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The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

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1939 – France

Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquarters. But when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation. Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen

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1861 – Kansas

This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

Author Interview and Giveaway – A Dance in Donegal – Jennifer Deibel

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This month, Jennifer Deibel brings us her delightful debut novel, A Dance in Donegal. I’ve got to say, this cover makes me want to visit the setting. Windswept fields, a village and cliffs by the sea… Let’s find out more about the story and the author behind it. A warm welcome to the Index, Jennifer!

A Dance in Donegal

All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira’s mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she’s journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends–and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced–as she seeks to navigate a life she’d never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel delights the senses, bringing to life the sights, sounds, smells, and language of a lush country and a colorful people. Historical romance fans will embrace her with open arms.

Jennifer’s Website 

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Questions about Jennifer’s Story

What inspired this story?

This story began as a way for me to process our own experiences after living in rural Donegal for two years early on in our marriage. Those years were some of the hardest, yet most incredible, years of our lives. And when we returned to the States, I found myself struggling to come to terms with all we’d been through. Then, one day, the idea for a story about a girl who moves to Donegal to teach came to me. What began as a personal cathartic exercise, turned in to the story of my heart—a love letter to a land and people to whom I will forever be knitted.

Moira’s experiences navigating the newness—and deep curiosity—of a rural Irish village is true to our own. And yet, she ends up connecting deeply with the people—and the land—much as we did. I wanted to share the incredible depth, culture, beauty, and charm of Ireland with the world. It’s my prayer that those who will never be able to visit her shores themselves, will feel as though they have after reading this book. And that they will see how God has moved and orchestrated their own lives in order to put them where they are for a reason—for such a time as this—and that they will be inspired to say yes to whatever He asks them to do next.

Is there anything in this book that is inspired by/modeled after something in your own life or someone you know in real life?

So very much of my own life and experiences have colored this story. Having lived in rural Irish villages for a total of almost 6 years, I know what it like to be the “blow-in.” So, much of what Moira experiences her first weeks in Ballymann mirror my own—particularly from our time in Donegal.

Many of the characters are an amalgamation of people I know and love in Ireland, but there is one who is directly inspired by a real person. The character Bríd is inspired by a lovely woman named Maire who runs the Teac Campbell Guest House in Bunbeg, Donegal. Maire is every bit as warm, inviting, and kind as Bríd—and just as good a cook! The people of Ireland are so warm, and see the world like no one else. I strove to bring that same unique view to the page.

What character in your book turned out to be your favorite?

I feel like I’m “supposed” to say it’s the hero or heroine, but as much as I adore Sean and Moira, I must admit that Colm has stolen my heart. He’s so full of joy, kindness, and a wisdom that runs far deeper than it would seem. He is one of the most well respected men in Ballymann, which is more than he is due based upon his station in life alone. As a lowly master-thatcher, his trade is respected, to be sure. But the people of Ballymann almost revere him. And I’ve come to do the same.

Colm loves and accepts people as they are. And yet, he loves them too much to let them remain as they are. His gentle wisdom and godly outlook help shape Moira, Sean, and countless others, and leaves a lasting legacy in the village. I pray that everyone has a Colm in his or her life.

 

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Questions about Jennifer’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel taught you something about the craft of writing because it was so well done? Tell us a bit about what it taught you.

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green literally took my breath away. Her impeccable research, the way she drew me in to care about the characters—even the hard to love ones—awed me. But, perhaps what struck me most was the beautiful and seamless way she presented the hope and grace of the Gospel. Her presentation of what it means to belong to Christ is one of the most poignant, breath-taking scenes I’ve ever read. She weaves it all throughout the story, and then all of a sudden, the weight and glory of the grace of forgiveness and belonging hits you. I literally gasped out loud. This is one of my favorite books of all time, and it cemented Jocelyn Green as one of my must-read authors.

If your job was to sell one author’s historical fiction (besides your own) which author’s wares would you want to peddle? And which is your favorite by that author?

This is almost like asking me to choose a favorite child. There are so very many Christian historical authors whose work I love, and whom I personally respect so very much. I’ve already sung the praises of Jocelyn Green, and she is one whose work I would absolutely love to sell—in fact, I served on a couple of her launch teams before I was published! But, I think I’m going to have to say Julie Klassen. Her regency romances are so well written, so swoon-worthy, rich and full of character, charm, and a good bit of drama. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite of hers, but I’d have to say either the Ivy Hill Series, or The Girl in the Gatehouse.

