Author Interview and Giveaway – The Hudson Collection – Jocelyn Green

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Need something out of the ordinary? The heroine is an ornithologist and the hero is an architectural salvage dealer–have you seen that combo in a book before? Welcome Jocelyn to the Index!

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The Hudson Collection

Elsa Reisner’s lifelong dream of working as an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History is fading as the job begins to drain her passion. But fate takes an unexpected turn when she is assigned to catalog the bequest of a recently deceased patron whose Gothic country mansion holds secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered.

As Elsa delves into her task, she forms an unlikely bond with the estate’s delightful gardener and her daughter, as well as an architectural salvage dealer who still bears scars from the Great War. Together, they embark on a thrilling treasure hunt for a missing relic intended to safeguard the servants’ futures before the estate is sold. At the same time, Elsa’s body seems to betray her with new symptoms from a childhood disease that isn’t through with her yet.

With the brooding veteran and her handsome colleague joining the search, Elsa must navigate the tangled web of secrets and hidden motives along with the changing state of her health. As her deadline looms ever closer, will she be able to secure a new life for her friends before the estate slips from their grasp?

Jocelyn’s Website

Jocelyn Green

Others in this Series:

Metropolitan Affair

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Questions about Jocelyn’s Story

Were there any historical facts that you discovered in your research that made you change something in your story?

Yes! I didn’t realize when I first came up with the idea for this story that the eugenics movement was in full swing during this time period. Knowing that really helped shape the character arc for the protagonist.

 

What research did you have to look up to make your character’s professional decisions authentic?

For Elsa’s career as an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History, one of the resources I used was a guide on how to skin and stuff birds, published by the AMNH right around the time my novel takes place. For Luke’s career as an architectural salvage dealer, I had a fascinating interview with a man who works with the period rooms in the Daughters of the American Revolution museum.

 

Did you stumble upon anything in your research for this book that you thought was strange or surprising?

All kinds of things. The most surprising was the true story of the Incubator Babies sideshow on Coney Island. At that time, hospitals didn’t have incubators so premature babies rarely survived. But parents who allowed their babies to benefit from the incubators in this sideshow often were able to take their babies home after they grew enough under nurses’ care there. People paid to see the incubator babies, which is really uncomfortable, but those babies had a much higher survival rate than preemies that didn’t have the opportunity to grow in an incubator.

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Questions about Jocelyn’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen. I listened to it a second time because it is such a feel-good story, and I was also getting ready to read the next book in the series and wanted to refresh my memory on all the relational dynamics.

The Sisters of Sea View

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

Joanna Davidson Politano’s The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple!

The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple

Jocelyn is giving away a paperback (USA Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Girl from the Hidden Forest – Hannah Linder

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A suspenseful, gothic tale that seems to have Rapunzel vibes is calling to me, is it calling to you? Welcome Hannah to the Index!

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The Girl from the Hidden Forest

The nightmares may free her…but destroy the man she loves.

Eliza Ellis has stayed hidden in Balfour Forest for as long as she can remember. Perhaps her only friends are the trees, or her little dog, or her story-telling father called Captain. But at least she is safe from the cruel world outside, a world Captain has warned her against and protected her from.

That is, until a handsome stranger named Felton Northwood invades her quiet forest and steals her away. Why does he tell such lies? Why does he insist that her name is Miss Eliza Gillingham, daughter of a viscount, who disappeared fourteen years ago after the murder of her own mother? A murder Eliza is said to have witnessed.

When Felton returns Eliza to Monbury Manor and reunites her with a man who is told to be her father, all she remembers are the strange nightmares that have plagued her since childhood. Why have they suddenly grown worse? Are the answers hidden inside her own mind?

As danger mounts and lethal attempts are made on her life, Eliza and Felton must work together to uncover the identity of a killer who has stayed silent for fourteen years. When she finally uncovers the horrendous memories trapped in her mind, will divulging the truth cost her the man she loves—and both of their lives?

