#FeatureFriday- Sullivan’s Way by Wilhelmina Stolen

***5 Prince Publishing NEW RELEASE!!!!***

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Historical Romance

A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that would change the Sullivan family for generations.

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Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn’t last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.

 Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.

 Amazon     5 Prince Publishing

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Excerpt:

February 2, 1868

Sullivan Settlement, Virginia

Them Damned Confederates

Marnie Joe Sullivan, a well-bred woman of Virginian wealth, sat at the head of her father’s table. Despite her cool exterior, she felt civility’s firm grip slip and a white-hot anger coil its way up her spine. The beast threatened to burst forth in a rage of unladylike vulgarities of which the gentlemen across from her would undoubtedly recoil and offer a hideous clicking sound of disapproval from their forked tongues! No, that wouldn’t do.

“Damn it Marnie! You can’t go!” The abrasive voice manifested itself from the older man sitting across from her. He heaved one foot upward and slammed it against the smooth cherry floor of the great room. The dull clap of the heavy boot vibrated against the stone walls of the Sullivan house, “We have to wait for Lucas. He’ll be back anytime now.” The stub from his missing first finger wiggled uncontrollably as he ran his gnarled fingers over his thinning, silver hair, creating a wild mess. The missing digit was Ike Ritchie’s trophy for his victorious fight in the Battle of Buena Vista in ’47, “Your Pa was crazy for going to Silver Creek!”

With an unwavering face of authority, Marnie lifted her chin and leveled her gaze. A delicate blush of pink rushed over both cheeks, “My Pa is not crazy! He’s grieving.” Her small fingers anxiously examined the delicate embroidery of her handkerchief as her eyes burned into Ike with disapproval. The midnight black of her silk dress couldn’t quench the green fire that raged in her eyes. Since her mother’s death, Marnie had adorned black in every sense of the word, her soul, her spirit, and her will were all shaded black by that day, but not today. Today was a day of action!

An indignant “humph” escaped the edge of her full lips. As if being prompted by the sound, a petite black woman stepped from the hall and stood with folded hands as they waited for their guests to arrive, her slate stare burning relentlessly into Marnie. Yes, yes, I know, Tillie! Ladies always remain calm! As leaders from the settlement below entered the room one by one, Marnie took a deep breath that generated a small look of understanding and approval from the housekeeper.

Marnie’s skin itched and burned from the laces of her corset, causing her to shift in her seat. Thanks to Tillie’s diligent efforts, she was presentable. It infuriated Marnie to know that over half the morning had been devoted to tying, lacing and buttoning her unmentionables just so she might look presentable to the men in front of her. In the time it had taken Tillie to carefully style her unruly blonde hair into the neatly formed chignon, she could have been half-way to Silver Creek. This is ridiculous! I don’t need their help! Will Roark, Louis Porter, and Charlie Wilcox, represented only a handful of families that homesteaded on her father’s land. The men had taken council at this house since Marnie had donned pigtails and played with dolls. They weren’t use to answering to anyone but her father, “Thank you all for coming on such short notice.”

Will looked confused, “Marnie, I don’t know what we could possibly do to help your Pa.”

Ike eased forward and rested his elbows on the table, “Marnie thought you gentlemen might accompany us into Silver Creek.”

Charlie frowned, “Why would we do that?”

“To help me break Papa from jail.” Marnie said hopefully.

Her statement provoked a laugh from Louis, “You want us to help you stage a jailbreak?” He glanced at the other men, “Is she serious?”

“I don’t find anything funny about it. It is possible.” Their snide smiles added to her frustration, “If we go in after dark, there’ll be only one or two guards.”

“That’s insane!” Louis interjected.

“No, it’s not!” With her fists clinched tightly at her side, she demanded an answer, “How can you sit there and do nothing to save him?” Their silence infuriated her. They weren’t taking her father’s capture seriously. “Papa’s been rotting in that jail for three days and God only knows how long Lucas will be gone!” It had been two days since her adopted brother, Lucas, set out for Richmond to find her Uncle, and Marnie’s confidence in the law and Maxwell Richardson was diminishing, “I haven’t seen my Uncle Max in years. How can we be sure he’ll even help Papa?”

“Maxwell won’t think twice about it.” With a dismissive hand, Ike waved her fears aside, “Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if old Maxwell dynamited the jail himself to free your Pa!”

It was because of her father’s selfish act that she sat like a plucked turkey, stitched and tied for the presentation at hand. Her father, Daniel Sullivan never left anything to coincidence. Why had he allowed himself to get caught by the law in Silver Creek? Haven’t I dealt with enough tragedy? Less than a year ago her mother lay lifeless on the floor as Marnie and her sister were ripped from their home and taken for ransom.

Tight lips controlled Marnie’s words. She lifted her chin and fought to steady her breathing. Back straight, shoulders square, you’re a Sullivan, baby girl! Her father’s voice echoed in her mind and unconsciously her posture straightened. Defiance rushed through her as the authority in her eyes demanded attention from each man.

“We can’t wait! Are you going to help me or not?” Marnie gave the table a single strike with her fist, “Someone answer me! My father gave you a roof over your head, and never asked for anything in return. Without his help, none of you would have anything. If Talon Dougal hangs Papa, nothing will prevent him from taking the mountain and everything around it!”

