Thursday, October 26, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Sarah Hanks!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Sarah Hanks!

What was your inspiration for the story?

Fall Back and Find Me is a split-time novel that deals with chronic illness, namely POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). I personally suffered from POTS for about seven years before the Lord healed me. In this dark night of my soul, when I was so sick I couldn’t even get out of bed, it felt like everything was being stripped away from me. I couldn’t envision a future for myself, nor did I conceive how my broken life was worth living. But there in the shadows, the Lord showed Himself faithful. Before He healed my body, He did a great work in my heart. He’d been asking me to write about it for a while, and I finally did.

The historical storyline follows another secret female Civil War solider (like my last book A Battle Worth Fighting) only this time the setting is Missouri, and the soldier suffers from what they used to call “irritable heart” or “DaCosta’s Syndrome”, which has many similarities to POTS today. I remembered hearing about irritable heart when I was first diagnosed with POTS, and I was eager to dive into learning more. The fact that many soldiers came down with it during the Civil War intrigued me and fit perfectly into my story.

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include?

I read a lot about female Civil War soldiers for both A Battle Worth Fighting and Fall Back and Find Me. Their tales fascinate me. For Fall Back and Find Me I also did much research on guerillas and guerilla hunters in the Civil War as well as the war in Missouri specifically. I’m a Missouri girl, yet I’d never researched what happened in my own state. I actually lived right down the street from the Missouri Civil War Museum and yet had never been until I went when researching for the book. There is so much rich history that many don’t know about in my state. I was excited to share it with the world.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?

I never have. I’m rather transparent. Hello, this is me. Take me or leave me, but I’m not hiding.

How are your characters like you? Different?

Fall Back and Find Me is different than my other novels in that it is basically my story in fictionalized form. As such, I drew heavily from my own experience when writing Amber’s POV. However, Amber has a different wound than I and she was shaped by different life experiences. Her personality isn’t an exact replica of mine. I had to take all of this into account as I wrote, which meant quite a lot of sifting through thoughts and feelings. The part that flowed easily from me was Amber’s reaction to her diagnosis and illness and the feelings of loneliness and powerlessness that accompanied it. That came straight from my history, a tender yet mostly healed place.

Lily is another modern-day POV character in the novel. Although I didn’t base this character off of myself, I do relate to her in a few ways. Her life experience with a large family, as well as with children with special needs, more closely mirrors my own day-to-day.

If you were to write a spin-off book about one of your secondary characters, which one would you choose and why?

I’ve had requests to write a spin-off about Lily. Readers have found her to be relatable and interesting. They want to know what happens next! I’m not sure if I ever will do so, but I’ll keep it in mind.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

I love writing split-time. It’s my favorite genre to read and write. History fascinates me, but it’s the implications the past has on the present that intrigue me the most. How has what happened back then impacted what’s happening right now? What’s the cause and effect? How do the choices we make matter and ripple throughout time? There’s something about the concept of legacy and heritage that pulls at me. We are interconnected in a way we can’t comprehend. The Lord, in His wisdom, sets our times and boundaries and intersects our lives with each other in such a magnificent tapestry. Writing split-time allows me to explore that aspect of His nature, which I find delightful.

How does/did your job prepare you for being a novelist?

Before I was a writer, I was a teacher. I taught children of all ages in children’s ministry. Before that I
taught preschool. I love learning information and then passing it on to others. That’s exactly what I do with writing. I research fascinating information, figure out how to weave it into story, and then pass it on. It’s basically the same skill set, only less overt.

What is one thing you wish you could do?

Eat unlimited chips and salsa and ice cream (not together) and not gain weight.

How do you celebrate when you finish a manuscript?

When I finish a manuscript, I take the family out to ice cream. I may have been the one who wrote the words, but my husband and children were the ones to give me the time and space to do so. They put up with me talking through story ideas, complaining when my characters went rogue, sneaking away to write, and going to writing meetings and conferences. They all deserve a treat.

What books are on your nightstand right now?

An Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee is on my nightstand. I mostly listen to audiobooks, though, so a fairer question would be what’s in my audiobook queue. That would include Charles Martin’s The Letter Keeper, Bethany Turner’s Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other, and Rachel Scott McDaniel’s Undercurrent of Secrets.
What is your next project?
My next project is a novel honoring my grandfather called New Creations. My grandpa had a barber shop most of his life by that name. Almost everyone who knows him will attest that he’s the most entertaining person they know. This novel centers around the shop and the man behind the chair.

About Fall Back and Find Me

Two resilient women separated by over 150 years are linked forever by their challenges, values, and determination.

Amber Prichard is thriving in her role as pastor’s wife, mom, and indispensable church volunteer—until chronic illness threatens to upend everything. Now unable to prove her value, she is forced to reevaluate how she defines herself. Inspired by an ancestor’s faded journal and heirlooms, she must work with her arch-nemesis if she wants to accomplish what is now impossible on her own.

Faced with the turmoil of the Civil War, Willow Forrester didn’t intend to illegally enlist in the Union Army as a secret female soldier. She only wanted to escape her father’s tyranny and follow her brother into the throes of adventure. When she comes face to face with the leader of a guerilla army, her health and insecurities threaten to shatter her heroism and render her powerless.

As their opposition threatens to overtake them, these two women must find their strength and identity to defeat impossible odds.

Amazon Author Page:

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: WWII Gingerbread People Cookies

Wartime Wednesday: Gingerbread People Cookies

Even though it's still October, Christmas wrap, decorations, and other associated items are in the shops and Christmas-themed books are being released by many authors. Because we go away each year for Christmas, I do very little decorating in our home, BUT I do love to bake. I love sweets and would have found it challenging to go without desserts during World War II when sugar and other ingredients used for making goodies were rationed and/or difficult to obtain. 

One of the desserts I think of when Christmas comes to mind is cookies. Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, pumpkin cookies, and GINGERBREAD MEN, although I guess nowadays, it's more correct to say Gingerbread People. So without further ado, here is a fun and easy WWII recipe for this yummy treat:

  • 350g plain flour. (approx. 12 oz.)
  • 140g of butter or margarine (approx. 5 oz.)
  • 100g dark brown sugar (approx. 3 oz.)
  • 3tbsp golden syrup (or molasses)
  • 1tbsp ground flaxseed (mix with 2.5 tablespoons of hot water, it helps hold the mixture together when baking)
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • Mix the flaxseed with 2.5 tablespoons of hot water. Mix well and set aside to thicken.
  • Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan on a low heat stirring slowly until all runny and melted. Set this aside in a mixing bowl to cool down a bit.
  • Stir in the flaxseed mixture thoroughly.
  • Add in the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda, pinch of salt and all the spices and mix until a smooth dough is formed.
  • Wrap or place in container and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oven to  350 degrees  (180C for non-U.S. bakers)
  • Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to about 0.5cm and start stamping out the gingerbread.
  • Place on parchment paper on a baking tray.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes (slightly more or less according to your oven)
  • Remove from oven when cooked. Leave on sheet to cool down for 15 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Once fully cold then you can keep in an airtight container for about a week or so.
  • Decorate with icing sugar when fully cold. If no icing sugar is available dent the dough before cooking to form eyes, mouth and buttons! Or just decorate with anything you’ve got!
Makes about 12 large gingerbread people.


