Historical Assumptions

From Don N. Hagist at All Things Liberty, we find proof that less-than-proper conduct can be found in any era, and is not simply an invention of our modern society.  The “good ol’ days” weren’t always so good, and dirty laundry usually gets its public airing.

Ten marriages, both loyalist and patriot, bear witness to good people behaving very badly.

 

Top 10 Marriages Gone Bad

Wedding scene from Ramsay’s The gentle shepherd, Act V, Printed for G. Reid and Co., 1798 From The Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University

Every now and then I meet someone who thinks that people “back then” were all highly religious and led straight-laced, pious lives. Those people haven’t read newspapers of the era. Legal notices appeared frequently in which husbands and wives absolved themselves of responsibility for the debts and dissipations of spouses who’d abandoned them. Sometimes competing accounts appeared in which spouses attacked each other in the public media. While in most cases we have nothing more than a single legal notice, there are some for which additional information has come to light. There were even marriages that became so tumultuous or ended so tragically that they received national attention. And of course the newspapers reveal only a sample of the unions that yielded anger, tumult and tragedy.

Here are a ten examples of Revolutionary War era marriages gone bad, selected for no other reason than that they’re interesting and reasonably easy to learn more about. They’re a stark reminder that social issues such as marital discord transcend both war and time.

Thomas Melody and Hannah Andrews

When sent to Connecticut as a prisoner of war after the Battle of Princeton, Thomas Melody did not do as most British soldiers and await exchange or escape to rejoin his regiment. Instead, he married an American woman, Hannah Andrews. Sounds like a wonderful wartime love story – and maybe it was while the war lasted. By 1791, however, things had fallen apart, and Thomas placed a notice that Hannah had “forsaken my bed and board.” Some months later Hannah took the unusual step of publishing a lengthy notice defending her character and claiming that Thomas’s transgressions “would make a larger volume than I am able to get published, or any one have patience to read, and they would bring disgrace on me and all the human race;” he then published a response to these “aspersions of a malicious, vindictive, vagrant vixen.” The war of words continued; although we’ve found no resolution to the dispute, we can be sure it provided great entertainment to readers of the newspaper. Read more about this troubled couple.

Joshua Spooner and Bathsheba Ruggles

The daughter of prominent Massachusetts loyalist Timothy Ruggles, Bathsheba was a flamboyant character in her own right. Whether she married Joshua Spooner because of her own appreciation of his family’s wealth or because her father wished for her security is not known, but by 1778, after a decade of marriage, she’d grown quite bored of her husband. Although their Brookfield, Mass., home was far from the fighting, many American soldiers and British prisoners passed through the town. Bathsheba’s beauty and extroversion gave her great influence over men, and she saw in the itinerant soldiers a path out of her uninteresting marriage. She entered into a scheme with an American private soldier and two British prisoners of war to remove her husband from her life. Although the plot itself was successful, its secretiveness was not; the story ended with not one but five people dead. The entire tragic tale is detailed in Deborah Navis, Murdered by his Wife (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999).

Margaret Moncrieffe and Lt. John Coghlan

After losing her mother as an infant, Margaret Moncrieffe was sent away to school in Dublin instead of living with her father, Captain John Moncrieffe of the 59th Regiment of Foot. His remarriage gave her connections in America to both sides of the brewing conflict, and when she returned the colonies in 1774 she found both friends and detractors everywhere. She lived in the home of British commander Thomas Gage and then with American General Israel Putnam. She fell in love with an American colonel, but was forced to join her father who then forced her to marry a British officer, Lt. John Coghlan of the 23rd Regiment of Foot. She was miserable. So miserable, in fact, that in 1793, after sixteen years of marriage, she wrote and published Memoirs of Mrs. Coghlan (London: privately printed, 1794). She summarized the union that caused emotional, financial and legal dissipation: “My union with Mr. Coghlan I never considered in any other light, than an honorable prostitution, as I really hated the man whom they had compelled me to marry” (her italics). Her memoir was reprinted in New York in 1864 and again in 1971; it’s sad but well worth reading and includes many anecdotes of prominent figures on both sides of the war.