Hannah’s Website

hannah linder

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Questions about Hannah’s Story

 

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

Hands down, Felton Northwood. For his foolhardy determination, for his ridiculous notion that fisticuffs can resolve anything, for his mask of callousness but the underlying softness and protectiveness that Eliza draws out of him. Yes, he’s imperfect and reckless. More insufferable than not. But he loves like madness—and he has enough courage to fight the world.

 

What do you hope readers learn from this story?

As beautiful as stories are, as magical and lulling as our imagination can sometimes be, reality will always be just a little bit sweeter. Sometimes we need to step out of our dreams, put away our books, and embrace the real world around us. We all have a story to live. I hope the reader, like Eliza, can see the beauty in finding it outside of pages.

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Questions about Hannah’s Reading

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

Anything by Michelle Griep! Many Regency romances are reminiscent of Jane Austen—lovely stories, tea time, balls, witty conversations—but Michelle adds a darker, gothic twist to the genre with her spellbinding novels.

The Sleuth of Blackfriars Lane

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

Protecting the Mountain Man’s Treasure is calling my name! I’m giddy with excitement for my upcoming beach trip so I can binge read several books without interruption.

Protecting the Mountain Man's Treasure

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

Flight from Stonewyck by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella. May or may not have ugly cried like a baby. This book haunted me.

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Lady with the Dark Hair – Erin Bartels

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I have for you a gorgeous dual-time book revolving around an art mystery chocked full of mostly set in Gibraltar–quite an unusual setting, not sure I’ve seen #ChristFic set there before. Welcome Erin to the Index! 

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The Lady with the Dark Hair

Esther Markstrom and her artist mother have always been proud of their ancestor, painter Francisco Vella. They even run a small museum and gallery dedicated to raising awareness of his scandalously underappreciated work. But when Esther reconnects with her former art history professor, she finds her once-solid family history on shaky ground as questions arise about Vella’s greatest work–a portrait entitled The Lady with the Dark Hair.

In 1879, Catalan orphan-turned-fugitive Viviana Torrens has found sanctuary serving in the home of an aging artist in Southern France. It is in his studio that she meets Francisco Vella, a Gibraltarian merchant who sells artists’ pigments. When her past catches up to her, she is compelled to pose as Vella’s sister and join him on his travels or be deported back to Spain to stand trial. Along the way she will discover that the many parts she has been playing in order to hide her identity have far-reaching implications she never could have foreseen.

 Erin’s Website

Erin Bartels

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Questions about Erin’s Story

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The research! I have always been interested in art, both viewing and creating it. So to write a book focused on painters and painting was an absolute delight. I got to plunge myself into the biographies of female painters, both famous and (more often) obscure, and histories of particular art movements. I learned about the discovery and adoption of the pigments artists have used over the centuries (which is fascinating and occasionally horrifying stuff). I visited several special exhibits and collections of world-famous paintings and painters at top-tier museums (you know, the stuff you see in books and on posters, but the real thing). I did a lot of painting myself (more on that later).

It’s one of the things I like most about writing all of my novels: I get to go deep into subjects I’m curious and passionate about and all the while I’m also getting stuff done. Win-win.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

Much of the book, in both the past and present timelines, is set in Gibraltar, a setting I have not personally encountered in my own fiction reading. Beyond it being unique and not overdone as a setting, I chose Gibraltar for several story-based reasons. It is a crossroads of different cultures, a gateway to two seas and two continents, a geological structure that is both solid and riddled with caves and tunnels, and a piece of land that has been fought over for millennia. All of those characteristics are things I explore in my characters and the place itself becomes a metaphor and a touchpoint for my two main characters, Viviana and Esther. Its peculiar history also allowed me to consider issues of conquest, colonization, and control in both history and in my characters’ lives. I became interested in Gibraltar through conversations with a former professor of mine who is Gibraltarian, and I was able to rely on him to provide many books, conversations, and other resources that were vital to my research. I hope after reading this book you want to travel there!

