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Excerpt from A Wing and a Prayer & a Giveaway!

I’m absolutely thrilled to share an excerpt from A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman, one of my all-time favorite authors! A Wing and a Prayer is a novella from Julie’s O’Connor family saga. A Passion Most Pure is the book that introduces us to the O’Connors and is one of only a few books I’ve read twice. If you’re a regular Romancing History reader you know I rarely reread a book because there are sooooo many to read once! LOL! I highly recommend A Passion Most Pure or any of the O’Connor books. Well, really, any of Julie’s novels for that matter!

And, how fitting is it that we get to visit with the O’Connors on St. Patty’s Day?

Speaking of St. Patty’s Day, Julie is lowering the price on A Wing and a Prayer starting today through March 20! You can pick up your Kindle copy for only $1.99.

And make sure you read to the end, because there’s a giveaway!


About the Book

She’s dead-set on giving everything to the war overseas …

Even if it means losing everything in a war of the heart.

A street orphan abused and abandoned by an alcoholic father at age five, Gabriella (Gabe) O’Connor has never let a man stand in her way yet. So when a handsome flight officer thwarts her plans to become a Women Airforce Service Pilot, she’s determined to join the war effort anyway she can. Her chance comes when she “borrows” foreign correspondent credentials from the Boston Herald—where her father is the editor—to stow away on a medical ship to the front.

Lieutenant Alex Kincaid pegs Gabe O’Connor as trouble the moment she steps foot on Avenger Field as a WASP cadet. As the eldest brother of a boy whose jaw Gabe broke in grade school, Alex is familiar with her reputation as both a charismatic ringleader and a headstrong hooligan who’s challenged every male and nun from grade school to college. As her WASP flight instructor, Alex eventually expels Gabe when she pulls a dangerous stunt. But when he is an evacuation pilot in France eight months later, their lives intertwine once again, exposing them to a danger as perilous as the German tanks roaming the Reichswald Forest: a love that neither expects.

Check out the book trailer here.

Available on Amazon


Excerpt

SETUP: Although the hero, Lieutenant Alex Kincaid, is attracted to the heroine, WASP recruit Gabriella (Gabe) O’Connor, he wants nothing to do with her romantically, not only because it’s against WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) regulations for an instructor to fraternize with a recruit, but because she’s not a woman he can trust. Unfortunately, Gabe railroads him into giving her a ride home from a local picnic event because she’s on crutches, a turn of events that “cripples” his own resolve to steer clear emotionally. This excerpt begins in Gabe’s point of view, then switches to Alex’s in the next chapter.

____

Alex slowed as he pulled up to the military gate, greeting the guard manning the gatehouse. Gabe’s stomach quivered while he signed the proffered clipboard with their names before continuing on to her barracks. He offered her a faint smile. “We need to get you inside, resting that leg.”

Halting the Jeep in front of her bay, he wasted no time in carrying her and the crutches to the front door, where a dim bulb lit a postage-stamp-size concrete pad. “Easy does it,” he said as he gingerly set her down on her good leg, his palm warm at the small of her back. He handed her both crutches. “It’s against regulations for me to be inside. Will you be okay if I leave you here?”

No.

“Yes,” she said in a rush, unable to thwart the bob of her throat. Hands slick with sweat, she grappled with the crutches, suddenly shy for the first time in her life.

He waited while she struggled to get her bearings, but she was so nervous, she wobbled as she turned. He immediately gripped her again. “You sure you’ll be okay?” He shot a glance down the lonely line of dingy white barracks, as if contemplating helping her inside.

“The bays are tiny, so I don’t have far to walk, and I plan to go right to bed.” Her gaze flicked down the darkened compound like he had, and her throat went dry at just how alone they were. Yellow lights winked on each porch, the only sign of life between the two rows of housing. A moonlit alleyway flanked by weedy grass separated the two barracks, both it and the bays’ cracked sidewalks crisscrossed with dandelions and crabgrass.

It was still early for a Friday night, so everything was silent and still except for the faint hoot of a faraway owl and the rasp of Gabe’s uneven breathing. “Alex, I … can’t thank you enough,” she whispered, pulse chaotic when he reached around her to open the screen door.

“My pleasure. It was fun,” he said as he tugged her close to pull it wide, propping it with his elbow while he reached around to jiggle the temperamental knob of the old wooden door. Gabe’s heart stuttered at the proximity of his dark-bristled jaw.