A Merry Heart: An Anthology - coming November 7, 2023

Experience the magic of Christmas in this heartwarming anthology featuring ten talented authors, as they weave enchanting tales of clean and Christian romance. Delight in the spirit of the season, where love, faith, and miracles come together to create unforgettable holiday moments. All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to a life pregnancy center to be announced soon!

My novella, War's Unexpected Gift features Nurse Gwen Milford from A Doctor in the House. I thought she deserved her own story.

Pre-order link (only $0.99!):

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Alderney During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Alderney and WWII

Continuing in my series about the German occupation of the Channel Islands, today we’re going to visit Alderney, the northernmost of the inhabited islands. With an area of three square miles, it is the third largest of the Channel Islands. The origin of the island’s name is obscure with several theories associated with it.

Led by the bailiff, Judge French, almost the entire population of Alderney evacuated when the notification came about the invasion. One report indicates that eighteen people refused to leave the island, but boats from Guernsey came and retrieved the majority of them. The Germans arrived on a nearly deserted island.

The island was used to grow food to supply the troops and islanders, but the main use of the troops and
subsequent labor force was to fortify the island as part of Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall.” By 1942, four camps (two labor, and two concentration) had been built to house POWs and Jewish slave laborers. According to multiple sources, several hundred of the approximately 6,000 prisoners died before the rest were moved to France in 1944, however, others claim there were significantly more inmates and a higher death count. Most of the records were destroyed therefore, exact numbers are unavailable. The camps are not preserved or commemorated.

During the war, primarily after Normandy, the island was occasionally blockaded by the Royal Navy resulting in hunger and privation. Negotiations enabled some Red Cross humanitarian aid, but indications are that the German troops were near starvation.

Alderney was surrendered by the Germans on May 16, 1945, eight days after the Allies received the formal unconditional surrender of the German High Command, however, the remaining two thousand prisoners were not removed until four days later. Under British military supervision, the remaining five hundred German soldiers cleaned up the island, including the removal of more than 30,000 mines.

When the Alderney citizens returned in December 1945, they were dismayed to find many houses in disrepair, the Germans having burned anything wooden for fuel. Having evacuated, the islanders were saved, but it was months before their homes and businesses would recover from the devastation.


Francine’s Foibles

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Purchase Link:

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Leslie L. McKee

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Leslie L. McKee!

1. What was your inspiration for your book?

My book is a devotional journal for those with chronic pain and illness. Sadly, this is something I know all too well, as I have lived with chronic pain and illness for over twenty-five years. I wanted my book to serve as a reminder to others that they’re not alone. It’s called Hope Amid the Pain. There is always hope, no matter the circumstance, when we have Jesus by our side.

2. How did you start writing in your particular genre?

Years ago, when I was in elementary school, I wrote a few short stories, but then I moved on to poetry. I then went on to reviews and devotions, which really aren’t that different from the poetry I used to write.

3. Tell us about your road to publication.

I won a few contests with my poetry, and had some published. I continued writing poetry for many years before I started writing reviews for a magazine (RT Bookreviews Magazine). That led me into editing. An editing contact asked if I’d be interested in writing some devotions to possibly be included in a compilation by Ellie Claire/Worthy Publishing called Just Breathe. I immediately said, “Yes!” Then I realized I’d never written a devotion! God provided the words. I was given a contract to be part of that project, and I’ve been writing them ever since. Hope Amid the Pain is my debut solo book.

4. How did your life prepare you for being an author?

As I mentioned, I’m a chronic pain/illness warrior. I have always been hesitant to share my journey and struggles with others. I had many friends tell me I should, but I always pushed the thought aside. A few years ago, I felt a nudge from God telling me that He wanted me to share my story. I wrote the devotions and book to encourage and comfort others while reminding them that they’re not alone in their pain. God is with them through it all, and He still has a purpose for their lives.

5. What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.)

I guess, thus far, I’d be a pantser. For my devotional book, I didn’t do any sort of outline, just a list of
Pixabay/Giani Prilea
verses that have been important and encouraging to me in my journey. In addition to writing devotions, I have written some flash fiction stories. For those, as they have always been a bit out of my comfort zone, I’ve prayed, and God has given me the ideas and guidance to write the stories. While I’m an editor in my “day job,” and I love it, when it comes to my own writing, I prefer the writing to the editing, which does seem a bit strange!

As for when I write, I largely wrote my book in the evenings. Now, it varies, based on when inspiration hits.

6. How do you celebrate when you finish a manuscript?

When I finished my manuscript, I believe we celebrated with a meal from Olive Garden. To celebrate my book release, we actually had a cake with my book cover on it, which was pretty cool.

7. What books are on your nightstand right now?

My husband wishes I only had books on my nightstand! 😊 I have books all over the place, including multiple TBR piles. I review books for various publishers and authors, so most of my current reads are advance copies (ARCs). I enjoy a number of genres.

8. What is your next project?

I have a number of projects in mind, and I’ve started a few of them. They include a children’s book, another devotional book, and some flash fiction stories. However, life has thrown me a few curveballs this year, so my writing has been put on hold. I do hope to get back to my ideas soon.

9. What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Write what you feel God is telling you to write! With my book, I had some people in the publishing industry tell me that I should make it more general and not share so much of my personal story. I admit I was hesitant to be open and transparent about the struggles and realities of living with chronic pain and illness, yet it was what I felt God telling me to do. And I’m glad I listened. Some of the things readers mention when they contact me is how much they appreciate me being open and honest because they know that I truly understand what they’re going through. That’s exactly what I hoped for when writing Hope Amid the Pain. I know how much it means to me when I find someone who “gets it,” and I thought others would feel the same way. Thus far, it’s been apparent that they do.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Linda. I enjoyed speaking with you, and I appreciate you letting your readers know about Hope Amid the Pain, which will be celebrating it’s second birthday on October 26, 2023! 

Leslie's book Hope Amid the Pain is available from all your favorite online retailers:

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Sark During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Sark During WWII

The Channel Island of Sark was led by the indomitable Dame Sibyl Hathaway who after visiting St. Peter Port after the demilitarization by Britain and seeing chaos and confusion, returned home to make a speech to her people. She indicated that she would be staying during the German occupation, and indicated that those who wished could be evacuated but “those with a stake in the land should stick by it.” She went on to say, “I’m not promising you it will be easy. We may be hungry. But at least there will always be fish and rabbits.” (Afterward, she would ruefully look back on those words because fishing off the mined coast had been restricted, and the guns needed to hunt rabbits were confiscated by the Germans.)

However, many on the island thought she was a match for the Germans, and they weren’t far off.

The fifty-six-year-old woman was a descendent of one of the forty original families who arrived in
1565 with Helier de Carteret after he earned Queen Elizabeth I’s permission to establish a fief there. Dame Sibyl had worked in Germany and was fluent in German, and the feudal etiquette she’d been using all her life became a formidable weapon against the occupiers, most of whom were uniformed German aristocrats. They treated the islanders with respect, and the dame with reverence, reportedly kissing her hand when they approached her. The troops established themselves in the Hotel Bel Air until they managed to burn it to the ground in 1942.

As on the other islands, the German rules and regulations applied to Sark, including blackouts, curfews, opening hours of public house, fishing, etc. However, as the islanders had no motor cars, those laws were moot. Initially, there was much fraternization, and Dame Sibyl was able to get some of the mandates softened to include the ability to fish within three miles of the coast and for two boats to travel to Guernsey to sell their catches and return with fuel for the botas. Christmas Eve was celebrated together.