 

What research did you do to make your character(s) authentic?

Beyond reading many, many books about Gibraltar, painting and painters, colors and pigments, and mental illness (one character in the story suffers from schizophrenia), I did a lot of hands-on research. For all of 2022, I painted one self-portrait a month since the story centers around a portrait and two characters (one in each timeline) paints self-portraits regularly. I shared these all on my social media channels—the failures and the successes. Though I’ve been painting since I was a child, I have been intimidated by the idea of painting people, so this was a fun, eye-opening, and ultimately successful experiment in learning how to accurately depict the human face. I also participated in a life drawing class, both as an artist and as a model, to understand what it feels like to draw a nude person or to sit for long periods, totally exposed, while strangers draw you. Oddly, it’s not as weird or uncomfortable as you might think.

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Questions about Erin’s Reading

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?

Oddly enough, it is my job to sell other authors’ fiction! I’m a marketing copywriter for a Christian publishing house, so I get to read a lot of great books and write the back cover copy that is meant to make others want to buy the book. One of the best I’ve read is Sarah Sundin, who writes WWII historical romances. Sarah has meticulous attention to detail, but that never takes over the story. I think that is something that separates the best historical fiction from stories that are on the dry side. The best authors know how to use their research to transport you to another time and place, but they keep you focused on character and plot to drive you through the story. And Sarah Sundin is exceptionally good at this. Her When Twilight Breaks is the first in a loose trilogy (I say loose because they are standalones but there is some character crossover) along with Until Leaves Fall in Paris and The Sound of Light about American women in Europe (Munich, Paris, Copenhagen) in the early years of the war. You can’t go wrong with one of Sarah’s books.

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

The last one I read is Until Our Time Comes by debut author Nicole M. Miller, which doesn’t actually release until July 2024, but you can preorder it now. What I liked about this book was that it opened up a true WWII story I knew nothing about and, in fact, had never heard of: the fight to save hundreds of Arabian horses bred at the world-famous Janów Podlaski stables in Poland from occupation by both the Russian and German armies. Since WWII is such a popular time and place to set historical fiction, it runs the danger of rehashing the same old stories. So to discover a completely new-to-me slice of the WWII pie was unexpected and exciting. Hopefully there will be additional novels from Nicole M. Miller in the future!until-our-time-comes

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Author Interview and Giveaway – A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventure – Angela Bell

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How many of you love a twist on your favorite genre? Steampunk is a delightful mix of history and fantasy, I think. And there’s a brand new one this month! Welcome Angela Bell to the Index!

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A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventure

When Clara Marie Stanton’s ex-fiancé begins to spread rumors that her family suffers from hereditary insanity, it’s all Clara can do to protect them from his desperate schemes and society’s prejudice. Her family may be eccentric, yes, but they certainly aren’t insane. Then Clara’s Grandfather Drosselmeyer brings on an apprentice with a mechanical leg, and all pretense of normalcy takes wing.

Theodore Kingsley, a shame-chased vagabond skilled in repairing clocks, wants a fresh start far from Kingsley Court and the disappointed father who declared him dead. Upon returning to England, Theodore meets clockmaker Drosselmeyer, who hires him as an apprentice, much to Clara’s dismay. When Drosselmeyer spontaneously disappears in his secret flying owl machine, he leaves behind a note for Clara, beseeching her to make her dreams of adventure a reality by joining him on a merry scavenger hunt. Together, Clara and Theodore set off to follow Drosselmeyer’s trail of clues, but they will have to stay one step ahead of a villain who wants the flying machine for himself—at any cost.

Angela’s Website

Angela Bell

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Questions about Angela’s Story

What inspired this story?