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that you read that made you think, “Man, I wish I’d written that”?

Ummmm….all of them? Ha! But seriously, the Scottish trilogy by Liz Curtis Higgs inspired me deeply. A Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince captivated my mind, heart and soul. I’ve read the whole series at least 5 times. I love how Higgs immerses us in sixteenth-century Scotland, and the heart-wrenching experiences of the characters gut me every time. I cry every time I read them. I also laugh and cheer every time. If I could attain even half the level of culture, charm, love, drama, and grace that she does, I’d be happy!

Jennifer is giving away a paperback copy, US entrants only. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

**If you don’t want to enter the Rafflecopter, tell me in a comment below: “I’m not entering the Rafflecopter, but please throw me in the hat” so I can manually put you in there for a chance.**

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Winning the Schoolmarm by Lacy Williams

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1906 – Wyoming

Swirling rumors forced Cecilia White out of the teaching job she loved. She vowed not to get involved with a man again—no matter what. But when the term begins at a new schoolhouse in a new town, disaster strikes. No matter what she does, she can’t seem to escape the handsome, single chairman of the school board.

John Morgan has a secret. He’s not who he says he is. He’ll do anything to protect and provide for his young sister—including cozying up to the prickly schoolmarm.

Sparks fly and Cecilia must deny her heart if she hopes to keep her job. But what’s more important? Duty or love?

The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli

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1865 – Massachusetts

Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.

2001
Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

1865
While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

2019
After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong.

Love Finds an Outlaw by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

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1876 – Kansas

Can a pistol-packing spinster and an adventure-loving reporter find love amidst the mishaps and trials of the Sana Fe railroad’s ill-fated inaugural excursion?

Mary Outlaw has a ticket to ride the Santa Fe train on a sight-seeing excursion from Topeka, Kansas to Pueblo, Colorado.  She intends to live life unrestrained on this trip because it may be her only chance unless she can convince her father to let her choose her own husband. A future of cooking and babies is not the life she wants.

News reporter, Wyatt Cross bought the last ticket for the excursion, hoping one of the 84 women (he knows because he checked before buying his ticket for this scenic tour) would be someone he could love and who would share his sense of adventure. This is a last-ditch effort to keep his father happy and to preserve his inheritance. While waiting to board, he notices a tall, beautiful woman, Mary. The speed her hands move while she speaks fascinates him. Hope sparks inside of him. Maybe the trip will turn out to be more than a scenic ride up the mountain.

Amelia’s Heartsong by Blossom Turner

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1868 – Virginia

Richmond high society isn’t at all what she expected, neither is the man who’s captured her heart.

Amelia Williams is only a humble farmer’s daughter, so her move from the Shenandoah Valley to stay with her grandparents in the big city of Richmond, Virginia opens a host of new opportunities. 1868 is shaping up to be her best year ever, especially when her new friendship with the genteel Bryon Preston grows into more. But when his mother catches wind of their courtship, Amelia learns the hard lesson that her humble roots will never be enough for the future Preston heir. Love might not see boundaries between the aristocrat and the pauper, but the high society of Richmond surely do.

Reeling from the pain of half-truths and broken promises, Amelia packs her heart away. Life will be much safer if she pours her focus into nursing.

Yet, like a beautiful tapestry, God weaves Bryon back into her life. When her nursing duties bring her face to face with the pain of her past, is it too late to stitch the threads of trust and love back together?

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

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1920 – Ireland

All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira’s mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she’s journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends–and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced–as she seeks to navigate a life she’d never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

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1893 – Illinois

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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1911 – Kentucky

Haunted by her sister’s mysterious disappearance, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky, in the spring of 1911 to work for Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of education. When Cora sends Lucy into the hills to act as scribe for the mountain people, she is repelled by the primitive conditions and intellectual poverty she encounters. Few adults can read and write.

Born in those hills, Cora knows the plague of illiteracy. So does Brother Wyatt, a singing schoolmaster who travels through the hills. Involving Lucy and Wyatt, Cora hatches a plan to open the schoolhouses to adults on moonlit nights. The best way to combat poverty, she believes, is to eliminate illiteracy. But will the people come?

As Lucy emerges from a life in the shadows, she finds purpose; or maybe purpose finds her. With purpose comes answers to her questions, and something else she hadn’t expected: love.