Louis adjusted his collar, “Marnie, we’re all concerned about your father, but he knew not to go. He was safe here. He knew if he went to town he would risk getting caught.”

“We could protect him here, but not in Silver Creek. Hell! We could be hanged right along with him!” Will shouted and Charlie nodded.

Ike agreed, “They’re right, Marnie.”

Twenty-five years ago, through dense forests and jagged rocks, her father carved out a life for not only his family, but for the families in the valley below. Now when he needed them, they cowered in fear like children, “So it will be the same as before? He needed you last year and you didn’t lift a hand to help him. You all wanted to run and hide.” She tapped the table with a finger, discarding the truth for her cause. The people around her father’s table were loyal, but fear made her desperate.

“Now wait just a damn minute little girl!” Her accusations brought Ike up out of his seat. In his younger day, he’d been a boxer, broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hip. Legend of the “Fists of Fury” spread through Texas like wildfire. Even now, his withered frame towered above Marnie. When his expression changed, she braced herself, “You seem to forget I was riding right alongside your Pa when them damned Confederates took you girls, and I helped him bury your Ma!” He shifted his weight from one leg to the other in agitation, “So don’t you go lecturing me about helping spring your Pa from jail!”

The outburst sent a silence over the men. Ike shook his head, “I’m sorry Marnie. I know you miss your ma, but−” Marnie watched him rub his furrowed face and produce a tender smile, “you girls, feel like you was my own and I don’t want to see ya get hurt.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, “We’ll wait for Lucas.” he instructed softly.

Marnie’s head shook feverishly, “We can’t wait. They could hang him at any time. Lucas might persuade the Governor to intervene in the charges against Papa, but Talon is a coward. He won’t wait for a judge or jury.” Marnie forced a wave of moving tears as she let out an, “Oh!” and pushed the handkerchief against her nose. She sniffed and dropped her head. Papa’s running out of time!

Ike eased down in a chair beside her, “Look Marnie, we can’t just go into the jail and ask for the key. He’s a wanted criminal, they’ll be guarding him close.”

“I won’t be moved by tears young lady.” Will interrupted Ike’s careful words, “I’d give my life for Daniel, but our actions have to be thought through. We wait.”

The firmness of Will’s words stilled her tears. I knew it! They’re not going to help me. Marnie refused to lose the fight. She calmed herself and raised her head, “I’m sorry, you’re right.” Her head nodded slightly in agreement and then bent forward with humility, “I know without your loyalty Papa would have been caught a long time ago, and Callie and I would probably be dead.” When she met Ike’s concerned face, the storm in her green eyes cleared, and a crafty smile eased its way onto her pouty lips, “Forgive me.” Her voice was soft, “I’m just scared.  I had to try.”

Ike cocked one bushy eyebrow upward and sighed, “Well girl, Lucas will be back from Richmond tomorrow.”

A half an hour later Marnie walked the last remaining man to the door. Ike shifted awkwardly and moved towards her. When the others had gone, he called Marnie by her childhood name, “Joe, in nineteen years I ain’t never seen you give into a fight. I saw them green eyes clear, and that means one thing. You’re up to something!”

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authorAbout the Author: 

Wilhelmina Stolen is the pseudonym for romance writer, Shannon Hayes. Shannon is a native of Kentucky and makes her home in a small southern town close to the Tennessee line. During her adolescence, her mother’s free spirited nature became restless causing the family to embark on a slew of adventurous moves across the country. The moves provoked a hunger for adventure and romance and introduced her to a wonderful world of history and beauty.

As with most writers, her stories began at an early age with long sessions of seclusion and secrecy. While her classmates and friends were outside playing, Shannon was locked away in her room hammering out ideas on an old 1940’s Royal typewriter.

After finding Mr. Right, Shannon found herself wanting the comfort and security of the small Kentucky town she longed to escape as a child. Fortune smiled upon her and she became the family historian; gathering pictures, wills, marriage certificates and everything else that somehow managed to fall into her lap. Stories flooded her mind and writing quickly became an obsession that turned into the Way of Hearts Saga. The saga spans six generations and three families.

Shannon holds an Associates in Applied Science in Technology, a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Management as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership. Visit her author page at www.wilhelminastolen.com to learn more about the saga.

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MJ

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#NewRelease- Rebekah’s Quilt by Sara Barnard


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Who can Rebekah trust when the line between English and Amish becomes blurred?

 An Amish Settlement. An English stranger. The Blizzard of 1888.

Rebekah’s mother, Elnora Stoll, is the finest quilter in all of Gasthof Village but it seems Rebekah has inherited none of her skill. It’s not until the arrival of a mysterious English stranger that a lifetime of questions are answered and Rebekah, her special friend Joseph Graber, and the entire settlement of Gasthof Village learn the true meaning of what it truly means to be Amish.

 Amazon     5Prince Publishing

Excerpt:

The Pike, Indiana Territory, 1868

            “Look Elnora!” Samuel’s German accent thickened the English words, giving them a musical feel. He pointed to the vast expanse that spread out before them. “That’s what the English call The Pike. Many are traveling west on this very road.”

            Elnora peeked out from the wagon, her eyes searching the desolate vastness. “So this is Indiana Territory.” She giggled. “I see, Samuel. Many are traveling this road.” The lack of fellow wagons was sadly apparent.

