiction Magazine, Karen is a two-time winner of the ACFW Carol Award and three-time RITA® finalist. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

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Giveaway*

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Lori Smanski!

I’m giving away a Kindle copy of The Heart’s Charge to one commenter. To enter, tell us your favorite Karen Witemeyer book!

**Giveaway ends at midnight, Thursday, June 24th

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.

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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 Tammy Kirby and a Giveaway!

I’m so thrilled to introduce Romancing History readers to my friend, fellow historical romance author, and critique partner, Tammy Kirby. Tammy writes edgy historical romance set in Victorian England. And ya’all, I love her books! She has a knack for infusing historical details into her stories that just bring the settings to life.

Tammy’s latest release, Hunt for Grace, the third book in the Haven House series, released earlier this week. You can see my review here. 

Before the interview, let’s learn a little more about Tammy and Hunt for Grace. And be sure to see the giveaway section below. Tammy has graciously offered a $15 Amazon gift card to one lucky Romancing History reader.


About Tammy

Tammy Kirby is an internationally published author. In 2018 she released her debut novel, His Grace Forgiven. This is the first book in the Victorian Inspirational Romance series, Haven House, which placed second in the 2016 Great Beginnings Contest. Since then, she has completed three consecutive books in the Haven House series and is working on the fifth and last book at present.

In between working as an ER nurse and writing Victorian Romance, she has authored two Scottish Time travel short stories and co-authored a third. Because she believes God has a sense of humor, and laughter really is good for the soul, you will always find humor in her works.

Most of the crazy things her characters go through already happened to her or someone in her family, occasionally a friend, and perhaps a villain or two might have taken on characteristics of someone who treated her with less than brotherly love. (wink, wink).

Tammy makes her home in NE Louisiana with her husband. In her free time, she drinks tea, eats orange slices, swears she’s going to get on the treadmill, and writes beneath the surface about broken people finding hope, happiness, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

You can connect with Tammy on her website, Facebook, Smashwords, GoodReads, BookBub, and Pinterest.


About the Book

Hunt for Grace, Book Four Haven House Series

Unworthy

Duncan Connor, English viscount and newly appointed Earl of Huntington, is unworthy. Past indiscretions keep him in turmoil. His only peace is found in the bottom of a bottle of spirits where he can forget what he did—for a time.

Now, not only is he saddled with a Scottish earldom complete with castle in the highlands, he has become sole guardian to a precocious five-year-old female. In a matter of minutes, he finds his new ward has an uncomfortable way of cutting to the truth with her honest observations. On top of this, the governess his sister hired to train the child just happens to be the one woman his demons will never let him forget.

Marisa Douglas has found freedom at Haven House, though she longs for a true home. But that’s a pipe dream her past will never allow because she is unworthy. When she is offered a job in Scotland as governess to an earl’s ward, she is ecstatic. She will be able to leave her past behind in England and make a life where no one knows what she has been.

Her dreams of anonymity disperse like the highland mists under bright sunshine when she meets her new employer. Duncan Connor is the very man who aided her despicable uncle in her downward spiral into the dregs of society.

Can two people find peace in the present when faced daily with their pasts?

Hunt for Grace is available for purchase on Amazon.

Other Books by Tammy Kirby, His Grace Forgiven, Joy to the Earl, Vengence is Mine Saith Mi’Lord, and Saving the McKinnon.


Author Q&A

Fast Five

  1. Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Matthew MacFadyen
  2. Sound of Music or Hello Dolly? Sound of Music
  3. Night Owl or Early Bird? Early Bird
  4. Oldies or Country? Oldies
  5. Dogs or Cats? Cats

Interview Questions

RH: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve been writing? How many books you have published and what era(s) do you write in?

TK: I’ve been writing since my early twenties-serious since about 2000. It took a few years before I got my confidence up to publish. I have 4 Inspirational Victorian Romance out there in the Haven House series. It is about forgiving the unforgivable. I asked God why He asked me to write this series and He told me: “Because I knew you would.” I also have a couple of Scottish Time Travel short stories published and a new anthology, I co-wrote with my friend, Carole Lehr Johnson, on the horizon that pulls them all together. Their Scottish Destiny will be published in the Spring of 2021.

RH: I love that your books center on forgiveness. Bitterness only hurts the one who fails to forgive. Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

TK: Action movies and Celtic music relaxe me. When I walk, I watch my feet instead of where I am going. I can laugh at myself. God talks to me in dreams.

RH: Being able to laugh at yourself is a wonderful quality. It helps keeps many of life’s challenges in perspective. Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?

TK: Ok, so keep in mind we met each other before I sold out to Jesus. We went dancing, and he had a bit much to drink. He and his friend showed up at my apartment the next day pretty green around the gills. My dad arrived with tools to fix my toilet that had been on the blink for several days. (My two-year-old had flushed a full tube of toothpaste without my knowledge.) The friend, being a good ole boy, offered to help. In record time, he is on my front porch casting up his accounts and I can hear my dad snickering in the background. So, Roger had to fill in the gap. Dad saves the day, and Roger, who I later learned has the weakest stomach of anyone I’ve ever met, made it through without joining his friend on my porch. Dad told Mom on their way home. “She needs to keep that ole boy.” And I did. We celebrated our 36th anniversary last July.

RH: I love that Roger is a “good ole boy.” They are really keepers in my experience. Which 3 words describe the type of fiction you write?

TK: Christian, Humorous, Historical

RH: I do love the whit and banter in your stories. What does writing success look like to you?

TK: Success to me is that note or review that says, “Your book touched me and changed my life,” or “It made me rethink some things.” I guess I can sum it up with, success is about my readers drawing closer to God because of something I wrote.