Mere inches from her lips.

And that’s when she realized it had been fun. More fun than she’d ever had in her life, and she didn’t want it to end. Ever. She wanted to thank him and she wanted to touch him all at the same time. Without a second thought, she leaned in and brushed her lips to his cheek, totally unprepared for the rush of heat hurtling through her veins. She immediately felt the jolt of his body as he gave a sharp jerk of his head, shock glazing his eyes when the motion instantly aligned his mouth with her own, a shallow breath away.

Gabe had always been one who knew what she wanted and just how to get it, and she certainly had never been a woman to dally. So in the split second that she felt the catch of his breath, she didn’t pause. She didn’t think.

She simply kissed him.

With everything in her, heart thundering over the single most earth-shattering moment of her young life.

She was in love!

Chapter Twenty-Four

Alex gasped, but the sound was swallowed up by the press of Gabe’s lips, soft, pliant and hungry, fusing to his with a need that ignited his own. It was only a catch of his breath, but it seemed like eons that he wrestled with his conscience and lost, returning Gabe’s kiss with a fire that seared his very soul. Her crutches crashed to the ground when she rose on tiptoe to slip her arms around his neck, and her mouth united with his in a mating he never wanted to end. He lifted her off her feet, clutching her with an intensity that shocked him. Groaning, he pressed in while his mouth explored hers, his passion apparently buried so deep, he’d never even known it was there.

Well, he knew it now, and it scared him silly.

“Gabe,” he whispered, voice hoarse as he carefully set her down. He grasped one of her crutches to gently prod it beneath the arm of her bad leg with breathing as ragged as hers. Heart aching, he cradled her face in his hands. “Please forgive me. I never should have done that—”

Her eyes widened. “No, Alex, there’s nothing to forgive—”

Yes, Gabe, there is.” Struggling to regain control, he removed his hands from her face to retrieve the second crutch, slowly tucking it beneath her other arm. Inhaling sharply, he took a step back, fortifying himself against the hurt in her eyes. “I am your superior and I stepped over the line, which never should have happened.”

“But I kissed you!” There was an urgency in her voice he’d never heard before, a neediness he had no will to exploit.

He steeled his jaw, heartsick over what he had to do. “And I took it a step further, Cadet, which I deeply regret.”

“Well, don’t!” she shouted, lurching forward so fast, those blasted crutches teetered along with his heart. His palm shot out in reflex, girding her waist to keep both of them from falling.

Too late.

Sleet slithered his veins when he saw the yearning in her eyes. “Don’t you get it, Alex?” she whispered, her face contorted in pain that inflicted some of his own. “I think I’m in love with you because I can’t get you out of my mind.”

His body went to stone. An unholy mix of guilt and shock depleted his air, fingers flinching from her waist as if he’d been burned. And the look of abject longing in Gabe’s face told him he had.

Burned as a PT.

Burned as a friend.

Burned as a man who knew better.

“You aren’t in love with me, Gabe,” he said harshly, as if to convince himself as well as her. He took another step back, fists in his pockets to keep from touching her again. “It takes more than a kiss to fall in love.”

“It was more than a kiss!” she shouted. “You practically devoured me.”

Heat swarmed his collar as he glanced down the empty quadrangle and back. “I did, and it was unconscionable.”

She leaned in with a loud clunk of her crutches, fire replacing the hurt in her eyes. “No, it was uncontrollable, Lieutenant,” she said in a near hiss, “because you’re as attracted to me as I am to you, and I dare you to deny it.”

He stood his ground with a clamp of his jaw. “I don’t deny it. I denounce it because it’s-not-right.” He enunciated each word with brutal clarity, determined to nip this in the bud once and for all. His eyes softened despite the heft of his chin. “It was totally irresponsible of me, Gabe, and I can’t let it happen again.”

Her body went as slack as her jaw. “You mean to tell me you’re going to kiss me like that, then tuck tail and hide behind your almighty rules and regulations?”

Her words stoked his temper, helping his cause. “That’s exactly what I’m telling you, Cadet, because it’s the right thing to do. So I suggest you get some shut-eye, because this conversation is over.” He turned to head toward the Jeep.

“No!” she shouted, crutches clomping hard behind him. “You could have pushed me away when I kissed you—that would have been the right thing to do. But instead you kissed me back like I was your last meal before a forty-day fast, flat-out leading me on.”