            Grinning, Samuel swiveled on the driver’s seat to look at his wife. “Perhaps they have already passed for the day.”

            “I already miss Canada,” Heloise Graber whispered when Elnora turned back toward her. “But not as much as I miss Germany.” Heloise patted the back of her boy, Joseph, who was snuggled down in the cornflower blue quilt Elnora had stitched just for him.

            Heloise looked lovingly at her son. “At only two years of age he has already crossed an ocean and three countries.”

            Elnora’s face fell as her hand fluttered to her still-flat stomach.

            Heloise, the older of the two friends, smiled. “Your time to become a mother is coming. God has a special plan for you and Samuel, I can feel it.”

            Elnora’s lips pulled back in a genuine smile. “I must say, the weather is more agreeable in Indiana Territory than Canada. I may pack the extra quilts when we stop to rest.” She swiped at a trickle of sweat as it slid down her nose.

            “You’ll do no such thing!” Heloise placed one long, thin hand on an especially fluffy blue quilt. “It may be a trifle warm, but pass those blankets over here. I’ll sit on them, they ease the rickety ride.” The women dissolved into a sea of girlish giggles. “Yours are the softest quilts of anyone else’s in the village.”

            “Take them with you when we swap wagons,” Elnora offered her fiery-tressed friend.

            Heloise shook her head, the straps on her black head covering flailing about her shoulders. “It’s not the same,” she insisted. “Part of what makes Elnora Stoll’s quilts so soft is the wonderful company that comes along with them.”

            Samuel’s quick yank on the horse reins interrupted Heloise’s compliment.

“Lucas, is that what I think it is?” he called to Heloise’s husband in the next wagon.

The two women stared at each other, eyes wide.

Ja!” Lucas called.  “Ja, it is!”

Before Elnora could pull herself up to see the cause of the commotion, Samuel was off the driver’s seat. She peeked out to see the menfolk piling out of all the wagons. Lucas was even with Samuel, holding his hat on with one hand, and pumping the air with the other. Simon Wagler stumbled as he ran, fumbling with the black braces that looped over his shoulders and held up his britches. His wife, Sarah, nuzzled their infant Elijah, who’d let out a shriek with the sudden stop. Isaac Raber pulled on his broad-brimmed hat as Jeremiah Knepp, Simeon Odon, and Abraham Yoder pulled their wagons to a halt in a haphazard line. In an instant, all of the men of families who’d come so far together were running toward the remnants of an English wagon.

Pieces of the torn canvas fluttered in a passing breeze and the box itself lay on its side, looking as though it had rolled off The Pike. Blood spatters dotted the ground around the silvery dust that refused to settle around the scene. Splintered wheels hung broken and unmoving from the axels. Beyond Samuel, she could make out the remains of a horse just over a small rise. Automatically, Elnora searched for any sign of the tell-tale arrows she’d heard so much talk of during their journey to Indian Territory. Trembling, she drew a fist to her mouth as a prayer of forgiveness for judging those she didn’t even know filled her mind.

Heloise’s voice was solemn, as if in prayer. “God be with them.”

The men’s chatter, broken by the shifting breezes, allowed her only fragments of their hurried conversation. Lucas’s voice was the loudest. “No survivors.” Slowly, the large German-born man trudged back to his wagon without so much as a glance toward Elnora and Heloise. Without expression, Lucas rummaged only a moment before pulling the hand-hewn spade from the wagon bed and started back toward Samuel.

Careful not to snag her handmade purple dress on the rough wood, Elnora climbed down and made her way to the crash. She didn’t speak until she reached her husband, who took the spade from Lucas as he passed. Not a word passed between the two men, but it was as though they were of a single mind. Without hesitation, Samuel dug the sharp end of the spade into the earth, oblivious to his wife’s presence. Spadeful by spadeful, the grave dirt he turned became a small mound at his feet.

Samuel swiped at the trails of sweat that leaked from under his broad-brimmed hat, down his neck. Beneath his arms, circles of moisture had long-stained his favorite blue shirt. Elnora’s lips tilted into a smile at the memory of their first anniversary, when she’d given him the shirt she’d made for him that matched his eyes. He had pretended not to notice that one sleeve was just a bit shorter than the other. Two years have passed since that day, and we’re still without child…

Finally, Elnora spoke, her voice but a meek whisper. “May I tidy them before their burials?”

Samuel turned, revealing more fully the scene of death they’d encountered.

Elnora’s stomach wound up in knots at the sight of the mangled, crimson-streaked arm that reached lifelessly from behind the overturned wagon, the blackness of death already visible on the fingers. A crumpled bag, obviously store bought, lay near the bloodied arm which eerily pointed at a rainbow of quilting squares that trailed the barren earth. Dipping, Elnora retrieved a bright blue square that would never become a quilt to warm a babe.

Samuel rested Lucas’ spade against his leg and offered a downcast smile to his wife.

Before he could speak, a shrill cry broke the solemn silence.

As out of place as the cry was among the sea of death, Elnora recognized the sound in an instant. An infant’s cry. Eyes searching the terrain, her gaze fixed on a lone, scrubby bush. A wail pierced the air again. Tucking the English square deep into her dress pocket, Elnora reached the bush in a moment, her hands clawing and searching through the summer leaf litter. Finally, something warm brushed her fingertips.

