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1800s – Charleston
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.
Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.
Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.
A Light in the Wilderness
1844 – Missouri
Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read–as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him. Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere–even when the trek exacts a terrible cost. Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for. As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.
The Preacher’s Promise
1866 – Ohio
Devastated by her father’s death days after her triumphant graduation from Oberlin College, Amanda Stewart is all alone in the world. Her father’s unscrupulous business partner offers her an indecent proposal to earn a living. Instead, to fulfill a promise she made to her father, she resolves to start a school to educate and uplift their race. Sorting through her father’s papers, she discovers he had carried on a mysterious correspondence with a plantation in Milford, Georgia. She determines to start her teaching work with the formerly enslaved. However, when she arrives, the mayor tells her to leave. There’s no where for her to go. Virgil Smithson, Milford’s mayor, blacksmith and sometimes preacher man with a gift for fiery oratory, doesn’t want anything to do with a snobby schoolteacher from up North. On top of everything else, the schoolteacher lady has a will hard enough to match the iron he forges. He must organize his fellow formerly enslaved citizens into a new town and raise his young daughter alone. Still, his troubled past haunts him. He cannot forget the promise he made to his daughter’s mother as she died–that their child would learn to read and write. If only he didn’t have secrets that the new schoolteacher seems determined to uncover.
To keep THE PREACHER’S PROMISE, Amanda and Virgil must put aside their enmity, unite for the sake of a newly-created community in a troubling age, and do things they never imagined. In the aftermath of the flood that was the Civil War, God set his bow upon the earth to show love and understanding for humankind. To reflect God’s promise, these combatants must put aside their differences and come together–somehow.
The Lawyer’s Luck
1844 – Ohio
Lawrence Stewart is a rare man. Raised with his grandmother’s Miami Indian tribe, he’s a Negro with brown skin, and has consistently walked between two worlds most of his life. He devotes his time and study to becoming a lawyer, fully intending to obtain justice for the ousted Miami Indians. No Negro man has accomplished these things before, but he is not daunted. He studies for his exams as he rides circuit through the backwoods of Ohio, handing out justice to people who cannot easily reach a courthouse. His life is perfectly set until one June day…. Aurelia “Realie” Baxter made her way from enslavement in Georgia to the free land Lake Huron in Ohio. Far from happy as a slave doing the bidding of a woman cooped up in a house all day, Realie is a bona fide tomboy with a special gift with horses. Now, she is so close to freedom in Canada, she can smell it, but her plans are interrupted when Lawrence shoots her…by mistake…. Lawrence cannot study encumbered with the care of an enslaved woman, but he’s responsible for her injury… Realie wants to get to Canada, but Lawrence won’t let her get away in trying to help her…
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1887 – Kansas
Resolving for different reasons to abandon lifestyles relying on their guns, four men with well-earned reputations settle quietly outside the African American town of Nicodemus, Kansas. Payment being cash and ownership of land, the men are commissioned to protect the town from an unscrupulous land baron’s attempted takeover. They face challenges from unwelcoming townsfolk, a devious adversary, and powerful corporate greed, along with their personal and spiritual struggles and budding romances. This novel has something for everyone; interesting characters, romance, strong spiritual insight, an attention holding multilayered plot, and western action.
Gideon McCoy, Caleb Cain, Joshua Boudreaux and David ‘Boone’ Tennyson are immediately attracted to the charming Nicodemus women: Sugar, a beautiful farm girl, Louise the talkative daughter of a general store owner, Liberty a sassy saloon owner and the newly arrived schoolmarm, Polly.
While Nicodemus residents enthusiastically anticipate the advent of the Pacific Union Railroad, a scheming Lucas Hitchcock, the cultural mentality of greed, shady government dealings, and ingrained racism work against a potentially beneficial arrangement. Yet the Godly presence in Lucas’ most despised enemy, Geoffrey Abington, foils his vicious bid for control. Nicodemus becomes pawn in a tug of war between the railroad company only concerned with expansion and profit, Lucas Hitchcock’s power play and the godly team of Geoffrey Abington and his friend Harlan Colby. Harlan, a loving family man and longtime railroad executive is fed up with his company’s trend of unethical business practices. He takes a bold stand for what he believes is God’s standard in business, society, and humanity as a whole. People are being harassed, run from their land and even killed. The four gunmen are hired to protect the town’s citizens but encounter obstacles both spiritual and natural they did not foresee. Sides are drawn culminating into a tragic showdown and only God can deliver victory to Nicodemus.
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1962 – Florida
It’s October, 1962. Life is simple. The world makes sense, and all families are happy. When they aren’t, everyone knows you’re supposed to pretend. With their family about to collapse, Colt Harrison and his little brother, Timmy, hatch a plan. They’ll run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt’s house in Savannah and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But things go terribly, terribly wrong. Colt’s parents must come to grips with years of mistrust and fight for their son’s return…and to mend their broken marriage. In this emotional story, Dan Walsh takes readers on a suspense-filled journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life.