Henrietta Overing and Major Andrew Bruce

Unlike Margaret Moncrieffe, Henrietta Overing loved the British officer she married in 1778, a major in the 54th Regiment of Foot, part of the garrison in Rhode Island where she lived with her loyalist family. Twice her age, he stressed to her the importance of keeping the marriage secret until his elderly father in Scotland died, so as not to lose a substantial inheritance. She complied, and remained at home caring for her own sickly father when the British left Rhode Island and Andrew Bruce took a staff position in New York. Then he stopped writing to her. After her father died, she went to New York but he refused to see her. Her brother, although a junior officer in the same regiment, was unable to intervene favorably. Andrew Bruce addressed a final letter to Henrietta that coldly began, “My Dear Madam.” In 1783, with the British about to evacuate New York, she made a plea to the British commander in chief but to no avail. She returned to Rhode Island humiliated, with a meaningless marriage and an administrative nightmare because her loyalist family’s property was now in American hands. She did, however, remarry a few years later and eventually had her portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart; Andrew Bruce, on the other hand, died in obscurity soon after the war, while his elderly father outlived him. The full story will appear in the Spring 2014 issue of Newport History.

Isaiah Thomas and Mary Dill

Newspapers played a key role in fomenting rebellion in America, and Isaiah Thomas was one of the Boston printers who manned the presses. As a partner in the Massachusetts Spy, it’s not entirely clear whether he embraced the radical politics that he published or simply saw it as a good business niche; his 1770 marriage to Bermuda-born Mary Dill was as tumultuous as the politics of the era. He apparently didn’t know until after their marriage that she’d had relations with other men before him, and she never was happy in her union to him in spite of having three children together. Just two months before hostilities broke out, she went on a trip to Newburyport, Mass., with another man – Benjamin Thompson, a militia colonel from New Hampshire who became a British cavalry officer during the war, then became a prominent scientist and inventor in Europe. Perhaps Mary found him more interesting than her printer husband. Isaiah Thomas divorced Mary in 1777, and went on to have two other ill-fated marriages. There’s more about him and Mary Dill.

William and Mrs. Whitlow, 44th Regiment of Foot

Besides being a private soldier, William Whitlow was a member of his regiment’s band of music. He had spent his entire life in the regiment, and by 1779 had a wife and child; it was said that “there was not a happier Couple in the Regiment.” But only when he was in his right mind; as a child in Ireland he had fallen from a wall and hit his head, which was the supposed reason he was sometimes “out of his senses.” At such times he had been known to beat his wife (whose first name, unfortunately, is not known) because of imagined transgressions; sometimes his officers locked him up to protect her and their child until he regained his senses. In September 1779 when on board a transport ship, he had thrown himself overboard for no apparent reason. Still on board ship some days later, while accusing his wife of imagined misbehavior, he picked up a bayonet and pushed it into her chest. Other soldiers restrained him, but the damage was done; the wound festered and she died a few days later. At his trial for murder, although not disputing that he’d inflicted the wound, Whitlow testified that he had no recollection of the act and called many witnesses who described his bouts of insanity. He was acquitted of the charge because it was not considered a willful murder, and he served many more years in the regiment. One witness testified that during the days Whitlow’s wife languished “she frequently said she forgave him, and…that she believed the Cause of his Wounding her was owing to his having too much love for her.”

The Demarests of New Bridge

The cliché is that civil wars pit brother against brother, but sometimes it’s husband against wife and the whole family gets involved. David and Jane Demarest lived in New Bridge, New Jersey, on ground that was a front line and changed hands several times during the course of the war. When the British army seized New York in 1776, David Demarest went to join a loyalist regiment, the New Jersey Volunteers. His son Gilliam joined the Bergen County Militia on the other side of the conflict. Jane Demarest stayed home, espousing the American cause in spite of her husband’s proclivities. During the war father and son each spent time as prisoners of war on the other’s side; in fact, the son was captured by the father’s corps, and thrown into a harsh New York prison. Meanwhile, American authorities confiscated the family property and cast Jane out because the title was in the name of her husband who was serving on the British side. At war’s end, David Demarest went with other loyalists to Canada, while his wife and son remained in America. The full story can be read in Todd W. Braisted, Bergen County Voices from the American Revolution (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012).