Soldiers regularly rotated and additional soldiers arrived bringing the total to two hundred. At one point, the new group was reportedly “full of high-handed bureaucrats” who created more restrictive rules that often made no sense, such as when they limited fishing without paying attention to tide tables, resulting in a fall in the fish catch. Eventually, the new “regime” learned to learn to advice from Dame Sibyl before issuing orders.

By 1942, visitors were no longer allowed on the island, and the only excuse for a local visit to Guernsey was toothache. With a dentist on Sark, fake toothaches became common so residents could spend a few days off the island. Radios were confiscated, and in September an order was issued to send all men of English parents to camps in Germany. Dame Sibyl took that to mean non-Sark-born people, reducing the list to only nine individuals.

Photo: Phillip Capper
A British commando raid occurred in October of that year with the objective of capturing a prisoner. They finally ended up at the Dixcart Hotel where they killed a sentry and found five sleeping German military engineers. During the attempt to take the soldiers prisoner, a struggle broke out with shouting. One of the Germans broke free and headed toward the Stock’s Hotel where other soldiers were asleep. When all was said and done the British managed to escape with one German, three of the German soldiers died, and the Sark woman who’d directed the commandos to the hotel was imprisoned for three months before being deported to Germany. The Sark commander, Oberleutnant Stefan Herdt lost his command for fraternization and failure in the raid.

February 1943 brought a section batch of deportees, a list of sixty people originally but again Dame Sibyl managed to get the group whittled down. Only twenty-five were sent away, including her American husband Robert Hathaway. Food and fuel became even more scarce. Another commando riad was made just after Christmas, but was unsuccessful.

The Guernsey Underground New Sheet (GUNS) illegally published British news. The group was caught and imprisoned where two would die before the end of the war. When Cherbourg and St. Malo fell to the Americans, the islands were cut off and both civilian and German rations were reduced. In retaliation, Dame Sibyl and a few of the islanders raided the German supply of grain and managed to cart off nearly a ton that was distributed to the Sarkees.

Early in 1945, Red Cross parcels arrived and were distributed among the civilians. According to one report, the Germans had less food than the islanders and were known to faint in the street. When news of the German surrender came, Dame Sibyl had the American and British flags hoisted while the Germans locked themselves in their barracks. On May 10, a group of British soldiers arrived to formally accept the German surrender, they indicated they didn’t have enough troops available to guard the prisoners, so Dame Sibyl was put in charge. One of the British officers later commented that she acted “more forceful than any army officer and more than equal to any German Kommandant.” Over the next few months, she demanded that the Germans reestablish the telephone lines, return the confiscated radios, and remove all 13,500 land mines. The prisoners also completed a variety of construction projects. They were required to repeat her commands and then reply “At your command, madam.”

As mentioned earlier in the post, the Germans had indeed met their match in Dame Sibyl Hathaway. Her husband eventually returned to the island with the other deportees, and she would hold her position until her death on July 14, 1974.

Francine’s Foibles

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Purchase Link:

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Alyssa Schwartz

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Alyssa Schwartz!

Fields of Glass: An Excerpt

Items number twelve and thirteen on the list of things Grace was thankful for: rain boots and leather gloves.

She scribbled them down before folding the page and slipping it and the pencil back into her front pocket. Her therapist’s idea of keeping a gratitude journal seemed as silly now as it had when she’d suggested it a few months ago. At this rate, she’d celebrate her fortieth birthday before reaching one thousand entries.

But for as much as Grace initially disliked the overalls, they had their useful moments. Her hands, however … She flexed her sore muscles from yesterday’s yard work and winced at the fresh blisters. And that had been with the gloves on. She didn’t even want to imagine what sort of condition she’d have been in had she gone after those weeds bare-handed.

She’d hardly mentioned a word about it to Callie, but somehow, the woman had already known. Which explained today’s slightly less demanding activity…

Callie had disappeared inside a few minutes ago—something about duct tape and a bee-keeper suit, neither of which sounded the least bit appealing to Grace. Just the thought of being swarmed by thousands of bees, suit or not, made her skin crawl.

Something tickled the back of her arm, and she swatted at it. Heart racing, she spun around, only to find one of the climbing vines had slipped from its lattice.

How in the world was she going to endure honey harvesting like this? She should be at the ranch,
Pixabay/M. Roth

earning Micah’s respect enough to convince him of her proposal. Not playing Little House on the Prairie, no matter how much she enjoyed Callie’s quirky personality. And if last night’s argument was any indication, she still had a long way to go.

“Hello? Anybody home?” A familiar deep voice echoed from the front driveway.

“Out back,” she hollered, hoping Caden could hear her. Sure enough, he slipped through the gate, clad in a navy T-shirt and jeans, and greeted her with a wave.

“Thought I’d find you here.” His teeth were white against his tanned skin, no doubt a fact Callie hadn’t failed to notice, either.

“Where else would I be?”

He shrugged. “Dunno, but I’m glad I caught you. Is Callie here, too?” He leaned forward and peered through the open back door.

Grace didn’t miss the way he swiped his palms against his legs and kept stealing glances at the house. He might as well have been wearing a sign around his neck that said: I like Callie. She wondered if her friend had picked up on his interest as well. Their behavior last night and the way they had talked the other morning by the pasture gate—she had no doubt something was there. And from where she stood, all they needed was a little push.

Grace smiled, knowing she’d found her solution. “What would you say to a trade? You stay here and help Callie, and I’ll cover for you back at the ranch.”

About Fields of Glass:

Micah Prescott will do anything to save his family's sheep ranch, even if it kills him. With a city-based firm pressuring him to sell and the bank threatening to call in his loan, he has less than a month to figure out a solution to keep the property his father strove so hard to protect. But when a storm rolls in, washing out the only bridge to town and bringing with it an unwanted visitor, he finds his options quickly dwindling.

Sales associate Francis Grace Riley will do anything to prove that she belongs. Convinced she can secure a deal where others had only failed, she takes to the mountains in search of one stubborn rancher, only to realize there is much more riding on the outcome of this trip than her job.

From the moment Micah rescues Grace on the side of the road, sparks fly—that is until he learns who she really is. Stuck together until the bridge is repaired, the two of them must learn to work as a team if they have any hopes of achieving their goals. But when things start to go wrong on the ranch, and sheep begin to disappear, they're left questioning who they can trust... and what they're willing to sacrifice for those they care for.

Purchase Link:

About Alyssa:

Alyssa is a Colorado native who attended the Colorado School of Mines, got her masters in Geological Engineering, and promptly became a watercolor artist and author (as one does). She loves writing heartfelt romances with happy endings, a bit of mystery, faith, humor, and second chances. Receive a free short story when you sign up for her newsletter at:

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Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Guernsey During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Guernsey During WWII

During WWII, England’s Channel Islands (located closer to France than to Britain) were occupied by German forces. Learn about the islands here: Each of the islands responded differently. Today’s post is about Guernsey, the second largest and westernmost of the islands, it is the furthest from the coast of Normandy and forms the major part of the Guernsey jurisdiction which includes the three other inhabited islands of Herm, Jethou, and Lihou.