This story was inspired by the grand adventure of Around the World in 80 Days and the enchanting whimsy of The Nutcracker. While Verne’s Phileas and Passepartout set forth on a race around the world, the characters in my book embark on a merry scavenger hunt across Europe. In every city they explore, my characters enjoy a regional dessert inspired by the confectionary citizens in the Land of Sweets who dance to honor young Clara in Tchaikovsky’s ballet. It was such fun to draw inspiration from these stories! I hope readers will enjoy finding the little head nods, easter eggs, and references to them I sprinkled throughout the book.

 

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

What a fun question! Let’s see…oh, there’s a delightfully funny scene in Chapter 27, which never failed to make me laugh out loud with every reading. It takes place in a magnificent European cathedral. All is hushed and somber until something rather unexpected happens thanks to the antics of my heroine’s animal-loving mum, Mrs. Stanton. Then the grandiose silence is abruptly shattered, and the fur quite literally flies as absolute hilarity ensues! Just thinking of the scene makes me smile.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

Like my heroine, I’ve always been fascinated by faraway places, especially Europe, but unexpected life circumstances have prevented me from traveling as much as I’d like. As I plotted the course of my fictional scavenger hunt, I specifically chose cities and landmarks I hope to see in real life one day, and through the magic of YouTube, travel blogs, and virtual online tours, I was able to visit them in my imagination. I learned about the cultures. Experienced the sights, sounds, smells, and local cuisine. Now, through this whimsical story, I hope to give readers a sensory experience that allows them to explore the world from the comfort of home.

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Questions about Angela’s Reading

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep. This gothic regency romance, inspired by the classic novel Frankenstein had me swooning and weeping in turn, necessitating the procurement of smelling salts and a proper handkerchief. With unflinching vulnerability, Griep’s tale explores the very depths of love and loss. Heartbreak and hope. Over the course of an achingly beautiful narrative, her complex characters bare their shattered hearts and weary souls without reserve, granting grief-stricken readers permission to do the same within the refuge of her story. The potent combination of raw honesty and resolute faith in God’s sovereignty makes for a tale that’s both gritty and utterly saturated with grace.

lostindarkness

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that surprised you with a plot twist you didn’t see coming?

When the Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer. This innovative novel is an achievement in storytelling. As a writer and voracious reader, I can usually spot a plot twist on the horizon or at the very least, discern the general trajectory of a story. But somehow, Meyer managed to keep me guessing from the first page to the very end. And OH MY STARS, what an ending! I re-read it three times because it was so unexpected and astounding and breathtakingly beautiful! I should probably mention the sequel, In This Moment, as well because Meyer managed to pull off the incredible time-crosser premise a second time, after making it even more complex, AND completely blew my mind with yet another brilliant plot twist I never saw coming!

When the Day Comes

What was the last Christian Historical Novel whose characters stayed in your head days after you finished reading it?

The Weight of Air by Kimberly Duffy. This engrossing novel combines the emotional drama of Downton Abbey with the glittering spectacle of The Greatest Showman. I read it a year ago, and the characters still reside in my head rent free. Upon meeting Isabella and Mabel, it’s apparent that these characters aren’t merely figments of the author’s imagination. These characters are real people—flawed and fascinating, complex and compelling. Instead of crafting their stories, Duffy surrendered her pen to living, breathing souls and invited them to tell their tales of heartache, grief, and redemption. These two women—each strong, beautiful, and broken in unique ways—told their tales with a heart-rending honesty that unmasked a darkness the glitter of the circus had long concealed. In revealing their insecurities, anxiety, and depression, Mabel and Isabella issued their own invitation. Share your story. Unveil the shadows that have darkened your heart and mind too long. Don’t let shame and fear keep you silent and isolated. For it’s only when the darkness is exposed that the light can flood in . . . and with the light, comes the realization that we are never alone, not even in the shadows. This novel is an innovative triumph in the world Christian Fiction, but more importantly, it’s a beacon of hope for countless women, like myself, who are intimately acquainted with depression’s oppressive shadow.

Weight of Air

Angela is giving away a paperback (USA or Canaday Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Of Love and Treason – Jamie Ogle

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Welcome Jaime to the Index with a book set in Rome that talks about St. Valentine just in time for Valentine’s Day!