He paused at the edge of the sidewalk, head bent while a groan slipped from his lips, her well-aimed barb of guilt hitting dead-on.


About Julie

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, Isle of Hope, and Silver Lining Ranch series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 21 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017-20, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner.

Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.

Connect with Julie on:   Facebook     Twitter     Instagram     Pinterest     Amazon     BookBub    Goodreads


Giveaway**

**This giveaway is now closed!

Congrats to our winner, Kay Enderlin!

And thanks to everyone who stopped by and visited during the week!

Julie is generously offering one lucky Romancing History reader a choice of any of her Indie eBooks. To enter the drawing, tell me about  your favorite member of the O’Connor family. If you haven’t yet read any of the O’Connor’s, visit Julie’s Amazon page, then tell me which book you’d like to read the most.

**Giveaway ends midnight, March 23, 2022.**

The Story Behind “Go Tell It on the Mountain”


Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born (Chorus)

While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens there shone a Holy light
(Chorus)

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” is one of the most well-known and beloved Negro spirituals and represents just one of the countless contributions made to American music by enslaved people. These songs represented a passion for life and living despite the suffering, humiliation, and unimaginable cruelty of slavery.

The shepherds feared and trembled, when lo! Above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus that hailed the Savior’s birth
(Chorus)

Because most slaves were uneducated, these songs were passed along through a vibrant and rich oral tradition and were eventually captured and written down by one special American family. Not long after the Civil War, John Wesley Work, a Black choir director in Nashville, Tennessee, began a mission to write down melodies and lyrics of these well-known songs, often traveling hundreds of miles to seek former slaves who had sung this and other songs while they labored.

Down in a lowly manger, our humble Christ was born
And brought us all salvation that blessed Christmas morn
(Chorus)

Work’s passion for the music and history of these plantations songs was passed on to his son, John Wesley Work II, whose wife was the music teacher at nearby Fisk University, one of the first universities for Blacks in the south. Beginning in 1871, the Fisk Jubilee Singers went on tour introducing the world to the genre of Negro spirituals while raising funds to keep the doors of their school open. Before long, their repertoire of uplifting spirituals not only saved their university but earned them world-wide recognition including notable audiences with President Chester Arthur and Queen Victoria.

When I was a seeker, I sought both night and day,
I asked the Lord to help me, and he showed me the way.
(Chorus)

During the Great Depression, John Work III, also embraced his family’s passion for preserving old Negro spirituals and took special interest in “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” Through his own interviews and research, he changed the arrangement and added a stanza. In 1940, he published his rendition in his book American Negro Songs and Spirituals and is the version we know today.

Although the creators of spirituals like “Go Tell It on the Mountain” will forever remain anonymous, the Work family and the Fisk University Jubilee Singers have played an important role in preserving and popularizing this uniquely American genre of music.

He made me a watchman upon a city wall
And if I am a Christian, I am the least of all.
(Chorus)

I have several versions of Go Tell It on the Mountain in my Christmas playlist: The Golden Gospel Singers, Sara Evans, and For King & Country.

Your turn: Do you have Go Tell It on the Mountain on your Christmas playlist? If so, which version? If not, which version above is your favorite?

Protecting Annie Excerpt & a Giveaway

I’m so excited to bring you an excerpt from Jodie Wolfe’s new release, Protecting Annie. Although I haven’t read this one yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Burrton Springs Brides series, Taming Julia.

Be sure to read the details below about the Giveaway before you leave!

About the Book

After twenty years of living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem, she no longer requires his protecting so he’s unsure of his next step.

Annie McPherson needs a change after the death of her father. She accepts a position as schoolmarm, hoping her past won’t catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky sheriff who continues to question her ability to adjust to life in the west and creates confrontations at every turn.

When the irritating schoolteacher’s past and present collide, dragging him into the turmoil, Josh has to decide who he’s willing to defend.

Available on  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Pelican Book Group


A Glimpse into Protecting Annie
by Jodie Wolfe

 

My new book, Protecting Annie is book two in the Burrton Springs Brides series. My heroine in the first book, Taming Julia, was a no-nonsense, rugged female who dresses like a man and spent her life living along the trail. Jules (Julia) was a rough around the edges type of character who had a hard time adjusting to life in a town.