When the islands were demilitarized, arrangements were made to evacuate the residents. Each bailiff reacted differently, and on Guernsey panic reigned. Unsure whether there would be enough ships, the decision was made that the children would go first. Arrangements were made with Whitehall that three ships would arrive at 6:00 AM on June 20. Hurried meetings were called at the schools where the sounds of war could be heard from France. Knowing about the bombing raids of England’s cities and towns, parents wondered if the greater danger lay in sending the children away or keeping them under German occupation. Ultimately, there were enough ships for adults to evacuate as well, and approximately half of the fifty thousand residents left.

At 69, Guernsey’s Bailiff Victor Gosselin Carey was considered too old to serve as the island executive
Photo: Public Domain
on his own. Described as pink-faced, chubby, highly strung, and absent-minded, he was an attorney when given the position upon the unexpected death of his predecessor in 1935. Gentle and kind, he was popular among the residents. Interestingly, when the Germans arrived, they went to the home of Major A.J. Sherwill rather than meeting with Carey.

By all reports, a polite exchange between the Germans and Sherwill culminated in them moving to the Royal Hotel to conduct the business of setting up the occupation. By the time Carey arrived, evidence of the occupation was apparent: scores of German soldiers driving motorcycles on the “wrong” side of the road. The hotel’s Swiss proprietor acted as interpreter while the Germans read out the list of orders and instructions that ended with the edict that the full cost of the Occupation would be borne by the island.

The front pages of special editions of the island’s newspapers, the Guernsey Evening Press and the Star, were headlined: Order of the Commandant of the German Forces in Occupation of the island of Guernsey, followed by Carey’s signed statement that “The public are notified that no resistance whatever is to be offered.” More troops arrived on Monday, and the Occupation was completed without any hostile incidents.

Photo: Public Domain
Carey’s powers were reduced and a Controlling Committee created comprised of members from the States of Guernsey and chaired by Major A.J. Sherwill who would later be imprisoned, then deported to a German labor camp for his part in the Nicolle and Symes affair, the second of a series of British Commando raids on the islands. During the Occupation, the Red Cross ship SS Vega delivered supplies and mail to the island. Residents were given work by the Germans, but many refused despite promised associated benefits. Fortifications of the island were constructed by forced labor of captured men. Tragically, the three Jews who were part of Guernsey’s population were deported to German-occupied France in April 1942 where they were given jobs and eventually rounded up and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where they died. After the war, a British Military Intelligence report said “when the Germans proposed to put their anti-Jewish measures into force, no protest whatever was raised by any of the Guernsey officials, and they hastened to give the Germans every assistance.”

Carey was knighted in 1945, and Sherwill given the British OBE in December of that year. He was knighted in 1949 and would serve as bailiff from 1946 to 1959.


Francine’s Foibles

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Purchase Link:

Friday, October 6, 2023

Fiction Friday: New Releases for October

October 2023 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website


Road Trip Rescue by Becca Wierwille -- Twelve-year-old Kimmy trusts dogs more than people. After all, her dog Bo never made fun of her for having one hand. But two years ago, Bo disappeared. When Kimmy stumbles across a magazine photo of a dog in upstate New York that looks just like Bo, she knows she has to find him. Her parents seem oddly unsupportive, but pink-haired, adventure-hungry Aunt Skylar agrees to a road trip with a stop in the Adirondacks. Kimmy jumps at the chance to bring her furry family member home. Unfortunately, Aunt Skylar’s idea of a road trip isn’t the rescue mission Kimmy had in mind. (Children’s/Middle Grade/Chapter Books from Beloved Chronicles LLC)

Contemporary Romance:

A Deeper Love by Heidi Gray McGill -- What was that movie line about relationships built on intense experiences? Oh, yeah. They never work. I get paid to do my dream job, usually by wealthy men who thrive on adventure. But when their adrenaline rush is gone and vacation is over, I’m still here, on a tropical island, with people who mostly leave me alone. And I like it that way. Except for this guy. Seriously, Dan is the last man I want to get involved with. If he got Decompression Illness, the doctors would likely call it Mercedes Bends. He’s privileged and entitled and would never leave his city life behind for the challenges of living on a remote island. Which is a total relief, I’m telling you. Don’t get me wrong—he’s prime shark bait, but I’m not ready to fall deeply in love with someone who won’t stay. There’s no such thing as going “too deep” where spiritual things are concerned. But I’ll stay at the surface and snorkel rather than dive into the depths when it comes to relationships. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)

A Horseman’s Mission by Sandra Ardoin -- Macie Newman believes time and tranquility—not a psychologist—will heal her traumatized son, Alex. After she moves them to the small town of Hidden Veil, she discovers the noble but disturbing plans that her new boss, Lane Becker, has for his ranch. Fearing for her son’s safety as he becomes attached to the horseman, Macie chooses to leave before Lane’s interference endangers Alex’s physical and emotional health. But she hadn’t counted on how hard that would be on her son . . . or her heart. As an equine therapy center, Lane’s property will aid veterans suffering from PTSD and honor his brother’s death in Afghanistan, hopefully, lessening Lane’s guilt. When he finds a feisty but troubled widow occupying the space he needs for the center, Lane wants to move her out. But after witnessing her son’s frightening anxiety attack, he’s convinced the Newmans are where they need to be, as long as he can control his pull toward Macie. He can’t allow himself to be distracted by a love he doesn’t deserve. How can Lane help the boy and his mother conquer their fears without jeopardizing a second person’s life? (Contemporary Romance from Corner Room Books)

Fields of Glass by Alyssa Schwartz -- Micah Prescott will do anything to save his family's sheep ranch, even if it kills him. With a city-based firm pressuring him to sell and the bank threatening to call in his loan, he has less than a month to figure out a solution to keep the property his father strove so hard to protect. But when a storm rolls in, washing out the only bridge to town and bringing with it an unwanted visitor, he finds his options quickly dwindling. Sales associate Francis Grace Riley will do anything to prove that she belongs. Convinced she can secure a deal where others had only failed, she takes to the mountains in search of one stubborn rancher, only to realize there is much more riding on the outcome of this trip than her job. From the moment Micah rescues Grace on the side of the road, sparks fly—that is until he learns who she really is. Stuck together until the bridge is repaired, the two of them must learn to work as a team if they have any hopes of achieving their goals. But when things start to go wrong on the ranch, and sheep begin to disappear, they're left questioning who they can trust ... ... and what they're willing to sacrifice for those they care for. . (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Mama Dated Santa by Amy R. Anguish -- Trudy McNamara doesn’t do Christmas anymore. But she will do anything for her nephew Mark, even take him to visit Santa. After Dad died and the holiday bucket lists stopped, December hasn’t been the same. But Trudy finds herself tangled up with the toy store Santa and Christmas when she discovers her mom … dated Santa. Nick Russo, manager of Russos’ Toy Emporium, is at a loss as to how to save his family’s store. When Uncle Paul, the Santa and part-owner, hires Trudy to revamp their store, Nick’s life turns upside down. He’s been so focused on the numbers, the Christmas season has become nothing more than one last drive for sales. But Trudy makes him re-evaluate his attitude as well as want to help hers. (Contemporary Romance from Scrivening’s Press)