Cradling the English baby in her arms, Elnora rose to face the throng of women who had gathered to witness the unfolding miracle. “It’s a girl,” she proclaimed.

Sarah Wagler’s mouth hung agape as she bounced Elijah absently on her hip, and  the other Amish wives and mothers from the wagon train allowed tiny smiles to creep onto their solemn lips. Even the men folk paused.

Elnora’s awestruck voice was uncharacteristically robust. “Not a scratch on her! Not a bruise, not a drop of blood!”

Heloise, toting wide-eyed Joseph in her arms, stepped forward to get a better look.

Elnora’s voice took on the soft shushing of a new mother as she rocked the squirming infant. “Hush now, sweet one. You’re safe now.”

“You’re a natural,” Heloise observed, a twinkle in her eyes. “Look how she’s already calming. She feels safe.”

She is safe, Elnora thought, unable to tear her gaze from the tiny girl. Safe with me. Safe with us.           “Come,” Heloise whispered. “Get her to the wagon and out of this sun.”

Sarah fell in step beside her friend, her blue eyes also transfixed on the English baby. “It’s a miracle she wasn’t injured … or worse.”

“I have extra goat’s milk that I boiled for Katie and Annie,” Katherine Knepp cooed as she and the other women joined them. “This little one must eat.”

Esther Odon nodded. “I have some girl clothes she can have.” Dinah Yoder placed her arm around Esther’s shoulders. The memory of Esther’s hard labor on the trail that had resulted in a stillborn baby girl was a raw one in all the women’s minds.

Tears pricked Elnora’s eyes. “Thank you. Thank you all.”

Day turned quickly to night as the Amish women fawned over the tiny infant that seemed to have come straight from heaven, leaving the men to finish the burials by moonlight.

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“I understand you wanting to keep her, Elnora,” Samuel’s patient voice was gentle when he finally returned to the wagon. Gentle and firm. “Especially since the Lord has yet to bless us with children of our own.”

Elnora fixed her eyes on the baby who lay asleep in the nest of pillowy quilts in the wagon bed. Usually, Elnora was unable to tear her gaze from the stars in the night sky. They seemed to wink at each other in the blackness, making her think they were simply bright young children, playing gotcha-games in Heaven. Tonight though, Elnora couldn’t force herself to look away from the tiny miracle of a girl. “Gelassenheit,” she whispered. “We must trust His divine reasons and timing.”

Samuel exhaled, swiping his gritty hands on his britches. “We simply can’t keep her. She is not one of us.” Exhaustion weighted his words.

Ja Samuel, but those she belonged to are now with Our Lord.” Elnora sucked in a breath. “Aren’t we all children of God?” Her gentle voice wafted with the night breezes.

Samuel rubbed the bridge of his nose. The other men had returned to their families and were already fast asleep in their wagons, evident by several different tones of snoring. “Ah, Elnora. I love you and your compassionate heart. I want so to make you a happy wife.” He stifled a yawn.

“You do, Samuel.” The baby stirred and began to squeak.

Elnora’s voice was tender as she plucked the rooting babe from the nest of blankets. “Come here, Rebekah.”

Oh mein! You’ve given her a name?”

She smiled, rocking Rebekah to and fro.

Sarah Wagler’s shy voice came from somewhere in the near darkness. “Elnora? Samuel? Are you awake?”

“Yes Sarah, we are.” Elnora bounced Rebekah in her arms as the infants squeaks grew into angry coughs and sputters.

“I heard the baby fussing.”

Crimson colored Elnora’s cheeks. “I’m sorry to have woken you Sarah–”

Waving a hand, Sarah cut her off. “Oh no, you see, the baby sounds hungry.” The flickering firelight from the Wagler’s dying fire illuminated her timidity. “And Elijah is only six months old. So I thought I might feed her until…”

The worried creases melted from Elnora’s face. “Thank you for your kind offer, Sarah. We call her Rebekah. Danke.”

Sarah accepted Rebekah and turned back to her wagon, picking her way carefully amid the carefully stacked wares and items. “Ah, sweet Rebekah,” she cooed. “I will share with you the story of your namesake.”

“Wake me when you bring her back,” Elnora whispered loud enough for Sarah to hear.

As Sarah and Rebekah retreated to the Wagler wagon, Samuel turned back to his wife. His hazel eyes shined with the tender light of a father.  Squatting, he scooped both her hands into his. “Elnora, would it be agreeable to you if we keep the child-”

She nodded emphatically, the straps to her covering bouncing against her shoulders.

Samuel’s face clouded over. “Dear Wife, if we keep her safe only until another English wagon happens by?”

With pain cramping her heart, Elnora managed a compliant smile. “That is agreeable, Husband.” Her words hung in the air as the song of a night bird laced the momentary silence with hope. “But what should become of Rebekah should we not meet another English traveler?”

Samuel’s gleaming white teeth were visible above his inky beard. He stood and ran his thumbs along the inside of his black braces. “Elnora, the English are moving west in droves.” He extended his hand and helped Elnora to her feet. “The Pike is rumored to be the most traveled route in The United States now. We will meet more English, you’ll see.”