RH: Oh Tammy, you really hit the nail on the head with that answer. Hearing from a reader that your book resonated with them makes all the hair pulling we do to get that story into print worth it. What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

TK: I guess making sure I get their feelings and emotions correct. Men don’t think like we do.

RH: Boy is that ever the truth. My husband says men think blue and women think pink. What was the inspiration behind Hunt for Grace?

TK: God placed Haven House on my heart to show the world how important forgiveness is in our lives. If we do not forgive how can He forgive us? The first book, His Grace Forgiven, I bled because I had to put my own emotions in the heroine’s character. I had to forgive the unforgivable, and it wasn’t easy. I learned that forgiveness is not a gift, it is a choice. With each book, the characters just sort of evolved. In Hunt for Grace, Marisa has been used and abused by people who should have loved and protected her, and Duncan has done things under the influence of alcohol and pain that hurt others. He can’t forgive himself. These two people are lost souls that find redemption and healing by forgiving.

RH: You’re right, forgiveness is a choice and keeps our heart from growing bitter. When and where is Hunt for Grace set?

TK: 1865 The Scottish Highlands and Victorian England

RH: I’ve always wanted to visit the Scottish Highlands and you bring the area to life so beautifully in Hunt for Grace. If you were to pick a particular Scripture verse as the theme of your novel, what would it be? Why?

TK; Why? Because the scriptures say it plainly. I don’t want anyone to miss heaven because they held onto the bitterness or unforgiveness.

Matthew 6: 14-15 — “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

RH: That is such an excellent verse for this book, for the entire series really. What scene in Hunt for Grace was the hardest to write? Which is your favorite?

TK: I don’t think there is a hardest scene. I usually get to about 50,000 words and that’s when it gets hard. I have the bones of the story laid out and have to flesh it out with 25,000 more words to get to my designated 75,000-word novel. It is always daunting, but God never fails to pull it together. My favorite scene is the toothpaste scene.

RH: I find that initial draft the hardest to write. I like fleshing out the story through edits and layering with deeper POV and more description the fun part. What do you hope readers will take away after reading Hunt for Grace?

TK: I hope they will search within themselves to find any unforgiveness in their hearts and ask God to help them forgive those that hurt them. Not for that other person but for their own healing. Why? Because it is important to our heavenly Father.

RH: Amen! Thank for visiting with my readers today, Tammy!


Giveaway**

Congratulations to our winner, Joan Arning!

This giveaway is now closed

Tammy has graciously offered a $15 Amazon gift card to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell me if you’ve ever visited Scotland or England? If so, what was your favorite spot? If not, what would you like to see if you get the opportunity to travel there some day?

**Giveaway ends midnight on February, 24, 2021.**

Author Interview with Heidi Chiavaroli and a Giveaway

If you’ve been following Romancing History for a while, you know I”m a huge fan of timeslip (also known as dual timeline) fiction and no one does it better in my humble opinion than by guest today, Heidi Chiavaroli.

Heidi’s latest release, The Orchard House, will not only appeal to fans of timeslip novels but also to fans of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women.

Now that I’ve got your curiosity peaked, let’s learn a little more about The Orchard House before we chat with Heidi. Oh, and don’t leave without entering to win a print copy of The Orchard House by leaving a comment (see giveaway section for guidelines).


About Heidi

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. 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. Her latest dual timeline novel, The Orchard House, is inspired by the lesser-known events in Louisa May Alcott’s life. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

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About the Book

Award-winning author Heidi Chiavaroli transports readers across time and place in this time-slip novel that will appeal to fans of Little Women.

Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.

2001
Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

1865
While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

2019
After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong.

To purchase The Orchard House, click here.


Author Interview

Fast Five

  1. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? Considering I had to look up what Get Smart was, I’d have to say I Love Lucy!
  2. Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin? Chocolate Chip…chocolate anything. 😉
  3. Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Matthew MacFadyen (RH: If I’d known this it may have been a deal breaker for the interview, just sayin’!)
  4. Football or Soccer? Football, only to watch of course, and likely only on Super Bowl night. ;0
  5. Run, Bike, Hike, or Swim? Hike!

 

Author Q&A

RH: What five words best describe Heidi apart from being an author?

HC: Introvert, grace-clinger, nature-lover (hyphenated words count as one, right?), contemplative, creative.

RH: Hyphenated words, definitely count. Which historical figure, other than Jesus (because who wouldn’t want to meet Jesus?), would you like to meet? Why?

HC: This answer probably changes often for me, but this year it’d definitely be Louisa May Alcott. I’ve done so much research about her for the writing of The Orchard House that I would love to meet her. Maybe she could mentor me in my writing! 😉

RH: I think my answer would change as well. I think it would be very inspiring to meet Louisa May Alcott as well. What is your favorite historical romance novel and/or author? Why?

HC: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. I loved this book because it didn’t ignore the gritty and the hard. Hadassah is the most admirable heroine I think I’ve ever met. Love her!

RH: Redeemeng Love, also by Francine Rivers, is my all-time favoirte story and one of the few novels I’ve read more than once. The Orchard House is your fifth book to release in five years. Can you give us a glimpse into your day? How early do you get up? Do you have dedicated writing time each day or is each day different? How do you juggle your writing life with work and raising a family?

 HC: I’m usually up by six and I spend some time reading and in prayer, followed by some yoga (spending all day at the computer is physically hard!). After my two teen boys are off to school (or these days, off to their rooms for classes), I get to work either writing, editing, or marketing. I have a trusty calendar with tasks to accomplish, and so I try to get something from each category accomplished each day, though that doesn’t always happen. Thursdays are designated cleaning days. I actually don’t schedule any writing-related things on Thursday so whatever I get done feels like a bonus!

When I’m on deadline, I will add in a word count for each day, and that always gets done first. (At least that’s the goal!) Before email, social media, etc.