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Of Love and Treason

Valentine defies the emperor and becomes a hero . . . and the most wanted man in the empire. Compelled by his faith, he has nothing to lose, until a chance encounter with the daughter of a Roman jailor changes everything. 

Rome, AD 270. In the wake of the emperor’s marriage ban, rumors swirl that there is one man brave enough to perform wedding ceremonies in secret. A public notarius and leader of an underground church, Valentine believes the emperor’s edict unjust and risks his own life for the sake of his convictions. But as his fame grows, so do fears for his safety.

Iris, the daughter of a Roman jailor, believes regaining her sight will ease the mounting troubles at home. Her last hope rests in searching out Valentine and his church, but the danger of associating with people labeled a threat to the empire is great. Still, as Iris’s new friends lead her to faith in God, Iris is drawn to Valentine and they both begin to hope for a future together beyond the treacherous empire.

 But when a past debt and a staggering betrayal collide, Valentine, Iris, and everyone they love must fight for their lives . . . and wrestle with trusting a God who can restore sight yet does not always keep His followers from peril.

Jaime’s Website

ogle

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Questions about Jamie’s Story

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

Chapters 46 and 47 are some of my favorites. It’s a point in the story that is so long in coming, so full of tension and emotion—and the ending makes me laugh every time. It’s another one of those moments when one of the characters took over the writing and did something no one was expecting—myself included.

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

My male main character is Saint Valentine. His story of courage, bravery, and self-sacrificing love captured me from the moment I read the snippets of legend that remain. The more I researched him and the history that surrounded his life, I knew it was a story that had to be written.

Did any of the characters in this book “surprise” you?

There’s a scene early in the book where Valentine goes home to find his aunt Beatrix mixing perfume and forcing him to smell her newest concoctions. Although I’d already plotted the entire book, that was the first time Beatrix had ever popped into my brain or onto the page. She brought so much life, wisdom, and personality to the story, I can’t imagine it without her.

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Questions about Jamie’s Reading

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

I just finished The Girl from the Papers, by Jennifer L. Wright. Her stories are gripping, and I loved the message that no matter how far gone we think we are, we always have the choice to stop and turn to God.

The Girl from the Papers

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

There are so many upcoming releases that I’m super excited for! Laura Frantz is an author I love for her slow-burn, tension-filled romances, and I’m really excited to read The Seamstress of Acadie, which released in January.

The Seamstress of Acadie

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

All that is Secret by Patricia Raybon is up next on my TBR and I’m super excited to read it! I love a good mystery, and I couldn’t resist the Sherlock Holmes vibes and a heroine who is a female New Testament theology professor. Clearing my schedule now!

allthatissecret

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Calling on the Matchmaker – Jody Hedlund

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Isn’t this a beautiful cover to begin a new series with? I love when the heroes are on covers instead of only the heroines. Welcome Jody Hedlund to the Index!

Calling on the Matchmaker ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  , 

Calling on the Matchmaker

Haunted by the death of her sister, Finola Shanahan has resolved that she’s not worthy of a family of her own and commits to spending her days caring for immigrants in the slums. When Finola sabotages yet another unwanted relationship her parents arranged for her, her father calls upon the local Irish matchmaker, who pairs her with successful wagonmaker Riley Rafferty. Finola quickly realizes her usual tricks won’t work on him, however, as she cannot outsmart or outwit the dashing, determined, and daring man.

A candidate in the St. Louis mayoral election, Riley is confident a union with the wealthy Shanahan family will help solidify his chances of winning–and even more assured he and Finola can make a difference together. When a cholera outbreak begins to take St. Louis by storm, they must navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger testing all they know about love and sacrifice.

Jody’s Website

Jody Hedlund

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Questions about Jody’s Story

 

What inspired this story?