Inspired by the true events of the Moonlight Schools, this standalone novel from bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings to life the story that shocked the nation into taking adult literacy seriously. You’ll finish the last page of this enthralling story with deep gratitude for the gift of reading.

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

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1938 – Germany

Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country–or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she’ll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed–and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party–to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can’t get off his mind.

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

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1915 – Texas

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?
 
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.
 
In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

Rescued Love by Linda Ford

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1849 – California

Colleen Pringle has been falsely accused and kicked out of her wagon train. She is desperate to get to California, start her own business and be independent. And to keep her secret. Alone on the prairie except for her wee daughter, Sheela, she is rescued by Eli. She’ll accept his help on one condition: they part ways once they reach California.

Eli Oatman agrees to Colleen’s plan. After losing his home and the woman he thought loved him, he can’t risk his heart again. It can’t be that hard to keep his distance from Colleen, can it?

Over and over, Colleen finds herself depending on Eli despite her resolve to be independent. Little Sheela adores Eli and steals his heart. So much for not getting close to anyone.

When the past and the ugly accusations find her, will Colleen ever be able to live a life of freedom? Can Eli forget his reservations and take a risk on love?

A Change of Scenery by Davalynn Spencer

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1911 – Colorado

A hidden fear. A daring challenge. A liberating love.

A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever.

Cale Hutton needs the money the moving-picture company is paying for use of his cattle and horses, but he’s not keen on some city gal gettin’ in the way out at the ranch. Between the filming crew by day and a rogue cattle-killing bear by night, his attention snags on the little bob-haired seamstress. Something about her easy manner around his horse sets his mind to find out what she’s hiding and why she has such a pull on his heart.

Maryann’s Hope by Molly Jebber

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1913 – Ohio

The pleasing warmth of fresh-baked maple cookies…the sweet, buttery flakiness of a raspberry jam pastry. In 1913 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery is beloved by locals and visiting Englischer alike. And its understanding community always provides help, healing–and new chances for love…even for a widow faced with an impossible choice between her head and her heart.

Secrets devastated Maryanne Harding’s marriage to an Englischer–and took away her untrustworthy husband. Now the young Amish widow has found contentment cooking up treats at the bakery, raising her little girl, and comforting her ailing mother. And when Andrew Wittmer asks her to marry him, Maryanne is over the moon with happiness that she and the kind furniture maker will put down roots in her hometown…

Until Andrew’s uncle becomes ill, and Andrew must permanently take over his store in a town hours away. Though she would go anywhere to be Andrew’s fraa, Maryanne can’t abandon her mother–or the family that depends on her so much. And when she discovers Andrew harbors secrets of his own, Maryanne’s hard-won trust is shaken. Now, can she risk difficult choices and take a leap of faith into the loving, joyful future she longs for most?

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson

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1816 – England

Her friend is missing.

After five years abroad, Charity Halliwell finally returns to Loxby Manor, the home of dear friends—and her lost love. No longer a young girl, she is now haunted by a painful secret and the demise of her dreams. Instead of the healing and happiness she hopes to find, she encounters a darkness lurking in the shadows of the once-familiar house. When her friend, Seline, disappears the very night of her arrival, Charity is determined to uncover the truth. 

Her only hope is the man who broke her heart.

Branded a coward, Piers Cavanaugh has lived the last five years as an outcast far from his family home. When his sister presumably elopes with a stable hand, Piers joins forces with an unlikely partner—the one woman he thought he’d never see again. Together they launch an investigation that leads to strange nightly meetings in the ruins of an old abbey and disturbing whispers of a secret organization. The more they learn, the more desperate the situation becomes. 

The house seems determined to keep its secrets.

As they struggle to piece together the clues, Charity and Piers also endeavor to rebuild their friendship. One cryptic letter changed everything between them. To find happiness they will have to overcome the grief and shame keeping them apart. But first they must discover why Seline vanished and confront the growing fear that she may never return. 

Her Steadfast Heart by Sharlene MacLaren

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1864 – Ohio

Joey Fuller is still mourning three years after his wife’s death, so much so that he leaves his four rambunctious young children to throw himself into the Civil War as a Union captain. But his kids are so ill-behaved that nannies keep quitting—and now, his mother has a broken leg and can’t handle them either. In desperation, Joey decides to advertise for a wife.