I think the major key to juggling writing, family, and work, is to take my writing seriously. It is work. Then again, it’s just work. Family is more important and I try to set time aside (like Sundays and nights) where I don’t write. When I first got a contract, I didn’t do that. I would be on my computer trying to market in every conceivable way every night of the week. It was too much. Carving out time during the day while everyone else in my home is either at school or work and thinking of it as my “office time” at home is truly helpful. So are a lot of hikes in the woods. It’s downtime, but I’m still writing a story in my head. 

RH: True Confession: I’m very good about making schedules, but not so good about sticking to them. That is something I’ve been working on lately. I love to read time slip fiction. I’m curious to know, is it more challenging to write the contemporary or the historical thread in your novels? How do you weave them together so seamlessly?

HC: Each novel seems to be different. There’s no question the historical thread is more work, as it requires more research, and yet at the same time the research makes the writing easier because I’ve been immersing myself in the setting and characters for so long!

Weaving them seamlessly is definitely the hard part! I think starting off with an object that will connect the two time periods (like a book of poems in The Orchard House or like a tea chest in The Tea Chest) that definitely helps for me. It also helps to have my characters wrestling with similar inner struggles. So even though they may be centuries apart, they are coming alongside one another in their common problems.

RH: I’ve wanted to try my hand at writing timeslip fiction. Thank you for those tips. What is the inspiration behind your recent release, The Orchard House?

HC: Like so many girls and women around the world, I’ve always been captivated by the story of Little Women—a seemingly simple domestic tale that, with its timelessness, explores the complexities of family, friendship, and love. But there was something else that made this tale come alive for me—a childhood visit to the very place where Louisa wrote her beloved story. Orchard House brought Louisa and her novel alive in a new way. I remember being completely captivated by this place where these fictional (and real life) heroines lived, of beholding the very desk where Louisa wrote her masterpiece. For a child who loved this story, and books in general, this made a real impression on me.

Setting out to write a story involving Louisa and Orchard House, I dug through her biographies, journals, and letters for some interesting, lesser-known morsel about this famed author. When I learned about her time as a nurse in the Civil War, her experiences nursing a certain young blacksmith for whom she held strong feelings for but who would end up dying, and her subsequent near-death experience with typhoid shortly after, I knew I’d stumbled upon something. I thought it might be interesting to have my historical heroine, Johanna, be the sister of Louisa’s “prince of patients.” What if these two women struck up a friendship? What if Louisa offered her a way to Massachusetts? What if Louisa became a mentor to Johanna, who found herself in a difficult marriage?

From this storyline came the idea of women helping women, both in a contemporary story and a historical story. Themes of sisterhood, friendship, forgiveness, and helping the downtrodden—all themes in Little Women—were brought to the forefront of the book to further tie in and give honor to this much-loved story and author.

RH: I confess, seems I’m doing a lot of that in this interview, I haven’t read Little Women. I’ve only watched movie adaptions but I do love the characters. Hmmm, I better add that to my ‘to do’ list. Which scene in the The Orchard House was the hardest to write? Which was your favorite?

HC: The one hardest to write was at the end of Johanna’s storyline. I can’t really say more without a spoiler, but when readers get to it they will probably be able to understand why. I don’t often shy away from the hard, and that scene was definitely hard.

My favorite was actually the epilogue. Even though I knew how it would all come together, I felt it in that scene and thought it was special how Louisa played into it all.

RH: Oh I’m glad you didn’t give us any spoilers. I hadn’t thought of that when I posed the question and I’m currently listening on audio book,  which I highly recommend. Which secondary character in The Orchard House do you think will resonate most with readers? Why?

HC: I’m hoping Louisa May Alcott will resonate with readers! I did so much research, and really tried to do her character justice. I found out some little-known facts that I attempted to bring to light in the story, and so I hope readers find her as the interesting woman she was.

RH: I’m enjoying getting to know this literary icon as a woman. You are doing her great justice. Do you have a favorite quote from The Orchard House you’d like to share with Romancing History readers?

HC: I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but here’s one of my favorites from Louisa that is included in the book:

“When tired, sad, or tempted, I find my best comfort in the woods, the sky, the healing solitude that lets my poor, weary soul find the rest, the fresh hope, or the patience which only God can give.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

RH: That is a fine quote and one I whole-heartedly agree. I love to walk my dog and pray while enjoying His creation. What have you learned from writing The Orchard House? What do you hope readers will take away after finishing this book?

HC: I think this book has made me think a lot about my own spiritual walk. I’m hoping the themes of forgiveness, friendship, helping the oppressed, and finding a place to belong will resonate with my readers as these are all aspects found in Little Women and all things I’ve wrestled with over the last couple of years myself.

RH: I think those are timeless, universal themes that benefit us to visit over and over again. Thank you for visiting with us today, Heidi.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Sarah Taylor!

Heidi is graciously offering a print copy of The Orchard House to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell us which March sister (Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy) was your favorite and why?

**Giveaway ends at midnight, February 17th, 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.

 

 

 

 

A Glimpse into a Writer’s Research by Pat Jeanne Davis & a Giveaway!

As a writer of historical romance and a lover of history, I LOVE research. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes about now, but to me, it’s so fun to find the little details that will ground the reader in the time and setting of my story.

Today, I have a new-to-me author, Pat Jeanne Davis, sharing a glimpse into how she researched her new World War II novel, When Valleys Bloom Again. Pat is also giving away one eBook copy of the novel as well! To enter, see the Giveaway details at the bottom of this post.

First, let’s find out a little bit more about When Valleys Bloom Again.


About the Book

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Then Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home?