Cornelius and Mary Driscoll

Some marriages were torn apart by war but not by discord. Cornelius Driscoll joined the British army in 1767 and a decade later was a grenadier in the 10th Regiment of Foot. In a tangle with American troops under General Lafayette at Chestnut Hill near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was killed and his wife Mary was taken prisoner. She was confined with other British prisoners of war (it was typical for wives of prisoners to accompany them in confinement); although pregnant with twins, she escaped but was recaptured and put in jail. She gave birth to twins in captivity, but this did not prevent her from escaping yet again, with her children, and making her way with two other women to New York where she petitioned for support as an army widow. What she didn’t know was that her husband had not in fact been killed; he continued to serve, but was drafted into another regiment and sent to the West Indies before she arrived in New York. He continued in the army until 1791 when he received a pension, but it isn’t known whether the couple was ever reunited or even knew of each other’s survival. Read more about them.

The James Yates Murders

Everyone has read a news story where friends and neighbors of a perpetrator say that they saw no warning signs, no indication that anything was amiss. Such was the case with James Yates, a farmer from Pitts Town in Albany County, New York. Known as a person with “nothing remarkable in his character,” he awoke one morning in late 1781 and, supposedly following the voice of a spirit, used a club to beat his wife and four children to death, and also his dog and two cows. He then ran naked to his parents’ house a half-mile away and told them what he’d done. He was locked up in an Albany prison but we’ve found no evidence that he was ever tried for the crimes. The story made newspapers from Pennsylvania to Boston, and was talked about and written about for decades. Read more about it on Wikipedia, under “James Yates Murders.”

Demise of the Beadle Family

While James Yates seems to have acted spontaneously, William Beadle of Wethersfield, Connecticut, planned and contemplated for years. He was a highly successful merchant but he did not adapt well to wartime conditions. Believing himself a true supporter of the colonies, he adamantly refused to raise prices when the value of Continental currency declined during the war. This was noble but foolhardy; by 1780 he was going broke. He spent much of this and the following two years preoccupied with the impact on his family of this desperate financial situation, concluding that it was his duty to prevent them from suffering. He wrote of his contemplations to friends, including a set of letters to be delivered after his death. One night in December 1782 he sent the maid to fetch a doctor, claiming his wife was ill. He then carefully killed his wife with an axe, slit the throats of each of his four children, then held a pistol in each of his hands and took his own life. The horrid affair was recorded and discussed in broadsides and newspaper accounts all over the northeast for the next six months; the full story can be read in James R. Smart, A Life of William Beadle (Princeton, NJ: Senior thesis, Princeton University, 1989).

Reblogged from All Things Liberty ~ Top Ten Marriages Gone Bad ~ Don N. Hagist.  For more from this author, please visit his blog British Soldiers, American Revolution.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway ~ Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti

If a picture is worth 1000 words . . . This. Cover.

TenBelowZeroeBook

Title: Ten Below Zero

Author: Whitney Barbetti

Release Date: August 28, 2014

Genre: New Adult Romance

SYNOPSIS:

“In here,” he said, pushing on the skin above my heart, “you’re ten below zero. And you’re closer to death than I am.”

My name is Parker. My body is marked with scars from an attack I don’t remember. I don’t want to remember. I choose to live my life by observation, not through experience. While people are laughing and kissing and connecting, I’m in the corner. Watching them live. I’m indifferent to everything, everyone. The only emotion I feel with any kind of depth is annoyance, and I feel it often.

A text message sent to the wrong number proves to be my undoing.

His name is Everett, but I call him rude. He’s pushy, he’s arrogant, he crowds my personal space, and worst of all: he makes me feel.

He chooses to wear all black, all the time, as if he’s waiting to attend a funeral. Probably because he is.

Everett is dying. And he’s spending his final days living, truly living. In doing so, he’s forcing me to feel, to heal. To come face to face with the demons I suppressed in my memory.

He hurts me, he fulfills me, he completes me. And still, he’s dying.