I figured it would be fun to create a heroine for book two who is the opposite of Jules, which is how I came up with Annie McPherson. This heroine is educated, feminine, and well dressed. What she lacks in common sense, she makes up for with her research and book knowledge. Here’s a peek at the opening scene of Protecting Annie.

Burrton Springs, Kansas
August 1, 1876

Death paced close enough for Annie McPherson to smell its rotted breath. A menacing growl rumbled in the beast’s throat. The animal bared his teeth when she attempted a tiny step. Perspiration trickled between her shoulder blades. She cocked her head a fraction of an inch, hoping to spot a bystander, but only a small glimpse of a barren street stretched between the tight alleyway. Her heart hammered beneath her polonaise.

Not a single soul in sight. “Where’s help when you need it?”

Her movement and words caused the monstrosity to circle closer. If Annie’d been on speaking terms with God, it would’ve been a good time to send a plea for someone to come to her rescue. But she’d fallen out of practice of praying over the past years, ever since—

She released a silent breath, shifting her foot in the dirt. The deranged creature snarled and snapped, just short of capturing her wrist in his jaws. Annie tried to swallow but her throat muscles refused to contract.

The wolf settled on his haunches, two feet in front of her. A glistening tongue protruded from his face. His beady eyes stared at her, unmoving. Was the beast contemplating how she would taste, like the one in the tale of Little Red Cap she’d read as a child? A shiver ran down Annie’s spine. She had no desire to be wolf chow.

“Easy, fellow. Don’t eat me. I’m sure I’m not very appetizing.”

It was time to take charge of her fate since no assistance was coming. Annie took a step sideways. Her back scraped against the rough boards of the building.

Why had she chosen to saunter through the narrow passageway and follow the jumbled directions the blacksmith had given her after she’d exited the conveyance? The other townsperson she’d asked had stared at her as if she’d spoken a different language, as if the man didn’t understand English when he heard it. Annie hoped he wasn’t an indication of what type of people lived in town. She’d have to make the best of it since returning to New York wasn’t feasible, not after that louse—

An ominous snarl snapped her back to her current situation. How many times had Mama warned her about focusing on the situation at hand? While she’d been woolgathering, the wild animal inched his way closer. He leapt.


About Jodie

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

Connect with Jodie on website, BookBub, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page & MeWe


Giveaway*

This Giveaway is now Closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Amy Walsh!

Jodie has generously offered one eBook copy of Protecting Annie to a Romancing History visitor. To enter the drawing, be sure to answer this question: What is your favorite thing about historical romance?

*Giveaway ends midnight, November 24th, 2021.*

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Most history buffs are familiar with Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America. But did you know about the other Jefferson Davis during the Civil War?

Jefferson C. Davis was a regular officer for the Union Army and is most noted for killing a superior officer in 1862. Davis served with distinction during the Mexican-American war and was held in high regard when the Civil War erupted. His leadership in early battles like Pea Ridge in Arkansas saw Davis quickly promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

News of the shooting was covered in newspapers throughout the North and South.

Not long after, in September 1862, he was assigned to General William “Bull” Nelson in Louisville, Kentucky. Nelson grew increasingly dissatisfied with Davis’ performance and allegedly insulted him in front of fellow officers. A boisterous argument ensued and shortly thereafter. Witness claim that Nelson slapped Davis. Davis demanded an apology from his commanding officer and when one was not forth coming, he borrowed a pistol from a friend and fatally shot General Nelson. Davis did not try to escape and was temporarily taken into custody but was released in October of 1862 with his paperwork citing a lack of  available officers to hold a proper trial. Davis walked away and returned to duty as if nothing ever happened.

Mistaken Identify

About a year later, during the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, Davis’s shared name finally caused confusion on the battlefield. One evening, near Horseshoe Ridge, skirmishes between the Union and Confederate armies continued as the light of day drew dim. That’s when the Union’s 21st Ohio volunteer regiment noticed a large group of men advancing toward them. While most assumed they were Union reinforcements a few were suspicious and one soldier called out seeking identification. The returning reply was “Jeff Davis’ troops.” The Federals, now feeling assured that the approaching men were fellow Union soldiers, were shocked when guns were suddenly pointed at them and they were ordered to surrender by the 7th Regiment Florida infantry.

And that’s how a simple case of mistaken identity caused a portion of the Union’s 21st Ohio regiment to surrender during a conflict the Confederates would eventually win.