A Glimpse into a World War II Author’s Research

by Pat Jeanne Davis

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I enjoyed doing the research for my WWII inspirational romance, When Valleys Bloom Again. My father-in-law was in the British Eighth Army and fought at Dunkirk, Normandy Beach and throughout Europe. I was further rewarded with an opportunity to ask questions of other veterans living in England and in the States who were willing to share some of their experiences and show me their treasured  photographs.

Additionally, I got to travel to distant  places with my British-born husband and attended events where re-enactors were dressed in clothes that would’ve been worn during the 1940’s.

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Other times we went to aerodromes and living museums where guides went about their tasks as people would’ve done then. They were always helpful and eager to share what they had learned and to answer questions. When I would uncover an extra special tidbit of information that would enhance my story, I became even more excited.

On one research trip, I went into the largest purpose-built civilian air raid shelter in England that was extended to accommodate 6,500 people during the Second World War. The Stockport Air Raid Shelter is a network of underground tunnels, a mile long, carved out of the sandstone hills on which the city stands that provided not only protection but a way of life for families.

This underground world still intact today as it was during the war years gave me an opportunity to learn about the raw realities of life during the Blitz. I came away with a deep appreciation for those who struggled to survive with only the basic amenities in such depressing and stressful surroundings and further admiration for my husband’s family who lived through those long years of war.

 


 An Excerpt from When Valleys Bloom Again

 

Jolie Fontaine

Main Line Philadelphia, Summer 1942

Abby sat in the middle of a group of children, reading aloud a favorite story. She looked up to see Carol at her side. “Jim’s on the telephone. I’ll fill in here,” she said, taking the storybook out of Abby’s hands. “He says it’s important.”

She rose from a stool, her heart beating faster. Jim wrote whenever possible and only called occasionally—but never in the middle of the day. It must be urgent.

When out of sight, she sprinted down the hall, dropping breathless into a wooden chair beside the telephone. “Hello, Jim,” she said, pressing the receiver tight to her ear, as if to draw him closer.

“Hello, Darling. I had to call. But I haven’t got long to talk.”

Silence.

“Jim … Jim?” Leaning forward, she rapped the cradle switch. “Are you there?”

“I’m here. Sorry to call like this,” he said, his voice cracking. “They’re shipping me out.”

She slumped back in the seat. “When?”

“I board a train for New York next week. Then a troopship.”

Abby attempted to speak, but a lump rose in her throat.

“Sweetheart, I’m sorry I won’t see you before I leave,” he said in a subdued voice.

She swallowed hard. “Can’t I meet your train s-s-somewhere?”

“I looked into that. There’s nowhere.” The hopeless tone in his voice was unmistakable.

“Then I’ll come to New York.”

“No time for that.”

Her eyes filled. “No time for us?”

“Besides, there’s no more furloughs or passes. Look. It’s not all bad. I’ll probably get to London. Maybe even see your parents when I get a pass.”

Abby sensed he was struggling for words.

“So, that’s at least a cheerful bit of news, isn’t it?”

“S-S-Some,” she said, trying to conceal disappointment in her voice.

“Darling, there’s a line of men waiting to use this phone. I’ll have to go.”

She was losing the battle to stay calm and accepting. “Must you hang up so soon?”

He cleared his throat before speaking again. “I’m not so good at always saying what I feel. Still, you know how much I love you.” His voice carried a wealth of emotion. “I’ll be back.”

“I’ll be waiting for you,” she said, then mumbled a muted, “goodbye.” With a click, their connection was severed.

She replaced the receiver and closed her eyes, her lower lip trembling. She hadn’t reacted the right way to his disappointing news. After all, Jim was being sent off. He was the one at risk, not her.

When she got back to the room Carol and the children were gone. She cleaned the blackboard and tidied up before leaving. Then she strolled to the tower and sat there until the light faded. How much longer would this war go on? Scenes from the latest Pathé newsreel—devoted to the progress of the war—flashed before her eyes. Please, Lord, keep Jim safe.

* * *

            Returning to the house, she found her uncle listening to the president’s weekly fireside chat. He pressed a finger to his lips and motioned for her to take a seat. “Nearly done,” he mouthed. On occasion she would join him and her aunt for these broadcasts. Uncle Will proclaimed his liking for Mr. Roosevelt out of patriotism and Aunt Val by way of a fondness for Eleanor.

When the president finished, Uncle Will turned off the radio. “I see that Eisenhower’s in England and has command of U.S. Forces in the European theater.”

Abby went straight to her complaint. “Jim’s being sent to England.”

“Oh, dear,” he said, leaning back and folding his arms. “This afternoon his sister hinted something was up.” He furrowed his brow. “I know how disappointed you must feel. But look on the bright side,” he said, grinning. “Perhaps he’ll get to meet your parents.”

“Yes, that’s what Jim thought.” She forced a smile. “It’s something to hang on to.”

“Let me show you this.” Uncle Will went over to the map on the wall that bristled with tacks of different colors. He pointed to one section, motioning for Abby to join him. “The President says that because of our navy’s victory over the Japanese here at Midway Island, there’s been a decisive turn in this phase of the war. This affects everything else to come.”

“Surely, this war can’t go on much longer,” she said, her voice quivering.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, yet. Your Jim is off to fight to ensure our freedom. Pray God may help him to do what needs to be done for however long it takes.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Jim must do what he needs to do, and you must have faith that he will come back to you.”

“You always say what I need to hear, Uncle.”


About Pat

PAT JEANNE DAVIS  has a keen interest in 20th Century United States and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Her longtime interest in that era goes back to the real-life stories she heard about family members who served during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is a debut inspirational romance set in WWII. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her British-born husband.  She writes from her home n Philadelphia, Pa. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

READ this Q&A with Pat in the March 2020 Issue of Family Fiction Magazine

You can connect with Pat on her website, Facebook, Instgram, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page, Linked In, Pinterest, or BookBub


GiveAway**

This Giveaway is Now CLOSED!!