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Ten Below Zero teaser pic

Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti (Full Cover)

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My Music Monday Guest Post at Author Elaina Lee’s Blog

A Marquis For All Seasons

Music Monday with Author Renée Reynolds

Author Elaina Lee opens her blog each Monday to other authors who write to or are inspired by music.  I fit both those criteria.  Here’s the post:

To explain what music means to me, I need to tell you a bit about my family.  My mother sang for The Metropolitan Opera and my brother played in The United States Navy Band.  My husband is a crazy-talented musician, playing five instruments.  He also sings and has perfect pitch.  My children all play a musical instrument.

And then there’s me.  I have no personal musical talent or calling.  I neither play an instrument nor sing with any particular skill.  My mother gave up teaching me piano when she realized I was memorizing the fingering rather than reading the music notes.  Not to brag, but I can still play Für Elise, Chariots of Fire, and the theme to Hill Street Blues.  Still can’t read a note of them, though.

I am, however, quite expert at listening to music.  I enjoy just about every style, from classical to punk, opera to hip-hop, and everything in between.  It doesn’t hurt that my childhood occurred during the best decade for music, in my opinion – the 80s.  Music is always playing in my house, my car, and even my backyard.

My latest release, A Marquis For All Seasons, tells the story of Lady Miranda, who balks at the expectation she marry sooner rather than later, and Lord Stafford, who chafes at his (sometimes) overwhelming responsibilities to title and family.  Together they decide to fool their families into thinking they are in love in the hopes of staving off the inevitable for just a little while longer.  Shenanigans ensue.

It seems perfectly natural to me that the characters I dream up are accompanied by their own soundtracks.  Sometimes I hear a song that inspires a scene or reaction in a character, and other times I write a scene that reminds me of a song.  It works both ways.  As my genre is historical romance, I naturally hear symphonies and orchestras while penning party and dance scenes.  I especially love Beethoven – Symphony No. 6 (Pastorale) and Mozart – Piano Sonata 9.  But that’s about as “old fashioned” as the music gets.  My characters are as independent as the time period allows, intelligent and fun-loving.  Cue the back beat, baby.

My heroine, Lady Miranda, is strong yet feminine.  She occasionally goes too far but always reels herself back, and when she fell in love, she was completely blindsided.  Kelly Clarkson’s song Miss Independent really epitomized her character.  I also played songs like Pink – Don’t Let Me Get Me and Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire when writing her scenes.

Lord Stafford made me channel my 80s roots a bit more.  He’s tough on the outside, marshmallow on the inside.  Some songs he made me listen to: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Head On, Eagles – The Long Run, and Nelly – Just a Dream.

This couple smooths out each other’s rough edges.  He reins in her impulsiveness while she helps him loosen up and enjoy life.  Their story drew me to blast songs such as Coldplay – Us Against the World, Christina Perri – A Thousand Years, and Colbie Caillat – Bubbly.

When I write, the words and characters play out like scenes from a movie in my mind.  And like any well-rounded movie, those scenes have a little something extra in the background that sets the tone, amps up the feelings, and conveys the mood: music.

 

Does music ever inspire you?  What do you think about my musical inspiration?  Let’s chat below.

Find the original post here at Elaina Lee: Music Monday with Author Renée Reynolds. (And check out Elaina’s books while you’re there!)

 

Cover Reveal and Giveaway ~ The Parchment Scroll by C.A. Szarek

The Parchment Scroll

Author C.A. Szarek shares her cover for The Parchment Scroll, Book Three in the Highland Secrets Trilogy.  From the back cover:

Her sister is lost…in the past.

Three weeks after her sister goes missing, Juliette McGowan encounters her on a beach in Scotland. Her sister gives her a scroll full of claims about time travel and disappears—literally.

As a sister, Jules is determined to find her. As a cop, she can’t go to the authorities. The piece of parchment declares magic exists; they’d think she’s nuts.

When a mysterious woman vows she can help her get to the seventeenth century, Jules goes along with it out of desperation.

He’s an infamous barbarian…

Hugh MacDonald is intrigued when he finds a disoriented naked lass on the beach. She holds a scroll that was written by his rival’s wife. Clan MacLeod will pay ransom for her safe return, so he takes her captive.