Since I love romance more than anything else, I thought the matchmaker idea would be a fun way to tie a series together. As I began researching matchmaker stories, I realized that there is a long tradition of Irish men being matchmakers. So, the Irish matchmaker takes the stage in all of the books.

Knowing I wanted to use the Irish, I researched places that had large Irish populations in the 1800s, and St. Louis was one of them. As the Gateway to the West, St. Louis was full of danger, disease, and disaster—all of the things that make for a great story and the perfect setting for the Shanahan family.

In particular, I chose the year 1849 as the starting point for this series because a number of tragedies occurred in St. Louis at that time, including a deadly cholera epidemic and a tragic fire along the riverfront.

 

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

Obviously I love the hero and heroine! But aside from them, Bellamy McKenna, the matchmaker, is one of my favorite characters in this series. He is in the process of beginning to take over the matchmaker duties from his father and has some different, less conventional ways of bringing about matches. He’s not only intuitive, but he’s also very clever. Readers will hopefully fall in love with Bellamy (and maybe, just maybe, he’ll get his love story eventually too!).

 

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

A story set in St. Louis in 1849? What’s so special about that? Why read a story set there?

Lots of reasons, actually! Let me tell you just a few:

• 1849 St. Louis was a year for DIVERSITY. As the “Gateway to the West,” people from all over the world were arriving every day, many with the hope of traveling to California to get rich from the gold that had just been discovered.
• 1849 St. Louis was a year for DEATH. A deadly cholera epidemic plagued the city for months and thousands died.
• 1849 St. Louis was a year for DISASTER. An enormous fire broke out among steamboats on the levee and destroyed large portions of the city.

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Author Interview and Giveaway – A Winter by the Sea – Julie Klassen

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Isn’t this a lovely cover, gives you the wintery vibe, but not too harshly, and what’s not to love about having a handsome man forced to spend time with you so that you can fall in love? 🙂 Welcome, Julie, to the Index!

A Winter by the Sea

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A Winter by the Sea

When the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their baby daughter (the future Queen Victoria) rent the neighboring cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal couple’s male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they’ve invited secrets and the sweet possibility of romance into their home as well.

Julie’s Website

Julie Klassen

Other books in the series:

The Sisters of Sea View

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Questions about Julie’s Story

What inspired this story?

During my research, I learned that the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their baby daughter stayed in Woolbrook Cottage (very near fictional Sea View) during the winter of 1819-1820. I instantly knew I wanted to include them in the novel to give readers a glimpse of the early life of Queen Victoria and her parents. The royal party arrived with too many attendants to accommodate at Woolbrook, so some were lodged elsewhere. I thought it would be fun to have a few staff members stay at Sea View, including a pastry chef who invades their kitchen, a man in desperate straits, and the duke’s handsome private secretary.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

I chose the seaside resort town of Sidmouth, Devon because Jane Austen herself visited Sidmouth and is believed to have based her unfinished novel Sanditon on that town. When I began writing this series, I had not yet traveled to Sidmouth. I am happy to say I was able to visit in August 2022 and was thrilled to experience this delightful town in person. The highlight of that trip was meeting the staff and volunteers of the Sidmouth Museum who have been extremely helpful in answering research questions and checking setting details for me.

 

Did you stumble upon anything in your research for this book that you thought was strange or surprising?

While I enjoyed learning about seaside customs and strongly held beliefs about the health benefits of sea-bathing (even in winter), I was surprised to learn physicians also recommended drinking sea water!

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Questions about Julie’s Reading

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

Regency novels by Sarah Ladd, Michelle Griep, or Abigail Wilson are similar in setting.

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

I recently reread Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly after many years. I read it to remind myself of its slow-growing romance and ended up enjoying the book all over again.

Love Comes Softly

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? 

Abigail Wilson; I love the way she weaves together Regency romance and gothic mystery. I’d choose Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that surprised you with a plot twist you didn’t see coming?