Your turn: Do you know a story of mistaken identity? If so, please share in the comments below.

 

7 Little Known Facts from America’s Early Years

As a history buff, I love a good story or an interestingly odd fact from the past. Here are seven snippets I’ve discovered about life in 17th and 18th century America!

1) Wall Street, or “de Waalstraat” in the original Dutch, received its name in 1644, when a wall was constructed around lower Manhattan to protect cattle from marauding Indians. During the 17th century, Wall street was also a market for slave trading and the site of Federal Hall, the city’s first government center.

2) Margaret James, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was the first person convicted of witchcraft in America. She was executed on June 15, 1648, nearly 50 years before the beginning of the Salem witch trials.

3) The first Bible printed in America was printed in 1663—in the Algonquin language. John Eliot, a pastor in Roxbury, Massachusetts, learned the dialect in the hopes of developing a written language to evangelize the Algonquin people. The book, which became known as “Eliot’s Indian Bible,” took more than ten years to translate into the Natick dialect of the Algonquin people. Eliot was assisted by John Sassmon, a member of the local tribe, whose ability to speak and write English proved invaluable to the project.

4) For wearing silk clothes, which were above their station, thirty young men were arrested in 1675 in New England. Thirty-eight women were arrested  for the same offense in Connecticut.

5) The Scarlet Letter, a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was inspired by a Puritan law against adultery passed in 1695. The law required people convicted of the offense to wear a letter “A” on a conspicuous part of their clothing for the remainder of their lives. Adulterers were also liable to receive a severe whipping of forty lashes and were required to sit on the gallows with chains about their necks for at least an hour. Harsh as these penalties were, only a few years earlier the punishment for adultery was execution.

6) In 17th and 18th century America, it was customary to provide funeral guests with gifts such as a black scarf, a pair of black gloves,  or a mourning ring. One Boston minister noted that he possessed several hundred rings and pairs of black gloves. During the Revolutionary War the custom of giving scarves and gloves was abandoned since the items could no longer be imported. Instead, people began using black armbands as a sign of mourning.

7) Poor Richard’s Almanack was a yearly publication by Benjamin Franklin who wrote under the pseudonym of “Poor Richard.” The publication circulated continually from 1732 to 1758 with print runs over 10,000 per year, and contained a mixture of household hints, puzzles seasonal weather forecasts and “other amusements.” Poor Richard’s Almanack was also known for witty phrases, some of which you might recognize today.

  • “He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.”
  • “Men & Melons are hard to know.”
  • “God works wonders now & then; Behold! A Lawyer an honest Man!”
  • “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.”
  • “Fish & Visitors stink in 3 days.”
  • “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.”

Your turn. Which of these historical tidbits tickled your fancy?

Author Interview & Giveaway with Misty M. Beller

I’m so thrilled to welcome historical romance author and sweet friend, Misty M. Beller to Romancing History today. I had the pleasure of meeting Misty online. Misty was one of the earliest authors to read my first couple of chapters “when I thought” the manuscript was ready for publication. She gave me invaluable advice that we laugh about now like “you should have your H&H (hero & heroine) meet before chapter nine! LOL!

Misty writes romantic mountain stories set on the 1800s frontier woven with the truth of God’s love. Her most recent novel, A Warriors Heart, released August 31st, and is the first book in her Brides of Laurent series, her second with Bethany House Publishers. Before we chat with Misty, here’s a little bit about Misty and her new book.


About Misty

Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

Raised on a farm and surrounded by family, Misty developed her love for horses, history, and adventure. These days, her husband and children provide fresh adventure every day, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

Misty’s passion is to create inspiring Christian fiction infused with the grandeur of the mountains, writing historical romance that displays God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Sharing her stories with readers is a dream come true for Misty. She writes from her country home in South Carolina and escapes to the mountains any chance she gets.

You can find Misty on her website, BookBub, Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Facebook.


About the Book

Her heart longs for peace, but peace won’t keep them safe.

Brielle Durand is still haunted by the massacre that killed her mother a dozen years before. Vowing to never let it happen again, she’s risen to be the key defender for her people’s peace-loving French settlement living in hidden caves in the Canadian Rockies. When a foreigner wanders too near to their secret home, she has no choice but to disarm and capture him. But now, what to do with this man who insists he can be trusted?