1860s – South Carolina
Author Peter Leavell forges an unprecedented tale of tragedy and triumph amid the backdrop of the Civil War through the story of Tad, a very clever slave boy who comes of age as America’s war reaches the sea islands of South Carolina. Tad’s desire to better himself is obstructed by the color of his skin, until Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream, except that the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, and little hope for the future—unless someone rises up to lead them. Based on true events, Gideon’s Call is the dramatic tale of a young man who battles the shame of his past and faces the horrors of war and unimaginable prejudice to become the deliverer of thousands of freed slaves.
Greenwood and Archer: After The Riot
1921 – Oklahoma
Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot continues the stories of Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman and the residents of the Greenwood District after the historical Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Though a sequel to Son of a Preacherman, Greenwood and Archer can be read as a stand alone book.
The White Glove Society has all but destroyed the Greenwood District, home to the affluent blacks in Tulsa. Now those who have survived are trying to recover what is left including Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman. Billy Ray and Benny are engaged but Benny is hesitant to set a date. Jordan Franks, Benny’s ex-fiancee shows up in Tulsa and Benny is confronted with the memories and emotions of the crippling break up she experienced with Jordan. She must decide whether she will stand and face her past or allow it to drive her back into the dark place she’d grown used to before meeting Billy Ray. Billy Ray’s attempts to keep Benny from running away are challenged by his own struggles as he wrestles with God’s call on his life to preach.
DP Dooley, plagued by a past that prompted him to turn from God and become a government agent, is in a turmoil as he wars against enemies seen and unseen. Internally, he fights against the darkness of his soul as the anger and resentment he has harbored against God for most of his life wears him down. Externally, he continues to fight against the threats of the bigoted White Gloves Society, which is growing and trying to increase its racist activities.
The once hard-edged racial views of Chief Tobias Parnell have noticeably dulled and he no longer enjoys the favor of the White Glove Society. Teaming up with Dooley, Chief Parnell fights against illegal racketeering, bootlegging and racial crimes.
A new brotherhood forms in Tulsa, the interdenominational Christian clergyman (ICCA). Braving the social struggles of Tulsa, five clergymen attempt to and bring together God’s people, regardless of race, economic status, gender, ethnicity and even doctrine. Their goal, along with the people of Greenwood is to see a new Tulsa rise from the ashes.
Crucible of War
1776 – New York, Pennsylvania
Returning from the Shawnee, Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton rejoins General George Washington’s army to find the patriot cause on the verge of extinction. In a daring gamble the American force crosses the Delaware on Christmas night 1776, to defeat outposts at Trenton and Princeton before vanishing into the mountain bastions around Morristown. When she returns to New York, Elizabeth Howard is drawn ever deeper into the intrigues that swirl around British General William Howe. She and her Aunt Tess, move to Philadelphia in summer 1777 to gather intelligence while waiting for a rumored British attack. Ambushed and almost captured as the Americans dig in at Brandywine Creek, Carleton is transferred to General Horatio Gates’s army in the upper Hudson Valley where his old nemesis, British General John Burgoyne, closes in on Saratoga. With decisive battles looming on both fronts, Elizabeth and Carleton face a crucible of war that tests their mettle, faith, and love to the very limits—and beyond.
1775-6 – Massachusetts, New York, Ohio Territory
Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton has pledged his allegiance to newly elected commander of the rebel army, General George Washington. But his heart belongs to fiery Elizabeth Howard, who charms British officers by day and by night delivers their secrets to the Sons of Liberty. Their plans to marry are put on hold, however, when Washington orders Carleton to undertake a perilous journey deep into Indian territory, while Elizabeth continues spying on the British. Within weeks she learns that Carleton has been captured by the Seneca. Despite all attempts to find him, his fate remains shrouded in mystery. Enslaved by the Seneca, Carleton is finally rescued by a band of Shawnee and taken into Ohio Territory, where he is adopted as the warrior White Eagle and rises to become war chief. Drawn into a bitter war against white settlers who threaten to overrun Shawnee lands, he must walk a treacherous tightrope between a rival who will stop at nothing to destroy him, the seductions of a beautiful widow . . . and the longing for Elizabeth that will not give him peace. Abandoning Boston, British General William Howe prepares to unleash an overwhelming invasion force against the badly outmatched American army at New York City. With battle looming, reports filter in that a new Shawnee war chief named White Eagle is leading devastating raids against British and American outposts in Ohio Territory.
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1878 – Pennsylvania
Escaping the horrors of slavery, Chester Jones returns home after many years. After meeting the enigmatic Marylu, sparks fly as he gently pushes his way into her heart.
As love blossoms, secrets from Marylu’s past arise, causing her to question her newfound feelings. And then what about those rumors linking Chester to a murder. . .? Will Marylu allow God to heal her heart or will it be shattered again?