Their Holiday Secret
by Betsy St Amant -- Can their pretend relationship turn into a true Christmas gift? Preston Green will do anything for a fake girlfriend—even bid on one at a charity auction. Sweet and quirky baker Lulu Boyd is the perfect choice to stop his mother’s constant matchmaking. And it’s just for one holiday family dinner—until his father’s failing health makes ending their ruse impossible. Soon it feels all too real…but another secret might make this their last Christmas together. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

General Contemporary:

Secret Mercy by Lynn Waite Chapman -- Talk to Liberty Cassell and you will hear her extoll all the advantages of living in her hometown of Twin Fawn. Little traffic. Easy parking. Comfortable lifestyle with no pressure to advance in the world. Residents don’t mind taking time off work to sit with a cup of coffee while watching a passing rainstorm. There is a sense of community in a small town. Neighbors look out for one another. They make allowances for even those of advanced age or questionable mental states. However, in this little town, when Harley Ottenweller failed to show up for dinner one day, most residents failed to notice. Those who did take note seemed grateful not to meet up with him on the street. His wife Willow and son Johnnie went on with life. No questions. No search. No missing person report was filed. She assured everyone she was perfectly content to raise her son on her own. Does the tiny woman with wispy white hair and wild imagination know more about her husband’s disappearance than she’s telling? What secrets are hidden in the old mansion of a house she guards so well? (General Contemporary from Winged Publications)

General Historical:

Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee -- Bertie Jenkins has spent forty years serving as a midwife for her community in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Out of all the mothers she’s tended, none affects her more than the young teenager who shows up on her doorstep, injured, afraid, and expecting, one warm June day in 1943. As Bertie and her four sisters tenderly nurture Songbird back to health, the bond between the childless midwife and the motherless teen grows strong. But soon Songbird is forced to make a heartbreaking decision that will tear this little family apart. Thirty years later, the day after his father’s funeral, Walker Wylie is stunned to learn he was adopted as an infant. The famous country singer enlists the help of adoption advocate Reese Chandler in the hopes of learning why he was abandoned by his birth parents. With the only clue he has in hand, Walker and Reese head deep into the Appalachian Mountains to track down Bertie Jenkins, the midwife who holds the secrets to Walker’s past. (General Historical from Tyndale House)

Historical Romance:

Abounding Hope by Cindy Kay Stewart -- The Nazis are threatening Poland, but American teacher Irena Simmons refuses to flee to safety. She’s dedicated her life to serving in her church and school, and she’s watching over the little German boys she whisked to safety the year before. When Jonathan, her former classmate, surprises her in Lvov and insists she leave with him before the war starts, Irena balks. Nothing will interfere with her work—especially a man making demands. American shipping magnate Jonathan Huntwell had a crush on Irena in school. When their former classmates select him to travel to Poland and escort her out before it’s too late, he doesn’t expect the inner turmoil she ignites in him. Although honor-bound to aid any friend in trouble, Jonathan acknowledges that Irena is more than an obligation to him. However, he must keep his feelings hidden, or he’ll jeopardize their friendship. Irena soon discovers that the Gestapo agent she successfully evaded in Germany has found her in Poland, and he’s after her young charges. When the Germans invade, Jonathan is in Denmark on business, too far away to help. As the rising danger threatens everything Irena holds dear, she must find a way to protect those she loves.. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Against the Wind by Amanda Cabot -- Two ambitious strangers have their futures all mapped out … but are they the right ones? Doctor-in-training Louisa Vaughn is just supposed to be in Sweetwater Crossing for only a few days to help a friend. She never expected to be swept up in a mystery secret that could threaten her career and her heart. But she can’t abandon the injured man she finds at the side of the road. Until he heals, she’ll stay, serving as the town’s doctor and midwife. Josh Porter’s plans to gain full control of the family business hit a roadblock when he breaks his leg. But his enforced stay in Sweetwater Crossing gives him new ideas about the expansion of the company into new territory—ideas Louisa could help turn into reality. If only the town were more accepting of Louisa’s talents! Someone is determined to convince her to abandon her dream. Can Josh help her uncover the person behind the threats before it’s too late? And is there any future for them together when neither of them plans to stay? (Historical Romance from Revell)

Angelina’s Resolve by Cindy Ervin Huff -- Proving her skills are equal to a man’s may cost her more than she ever imagined. Modern-thinking Angelina DuBois is determined to prove her cousin Hiram wrong. He fired her from the architect firm she helped grow when her father’s will left the business to Hiram. Using her large inheritance and architectural degree, she sets out to create a village run by women—Resolve, Kansas. Carpenter and Civil War veteran Edward Pritchard’s dream of building homes for Chicago’s elite must be put on hold until he gains references. Serving as a contractor under Angelina’s well-known DuBois name provides that opportunity. But can Angelina trust her handsome new carpenter to respect her as his boss? Will the project take Edward one step closer to his goals, or will it make him a laughingstock? Can these two strong-willed people find love amid such an unconventional experiment? (Historical Romance from Iron Stream Media)

Chiseled on the Heart by Kelly Goshorn, et. al. -- Four generations carve out a journey of faith. The Gift of a Lamb by Elaine Cooper; A Lasting Legacy by Cynthia Roemer; Healing within the Pieces by Candace West; The Christmas Carving by Kelly Goshorn (Historical Romance from Revell)


A Christmas Romance by Annette M. Irby -- Bookshop owner Peyton McKinley lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington. An inspired reader, she writes wholesome romance novels, dreaming of publication. Unfortunately, a past breakup has soured her on relationships. When a literary agent wants to see her manuscript as soon as she can finish it, writer’s block stalls her progress. Best-selling picture book author and illustrator Eli Jaxon has relocated to Puget Sound to be nearer to his family. He’s on deadline for his next Prescott the Proper Peacock volume, but worry for his niece distracts him. Past mistakes keep him closed off to dating. When Peyton needs help with her story, previously married Eli volunteers to help her brainstorm. Can they deny their attraction, or will they live their own Christmas romance? (Romance Novella from Prism Effect Publishing)


Havoc by Ronie Kendig -- Former Special Forces operator Sergeant Crew Gatlin takes everything in stride, even the career-ending incident that separated him from the Army, half a leg, and his beloved working dog, Havoc K027. Putting his life back together and lying low, he takes a job with A Breed Apart and is unexpectedly reunited with Havoc. It’s too good to be true—and the proof is in their first assignment: to work as a K-9 team for a television drama in Los Angeles. Miffed at being relegated to TV fodder, he’s willing to pay the price when he sees the stuntwoman. Being a stunt double allows Vienna Foxcroft to fulfill her acting dream—with a side of MMA—and stay out of the limelight. The same one that plagued her childhood and put her through a nightmare scenario. Now, her tight-knit stunt team are the only ones she trusts. Then in walks Mr. Mountain-of-Muscle and his tough-as-nails dog, and Vienna has a bad feeling her life is about to turn upside down. Ticked as they head overseas for a location shoot in Turkey, Crew guts it up—after all, he has Havoc again. Okay, and yeah—Vienna is going, too. When an attack sends the cast fleeing into the streets of Turkey, Vienna must face the demons of her past or be devoured by them. And Crew and Havoc are tested like never before. (Thriller/Suspense/Military from Sunrise Publishing)