She challenges his authority—and his desires. What started off as a plan to anger the MacLeods ends with Hugh wanting to keep her for himself.

Can Jules break free of the barbarian, find her sister and return to the future or will she give in to her attraction and desire to remain in the past?

The Parchment Scroll P

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Claire gets sucked into 1672, naked and scared. Duncan rescues her only to realize she’s the key to finding his brother who was kidnapped by the Fae. Can they work together and both get what they want? Will sudden passion for each other change their goals?

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The Fae Ring ESMThe Fae Ring (Highland Secrets Book Two)

Xander slips a ring on Janet’s finger that seals their fate. They’re soul-mates — whether they like it or not. When Janet flees to the Realm of the Fae, will her banished winged warrior and fated husband be able to bring them to safety or will the Fae sense her human blood and capture them both?

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Northampton: Home of Broken Families and the Criminally Insane?

history of love

Reblogged from The History of Love:

This morning a Georgian newspaper unexpectedly arrived at a colleague’s desk. Naturally, I promptly wrested it from him and pored over it like an excited child. I LOVE eighteenth-century newspaper adverts and was delighted to find that this issue had elopements, abandoned children, a profusion of lost dogs and an escaped lunatic CALLED ‘WILDMAN’. Amazing.

So I just thought I’d share:

photo 1

“ELOPEMENT.

WHEREAS MARY, the Wife of William Smith, of Irthlingborough, in the County of Northampton, has eloped from her said Husband:–

Notice is hereby given, That if she does not return to her Husband within seven Days from the Date hereof, she will not be taken in. WM SMITH. April 10, 1802.”

***

photo 2

“FINEDON, April 5th, 1802.

WHEREAS JOHN MASHAM and JANE his Wife, have both absconded, and left three small Children chargeable to the Parish of FINEDON, in the County of Northampton;– a Reward of TWO GUINEAS each will be paid to any Person who will apprehend and bring them (or any one of them) to THOMAS BODDINGTON and JOHN ODELL, Overseers of the Poor of Finedon aforesaid.

The said JOHN MASHAM is near thirty Years of Age, about five Feet nine or ten Inches high, brown Hair, and by Trade a Weaver. The said JANE MASHAM is a short thickset Woman, twenty-nine Years of Age, dark brown Hair, with Rings in her Ears, but very shabbily dressed. They are supposed to be in or near London.”

***

photo 3

“ESCAPE OF A LUNATIC.

Litlington, Beds. 7th April 1802.

WHEREAS on Monday the 5th instant, JOHN WILDMAN, a Lunatic, did make his escape near Newberry Farm, in the Parish of Silsoe, in the said County;– and as the securing him is a Matter of public as well as individual Security, it is particularly requested that on discovering such Person, all Parish Officers, and Others, will exert themselves to secure him, and give immediate Notice to the Officers of Litlington, who will defray every reasonable Expence. *** The said Lunatic is about 32 Years of Age, five Feet and a Half high, pale Complexion, very light brown or rather sandy Hair; had on a light Coat and black Velvet Collar (the Coat very long), brown corded Breeches, brown Stockings, and Shoes tied.”

- All taken from The Northampton Mercury, 10th April 1802.

 

I really love the “elopement” notice – wives behaving badly? -Renée

Imagine That (Covington Falls Chronicles) by Kristin Wallace

I’m featuring author Kristin Wallace this weekend with her new release, Imagine That.  From the back cover:

Children’s author Emily Sinclair was supposed to be the next J.K. Rowling… Until her second book flopped and her imagination went on the fritz. So Emily sets out on an epic adventure to find inspiration again. Till a dead car lands her in Covington Falls, Georgia. Soon Emily is taking up her quest, looking for inspiration driving a mobile library van, as a companion to a crotchety old woman and her insomniac dog, and as a very ungraceful baker’s assistant. Of course, what really sparks her romantic fantasies is a valiant hero, though he yields a paint roller instead of a sword.

Rugged, blue-collar Nate Cooper has spent most of his life avoiding the printed page. These days he doesn’t have much use for fancy words and certainly not for a slightly off-center writer on the lam. Not when his mother is battling cancer, his little brother has morphed into a teenaged ogre, and God seems to have taken a vacation.