Faith Haviland is in a different kind of mourning. Not long ago, her fiancé left her to marry her best friend. Her customers at the diner where she works keep reminding her of that humiliating event and one of them, an older man, has been making aggressive advances. She’s desperate to flee the city—and Joey Fuller’s “Wife Needed” ad seems to be the answer to a prayer.

Will Faith live up to her name when Joey’s kids torment her with their mischief? Can she surrender this strange marriage to God while her new aloof husband is off fighting? And will a string of buttons convince her that he truly loves her?

The Governess’s Earl by Regina Scott

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1804 – England

Is the best role for a bluestocking a bride?

Rejected by the man she loved, quick-witted bluestocking Rosemary Denby is determined to win the position of governess to the temperamental Lady Miranda, daughter of the Earl of Howland. Surely helping another young lady find the joy in learning is just what she needs to regain her confidence.

Drake, Earl of Howland, is struggling to find his footing as a widowed father, new earl, and suddenly penniless owner of the castle near the cozy spa village of Grace-by-the-Sea. But the new governess has him even more off balance. He loved once and saw his wife die in childbirth. The more he learns about Rosemary, the more he begins to wonder whether he can open his heart again. As danger once more draws closer to the castle on the headland, he and Rosemary must work together to keep the village and his daughter safe. Could his bluestocking governess be the one to teach him a lesson, in love?

Beauty Among the Ruins by J’Nell Ciesielski

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1915 – Scotland

An American heiress finds herself in Scotland amid the fallout of the Great War, and a wounded Scottish laird comes face-to-face with his past and a woman he never could have expected.

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?

Author Interview and Giveaway – Night Bird Calling – Cathy Gohlke

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Cathy Gohlke delivers stories that ask deep questions and touch the heart. Her newest, Night Bird Calling, offers a thought-provoking look into new beginnings and mending hearts. Welcome back to the Index, Cathy!

Night Bird Calling

When Lilliana Swope’s beloved mother dies, Lilliana gathers her last ounce of courage and flees her abusive husband for the home of her only living relative in the foothills of No Creek, North Carolina. Though Hyacinth Belvidere hasn’t seen Lilliana since she was five, she offers her cherished great-niece a safe harbor. Their joyful reunion inspires plans to revive Aunt Hyacinth’s estate and open a public library where everyone is welcome, no matter the color of their skin.

Slowly Lilliana finds revival and friendship in No Creek—with precocious eleven-year-old Celia Percy, with kindhearted Reverend Jesse Willard, and with Ruby Lynne Wishon, a young woman whose secrets could destroy both them and the town. When the plans for the library also incite the wrath of the Klan, the dangers of Lilliana’s past and present threaten to topple her before she’s learned to stand.

With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t.

Cathy’s Website

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Questions about Cathy’s Story

What inspired this story?

Years ago I wrote a number of short stories based on some quirky characters in a fictional North Carolina foothills town called No Creek. I loved those characters, but in order to create a novel I needed an outside character who could see both strengths and foibles in my town folk and still care about them, still want to become part of their community, and who could tie their stories together.

 For many years I’ve also wrestled with the idea of writing about the racial divide and abuse I saw growing up during years of the civil rights movement in the South, as well as domestic abuse and church oppression, things I experienced in my youth and young womanhood. Night Bird Calling is the marriage of all those experiences and stories.

Is there anything in this book that is inspired by/modeled after something in your own life or someone you know in real life?

Sometime after fleeing my abusive marriage as a young woman, as Lilliana does in Night Bird Calling, I bought an old trailer in a run down neighborhood—a far cry from Garden’s Gate—but the best I could afford at the time. Children in that neighborhood ran as wild and untended as weeds in a garden run amuck. I befriended many of those children—or they befriended me.  I bought a used bookcase and books at yard sales, then opened a lending library right there in my trailer. Children came for hours—sometimes to color pictures, read or be read to, enjoy glasses of milk and homemade bread with jam and just talk, asking questions about life and God and prison (where one of their fathers served time)—everything imaginable. Parents often took advantage of their community’s new “free” babysitter, but those were precious and healing days for the children and for me. Years later I remarried and bore my own precious children. When they were old enough I worked as a children’s librarian in a school. Those memories became the inspiration for Aunt Hyacinth’s lending library in Night Bird Calling

Which scene (give us the chapter) is your favorite, the one you never tired of working with? Give us a reason to look forward to it.