Unable to meet his warm and weary gaze, Elnora nodded at the ground.

“Come Wife, let’s go to bed.”

With a heavy heart, Elnora closed her eyes. Though whether it was to hasten sleep or hold in the tears, she couldn’t be sure.

 

Over the remaining two days of their trip, the wagon train of Amish families, moving south from Canada, only saw each other.

Elnora whispered to Heloise as they approached their final stop. “Not a single wagon filled with English people has passed.”

Heloise, however, was much too charmed with Rebekah to be bothered with watching for English wagons. “Such a good-natured baby!” Her voice was awestruck. “At this age, Joseph did nothing but cry.”

Turning her attention back to the baby, Elnora cupped Rebekah’s silken head in her palm and stroked the blonde wisps above her tiny ears. “And she has so much hair!” Elnora’s voice was equally awestruck.

Heloise narrowed her wise, blue eyes. “That means she will be healthy.”

“We’re home!” Samuel announced. “Wilkommen to Daviess County, Indiana Territory!”

Elnora plopped Rebekah into a quilt-lined basket. Her eyes welled as Samuel helped her from the wagon. “Oh Samuel, it looks just like Germany!”

He beamed. “So you are happy then?”

“I am so happy! Danke! What a beautiful place to raise a family. And there is ample wood for your woodworking -” Shifting, Elnora gestured wide with one arm toward the thick woods that ringed the clearing. Oak trees that seemed to scratch the floor of heaven stood tall and majestic, their leaves waving in the tender breeze. Shorter, wider trees blooming in varying shades of snowy white and blush pinks punctuated the deep greens and browns of the oaks, giving the entire area a magical feel.        Samuel’s large hand came to rest on her shoulder, disrupting her gracious spiel.

“Dear Wife, I will go in to Montgomery tomorrow to find an English family to take the child. It will be best for everyone if she is with her own kind.”

Elnora sucked in a hard breath, and willed the sudden fringe of tears not to spill onto her cheeks. She held Samuel’s gaze. There she saw the same dull ache she felt beneath her ribs.

With a calming breath, the threat of tears subsided and Elnora’s face softened. She patted her husband’s hand. “If it is best for Rebekah, then you must do as you will,” she agreed. The tugging on the tender ends of her shattered heart, however, didn’t concur.

 

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            “What do you suppose Samuel found out in Montgomery?” Sarah’s whisper of a voice was edged in curiosity as she rocked both Rebekah and Elijah. The chair, which had been a wedding present to the Waglers from Samuel and Elnora, had held up well as a testament to Samuel’s craftsmanship, despite the numerous long-distance moves. Not a squeak sounded from the rockers.

“He has been gone since before dawn,” Elnora said, glancing at the midday sun. “I expect him back any time.”

No sooner had the words passed her lips than the sound of horse hooves called their attention to the horizon. Samuel was back.

“Here, take Rebekah,” Sarah offered knowingly.

When she was situated in the crook of her arm, Rebekah snuggled against Elnora and sighed a tiny baby sigh.

Oh my, she sounds content.

Samuel dismounted in one easy motion. “Elnora, I’m back.” Without any tell-tale sign on his tanned face, he strode to where she sat with Rebekah. His black felt hat seemed to loom over her, threatening to unleash its gloomy news all over both of them. Samuel squatted down beside her.

Never one to mince words, he spoke plainly. “I met the Englishman who owns the livery in Montgomery. He gave me good news and bad news.”

Resisting the urge to look down at the angelic girl, Elnora focused on Samuel. “Let us have the good news first.”

“I took a wooden wheel and the owner agreed to buy my woodwork.”

The sides of her eyes crinkled as her lips thinned into a smile of the most genuine sort. “Ja that is wonderful Samuel!”

“After business was discussed, I asked if he knew of any suitable English families looking to take in a baby.”

The comfortable sounds of home that had been humming about them faded to silence with Samuel’s words. Elnora’s voice came out in a squeak. “What did the shopkeeper say?”

Samuel glanced down at the child in his wife’s arms. With one large finger, he reached to stroke her tiny cheek. At his touch, Rebekah cooed and began sucking in her sleep. Samuel smiled.

“He said that there are no families willing to take in a child, and that they are all pulling up stakes and heading west. Gold fever, he called it.”

Elnora’s eyes widened and she began to sway ever so slightly, dancing with the idea of this perfect baby becoming theirs. Forever.

Samuel’s eyes never wavered from Rebekah. “He said if we happened upon an unwanted child, there are places called orphanages where these children are kept.”

Elnora stopped swaying.

“These orphanages are filled with unwanted children that the English throw away or whose parents have died. Those children have no one.”

Rebekah let out a sweet baby noise and opened her eyes.

“When they get too full of children, as they are now, they put them on orphan trains. They send them from city to city, hoping they will find a home on their own.”

Elnora gasped and instinctively clutched the child closer to her breast.

Samuel sighed and stood, turning to look at his wife. “Wife, you know what we have to do.”

Elnora shook her head infinitesimally. “Oh, Samuel.”

Face widening into a gleaming grin, Samuel cupped his hands round his mouth. “Families, please come here! I have an announcement!” Leaning over, he plucked the baby from Elnora’s arms.

When everyone had gathered around the Stoll’s, Samuel spoke again.