Crime Scene Conspiracy by Jessica R. Patch -- Too many mysterious deaths. Not enough clues. A string of staged deaths forces Texas Ranger Emily O’Connell on a covert mission to investigate a governor’s connection to the deceased women. She doesn’t trust anyone—including crime scene cleaner Stone Spencer. But when Emily’s questioning makes her the serial killer’s next target, she must turn to ex-ranger Stone for help. With threats at every turn, outrunning a merciless villain could be the last thing they do. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Loved Inspired Suspense/Harlequin)

Christmas in the Crosshairs by Kate Angelo, et. al. -- Christmas is about to get dangerous! Get ready for three brand new Elite Guardians romantic suspense stories from Sunrise Publishing in this exciting anthology. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Sunrise Publishing)

Grave Secrets by Elle E. Kay -- In the bustling city of Philadelphia, a mystery begins to unfold that will lead to the tranquil beauty of Ricketts Glen State Park. Gavin, a seasoned bodyguard, visits his sister Cate at her university, only to find her entangled in a scandal that's more than meets the eye. The anonymous threats she's been receiving seem to be linked to a secret society that stretches far beyond the city limits. In the heart of Ricketts Glen, Park Ranger Samantha is grappling with an unsolved cold case that has haunted her family and the town for years. The disappearance of a prominent businessman in the park has left a deep wound in her family and a mystery that seems impossible to solve. As Gavin delves into the threats against Cate, he uncovers a connection to the cold case in Ricketts Glen. Drawn into the mystery, he finds himself teaming up with Samantha, their paths converging in a quest for truth. Meanwhile, Gavin's brother Grayson steps in to protect Cate back in Philadelphia, but the threats escalate, leading them both to the heart of the mystery in Benton, PA. As the threads of the investigation intertwine, Gavin, Samantha, Cate, and Grayson find themselves in a deadly showdown with a secretive society that will stop at nothing to protect its secrets. In the face of danger, alliances will be tested, bonds will be formed, and the serene beauty of Ricketts Glen State Park will become a battleground for truth and justice. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic, Independently Published)

Running to You by Robin Patchen -- Sam never understood why Eliza left him five years ago, ghosting him without explanation. He’s avoided romance ever since, focusing on building his business. Money might not keep him warm at night, but it can sure buy a lot of blankets. Then Eliza shows up on his doorstep and throws herself into his arms. She can’t explain her bruises or the head injury that’s left her with no memories of the past five years, including their breakup. No matter how good it feels to hold her, though, there’s no way he’s getting sucked into romance again. He’ll deliver Eliza to her mother, and that will be that. But instead of finding her mom, they’re met by two attackers and barely escape alive. Despite the danger to his life and his heart, he can’t leave Eliza to fend for herself. Together, they embark on a journey to reconstruct her past while evading the men chasing her. As Sam and Eliza close in on the truth, their romance reignites, but her secret threatens to destroy them both. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic, Independently Published)

Shadows at Dusk by Elizabeth Goddard -- Montana Detective Trevor West is desperate to learn what happened to his sister, who went missing in Alaska over a year ago, leaving nothing but a few photographs as clues to her whereabouts. At the advice of Police Chief Autumn Long, Trevor enlists the help of an experienced bush pilot. If Carrie James can't help him find the places in the photographs, no one can. But Carrie has her own agenda. Grieving the death of her closest friend and the only person she could trust, Carrie will help Trevor find his sister on one condition--that he help her track down her friend's killer. As the two close in on the answers they crave, they'll face dangers and connections they could not have imagined. They'll have to learn to trust one another--and face the dark secrets of the past--if they are ever to discover the truth and bring a killer to justice. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Revell)

Skye Fall by Paige Edwards -- Isla Montjoy has it all, a new career in nursing and a police officer boyfriend she adores--until she stumbles across proof of her boyfriend's corruption. Determined to protect his secrets, he attacks her and leaves her for dad. But against all odds, she lives. On the run for two years, Isla's life is far from assured as her would-be murderer doggedly tracks her across the UK, intent on silencing her forever. One a climbing trip in the Scottish Highlands, Ben Pressley-Coombes encounters Isla, a beautiful woman who promptly pepper sprays him without warning or reason. After that rough start, Ben hopes never to lay eyes on her again--but fate has other ideas. Forced into an uneasy association that transforms into a deep-seated romance, the pair soon faces a deadly threat: Isla's relentless pursuer has discovered her hiding place. If she is to survive, she and Ben must outmaneuver the dirty cop and his treacherous plot to snare her. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Covenant Communications)

Snowbound Escape by Dana Mentink -- To rescue a witness…this K-9 team must face a killer and a storm. After months tracking a colleague falsely accused of a double homicide, officer Tanner Ford and his K-9 partner finally locate crime tech Mara Gilmore—but the real murderer is closing in. Now they must run into a frozen wilderness to survive. Evading the killer is the only way for Mara to clear her name. But will the harsh winter conditions cover their tracks…or bury them forever? (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Love Inspired Suspense/Harlequin)


Another Christmas Story by Susan Page Davis -- Beryl’s father is badly injured, and the wagon train leaves her and her little brother behind and at the trading post. They are at the mercy of the trading post manager, his wife, and their adult son, James. Winter is cruel and fraught with danger, especially when new supplies are needed and the trader must leave for several months. Grieving after her father's death, Beryl sees that James loves her young brother. Soon she comes to care for James too. Young Sam loves Dickens's A Christmas Carol, but he begins to imagine another Christmas story. Come spring, Beryl will have to decide whether she and Sam will continue on to Oregon or go back East. (Western from Tea Tin Press)

Young Adult:

Royal & Ancient by Amanda Lauer -- Bronwyn Campbell's end-of-summer plans were simple: wrap up her job at Saint Andrew’s Country Club, meet her friends one last time at the virtual reality arcade, and move across the country—again—with her father. But when lightning strikes while she's working the club's Saint Andrew’s Heritage Day, she's transported from an American fairway to the home of golf, The Links at Saint Andrews, in Scotland—and in the year 1691, no less. When Iain MacDonald discovers Bronwyn knocked out cold on the seventeenth green, little does he know their meeting will change not only the course of their lives but the course of history. The son of the chieftain of Clan MacDonald, Iain bears the weight of responsibility for his family and his clan's survival on his shoulders. Family drama and the growing discord over religion in Scotland add to the heavy load he carries daily while stepping further into his role as future chieftain. As political events between England and Scotland heighten the conflict surrounding the MacDonald lands, Bronwyn and Iain rely upon their shared faith and growing feelings toward each other for survival. Amid the questions that plague both of them, though, one stands out: How can you be with the one you love if your choice ultimately influences history? (Young Adult from Chrism Press/WhiteFire Publishing)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

April’s PromiseTerrie Todd, As a world war wages across the globe, the Kimball family faces a different kind of conflict at home. Will their personal battles drag them down and tear their family apart? (General Historical)

Center PointNancy J. Farrier, Will they find a solution before the worst happens? (Contemporary Romance)

Heart RestorationRegina Rudd Merrick, Ah, the difference a trip to a dingy basement makes. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic)

Speaking Through the Silence Linda Sammaritan , Will Debbie continue to keep quiet under the Mean Queen’s snarky abuse, or will she screw up the courage to speak through her self-imposed silence? (Young Adult)

Tipsy in LoveAnne Greene, A hilarious tale of love almost lost. (Contemporary Romance)

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Donna Schlachter!