I loved working on the Christmas Pageant scene at the end of the book, Chapter Seventy-Four. I’ve always loved small church Christmas pageants where anything—or everything—can go wrong and yet still in wondrous, miraculous ways the true meaning and message of Christmas shines through. Like eleven-year-old Celia, I tried directing a Christmas pageant at a young age, and like Celia, neither grownups nor children lined up according to my hopes or expectations and yet it was exciting, and became one of my most precious memories from childhood.

 

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Questions about Cathy’s Reading

What was the last Christian Historical Novel you read, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Recently I read Melanie Dobson’s The Curator’s Daughter.  Melanie’s research and the world and characters she created from that research were intriguing, fascinating. Like all of Melanie’s books, I binge read it, unable to put it down. The Curator’s Daughter will release in 2021.

What Christian Historical Novel are you most excited to read that hasn’t yet come out?

I’m eager to read Carrie Turansky’s No Journey Too Far. It will release in 2021 and is the conclusion of a story about the tragic separation of a family through the British Home Children and the search to reunite those loved ones that began in her novel, No Ocean Too Wide. The history on which these books are based really tugs at my heart—just the kind of story Carrie excels in writing.

Cathy is giving away a paperback copy of Night Bird Calling, US entrants only. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Court of Swans by Melanie Dickerson

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1381 – England

Where there is wealth and power, there’s always someone willing to do anything to take it.

England, 1381: Delia’s idyllic life as daughter of an earl is shattered when her father dies and his wife accuses Delia’s seven brothers of treason and murder. The youngest is only ten years old, but this doesn’t stop the guards from hauling them off to the Tower of London. There they await a grim fate, as child-king Richard II is executing anyone who poses a threat to his throne. Delia is their only hope for pardon and freedom.

Sir Geoffrey did not expect his first assignment as captain of the guard to be the arrest of boys so young. He dutifully imprisons the brothers, but he can’t ignore the sense, rooted in personal experience, that injustice and treachery are at work.

Determined to rescue her brothers, Delia secures a position as a seamstress for the queen. Her quest is all but impossible as the executions continue. Sir Geoffrey offers to be her ally, but should she trust him in a court where everyone has an agenda?

Faith’s Mountain Home by Misty Beller

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1867 – Montana Territory

Nate Long has always watched over his identical twin brother, Aaron, even when it put him on the wrong side of the law. When Aaron is wounded in a shootout, the brothers are taken to Settler’s Fort to recover. As Nate works to make reparations for their past, he marvels at the nursing Aaron receives under the care of a woman with all the reason in the world to resent him.

Laura Hannon knows what it is to start over, and she knows Nate’s newfound faith is real. What she can’t look past is how far he allowed himself to be led astray by his brother’s weaknesses.

As a fledgling trust grows between Nate and Laura, they stumble upon a mysterious cave in the mountains that may not be as uninhabited as it seems. While working together to unravel the secrets surrounding the cave, will the new lives they seek for themselves include love, or does too much stand between them?

Endless Mercy by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

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1904 – Alaska

Madysen Powell has always been a forgiving person, but when her supposedly dead father shows up in Nome, Alaska, her gift for forgiveness is tested. With the recent loss of her mother, she searches for answers, leaning on Granny Beaufort, a neighbor in town, who listens with a kind heart. Still, Madysen is restless and dreams of performing her music around the world. The arrival of a traveling show could prove just the chance she needs, and the manager promises more than she ever dreamed.

Daniel Beaufort arrives in Nome, searching for his own answers after the gold rush leaves him with only empty pockets. Still angry about the death of his loved ones, he longs to start fresh but doesn’t have high hopes until he ends up helping at the Powell dairy making cheese. Drawn to the beautiful redhead with big dreams, will deceptions from the past tear apart any hope for the future?

Night Bird Calling by Cathy Gohlke

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1941 – North Carolina

When Lilliana Swope’s beloved mother dies, Lilliana gathers her last ounce of courage and flees her abusive husband for the home of her only living relative in the foothills of No Creek, North Carolina. Though Hyacinth Belvidere hasn’t seen Lilliana since she was five, she offers her cherished great-niece a safe harbor. Their joyful reunion inspires plans to revive Aunt Hyacinth’s estate and open a public library where everyone is welcome, no matter the color of their skin.

Slowly Lilliana finds revival and friendship in No Creek—with precocious eleven-year-old Celia Percy, with kindhearted Reverend Jesse Willard, and with Ruby Lynne Wishon, a young woman whose secrets could destroy both them and the town. When the plans for the library also incite the wrath of the Klan, the dangers of Lilliana’s past and present threaten to topple her before she’s learned to stand.