“I would like to introduce you all to our daughter, Rebekah Elnora Stoll.” The fatherly glimmer shining again in Samuel’s eyes.

            Sarah’s husband, Simon, clapped Samuel on the back. With a teasing note in his voice, he chimed, “If we keep acquiring family members, we will have to call this settlement the Stoll Inn!”

            Samuel guffawed, his infant daughter proudly displayed on his arm. “You’re right, Simon. This place may become a regular village inn!”

            Elnora’s meek voice whispered so that only Samuel could hear. “Then perhaps we should call our settlement Gasthof.”

            Samuel’s free hand found hers and gave it a squeeze. “How clever, dear wife. The German word for inn. I believe that fits our new home

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Interview with Sara Barnard!About the Author: 

Sara Barnard is a mother of four beautiful children and author of the children’s nonfiction book THE ABC’S OF OKLAHOMA PLANTS and the historical romance series AN EVERLASTING HEART. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, hiking with her family, or tackling the ever-growing pile of laundry produced by her family of six! Sara holds her B.A. in history and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Fish and Wildlife Management. Along with their four children, Sara’s family consists of a plethora of rescue animals, each with a story of their own. Sara and her family currently make their home in the beautiful, historic hills of Oklahoma.

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MJ

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Cover Reveal- Sullivan’s Way by Wilhelmina Stolen

Cover

Historical Romance

A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that would change the Sullivan family for generations.

 Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn’t last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.

 Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.

Available January 9, 2014 from 5 Prince Publishing! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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Interview with Christine Steendam!

I am excited to introduce you to fellow 5 Prince Publishing author, Christine Steendam! If you love Historical Romance, check out her debut novel, Heart Like an Ocean! I wish her much success! Take a moment to get to know her, then be sure to grab a copy of her book!

Christine Steendam

Welcome, Christine!

What inspired you to write?

I can’t really think of one thing that inspired me. I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember. However, Heart Like an Ocean was inspired while I was living at a ranch learning to train horses. I was sitting, listening to music, staring out at the horse pasture, and I envisioned a girl running across the field to her horse, looking for an escape. From there Heart Like an Ocean was born.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write romance. Heart Like an Ocean, my debut novel, is a historical romance and the book I’m working on right now is a contemporary romance. I always thought that my genre would be science fiction or fantasy but it seems my inner muse had a different idea.

MJ: I can relate to that! I used to read Sci-Fi, but when I decided to write, Women’s Fiction is where my muse took me.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Work schedule? I used to have a schedule but with baby #2 on the way that all went out the window. Now it’s more like I find a moment between chasing after my son and exhaustion to get 500-1,000 words out daily. I’m working on getting back on schedule though.

MJ: Congratulations on your upcoming new addition to your family!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

This isn’t really a writing quirk but once I reach the editing stage I actually print out the entire manuscript (I know, I’m not saving trees at all) and go through it with a red pen. I can’t edit on the computer or with any other color pen. It has to be red.

MJ: *raises had in air* I’m guilty of the same!

Are you a pantser or plotter?

A bit of both but probably leaning more towards pantser. My first drafts are almost always just bare bones idea of a beginning, middle and end that I rarely even write down. I basically just go with the flow and get it all out. Once I’m done the first draft though is when the real fun begins and I end up plotting it out in great detail so that I know what needs to be fixed up.

Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

One of my beta readers said that when she picked up Heart Like an Ocean she saw a lot of me in it. She tells other people we know that when they read it they’ll just know it came from me. I don’t agree completely, but definite aspects of my life and attitude while growing up are reflected. To say no aspect of my real life gets into my writing would be a lie because real life is what inspires me, but there are no characters or events based on anything in particular.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

#1. The first step is to get it all out. Finish your first draft. You can never get better if you don’t first finish. #2. Hearing “you’re awesome, your writing is great, I loved the story” is great for your ego but not great for improving your writing. Search for honest and constructive criticism. It might sting a little but you’ll learn from it.

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

Indie pubbed by the fantastic 5 Prince Publishing. I love everyone there. It’s like a big family.

*Virtual High-Five to my 5P Sister!*

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on a contemporary romance set on an Alberta cattle ranch. It’s tentatively titled Unforgiving Plains. I’m currently in the editing stages right now but will hopefully be ready for submission soon.

HeartLikeAnOcean-Cover

Heart Like an Ocean– Released in eBook on Feb 2,2013 on Amazon and 5 Prince publishing.

In a society where she doesn’t belong, Senona Montez, a strong-willed and free-spirited woman refuses to follow the path expected of a Don’s only child.

On the eve of her marriage to a stranger, she saddles her horse and flees everything she knows, only to discover the petty concerns of society did not prepare her for the harsh life on the open sea. She finds an unlikely protector in a reckless privateer, Brant Foxton.

Straddling the worlds of independence and privilege in 1600’s Europe, this captivating man challenges her in ways she never thought possible, shows her what living to the fullest really means, and allows her to follow her heart wherever it leads.

 

Excerpt:

Prologue

Spain-1666

Senona looked around the room full of swirling dresses of so many shapes and colors. It was like a dream and left her overwhelmed and unable to tear her eyes away. Tonight she was a princess in her new dress with her hair curled, cascading in loose waves down her back. Tonight she was perfect.