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano

Julie is giving away either a (signed paperback) (USA Only) (or an ebook)(Internationals Entry welcome). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – A Million Little Choices – Tamera Alexander

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The first dual timeline novel from a well established historical author, are you ready? Welcome, Tamera Alexander, to the Index!

A Million Little Choices

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A Million Little Choices

1863/Present – Georgia

Claire Powell’s life is turned upside down when her beloved husband admits to a “near affair.” But when Stephen accepts a partnership with an Atlanta law firm without consulting her and buys a historic Southern home sight-unseen—it pushes their already-fractured marriage to the breaking point. Claire’s world spirals, and she soon finds herself in a marriage she no longer wants, in a house she never asked for.

In 1863, Charlotte Thursmann, pregnant and trapped in a marriage to an abusive husband, struggles to protect her unborn child and the enslaved members of her household. Desperate, she’s determined to right the evils her husband and others like him commit. But how can one woman put an end to such injustice? Especially if her husband makes good on his threat to kill her?

Both Claire and Charlotte discover truths about themselves they never realized, along with secrets long hidden that hold the power to bring God’s restoration—if only they choose to let it.

Tamera’s Website

tamera

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Questions about Tamera’s Story

What was the hardest part of your book to write?

Definitely the parts that show the marriage disintegrating. Those were brutal to live alongside the characters. All the little choices Stephen and Claire make, seemingly thoughtless decisions that lead them down a very slippery and heartbreaking slope. And yet, having been married almost 40 years now, I am not unfamiliar with those myriad daily little choices.

 

Which scene is your favorite, the one you never tired of working with?

Honestly? I love how Clare opens the story with the phone call from Stephen and the bombshell he drops on her. Her reaction is classic to a struggling marriage caught in a tug-of-war, and we can feel the wheels of their marriage grinding to a painfully uncomfortable place. The tug of war in marriage is real for her. And she knows which buttons of Stephen’s to push.
Alternately, we walk with Charlotte Thursmann, the woman who lived in the same house in the 1800s, and we see her in a very similar situation. Only, there are stark differences in the choices open to her and the ones open to Claire. I loved exploring that dichotomy.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

Yes, most certainly. Several, actually. The backdrop of Civil War Atlanta is the historical part of the dual timeline story, and I included some other events that I’d rather be a surprise for the reader (would be major spoilers). But as a historical writer at heart, know that real history abounds in these pages, as in my previous Southern and Colorado novels.

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Questions about Tamera’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. I try and let a few years go before joyously diving into these stories again. Talk about rich characters and eternal truths. And compelling history! Highly recommend that 3-book series.

avoiceinthewind

What Christian Historical Novel did you last personally recommend to someone and why did you recommend that one to them?

Michelle Shocklee’s Count the Night by Stars. Because it’s a wonderfully consuming dual timeline love story set in Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel in the 1960s and the 1890s. As Library Journal said about Shocklee’s novel, “It’s good to the last drop!” Incidentally, this novel is a 2023 Christianity Today Book of the Year Award winner! Yay, Michelle!

Count the Nights by Stars

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Wings of Poppy Pendleton – Melanie Dobson

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Look at this beautiful cover, it’s so intriguingly different, don’t you think? Welcome Melanie to the Index!

The Wings of Poppy Pendleton , , , , , , , , ,

The Wings of Poppy Pendleton

In this compelling new time-slip mystery, a little girl goes missing from her family’s castle in the Thousand Islands of New York. Eighty-five years later, a journalist teams up with a woman living on Koster Isle to find out what happened to Poppy, once and for all.

1907. On the eve of her fifth birthday, Poppy Pendleton is tucked safely in her bed, listening to her parents entertain New York’s gilded society in their Thousand Islands castle; the next morning, she is gone, and her father is found dead in his smoking room.