With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t.

All Through the Night by Tara Johnson

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1861 – Washington DC

With her stammering tongue and quiet ways, Cadence Piper has always struggled to be accepted. After the death of her mother, Cadence sets her heart on becoming a nurse, both to erase the stain her brother has left on the family’s honor and to find long-sought approval in the eyes of her father. When Dorothea Dix turns her away due to her young age and pretty face, Cadence finds another way to serve . . . singing to the soldiers in Judiciary Square Hospital. Only one stubborn doctor stands in her way.

Joshua Ivy is an intense man with a compassionate heart for the hurting and downtrodden. The one thing he can’t have is an idealistic woman destroying the plans he’s so carefully laid. When the chaos of war thrusts Cadence into the middle of his clandestine activities, he must decide if the lives at stake, and his own heart, are worth the risk of letting Cadence inside.

Everything changes when Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night?

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz

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1634 – Virginia Colony

Selah Hopewell seems to be the only woman in the Virginia colony who has no wish to wed. True, there are too many men and far too few women in James Towne. But Selah already has her hands full assisting her father in the family’s shop. And now she is in charge of an incoming ship of tobacco brides who must be looked after as they sort through their many suitors.

Xander Renick is perhaps the most eligible tobacco lord in the settlement. His lands are vast, his crops are prized, and his position as a mediator between the colonists and the powerful Powhatan nation surrounding them makes him indispensable. But Xander is already wedded to his business and still grieves the loss of his wife, daughter of the Powhatan chief.

Can two fiercely independent people find happiness and fulfillment on their own? Or will they discover that what they’ve been missing in life has been right in front of them all along?

Renewed Love by Linda Ford

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1849 – California/Traveling

Faith White needs to get safely to California. She’s desperate for a fresh start after being jilted by the man she’d planned to marry. There’s nothing left for her but memories and disappointments and a lost love.

For years Gideon Holder slaved away in a coal mine to save his father from going to jail. He earned his father’s freedom but lost everything else that mattered–including the woman he loved. Now Gideon plans to make up for lost time by searching for gold.

Gideon and Faith are shocked and dismayed to discover they’re both on the same wagon train to California. Gideon doesn’t want Faith to know about his father’s secret shame. Faith only wants to avoid the man who broke her heart. They vow to stay far away from each other, but that turns out to be impossible when they are assigned to travel as part of the same unit.

Can the adventures and challenges of the journey make them realize that their love is still alive?

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep

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1885 – England

There’s Often a Fine Line Between a Criminal and a Saint
 
Constable Jackson Forge intends to make the world safer, or at least the streets of Victorian London. But that’s Kit Turner’s domain, a swindler who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning the rich to give to the poor. When a local cab driver goes missing, Jackson is tasked with finding the man, and the only way to do that is by enlisting Kit’s help. If Jackson doesn’t find the cabby, he’ll be fired. If Kit doesn’t help Jackson, he’ll arrest her for thievery. Yet neither of them realize those are the least of their problems.

Archer by Camille Elliot

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1811 – England

She met him again by shooting him.

After four seasons and unmarried because she is taller than most of her dance partners, Miss Phoebe Sauber receives the shocking news that she is being callously banished from her father’s estate because he is remarrying. Feeling betrayed by her father and by God, and wanting to escape her family’s presence, she attends an archery tournament with her friends.

But her perfect aim fails her, and her arrow hits a piece of paper held by Mr. Michael Coulton-Jones, whom she hasn’t seen much in society in several years. But strangely, her arrow tears a section of the paper with a partial symbol that looks eerily familiar to her.

He met her again while searching for a killer.

Michael had quit his work as a spy for the Foreign Office when his brother was poisoned. His search for the murderer leads him to Apothecary Jack, a criminal underworld leader with a penchant for poisons, who is gathering a powerful army through an alchemical potion that can give men supernatural strength.

But his path unexpectedly crosses again with Miss Sauber, who saves him from a trap laid by Jack. She and her Aunt Laura, Lady Wynwood, have found a vital connection to Apothecary Jack and the mysterious group he works for.

Now Michael, who had vowed to never again allow civilians to come to harm, must work with a nobleman keeping dangerous secrets, a human lie detector, a chemist, a fellow former spy, and the one woman he’s never allowed himself to get close to.