Browsing the room, this time in search of familiar faces, Senona spotted Caton Amador, and Isidro Amato. The boys, although older, were her friends and a welcome relief to the overwhelming nature of her surroundings. She made her way around the perimeter of the room in their general direction.

Isidro was never very serious about anything and enjoyed teasing Senona, which annoyed her to no end. Caton was much more subdued and quiet, at least around her. Although they were not as close as they once had been, the families remained good friends, and the three of them spent many hours riding around the countryside or playing games in the garden. When they were younger, Isidro and Caton had been her constant companions, helping her sneak out of tea with their Madres or rescuing her from lessons with her tutor. Now they never voluntarily saw each other, but due to their families’ relationship, they found themselves together often enough.

“Senona, my Chica! You are a picture of beauty, as always,” boomed Isidro’s obnoxious and teasing voice.

Caton turned to look at the young girl. “Leave her alone, Isidro.”

“Come on, Caton. She’s glad to see us.”

Caton frowned but said nothing, turning his attention back to the pretty girl standing next to him. Isidro seemed to accept that as permission to continue, and he smirked mockingly at Senona, beckoning her. The small flock of girls that surrounded the two boys giggled, causing her to blush and become hesitant and uncomfortable. She had never seen the boys in this environment, and she quickly questioned her decision that she belonged with them.

“It’s okay, Isidro. I just wanted to say hello.”

“Well then, run along. There must be some of your friends around.”

Senona forced a smile and turned to Caton. “Hello, Caton.”

He barely acknowledged her with a brief glance and nod in her direction, and then returned to ignoring her. Unsure of how to deal with Caton’s rejection, she walked away, her eyes burning with angry tears that threatened to spill over. Why was he being so rude? Not even so much as a hello, as if he were embarrassed to be associated with her.

As she pushed her way through the crowd, she heard one of the girls laugh. “Caton, I do believe you hurt her feelings.”

Caton’s deep, unmistakable chuckle cut through the din and his voice was all she heard. “She’s a silly, strange girl. I would rather not encourage her.”

Senona expected this behavior from Isidro, but from Caton? She had always thought he was honest and simple, but his actions tonight had shown her otherwise. She had been a fool to think that these older boys were her friends.

Escaping into the shadows, she hid from the sneering glances and mocking laughter that seemed to follow her wherever she went. She had thought that tonight would be different, but nothing had changed. She was just a strange little girl.

The night was a blur, a blur of swirling skirts and obnoxious voices. To nearly everyone she was invisible. Even her Madre and Padre, who had never been overly affectionate towards their daughter, seemed to have completely forgotten her existence. But that wasn’t so different from normal. They weren’t very affectionate people ever, even towards each other.

At the end of the night, Senona lay in bed, her new dress hanging in her wardrobe, mocking her. She had realised tonight how far she fell from society’s standards, her own parents’ standards. Any illusion she had of being a princess, of being perfect for one night had been shattered. But that didn’t really bother her. The truly odd thing was that she felt a weight lifted from her shoulders. Perhaps she didn’t have to be that way. Perhaps now she had the freedom to do as she wanted. It wasn’t as if anyone cared about her anyway. She was just a strange little girl.

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About the Author:

Christine has been writing stories since she could put pen to paper and form words. Now, many years later, her debut novel is scheduled to be released and her second book is in the works.

Christine has spent the better half of her life owning and working with horses, and these four legged companions often find their way into her stories. After all, no work of women’s fiction would be complete without a horse or two (in Christine’s opinion at least).

She currently makes her home in the center of the world—no, really. Look at an atlas.

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New Release! Sara Barnard- A Heart Broken

Love Historical Romance? Look no further than this new release from 5 Prince Publishing author, Sara Barnard. This is the second book in the An Everlasting Heart Series.

Interview with Sara Barnard!

How much grief can a heart bear before being tested to the ultimate limit?  The War is over, Charlotte and Sanderson are reunited, and life is good … until the Army comes knocking.  They have charged Sanderson with the murder of his former captor, the despicable Lieutenant Lantz who swore to kill him and Jackson. After a make-believe trial, Sanderson is sentenced to “hang by the neck until dead” – unless he can track down and kill the notorious outlaw William Quantrill with the help of SGT Jerry Thomas, who still may be in love with Charlotte.  While Sanderson is on his blood mission, Charlotte miscarries the baby he wasn’t even aware existed.  In addition to battling her grief over the loss of their unborn baby, Charlotte must also battle a rash of hydrophobia that threatens the countryside –Sanderson included.

 Excerpt:

“Don’t die till we get to have some fun, girl.” Samuel’s whiskey-ruined voice was hot in Charlotte’s ear. Somewhere behind her, Dean’s maniacal laughter pulsated with cruelty. The Bowie knife grew closer to her face, but with her arms lashed behind her, Charlotte could only watch in helpless terror as the promise of death drew nearer.

“Sanderson!” she screamed, just before the icy blade met the skin of her neck.

“I’m here. I’m not going to let anything happen to you,” Sanderson murmured into her hair. His arm, muscled and tanned, tightened around her middle. His voice was thick with sleep. “Was it that dream again?”