Congratulations to our winner, Rebekah Miller!

Pat has graciously offered an eBook copy of When Valleys Bloom Again to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter the drawing, tell us about a World War II era historical site, memorial, or event you’ve visited or would like to visit in the comments below.

**Giveaway ends midnight, Wednesday, September 23**

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words by LoRee Peery

I have new friend and fellow Pelican Book Group author, LoRee Peery, sharing how a dream, a weathered barn, and a love for cowboys inspired her latest release, Cowboy Just in Time.

LoRee has generously offered a print copy of one of her Indie titles, Repurposed. See the giveaway details at the bottom of this post.

Before we hear from LoRee, let’s learn more her time travel novel, Cowboy Just in Time.


About the Book

 

When event planner Amanda Totten falls through a barn trapdoor and finds herself in the arms of an 1890’s cowboy, she scrambles to find a way back to the future. She has a life and obligations—her fledgling business and her mother’s financial needs. But the less stressful lifestyle, and her deepening love for Gavin Medley, is calling to her heart and she is torn between past and future.

Has God given her a chance at love?

Gavin Medley has been working for years to regain his family homestead. As ranch foreman, he has nothing but a dream of a place and family of his own. But his love for Amanda is making him think that having his own ranch isn’t as important as having someone to love for the rest of his life.

Amanda returns to the future, and Gavin is shattered. He tries to go forward in time, but fails. Believing it’s God’s will, Gavin resigns himself to living without the love of his life.

But love transcends time, and Amanda and Gavin need each other. Can Amanda return to her cowboy?

Amazon   Pelican Book Group


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

 

Once upon a time I had a time travel dream. I rarely remember my dreams but this one stayed with me for a long time. I may have even dreamt it before I started writing for publication. In the dream, a woman (I think it’s me) walks upstairs in a country house and opens a door. Kapow! She steps into the old West. I never forgot it and it made me wonder if I could ever write anything historical.

Then I saw an old barn on an acreage where my brother once lived, and the seeds of Cowboy Just in Time took root. My forty words: An event planner falls through a barn loft floor and finds herself in 1890. The cowboy embodies the man of her dreams. He wants her to stay. She needs to leave. Is their love enough to span the ages?

Oh, boy. What do I know about writing a historical novel? Let me count the ways.

–I grew up on a farm that had been homesteaded (not by my family, but we owned it for 50 years) in Antelope County, Nebraska.

–I’m the oldest of seven and there was only one bedroom and no inside bathroom until I was ten (four kids at the time—we all slept in a full bed).

–I loved the pastures and often imagined buffalo grazing and cowboys galloping their horses across the land.

–I fell in love with romantic cowboys and Zane Grey books as a girl.

–Westerns were favored movies by my whole family.

I love to read cowboy historical novels, but could I really write one? Mary Connealy, I am not. The urge, the mind pictures, especially the barn, would not leave my head. So I started to pray and began the story way back in 2014.

The questions that came up, wow. What did Omaha look like before the 20th century? I knew the stockyards were a huge presence. When did the telephone come to the country? Would a ranch home have a pump with piped water on the porch?

Amanda, Gavin calls her Mandy, adapted to his time. There were skeptics. Why would a savvy business woman want to go back in time when life expectancy was so low? Why would a cowboy foreman who worked all his life for the homestead of his birth want to jump forward in time? God gives answers, in His time.

In Cowboy Just in Time Phoebe, the rancher’s daughter, is not a very likeable character. She has redeeming qualities and kept raising her hand to be heard. So Phoebe’s story is the sequel called Future of My Heart, where she comes forward in time, and releases in August.

Thank you, Kelly, you historian, you. It’s been a pleasure to join my little bit of history with your lovely blog.


About LoRee

 

Nebraska country girl LoRee Peery writes fiction that hopefully appeals to adult readers who enjoy stories written from a Christian perspective, focusing on the romance. These include novels and novellas for women and men in the Contemporary, Romance, Historical, Time Travel, and Mystery/Suspense categories. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. Her Frivolities Series and the book based on her father’s unsolved homicide, Touches of Time, are available on Amazon. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother and great-, sister, friend, and author.

You can connect with LoRee on Twitter, Facebook, or on her Amazon author page or website.


Give Away Alert**

**This Giveaway is now CLOSED**

Congratulations to our winner, Sharon!

 

LoRee has generously offered a print copy of one of her Indie titles, Repurposed. To enter the drawing, please tell us below what would be the most difficult part of suddenly being transported to the 19th century.

**Giveaway ends midnight, September 2nd, 2020.**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview with Ramona K. Cecil & a Giveaway

I’m excited to welcome fellow Pelican Book Group author, Ramona K Cecil to Romancing History. She is a multi-published and award-winning author of historical romances. Ramona’s recent release, The Time for Healing, is set in Shawnee territory in 1824 and released on August 7th.

Ramona has graciously offered on eBook copy of The Time for Healing to one Romancing History. Make sure to comment below to enter the drawing!

Before we chat with Ramona, here’s a little bit about her book.


About the Book

Will their love be the last casualty of the Pigeon Roost Massacre?

Ginny Red Fawn McLain is determined to hold fast to her adoptive Shawnee culture despite her sudden reentry into her white birth family. She rejects their Christianity, fearing the tenets of the white man’s religion will prevent her from practicing as a Shawnee medicine woman. But her heart refuses to shun her uncle’s young friend and apprentice minister, Jeremiah Dunbar.