Hoping to escape past regrets, Evan MacManus ventured into the unknown, assigned to discover if the northern mountains contain an explosive mineral that might help America win the War of 1812. Despite being taken prisoner, Evan is determined to complete his mission. But when that assignment becomes at odds with his growing appreciation of the villagers and Brielle, does he follow through on his promise to his government or take a risk on where his heart is leading him? Either choice will cause harm to someone.

Brielle and Evan must reconcile the warring in their hearts to have any hope of finding peace for their peoples.

Amazon    B&N    Christianbook    Google Play    Apple Books    Kobo

Interview with Misty M. Beller

Fast Five

  1. Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Definitely Colin Firth! I grew up memorizing the BBC version. I’ll admit that parts of the 2005 version are slightly more accurate to the book, but Colin Firth will always be Mr. Darcy to me.
  2. Dogs or Cats? Depends on the day and which of the animals has been bad lately, but usually dogs. 
  3. Dark or Milk chocolate? Either! Both!
  4. Kindle, Audiobook, or Paperback? Definitely audiobook.  I don’t get to sit still and read very often.
  5. Sound of Music or Hello Dolly? Sound of Music. Such a great classic!

Author Q & A

RH: I’m very happy to tell you that you answered #1 above correctly. It would  have been an embarrassingly poor start to our conversation otherwise. (LOL!) 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?

MB: I’ve always been an avid reader, but didn’t attempt to write my first real book until 2013. Though that first book was supposed to be a one-time check-off on the bucket list, I realized I really love writing! I’m currently working on book #32. All are Christian historical romance, and most are set in the Rocky Mountains. I realized early on I love those adventurous stories in remote settings with strong heroines and mountain man heroes.

RH: Wow, 32 books? I can’t even….I’m not sure I’ve read them all but I know I’ve read most of them and enjoy your rugged mountain heroes! Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

MB: Oh boy. It seems like my life stays in the unusual category these days! I’m a wife and mom of four kiddos, with one more unexpected little one on the way (she’ll be joining us in November). We just moved last week to the family farm, and it’s wonderful to be back within walking distance of Grandma’s house and all the cousins. We’re in temporary quarters though. Until our permanent home is ready, all six of us (and soon to be seven) are tucked in an RV. Definite bonding time!

RH: Seven people in one RV? That’s not quirky, it’s crazy! LOL! I hope that there are no delays finishing your home. Writing historical romance in a cancel culture world can be very challenging. Have you been tempted to shy away from specific time periods or plotlines out of concern that that the subject matter might offend readers?

MB: This is a really interesting question, and definitely one that’s affected me, though I haven’t really shared my thoughts with readers. I don’t generally like to shy away from settings or characters because of the way our culture views them today. I love history and try to stay as true to the setting as I can. I also firmly believe that no group of people should be judged as a whole on their general reputation. People are individuals, and there are good and bad in every race and time period. I work hard to portray that clearly through my characters.

However, I’ve definitely experienced situations recently where my books portraying certain races aren’t accepted by some of publishing’s gatekeepers, either because I’m not the same race as the characters, or because there’s so much hesitation about how today’s culture would view them. It’s sad that the push to be more “fair” has created the opposite effect so many times.

RH: I really like what you said about good and being found in all races. I think I’d add in all individuals. We see historical figures being discredited for their positive contributions because of beliefs or actions that weren’t uncommon in their era. That doesn’t mean we should excuse it, but we also can’t judge people by modern sensibilities that didn’t exist when they lived. I better move on or I’ll be permanently on my soap box! What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

MB: Hmm… Maybe the dialogue. Growing up, my older brother was my best friend, and he’s kind a quiet guy. I find that I draw many of my male character traits from him.

RH: I think dialogue is tough. I have a critique partner that is great at pointing out dialogue she thinks doesn’t ring true. Setting is as important to story as character development and plot. You’ve written 32 books all set in the Rocky Mountains. What about these rugged and somewhat untamed peaks has captured your imagination? Is this a frequent travel destination for your family or perhaps somewhere you’d like to retire?

MB: There’s something about the mountains, especially the Rockies, that really speaks to my soul. The majesty of them is inspiring and seems to draw me closer to God. There’s a quote in A Warrior’s Heart that kind of sums up what I have trouble describing sometimes.