She sat up and traced the knife scar at the base of her neck. The air was crisp in their loft and a rash of goose bumps immediately cropped up on her exposed skin. “It was one of them. The knife one. I always wake up before they kill me, but I swear,” Charlotte shook her head to clear the nightmare from her mind, “it gets scarier every time.”

“They’ll get worse before they get better.” Sanderson propped himself up on an elbow and ran his hand down her thigh before continuing, “Mine are pretty bad right now, too. But when I wake up and look at you, I know I’m home.”

She returned his mischievous smile.

“We’ve been through a lot these past few years. Figure it’ll take our brains a little while to catch up with our bodies. The bad dreams are just our way of getting there, as I see it.” He twined his fingers through hers. “You know how I know that I’m really home?” He tugged her down close.

“How’s that?”

“I can do this.” With his free hand, he cupped the side of her face. That familiar spark blazed to life within her chest before their lips met. She closed her eyes. Softly, his kiss found her cheek, then her lips. Trembling, she let herself be taken over by her husband’s sensual caress.

“Wait, what about Minerva? Won’t she hear us?” Charlotte’s eyes were still closed. For a fleeting moment, she wondered if they’d been right to offer Minerva and baby Jay Jay their extra room. Certainly, having an empty house in moments such as these would be optimal. She pushed the thought away as quickly as it had come. Minerva was her sister-in-law, and she couldn’t imagine everyday life without tiny Jay Jay. After all, she had brought him into the world and only Aunt Charlotte could calm him down deep in those colicky nights.

Sanderson’s breath was warm in her ear, “They went out early this morning.”

Satisfied that they were alone and talk time was over, Charlotte met Sanderson’s kiss with passionate ferocity. His skin, roughened by time spent in Alton Confederate Prison, glided against hers naturally, like water over smooth river pebbles.

Finally, my love is home. I’m complete as long as he is near.

The front door squeaked open, and Minerva’s voice wafted upstairs. “Jay Jay, such a fussy boy today. Come, I’ll feed you in our room.”

Quietly, Sanderson tucked the rose-patterned quilt up over their heads as Charlotte stifled a giggle. “We were alone,” she mouthed.

He kissed the tip of her nose.

Minerva’s door clunked shut, and baby Jay Jay’s threatening whimpers ceased a moment later.

Charlotte flung back the covers. “Maybe we can continue this tonight?”

“As you wish, Mrs. Redding.”

A pounding at the door tore their gazes from each other.

“Who in the world would come calling this early in the morning?” Charlotte wondered aloud.

“I’ll get it,” Sanderson called, pulling on his britches. His voice echoed in their quaint, stone cottage.

“I’m closer,” Minerva answered. “Jay Jay is too tired to sleep.” She clomped across the floor with the infant nestled in the crook of her arm.

Charlotte peered over the edge of the loft. “Good morning, Minerva. Is Jay Jay ready for his Aunt Charlotte?”

Si, he is.” Minerva smiled and rested her hand on the doorknob. “We picked some carrots this morning. Let’s make a stew tonight.” She hefted the door open.

An unfamiliar voice boomed, “Captain Sanderson Redding!”

Sanderson froze, his shirt only half buttoned. The cold fingers of fear squeezed Charlotte’s stomach until bile rose into her throat.

“Um, ah, um,” Minerva stammered. Jay Jay began to wail again.

Charlotte dashed to the window. “Soldiers! They’re everywhere Sanderson!” She whirled, eyes wide. “Can we make it to the cave underneath Sunshine Rock where I hid from the Yankees?”

He inched to the wall and peeked out the window. Reaching out to Charlotte, he pulled her close. “There’s no way. They’re even in the trees. Every rifle out there is trained on our house, just waiting for me to make a run for it.”

“We know he’s in there, so cough him up before we come in and search the place!”

Sanderson started toward the ladder.

“No! Please, we have to try!” Hysteria was threatening to overwhelm Charlotte to such an extent that she didn’t feel like herself at all. “Please!”

“I have to turn myself in, for all our sakes. We don’t know who pointed them our way, or even why they’re here.” He began to climb down, so Charlotte started after him. She grasped the rungs and rested her head against them. Her stomach lurched and her knees threatened to give way.

Sanderson plucked her from the ladder. She clasped his hand, and they stepped to the door together. Minerva moved behind them, the baby whimpering in her arms. Their eyes met for a moment.

“Captain Sanderson Redding?” An Army officer in blue stepped forward, a scroll in his hands.

“Good morning, gentlemen. How can I help you?” Sanderson’s voice was cool and ever polite, but his grip tightened on her hand. Charlotte tried to count the soldiers, but more kept appearing from the woods.

“Captain Redding, on behalf of the United States of America, I hereby charge you with the murder of Lieutenant Robbinson Lantz.” Sanderson’s eyes widened. “Also got a list of other lesser crimes, but they don’t really matter since you gonna hang for murder anyway.”

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BUY your copy today!!!

Sara Barnard pic 2

Sara Barnard, author of the historical fiction series, An Everlasting Heart, has been reading children’s books her whole life. First, she read then as a child then she read them to her four beautiful children! Sara has her Bachelor’s degree in history, has had her work included in numerous anthologies, and has written several other books to date. Sara and her family make their home in the historic hills of Oklahoma along with their three dogs, three cats, and eight chickens.

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