Jeremiah Dunbar has never doubted what he would do with his life—he’d follow in his father’s footsteps as a minister of the Gospel. But a mission trip west to the Native American tribes makes him begin to question his future plans. At the discovery of his fellow missionary’s long lost niece living among the Shawnee, Jeremiah is immediately smitten. But unless Ginny Red Fawn McLain joins Christ’s fold—something she adamantly resists—Jeremiah will have to choose between the woman he loves and the work God has called him to do.

Ginny and Jeremiah struggle to discern the will of God, the Great Spirit, for their lives, and if fitting their love into His plans is even possible. Dreams and cultures clash amid an atmosphere of contempt and distrust, threatening to make their love the last casualty of the Pigeon Roost Massacre.

Amazon     B&N     Pelican Book Group     Thrift Books     Book Depository


Author Interview

Fast Five

  1. Dogs or Cats? Cats. Don’t get me wrong, I do like dogs, but my mother was deathly afraid of dogs, so we had cats for pets growing up. Cats also take less care.
  2. Coffee or Tea? Coffee—extra light. I need at least a couple cups in the morning to get going. If coffee is offered it’s often my drink of choice.
  3. Mexican or Chinese Food? Mexican. I’ve never much cared for Asian cuisine, but offer me a plate of nachos or a beef burrito and I’m there.
  4. Night Owl or Early Bird? Definitely night owl. For years my husband worked a late second shift. We got used to getting up late—Hubby calls it “cruising into the day,” and not hitting the sack until midnight.
  5. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy. It was a must-watch show in my childhood. Lucy and Ethyl Mertz, what a hoot!

Author Q&A

RH: Hi Ramona. Welcome to Romancing History. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

RKC: I’ve been writing creatively since about the age of four when I began to compose poetry. Both my parents dabbled in writing poetry and my mother wrote two unpublished novels. I was the middle child of three and the only one of my siblings to get the writing bug. Between the mid 1980s and 1990s I sold over eighty of my verses to leading publisher of Christian gift items. I still get emails from fans of those verses. I now write historical romance novels/novellas for the Christian market. My stories are set in the 1800s and early 1900s. My first book, Larkspur, was published in 2006 as a result of winning first place in a contest sponsored by a publishing company. Since then, I’ve had fourteen more traditionally published novels/novellas. When I’m working on a project I set a goal of 1000 words a day. I always pray for guidance before I begin writing and I finish my prayer with “Give me this day my daily thousand words.”

RH: Wow, I had no idea you’d published fourteen novels or novellas. That’s a huge accomplishment. Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

RKC: I don’t think I’m especially picky in general, but I am picky about bread. I don’t like my bread squished. My husband won’t even handle a loaf of bread for fear of squishing it. He says he’d just as soon handle a hand grenade.

RH: That’s funny, but seriously, who wants squishy bread? Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?

RKC: My husband and I knew each other in high school—he was a couple years ahead of me—but we never dated then. A couple years after I graduated high school we re-connected at a church ice cream social. He came to partake and I was taking the donations. He said “So you’re the money changer?” I wanted the ground beneath me to open up and drop me out of sight. After he enjoyed his ice cream he came back and asked for my phone number. We began dating and six months later we were married. That was forty-seven years ago.

RH: That’s a cute story. I love how people meet their spouses, usually during some mundane thing and they have no idea their life is about to change forever. And, 47 years! That’s wonderful! Which 3 words describe the type of fiction you write?

RKC:  Christian, historical, romance

RH: That is exactly the type of fiction I love to read—Christian historical romance! What has God taught you along your writing journey?

RKC: Patience, persistence, and handing everything over to Him. Years ago after a particularly tough rejection, I considered quitting writing (as if I could). While walking on my treadmill I prayed and asked God to let me know if I should continue to pursue a writing career. A moment later a strange sensation came over me. The best way I can describe it is the sensation of water pouring over me, but I didn’t get wet. I took that to mean God wanted me to keep going, so I did. About a year later my first book was published.

RH: Writing is a tough business. I’m so glad you didn’t give up writing. I too have learned so much about perseverance, accepting criticism and rejection, and God’s faithfulness to the calling He has given me. What was the inspiration behind your recent novel?

RKC: The Pigeon Roost Massacre, a tragic event that happened in 1812 about thirty-five miles south of where I live. On a calm September afternoon in 1812, just before sunset, a little pioneer village in the southern part of Indiana Territory is set upon by hostile Shawnee. Twenty-four settlers including women and children were killed. It is said that two children were taken captive by the Shawnee. The story is told, though also refuted, that one of the captured children—a little girl—was found many years later west of the Mississippi River by her uncle who was a Christian missionary to the Indians. When I first read the story, my writer’s mind immediately went to “I wonder what would have happened if. . .” That was my “jumping off” point and the result became The Time for Healing.

RH: I’m quite the little history nerd and I love it when real events inspire fiction. If you were to pick a particular Scripture verse as the theme of your novel, what would it be? Why?

RKC: Ecclesiastes 3:3 (KJV) “A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down and a time to build up” I think this verse fits the story to a T, especially the first phrase.

RH: Yes, based on what you shared above about the Pigeon Roost Massacre, I’d have to agree with you. 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?

RKC: My heroine, Ginny Red Fawn McLain, is a Shawnee medicine woman, so I learned a lot about the Shawnee culture. One research source I used was Kohkumthena’s Grandchildren The Shawnee, written by Dark Rain Thom, a Shawnee medicine woman and wife of author James Alexander Thom. Mr. and Mrs. Thom live a couple counties northeast of mine in southern Indiana. One interesting bit of Shawnee culture I learned about is the “woman’s button.” The woman’s button consisted of a smooth round rock encased in leather attached to a leather cord. A young woman carried the “button” on her waist belt. If a too-ardent suitor plied her with unwanted attention she’d whip out her “button” and bop him on the head to change his mind.