Theresa’s Talent – Book Spotlight and Interview

By Donna Schlachter

What was your inspiration for the story?

I’d already written an earlier book in the multi-author series, and discovered I loved my hero and heroine too much to leave them just yet. At the same time, I also loved two secondary but very important characters, Theresa and Toby. So I signed up to write a second book in the series, using Theresa and Toby as my main characters this time around.

How do you develop your characters?

In this case, very carefully. I’ve never written a book where people of color are the main characters. I didn’t want to portray them incorrectly, so I wrote the synopsis and the first two chapters, and sent that to a friend who is an author of color, asking her if I was doing these characters justice. She said she thought I did a fine job. So I simply carried on.

What sort of research did you do, and was there a tidbit you had to include?

I’d already done most of my research in preparation for writing the first book. This series is about women involved in the suffrage movement in the US, and both my original heroine and Theresa were involved. There were some instances in the first book that were similar to events that happened later, but one that stuck out was that the women were actually encouraged, in the 1870s, following the Civil War, to stand down and allow the freed male slaves to gain the vote first. I mention this again in Theresa’s Talent, because we see from the fact that they did stand down for a number of years that they cared less about individual ability to vote, and more about the collective rights of marginalized peoples.

How do you come up with your storylines?

As I mentioned, this book is a spin-off from the first one I wrote, Rollie’s Riddle. In it, Theresa works for the bank manager as his housekeeper, but she also runs a small catering business. She dreams of owning her own business, in particular, a bakery.

What draws you to the time period about which you write?

The story. I ask myself where the story can best be told from. I recently wrote two books in a different series, one set in 1784, one in 1834. I’d never written that “old” before, so it took more research. For me, my sweet spot is 1860 to 1900s, although I like a good challenge and can write in any era.

What is your next project?

Next up is A King for Kinsella, in the Mail Order Papa series. It releases December 30, 2023, and is just now in the outlining stage.

About Theresa’s Talent

Theresa’s Talent released on October 2nd, and I’m excited to introduce you to her today. Theresa Crane
is a woman of color in 1896 Colorado. As a sequel to Rollie’s Riddle that released earlier, we follow the suffrage movement, still in its infancy. Just because women have been granted the right to vote in Colorado and several other states doesn’t mean they weren’t still facing danger for their support of the movement in other states.

Because of what happened in Rollie’s Riddle, Theresa finds another job, but lands in hot water because of her political beliefs regarding equality and the vote. She was born during the Civil War, and won her freedom when President Lincoln granted that right in the Emancipation Proclamation. In the first book in this series, Lucas Bryant asked his old friend Toby to help him investigate criminal activity in the area. In the process, Toby finds he loves Whispering Pines, and decides to stay. Or maybe it isn’t the town—perhaps a certain Southern beauty of color?

As a Pinkerton operative, Toby sees his fair share of danger and excitement, but it becomes personal when one of his employees is kidnapped.

And when he learns that Theresa is in danger, he wants to fix things.

A Peek Inside the book:

Chapter 1

Tuesday, September 8, 1896
Whispering Pines, Colorado

Theresa Crane hefted her market basket to the other hand and strode along the boardwalk in the small town she called home. At an hour’s ride west of Colorado Springs, the community stuck together—well, most of the time.

When she first arrived several years ago, she’d hired on with the bank manager as housekeeper. But he’d found himself on the wrong side of the law, which was just as well. Now she worked for one at the Dew Drop Inn diner. Long hours, always on her feet, yet her boss, Mister Armstrong, paid her extra when she brought in her baking.

She slowed and switched hands again. Today she had six loaves of bread, ten dozen shortbread cookies, and three pies. While she didn’t earn anywhere near as much from him as she did from her private customers—well, that was her egg money.

Theresa lived—barely—on what her boss paid, while she saved the other to start her own business. Within a month, she hoped. She’d already found a vacant storefront, and with encouragement from her friend Missus Rollie Wheaton Bryant, she’d soon open the shop.

Theresa stifled a giggle. She could hardly wait. For a black woman over thirty years old, still unmarried, this was a dream life she enjoyed. Nobody to answer to. Nobody to order her around. In fact, the only cross she had to bear was Mister Armstrong. And he only for another month.

At the corner newspaper stand, she slowed to catch the day’s headlines. Then she froze, her breath caught in her throat.


What? How exciting. All the work she and Rollie had invested in the suffrage movement over the past couple of years had finally paid off. At the previous meeting of their local chapter of the Suffrage Women’s of America, rumors abounded about an unnamed woman willing to stand before crowds and not for something even more audacious than the right to vote, and that was for men to vote for her as president.

Imagine! The first woman president. Theresa picked up the newspaper. Belva Ann Lockwood, an attorney in her own right, had stepped into the crosshairs of American politics. Competing for the coveted prize against Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate, and James Blaine for the Republicans, Missus Lockwood proclaimed herself as ready for the contest.

Oh, there was a quote from her: I may not be able to vote, but I can ask men to vote for me.

Well, if that didn’t make some of the male population in the country squirm and pull in their toes, nothing would.

Theresa dropped the two pennies into the newspaper seller’s outstretched hand and continued her way. She glanced at the town clock atop the church steeple. Fifteen minutes before eight. Although Mister Armstrong insisted she arrive at ten before the hour, and work until ten past quitting time—for no additional pay—she’d stop and see how Rollie fared this morning.

And share this morsel of good news with her.

Inside the Whispering Pines Echo newspaper office, Theresa set her basket of baked goods on a chair near the door, then leaned over the railing separating the public from the business part of the office.

She beamed down at the darling child smiling up at her from his perambulator. “Mathew, my sweetie. How are you?” She waggled her fingers, and he cooed, reaching for her with slobbery fingers. Theresa straightened. “He’s growing so quickly. I declare he’s two inches taller and at least five pounds heavier since last week.”

Rollie came through the gate and hugged her. “And you’re not the one who has to lug him around like a sack of potatoes.” She rubbed the small of her back. “I thought being pregnant was difficult enough.”

Theresa chuckled. “I don’t envy you.” She held her friend at arm’s length. “How are you otherwise? Married life still agreeing with you?”

Rollie gestured to the child. “Too late to question that now, isn’t it?” She peered at her. “How about you? Did Toby propose yet?”

“No.” Theresa stomped a foot. “Don’t know that I want him to. We’re enjoying courting. Spending time of an evening. Or on Sundays after church. If we get hitched, then I’ll have to do his bidding.” Her eyes widened at a realization. “He might want me to give up my dream of the bakery.”

“Not many married women work, unless it’s with their husbands.”

Theresa waggled a forefinger at her friend. “We all work, married or not. And I think you and your type labor all the harder.” She hugged her friend again. “Then again, your husband hasn’t made you give up your job.”

“It’s different for me. I own this place. He knows how upset I’d be if he so much as suggested I give it up.” Mathew cooed then fussed in his carriage. “Then again, if any more like that one come along, I may have no choice.”

Theresa shook her head. “Don’t think like that. Look for solutions. Hire a nanny. A housekeeper, if need be.”

Rollie smiled at her. “You looking for work?”

“Not me, no thanks. I got enough with the Dew Drop. And getting my own place ready. I have three private events this month, and then I’ll have enough to open next.”

Her friend clapped her hands and danced in place. “Oh, I’m so excited for you. But what else brings you here today?”