On paper, these two would seem the least likely pairing, and a happily ever after nothing but fantasy. But with faith and imagination Emily and Nate are about to write a new chapter that will lead to unexpected love.

 

Let’s take a peek inside:

Chapter One

A stomach-churning thunk. A disaster-laden chug. A scary, threatening gurgle.

Emily Sinclair’s hands clutched the steering wheel as she guided her how-could-you-give-out-on-me-now convertible to the side of the road. With a last ominous blunk and splutter, the car gave up the ghost.

She switched off the engine, waited a few seconds, and then turned the key again. Nothing.

Not surprising. As if anything glug-glugging like an octogenarian trying to cough up a lung was going to restart with so little effort.

A cranky yowl went up from the passenger seat. Emily glanced over at the pet carrier and sent the fat Persian inside a confident smile. “Don’t worry, Wordsworth. This is why modern man invented cell phones.”

She fished her phone out of her purse. A blank screen stared back at her. Pressing more buttons did nothing.

Dead.

Dead as her car.

With a sound of disgust, Emily tossed the useless phone aside and stared out the windshield at the deserted country road in front of her. The very deserted country road that stretched around a sparkling blue lake and disappeared into the back of beyond. The kind of road featured in all the best horror stories. Emily’s mind conjured up every one, along with the opening line in the newspaper article.

Once-famous children’s author found mangled to death. Quest to locate her lost imagination and revive faded career ends in disaster… as her mother predicted.

Muttering an oath, Emily climbed out of the car and slammed the door as hard as she could. What a fix. And ironic. There were rules about writing. Not grammar rules, like where to put commas or when to use a semicolon. No, the unofficial rules for fiction writing. Chief among them is that an author should never start a novel with the character driving or thinking. No, readers wanted action right off the top, and the car could never break down.

In college, Emily had written a short story where the heroine’s car stalled in a typical these-people-will-murder-you-in-your-sleep town. Emily’s professor had written cliché in bold, red pen across the page. Not satisfied, she’d added boring cliché, underlining the boring with three thick red lines. The critique had stung. The fact that it had come courtesy of Professor Vanessa Sinclair, Emily’s mother, had been like ripping off an old bandage.

Emily was breaking all three cardinal rules of writing at once. Though technically the driving rule didn’t apply. Same for the sitting rule. She was thinking, though. Thinking her entire life had become a cliché, so what did it matter if she broke her mother’s precious writing rules? She was a one-hit writing wonder. A flash in the pan. A big-haired eighties’ rock band that had scored one giant hit and then disappeared into the oblivion of those nostalgic ‘Where are they now?’ music specials.

Emily sighed. If one had to break down somewhere, one could do worse than… what had the sign said back there? Covington something. Covington something, Georgia. Muted afternoon sun shimmered off the surface of the lake. She lifted a hand to ward off the eye-watering glare and focused on the water. In her previous life, the golden flecks of sunlight reflecting off its surface would have transformed into a million different kinds of fantastical creatures. Or maybe something nightmarish would charge out of that bank of oak trees across the lake.

Unfortunately, Emily was stuck in her real life, and her imagination was on the fritz.

Well, at least she wouldn’t die of water deprivation while she waited to be rescued.

Speaking of rescue.

A car had appeared, winding around the curve of the lake. A big ole’ country truck calling to mind hoedowns and hay rides. A big ole’ rusty truck, Emily realized as it drew closer. Burnt red growth spread out across the hood like a marauding band of Vikings overtaking a defenseless village. She imagined rust was the only thing holding the vehicle together.

The truck slowed and Emily tensed, torn between elation at being found and wariness regarding exactly who might be behind the wheel of the ancient rattletrap. The glare off the windshield made it impossible to see inside the cab, however.

The tires veered off to the side of the road and stopped, sending up a cloud of dust. Emily waved her hand, choking on the airborne dirt. Her mouth felt dry as if she had licked the ground. The door opened. Work boots emerged. Brown and roughed-up and covered in… paint. A man stepped out, and Emily steadied her hands against the car to keep from falling over.