RH: Although I’ve only seen the fringe of the Rockies at Pike’s Peak, Colorado, I also love the mountains! You are a successful self-published and traditionally published author. Do you have a favorite character, book, or series among your titles?

MB: Oh, boy. That’s almost like trying to pick a favorite kid. There are a few that stand out, like Leah and Gideon from The Lady and the Mountain Man (book 1 in The Mountain Series). Also, Simeon and Emma from This Treacherous Journey (book 6 in that same series. But now I’m feeling bad that I haven’t mentioned all the others. Each character and book and series are so unique and special to me in different ways.

RH: That was kind of mean of me to make you choose, wasn’t it? I have to say I’m rather fond of Caleb Jackson from Courage in the Mountain Wilderness (Book #4 in your Call of the Rockies series). What was the inspiration behind your latest release, A Warrior’s Heart?

MB: Several different things, but the main idea came when I was listening to a historical podcast a few years ago that talked about the Vikings and the female warriors who would sometimes gain fame among them. As the hosts talked about the first Viking raids to North America, I started thinking… “What if one of those groups went farther west than any of us thought? What if they found the Canadian Rockies and lived there in a hidden community for centuries?” The thought took hold, and little by little, the idea for the Brides of Laurent series came to life. I eventually changed the village to be a French settlement named Laurent.

RH:I love how ideas come out of nowhere and stir in your imagination. Can you relay a historical tidbit that you learned while researching A Warrior’s Heart?

MB: The explosion I refer to in the book is similar to an atomic bomb, though probably not that large. Even before the War of 1812, scientists were learning the unusual radioactive capabilities of the mineral they called Pitchblende, which we know today as Urananite. While they didn’t have the official names for what the mineral could do, the way the radioactive crystals would glow in the dark made it fascinating, even for the elite who wore Pitchblende crystals as glow-in-the-dark jewels.

RH: That’s fascinating. I’ve never heard about that before. Do you have a favorite quote from A Warrior’s Heart you’d like to share?

MB: There are a few that jump out. Which one is your favorite?

  • She studied him with a hostility he’d certainly not earned. He was the one who’d been shot, by saints. It was high time he regained the upper hand, even if his own were still bound.
  • With his kiss, he made a promise to her. No matter what happened, he would keep her safe. He would defend this woman who spent her life defending those around her. Even if that meant protecting her from himself and the mission he was beginning to loathe.
  • He raised his face to the heavens and clamped his jaw shut to keep from shouting at God. Brielle was out in the storm, probably dying, and God wanted him to do nothing except pray? Lord, have you lost your senses?

RH: I’m a romantic at heart so I definitely like the second quote best. Gives me goosebumps. What are you working on now?

MB: Book 3 in the series! The heroine is Charlotte, Brielle’s younger sister, and it’s been so much fun getting to know this grown-up spunky version of her!

RH: Well, that will be something to look forward, too. I had so much fun chatting with you, Misty. I can’t believe we haven’t done this sooner. Thanks for visiting with my readers today and best wishes for success with your new book release!


Giveaway**

**This giveawy is now closed**

Congratulations to our winner, Cherie J!

Misty has graciously offered a copy of any one of her previous books to one Romancing History visitor—Winner’s Choice! To enter, tell us which of the quotes above from A Warrior’s Heart is the most intriguing to you.

**Giveaway ends midnight, September 15th, 2021.

 

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.**

The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga

Image Courtesy of Library of Congress

Every now and then I stumble on some little footnote of history that absolutely fascinates me. This summer while on vacation, my husband and I toured the Chickamauga Battlefield and learned about a young soldier named Joseph Klem. And, by young, I mean very young. During the Battle of Chicamauga, Klem, who was now known as “Johnny Clem,” was a mere 12 years old.

Our story begins in May of 1861 when little Joseph, age 9, ran away from his home in Ohio to sign up with the Union Army only to find out the Federal Army (3rd Ohio Regiment) wasn’t in the business of  “enlisting infants.” Determined to find his place, Clem approached the commander of the 22nd Michigan and was again rebuffed. Undeterred, Clem tagged after the regiment acting out the role of a drummer boy. His persistence paid off and Clem was allowed to remain with the unit performing various camp duties for which he was paid $13 a month. Since he was not officially enlisted in the Union Army, Clem’s salary was paid collectively by the regiment’s officers.