RH: I’ve never heard of the “woman’s button” before. How fascinating! I hope you were able to incorporate that into your story. Would you like to share something that didn’t make it into the final copy (deleted scene).

RKC: I wrote a prologue to the story, but later decided not to use it in order to make the story more active. I loved the prologue though, so I kept it on my computer. Here it is:

Scott County Indiana, September 3, 1812

“It’s time for you to feed the chickens and bring in the eggs, Ginny.”

Ginny blew out a long breath and dropped her rag and cornhusk doll to the floor. It was a good baby. No matter what she did with it, it never cried. She walked, but not too fast, across the room to the fireplace where Ma held out a bucket half full of shelled corn while bouncing Ginny’s squalling baby brother in her other arm. “Maybe if the house is quiet, I can finally get Joe to sleep.”

“Yes, Ma.” Ginny wanted to say that it was Joe making all the noise, not her. But the way Ma’s mouth was all puckered up liked she’d bit into a green persimmon told Ginny she was in no mood for sass.

Not wanting to risk a switching, Ginny kept quiet and took the bucket with both hands. The rope handle scratched her palms while the bucket’s weight pulled hard on her arms, making them burn. She wouldn’t complain. Feeding the chickens gave her a good excuse to get out of the house and away from Joe’s crying that made her ears hurt.

At least today she wouldn’t have to shell the corn. When she pushed the grain away from the soft red cobs, the rough, dry kernels always dug into the heels her hands, making them sting.

Before baby Joe came she had less work to do and more time to play. Ma seemed to know that Ginny wished Joe hadn’t come because she’d say things like “You’re a big sister now, all of six years old. ’Fore you know it, you’ll be growed.” As if that would make her like her brother better. It didn’t. Maybe she’d like him better when he got old enough to play with her, but right now she’d rather have her doll.

Ma followed Ginny to the cabin’s open door. “And don’t rip your dress or get it dirty” she said over Joe’s cries. “Uncle Zeb and Aunt Ruth are comin’ for supper.”

“Yes, Ma.” Nodding, Ginny lugged the bucket down the two stone steps and headed toward the pine trees where the chickens would roost for the night. She liked this time before supper when the sunshine poked through the pine grove around their cabin. It looked like melted butter the way it poured through the trees and settled in yellow puddles in the dirt. She liked the way things smelled this time of day, too. The pine needles smelled stronger, and she could even smell the creek water, fresh and cool beyond the trees where bullfrogs had already started their croaking. They sounded like they had a bad case of the hiccups, only deeper. She paid attention to things like that. Aunt Ruth said that was why Ginny would do well when she went to school.

“Chick, chick, chick,” she called.

Their wings flapping, the chickens appeared from the brambles and the shadows behind the trees. Ginny liked the colors of the chickens, some black and white speckled, some all snowy white, and some a reddish brown color that almost matched the color of Ginny’s hair. Their eggs were different colors, too. Some white and some brown. She was eager to see how many she might find in the thicket where the chickens had made their nests against the trunk of an old fallen tree. She’d have to be careful to get all the eggs and not leave any behind for the raccoons and other varmints to steal.

She grinned down at the plump birds as they strutted and clucked and pecked at the dirt. “Puck, puck, puck, puckaw!” Cocking their red-crowned heads sideways, they looked up at her with eyes like big black peppercorns and clucked louder, begging for the corn.

Ginny grabbed a handful of kernels from the bucket and scattered them over a patch of bare ground, too shaded for grass to grow. While the chickens pecked at the corn, Ginny jabbed the air with her finger, practicing her counting like Aunt Ruth had taught her.

“One, two, three. Stand still so I can count you. Four, five, six. Six hens and one, two roosters.” She especially liked the roosters. They stood taller than the hens and puffed out their big chests when they walked. The combs on their heads and the dangly things under their chins were bigger and brighter red than the ones on the hens, and they had sharp toenails on the backs of their legs that could scratch her if she wasn’t careful. But Ginny loved their brightly colored tail feathers that curled behind them and looked like little rainbows in the sunlight.

“That makes eight,” she said, proud of herself as she finished counting. At supper, she would show Aunt Ruth and Uncle Zeb how well she could count. Aunt Ruth would be proud of her, too. Ginny was glad Aunt Ruth was the school teacher. Even if Ma needed Ginny to stay home and help with chores and not go to school for another year or two, she would not get behind in her learning.

An owl hooted. It sounded close.

Ginny looked up into the pine boughs above her. She’d never heard an owl call while it was still this light. And Ginny paid attention to these things.

Another owl hooted, and then another. But the sound didn’t come from up in the trees. It came from near the ground over by the creek. Why would owls walk when they could fly? Pa said they liked to roost high in the trees and look down on everything.

Pa.

Pa should have been back from driving their cow, Sadie, home from the meadow where she liked to graze. The tallest pine tree’s shadow stretched across the yard and bent up against the cabin. Pa was always home before the shadow touched the cabin.

A scream came from inside the cabin, chilling Ginny like the time last winter when she fell into the creek. The sound froze her in place, and the bucket’s rope handle slipped from her fingers. Somehow she knew it was Ma that had screamed, but it didn’t sound like Ma. Joe wailed, but then he stopped right in the middle of his crying and everything got quiet. Joe had never stopped crying all of a sudden like that.

Ginny looked down where she’d dropped the bucket, spilling the corn in a yellow heap. She reached down to pick up the bucket, but someone grabbed her arm. She looked up and saw a man with red lines painted across his face standing over her. He didn’t have much hair, just a little in the back, and a large gray and white feather dangled from it. His chest was bare and large rings hung from his ears and nose.

She tried to scream like Ma had, but nothing came out.

RH: Wow, Ramona, that scene ended with a bang. Now I’m looking forward to reading The Time for Healing even more. Thanks for visiting with me and my readers this week.