And it is only this ragtag group that stands against a traitorous organization that could enable Napoleon to conquer the world.

Dreams of Savannah by Roseanna White

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1861 – Georgia

Cordelia Owens can weave a hopeful dream around anything and is well used to winning the hearts of everyone in Savannah with her whimsy. Even when she receives word that her sweetheart has been lost during a raid on a Yankee vessel, she clings to hope and comes up with many a romantic tale of his eventual homecoming to reassure his mother and sister.

But Phineas Dunn finds nothing redemptive in the first horrors of war. Struggling for months to make it home alive, he returns to Savannah injured and cynical, and all too sure that he is not the hero Cordelia seems determined to make him. Matters of black and white don’t seem so simple anymore to Phin, and despite her best efforts, Delia’s smiles can’t erase all the complications in his life. And when Fort Pulaski falls and the future wavers, they both must decide where the dreams of a new America will take them, and if they will go together.

A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund

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1862 – Colorado Territory

Greta Nilsson’s trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.

Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He’ll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt’s ranch if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying and starting a family. And the mayor, who has promised to try to help Greta, has just the candidate in mind for Wyatt to marry.

Timeless Treasure by MaryLu Tyndall

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1716 – Caribbean

A woman with a past searching for pirate treasure. A pious professor seeking worldly recognition. And an historic pirate who brings them together.

The only thing Lexie’s mother left her after her death was a folder full of ancient letters and an old coin. Determined to remove the curse of poverty and crime from her family’s past, Lexie sets off to Charleston, S.C. to find the mythical treasure of Stede Bonnet.

Professor Barret Johnson represents everything Lexie hates. Born to wealth and privilege, Barret’s family are pillars of the community, successful, educated, Christians who never suffered a day in their lives. Yet she has no choice but to allow him to help her decipher the letters.

As the couple read each letter, we are transported into the past where we follow the adventures of Stede Bonnet from his start in Barbados, through each success and failure, and his eventual connection with Blackbeard himself.

Lexie discovers a kindred spirit in her ancestor, Bonnet, and lessons learned from the past soon drift into the present. But someone is after the letters, and soon Barret and Lexie find themselves in grave danger. They must figure out the puzzle Bonnet left them and retrieve the treasure before whoever is after them gets desperate enough to end their lives.

For the Love of Emma by Starr Ayers

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1938 – North Carolina

A rose-covered grave, seventy-nine letters, and a scribbled note unearth buried emotions and the timeless beauty of first love.

When Caroline Myers discovers a box of letters in her deceased mother’s trunk, she’s captivated by the romance that unfolds between her mother, Emma Rose Walsh, a nineteen-year-old waitress, and Noah Anderson, a handsome young soldier.

Determined to read between the lines, Caroline and her sister, Kate, set out on a search that leads them to the North Carolina foothills and the padlocked gate of the Anderson family cemetery. Will the one who holds the key keep them from unearthing long-buried secrets and fulfilling a request their mother tucked inside the box sixty-four years earlier? Will they find closure—or encounter a surprising revelation that plunges them deeper into the past?

A Lady’s Dilemma by Sherrinda Ketchersid

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1190s – England

A prequel to Lord of Her Heart, this novelette tells how Elena Dumont finds her true love. Betrothed to one Ashburne brother, but loving the other sets Elena on a quest for happiness. But she finds that submitting to her destiny may very well lead her to her heart’s desire.

Drawn by the Frost Moon: Finding Pretty Wolf by April Gardner

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1814 – Alabama

One man was hers for a season. The other, for a lifetime.

Many moons have passed since the spirits threw Pretty Wolf together with a scrawny brave and left them to scratch out an existence in a deserted, war-torn village. Though he became dear to her, duty to the People lured her away. Back now with her fugitive clan in faraway Spanish Territory, she lives at the trade post with her longtime betrothed, the Englishman called Iron Wood.

When their war party returns with captive enemy warriors, Pretty Wolf is ill-prepared for one of them to be the boy she abandoned in the north. Neither is she prepared for that boy to have donned a generous spread of muscles. Or for him to have no trouble calling her master.

Night is falling on the Defiance, and it promises to be burial-black. But as Creator Path Maker promised, Strong Bear has found his Wolf. All that’s left is to pray that when the bluecoats invade and rip at the last shreds of her beautiful spirit, there will be something left of her for Strong Bear to love.

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