Mr. Darcy. No, Heathcliff. Only instead of a cravat and breeches, he was dressed in faded jeans and a black T-shirt, which seemed molded to an impressive chest. Heath stretched up a good six-plus feet, towering over her puny five-foot-two frame. A lock of dark chocolate-brown hair brushed over his forehead. Their eyes met. Since she was already thinking in clichés, Emily’s mind offered up a million of them to describe his eyes. She could start with gray, but no way did such a mundane word do them justice. Slate, storm clouds, a roiling sea, glazed pewter. Devastating, and framed by thick sooty lashes no man had a right to possess.

He stopped a few feet away, and Emily had the fanciful notion he was trying not to frighten her. Like she was a skittish filly about to bolt.

Hi,” he said. “Car trouble?”

His voice was like his eyes. Smooth and deep, like honey in a cup of hot tea.

Emily nodded. How could she speak when every male literary fantasy she’d ever dreamed about had unfolded from a rusted-out pickup?

 

~~~~

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KristinWallace_HeadshotAbout the Author:

Growing up Kristin devoured books like bags of Dove Dark Chocolate. Her first Golden Book led to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, C.S. Lewis and the Sweet Valley High series. Later, she discovered romance novels and fell in love all over again. It’s no surprise then that Kristin would one day try her hand at writing them. She writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction filled with love, laughter and a leap of faith. When she’s not writing her next novel, Kristin works as an advertising copywriter. Kristin is the author of the Covington Falls Chronicles, romances set in a quirky Southern town with a character all its own. Be sure to check out the first two books in the series, Marry Me and Acting Up.

 

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Wildwood Spring by Allison Merritt

Wildwood Spring cover

It’s my pleasure to feature author Allison Merritt today!  She’s dropping by to share with us her latest release, Wildwood Spring, and tell a bit about the creepy oddities and gothic eccentricities that so fascinated people in the Victorian era.  Welcome, Allison!

 

First of all, thanks so much for having me today, Renée! It’s always a pleasure to talk about one of my books!

I love the odd and unusual. I’ve always enjoyed ghost stories and things that go bump in the night. So when an idea for a gothic-style romance popped into my head, I knew it had to be filled with, well, the weird.

The Victorian people were just as entertained by oddities as we are today. Many people paid good money to see fortunetellers, mediums, and psychics, including Mary Todd Lincoln after the death of her son. Having seances was a popular form of amusement way back when, even though many performers eventually admitted they were frauds. Double negative photography made powerful evidence that spirits lurked everywhere. Lifespans tended to be much shorter in the 19th century than they are today, and people sometimes deal with grief in strange ways. They grappled with the unknown and found interesting ways to deal with death and what might lie beyond it.

Wildwood Spring is the tale of the son of a Union veteran who feared going outside the gates of their manor house. Turner Wildwood has put most of his father’s crazy taxidermied animals into storage, but a few of his father’s favorite oddities still litter the house. Like the mastodon skeleton in the ballroom, an orangutan named Orville holding a silver serving tray, and a mobile of bats in the parlor. Not to mention the Hall of Wonder, big room filled with any natural curiosity you could ever hope to see. Turner’s father might have been a recluse, but he made sure his son got a good education in all things natural.

Another thing that inspired some of the more frightening creatures in Wildwood Manor were the creepy mash-ups of animals on Etsy. Search with care if you’re squeamish and don’t look for it on Pinterest, because some of these things aren’t for the faint of heart. All you have to do it put “natural curiosities” or “unusual taxidermy” into either website’s search bar and you’ll get lots of shops or images that offer things that might be anywhere from funny to macabre. Many shops offer random parts of animals and plants that you can use to put together your own grotesque creatures. One of the things that causes a serious argument between Turner and the heroine of the story, Celia, is the human skeleton hidden in one of the rooms. Celia believes it might even be Mr. Wildwood’s deceased wife. Is it or it is another one of Mr. Wildwood’s mail-order purchases to satisfy his own curiosity?