John Lincoln Clem, Facts

Image courtesy of American History Central

In April of the following year, Clem’s drum was struck by an artillery round during the Battle of Shiloh. This garnered the boy some minor attention from the press who dubbed him “Johnny Shiloh, The Smallest Drummer.” Not long after, Clem was officially enrolled in the Federal Army, received his own pay, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant—the youngest non-commissioned officer in U.S. Army history at the unbelievable age of 12.

But it wasn’t until September of 1863 that young Johnny came to national attention. During the Battle of Chickamauga, he joined the 22nd Michigan in the defense of Horseshoe Ridge wielding a musket that had been sawed down to his size. As the Rebels surrounded Union forces, a Confederate officer is reported to have shouted at Clem, “Surrender you damned little Yankee devil!” Johnny stood his ground and shot the colonel dead. This demonstration of fortitude earned Clem national recognition and the moniker, “The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga.”

Following the Civil War and a failed attempt to attend West Point, Clem made a personal appeal to President Ulysses S. Grant, his commanding general at Shiloh, for an appointment to the Regular Army. On December 18, 1871, Clem became a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army and in 1903 he attained the rank of Colonel and served as Assistant Quartermaster General. After 55 years, Clem retired from the Army as a Major General in 1916—last Civil War veteran to actively serve in the U.S. Army.

General Clem, The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga, died in San Antonio, Texas on May 13, 1937, exactly 3 months shy of his 86th birthday. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

I love nerdy history snippets like this? Had you heard of  The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga before reading this post?

Perilous Beauty

From the Harvard Art Museum collection: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, circa 1750

Unlike the tanned skin I desired in the 1980s, throughout much of history, pale skin was considered the highest standard of beauty. A woman with porcelain skin announced to the world that she came from wealth and privilege and didn’t  have to work in the fields like a common peasant.

However, many who sought a prized alabaster complexion unwittingly poisoned themselves with a lead based make-up paste known as ceruse that was mixed with vinegar. The paste would be applied to their skin in an even layer with a damp cloth. Oftentimes, the paste was mixed with egg whites to make it last longer. Because hygiene regiments weren’t exactly the same standard as today, it would be common for the ceruse paste to remain on a woman’s skin for weeks at a time. The egg whites would stiffen against their skin, so smiling was strictly off limits as the egg white had a tendency to crack.

Beginning in the 1500s, wealthy women used ceruse to lighten their skin. Made with white lead, ceruse was also used in making paint. It was highly toxic to humans and often caused skin irritations and insomnia, the evidence of which would be hidden by, you guessed it, applying more ceruse paste. Women who wore the toxic make-up often suffered from lead poisoning with symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal problems, nausea, and kidney issues to cardiovascular and nervous system troubles, muscle pain, and even hearing loss. Wearers often lost their eyebrows and compensated by applying fake ones made from moose fur.

Ceruse was still available in France throughout the 1700s. While American women of the same time period also esteemed pale skin, they typically wore less makeup than their European counterparts. There is no evidence that American women applied ceruse to their faces.

Maria Gunning, Countess of Coventry; Wallace Collection London

But ceruse wasn’t the only toxin women of the era applied to their skin. Cinnabar, known today as mercury sulfide, was a pigment used for painting pottery and would be applied to the cheeks as rouge to give women a healthy, rosy appearance. Wearers often suffered neurological disorders, emotional problems, and peeling skin. The latter causing the afflicted to apply even more makeup to cover up the skin irritation.

England’s Queen Elizabeth I used ceruse to hide her facial scars after contracting small pox. Prolonged use of the poisonous paste is generally believed to have caused her death in 1603. Renowned for her beauty, Maria Gunning, the famed countess of Coventry, also wore ceruse regularly. As it gradually ate away at her skin, she wore even more. She died of lead and mercury poisoning in 1760 at the tender age of twenty-seven.

While it can be easy to judge these cosmetic rituals of the past as preposterous, ore even farcical, many people today turn to injections of Botox, botulinum toxin, a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium clostridium botulinum. Botox paralyses facial muscles to diminish the appearance of wrinkles. Use of these products could cause respiratory failure and death. Some studies show a link between these injected toxins and autoimmune diseases, yet according to industry data, more than 6 million Botox treatments are administered each year.

Perhaps we still haven’t learned our lesson.

Join the conversation: What crazy beauty regimens (hopefully not toxic ones) do you subscribe to?

 

 

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.**

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