About Ramona

Ramona K. Cecil is a poet at her core. She loves the Lord, her family, reading, writing, and

history, especially the history of her home state of Indiana. She’s a wife, mother, grandmother, poet, and author of fifteen historical romance novels for the Christian market. She and her husband of forty-seven years are empty-nesters with two grown daughters and three young-adult grandchildren. They make their home in Seymour, Indiana, the “small town” made famous in rocker John Mellencamp’s song of the same name. She began writing poetry at the age of four and has had over 80 of her inspirational verses published on a variety of gift items by a leading publisher of Christian gifts. In recent years her writing has shifted more to novels and novellas. With her love of Hoosier history, many of her stories are set in Indiana’s past.

You can connect with Ramona on GoodReads, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook or visit her website.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Judy Attebury!

Ramona is giving away one eBook copy of The Time for Healing. Ramona shared that one of her quirks is not liking “squishy” bread. To enter the drawing, please tell share one of your quirks in the comments below.

**Giveaway ends midnight, August 19th EST.**

Book Review, Serving Up Love

About the Book


Title: Serving Up Love: A Four-in-One Harvey House Brides Collection
Author: Various, see below
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info: (Bethany House Publisher, November 5, 2019, 384 pages)

Tag Line

On the Menu for These Ladies?
Adventure, Independence, and a Big Serving of Romance!

 


Blurb

A storied part of American history, Harvey Houses offered women a unique chance to gain independence and see amazing parts of this great country. Celebrated historical romance writers Tracie Peterson, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, and Jen Turano offer four fun, romantic tales of Harvey girls whose western adventures lead to love.

Tracie Peterson – 
A Flood of Love
Returning home to New Mexico for the first time in years to fill in at the Harvey House, Gretchen Gottsacker is sure the past is behind her. But nothing can be that simple. When the man she loved long ago steps back into her life–with a daughter, no less–will she ever be the same?

Karen Witemeyer – More Than a Pretty Face
Rosalind Kemp becomes a Harvey Girl, clinging to the promise of one day transferring even farther west, someplace her youthful indiscretion won’t catch up to her. But the past is hard to escape, and when the worst occurs, will anyone stand up for her?

Regina Jennings – Intrigue a la Mode
When Willow Kentworth is warned that strange things are happening in the railyard after dark, she never intends to get involved. That is, until a handsome new employee at the Harvey House–who has secrets of his own–needs her assistance.

Jen Turano – 
A Grand Encounter
After her fiancé abandons her, Miss Myrtle Schermerhorn flees New York’s pity for a position at the El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. She’s determined to hold fast to her life of independence–but a rugged, frequent guest of the hotel makes that vow difficult to uphold.


My Thoughts

I tend to be a bit  hard on novellas. Often times, the plots are too grand and the author is left to tie up all the loose ends too quickly for my satisfaction. Happily, that is not the case for Serving Up Love which earns five stars across the board. Each novella was filled with just the right amount of captivating characters and swoon-worthy heroes mixed with a dash of adventure to leave this historical romance junkie’s heart satiated.

Harvey Girl Uniform, photo courtesy of Jot Powers

Harvey Girl Uniform, Photo by Jot Powers

As a big history lovin’ nerd girl, I was tickled pink to learn of this novella collection centering around Harvey Girls. I’d first heard about Harvey Girls on a vacation through Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado a few years ago. Fred Harvey was an American entrepreneur who opened a series of cafes and restaurants aligned with railroad stations in the western United States. He provided high quality food in a timely manner. Train travelers new to expect great food and excellent service in any of his establishments. Harvey Girls were the women who provided that outstanding service. Each one had to be single and of impeccable character. Housing was provided above the restaurants for these women who were not allowed to fraternize with the customers, at least not in the cafes themselves. Once a woman was engaged, her employment would be terminated.

There was so much to love about each of these stories — the railway setting, life as a Harvey Girl, and handsome customers just to name a few. In Peterson’s A Flood of Love, spunky child character, Katieann, captures the readers heart from the get go and not long after, Gretchen’s as well. I’d never read Tracie Peterson before but she penned a delightful story and I’ll be seeking more by this author. I loved the humor weaved into Intrigue a la Mode and Grand Encounter. Regina Jennings developed an intriguing plot involving smugglers along the railroad that kept me turning the pages. Jen Turano doesn’t disappoint readers used to the hilarious shenanigan’s of her characters and the author’s quippy dialogue like “Mr. Tall, Dark, and –need I say Delicious is here again and sitting in your section.” I just about spit out my tea! But I’d have to say it was Witemeyer’s, More Than a Pretty Face, that stole my heart. Rosalind, the heroine, is running from a mistake in her past, something we can all relate to. When it blows up BIG in her face, her sweetheart, friends, and co-workers all rally behind her, and Witemeyer weaves in a beautiful lesson about the power of forgiveness and the desire we all have to create a future not defined by past transgressions.

This is a wonderfully charming novella collection from an amazing set of historical romance authors. You’ll not only be “served up love,” but plenty of faith, humor, and warm fuzzies on the side.

***I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House on behalf of the authors and was under no obligation to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Links for purchase

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   CBD


About the Authors

A recipient of the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award, Tracie Peterson is well-known for her numerous award-winning, bestselling historical romances. She lives near Missoula, Montana. Visit her at www.traciepeterson.com.

Karen Witemeyer is a winner of multiple Carol Awards and has been a finalist for the RITA Award and National Readers’ Choice Award. She lives in Abilene, Texas. Visit her at www.karenwitemeyer.com.

Regina Jennings
 is the acclaimed author of The Fort Reno Series. She lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children. Visit her at www.reginajennings.com.

Jen Turano
, the USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books, lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her at www.jenturano.com.

 

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