I think most of us can agree, we’d be a little frightened if we discovered the person we had feelings for suddenly whipped out some bizarre creatures. I know I’d be thinking about putting distance between myself and the other person ASAP. Fortunately, my husband is pretty good about putting up with my morbid desires to start a memento mori collection. He might take issue if I start dragging in animal carcasses and rearranging them just for fun though. I’d probably give myself nightmares if I started!

 

From the back cover:

When they face their fears, they’ll find the path to love.

No one goes to Wildwood Manor—a hulking stone house on a hill outside town. Legend has it crazy old man Wildwood owes his life to the magical water of the spring at the back of the property. Celia Landry needs that water to save her mother, and she’ll brave anything to get it.

Turner Wildwood, the son of the house’s eccentric builder, is growing as reclusive as his father. When Celia turns up at his door, he’s drawn by her beauty and bravery. Wary of strangers, he doesn’t reveal his identity, but agrees to her request. When she returns to Wildwood in wake of personal tragedy, he’s waiting there with a stunning change in his heart. He knows he should tell her the truth, but he doesn’t want to ruin their budding friendship.

Celia’s curiosity leads her to part of the frightening answers hidden behind Wildwood’s doors, but her own troubled past may lead Turner into danger neither of them suspected.

Let’s sneak a peek inside:

“Would you like to dance?” Mischief sparkled in his blue eyes. “This is one of my favorite songs. Despite my almost solitary upbringing, dance was part of my education.”

She felt heat scorch her cheeks. “Not part of mine, I’m afraid.”

“I’ll teach you.” He faced her, putting one hand on her waist and taking her hand in his. “Do the opposite of what I do. I’ll count.”

He counted in fours, moving in time with the music. Celia stumbled, but after a few moments, she caught on. Turner led her around the room as they spun in circles. She laughed, forgetting her worries. It wasn’t a ball and they were both in their nightclothes, but it was as elegant a dance as she could hope for.

Turner grinned as he pulled her a little closer. Their bodies came together, fitting perfectly. He dropped her hand, wrapping both arms around her waist. They stopped moving, standing in the shadow of the mastodon. Dark blond hair fell over his forehead, but it didn’t hide the desire on his face.

“Turner?”

“Yes, Celia.”

Her name was a delicate breath of air, and he clung to her as though afraid she was a dream. She was too wide awake to believe that. Her senses seemed sharper than ever. He smelled of the lemony soap Mrs. Southard used for washing the sheets and the coffee he’d had at supper. Even in the muted firelight, she saw him clearly, his golden hair bright as sunbeams, his blue eyes the color of the sky after a storm.

She’d never been a romantic, knowing all too well she’d either be a spinster or a housewife too busy with chores and children to consider stolen kisses. She’d never imagined a man would want to show her stars, or dance with her around the skeleton of an ancient beast. These were moments she could cherish forever, think of when her world came back into focus.

It all had to end.

He lifted his hand to her face, pushing a strand of hair over her ear. “You look upset.”

“I’m grateful.” She forced the words out. “It’s not every day I get escorted around a ballroom.”

“You mean it might never happen again.” He looked somber. “You’ll return to the kind of life you led before we met. One where you’re often hungry, alone, and overworked.”

She glanced away, hating the truth of his words. “It isn’t that bad.”

“Somehow I don’t believe you.”

He wouldn’t, not after the way she’d reacted to everything he’d shown her in his life. They were from different places and he could never understand how she’d lived before. She couldn’t explain it without risking his pity.

“You could always stay. I’ll find something for you to do in the manor. Official book reader. In the evenings you could recount all my favorites and the new ones I don’t have time for.”

His breath stirred the hair near her ear, tickling her skin.

“I think I prefer the title of cookie sampler. Who wouldn’t want to sit in Finny’s kitchen all day tasting the items he draws out of the oven.” She pressed her cheek against his velvet lapel and closed her eyes. “You should have taken me back to town when you found me at the spring.”

“I couldn’t do that.” There was the slightest hitch in his voice, as though the idea caused him pain.

“I’ll be ruined for life outside of Wildwood.”

“Good. Then you’ll have to come back.”

 

Can’t wait to get your copy?  Wildwood Spring may be purchased at:

Breathless Press

 

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