Theresa smacked her forehead with her hand. “Almost forgot.” She held out the newspaper. “See this?”

Rollie nodded. “I was just working up a piece for the Echo’s next edition. I wish we could publish more often, but between keeping house, preparing meals, looking after this little tyrant, finding advertisers—well, I can’t be everywhere at once.”

Theresa laid a hand on her friend’s arm. “Hire somebody. Maybe you need help here in the office. Pay them on commission to get you that advertising revenue.”

“Maybe you’re right. That way, I could take one thing off my list each week. Give somebody a job who needs one. And service my advertisers better.”

“That’s forward thinking, girl. Go for it. Maybe a young wife who needs a little pocket money of her own. Or an older woman with too many skills and too much time on her hands.”

Theresa bid her friend good day, picked up her basket, and headed for the Dew Drop Inn. When she stepped inside, Mister Armstrong pointed at the clock.

Oh, dear, had she overstayed her time?

No. Five minutes til. She pasted on a smile. “Good morning, Mister Armstrong.”

He tossed a glare at her then at the clock.

“Yes, sir, my shift starts at eight. And it is five to. And here is the baking you asked for. I stayed up past midnight to make sure it was ready for this morning.”

As she rounded the end of the counter to hang up her shawl, her hat, and her reticule, he neared, towering over her. “You’re five minutes late.”

“Not according to the clock, sir.”

Maybe it was finally time to stand up for herself. He didn’t require the white women to arrive early and stay late. She was fairly certain that what he said she had to do wasn’t right.

“Don’t matter what the clock says. All that matters is what I say. Understand?”

The veins at his temples bulged, and his hot breath in her face made her queasy. She swallowed hard.

Then again, she needed this job. At least for a month. If she had to dip into her savings to replace lost income, that would set her plans back. She’d pay another month’s rent, on top of what she’d already invested in her business.

She nodded, stepping back out of range, then dropped her gaze to the floor. Heat crept up her neck and face. “It won’t happen again, sir.”

Three, four, five heartbeats passed before the man grunted and nodded. “See it doesn’t. And you’ll lose an hour’s pay for your insolence. Lucky I don’t just fire you now.” He spat on the floor, near the tips of her boots. “Clean that up, then get to work.”

He pivoted and strode toward his office. Theresa exhaled. Then she did as she was told.

But not for much longer.

Soon, she’d be her own boss. Run her own business.

And treat herself—and her employees—a far sight better than that man ever did.

Yes, siree.

She might have been born a slave, but she was free now because of the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln, and all those brave soldiers who fought for her.

She refused to step back voluntarily into slavery.
Toby Young nodded to several townsfolk he knew or recognized as he strode along the wooden boardwalk from his boardinghouse toward the Dew Drop Inn.

In the distance, fluffy white clouds nestled near the top of Pike’s Peak like a wreath, stark against the blue sky. No doubt about it, Whispering Pines was a beautiful part of the country.

Too bad he was moving soon. He’d miss Lucas and his delightful if spunky wife, Rollie, and their new son. He’d miss the food at the Dew Drop, the barn dances at the livery, and, most of all, Miss Theresa Crane.

As he pushed into the diner, grinning so wide it pained his cheeks, the town clock struck eleven. Where had the morning gone? Well, mostly in a hurried exchange of telegrams with the area office in Denver, the regional office in Colorado Springs, and then a chat with his landlady. The delightful woman cried when he told her he was leaving town. Said he was one of her best boarders.

No doubt about it. He had a bellyful of news to share with the same Miss Crane.

And there she was. Serving a farmer at the counter. Smiling at him, giggling at something he said.

Then she looked up. Locked eyes with him.

Smiled across the room at him.

Her ebony skin shone like she’d burnished it with furniture polish, but her eyes—brown as hazelnuts, ringed with gold—and those lips—full, soft, and, he was certain, because they’d never actually kissed—as sweet as honey from out of the comb.

She nodded, gesturing to the stool at the end of the counter. As he slid onto the seat, she poured him a cup of coffee. “Good morning, Toby.” She glanced toward the older man a few seats away. ‘Or should I call you Mister Young?”

He chuckled. “Oh, I think we’re past that, aren’t we?”

“I hope so.”

A man stuck his head around the corner. “Bring me a coffee. Now.”

Toby noted how Theresa’s shoulders tensed and her smile slipped away at the man’s order, but he said nothing. One thing he knew about this woman: she didn’t need—or want—anybody else fighting her battles.

Theresa leaned close, the lavender water on her skin sweet and tantalizing. “Be right back.”

She bustled around the corner, out of his sight, returning a few minutes later. “Did you want something to eat?”

“No, I can’t stay long. I have paperwork to finish up. And—uh—well, I got good news.”

No time like the present to tell her what brough him here this morning.

She leaned her elbows on the counter. “So what’s got you so all fired up this morning?”

“Pinkerton’s asked me to manage the regional office. And I said yes.”

Beneath the usually healthy color in her skin, Theresa took on a pale tone, and the skin around her eyes tightened. He thought back over his words. What could have upset her? It was good news.

Wasn’t it?

Then she recovered and adopted a forced smile. He’d interrogated enough suspects to know when the expression didn’t truly match the emotion. “Well, that’s good news for you, isn’t it?”

Had she stressed the word you, or was it his imagination?

If he was excited, she should be too, right?

He pressed on. “I’ll be one of the first managers in the company. And they want me to take on an undercover assignment that could last as much as six months.”

“Six months?”

Now, why had her voice slipped into a little mousey-like squeak? As though she couldn’t get the words out. Maybe she was overcome with emotion, like he was. It’s why he didn’t come here until now. He’d danced around his room for the better part of an hour once he got word.

“Yes. Isn’t that great?” When she didn’t answer, he laid a hand on hers. “What’s wrong?”

“Well, it’s nice that you can pick up and move when and where you like. In a month’s time, when I have my—” She paused and looked left and right. “My you know what, I won’t have that freedom.”

Was that all? Well, once he asked her to marry him, and she said yes, and they jumped the broom, she’d give up any notion of running her own business.

“I still think women—particularly married women—” Had she caught his emphasis on that word? He hoped so. They’d shared their dreams about family, a home of their own, and more. He felt like not only were they on the same page, but they were in the same book on the same shelf in a huge library. “Should stay home and mind the children.”

Her left eyebrow raised. High. Almost disappearing at her hairline. “Is that so?”

Well, maybe he shouldn’t have been so bold to speak his mind until they were hitched. But, dagnabbit, a man had to take a stand, didn’t he? “Yes. Wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t.”

She reached under the counter and set a folded newspaper in front of him, tapping the headline. “Read that.”

He did, then he looked up at her. “Is this real? A woman is running for president. Why, she can’t even—”

“Vote for herself? True. But she’s not letting a little thing like that stop her.”

“Well, she won’t win.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. That’s not the point.”

“And what is?”

“That she’s stepping out. Taking a chance. Showing the world that women are more than cooks and cleaners and live-in nannies.”

“Well, what kind of a woman is she?”

“The kind that minds the house. The White House.”


About Donna:
A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky-clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers' groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She is taking all the information she’s learned along the way about the writing and publishing process, and is coaching writers at any stage of their manuscript. Learn more at Check out her coaching group on FB:

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