1992. Though Chloe Ridell lives in the shadows of Poppy’s castle, now in ruins, she has little interest in the mystery that still captivates tourists and locals alike. She is focused on preserving the island she inherited from her grandparents and reviving their vintage candy shop. Until the day a girl named Emma shows up on Chloe’s doorstep, with few possessions, save a tattered scrapbook that connects her to the Pendleton family. When a reporter arrives at Chloe’s store, asking questions about her grandfather, Chloe decides to help him dig into a past she’d thought best left buried. The haunting truth about Poppy, they soon discover, could save Emma’s life, so Chloe and Logan must work together to investigate exactly what happened long ago on Koster Isle.

Melanie’s Website

Dobson_Melanie

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Questions about Melanie’s Story

What inspired this story?

Poppy’s story was inspired by several seemingly random threads. First were the mysterious Thousand Islands with their Gilded Age castles, moody storms, and many secrets. Second was the recent discovery of a girl adopted by my great-grandparents in 1923 and my quest to find out what happened to her. And then last was the persistent question in my mind about where we find lasting joy amidst the temporary fixes and distractions in our world. It was a long process, but these dangling threads finally wove themselves into The Wings of Poppy Pendleton.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

I actually “discovered” the Thousand Islands through two different novels: Devyn’s Dilemma by Susan Mathis and The Humming Room by Ellen Potter. Both of these stories captivated me with the beauty and legends of the St. Lawrence River, and I quickly realized that these New York islands were the perfect home for Poppy’s fictional world.

 

Did you stumble upon anything in your research for this book that made you laugh?

One of the main characters in my story is a caretaker named Cade Ridell. While I was researching in New York, a couple named Ken and Melody Brabant (authors of River bRat) graciously invited me to their home to share their stories of growing up in the Thousand Islands. I laughed when Ken first introduced himself as a “character.” While he is not Cade, he has been a caretaker on Grindstone Island for forty-plus years and told me that he begins each day with “a bowl of nuts and bolts.”

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Questions about Melanie’s Reading

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip (Sara Brunsvold) is an extraordinary story about a kind-hearted, lively woman in the final days of her life. “Authentic love is the greatest joy there is . . . ,” she says, “but it requires a thousand little deaths to self.” The novel is a beautiful reflection of the joys and struggles of a life well lived.

extraordinary deaths of mrs kip

What Christian Historical Novel did you last personally recommend to someone and why did you recommend that one to them?

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes is an inspirational time-slip novel that I frequently recommend. I love Amanda’s poetic writing, the compelling mystery, and how she weaves together the past and present timelines.

whosewavestheseare

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Author Interview and Giveaway – A Beautiful Disguise – Roseanna White

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What a beautiful cover to start a new series by Roseanna White! I hear there is a real live lion in Regency England in this book, intriguing. Welcome, Roseanna, to the Index!

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A Beautiful Disguise

In Edwardian London, not all that glitters is gold as a lady and an intelligence officer’s secret mission take them from the city’s dazzling ballrooms to its covert intelligence offices.

Sir Merritt Livingstone has spent a decade serving the monarch in the field, but when pneumonia lands him behind a desk in the War Office Intelligence Division just as they’re creating a new secret intelligence branch, he’s intent on showing his worth. He suspects an aristocrat of leaking information to Germany as tensions mount between the two countries, but he needs someone to help him prove it, so he turns to The Imposters, Ltd. No one knows who they are, but their results are beyond compare.

Left with an estate on the brink of bankruptcy after their father’s death, Lady Marigold Fairfax and her brother open a private investigation firm for the elite to spy on the elite. Dubbed The Imposters, Ltd., their anonymous group soon becomes the go-to for the crème of society who want answers delivered surreptitiously. But the many secrets Marigold learns about her peers pale in comparison to her shock when she and her brother are hired to investigate her best friend’s father as a potential traitor.

Lady Marigold is determined to discover the truth for her friend’s sake, and she’s more determined still to keep her heart from getting involved with this enigmatic new client . . . who can’t possibly be as noble as he seems.

Roseanna’s Website

Roseanna White

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Questions about Roseanna’s Story

 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really loved putting my aristocratic siblings into such a strange situation and then showing how much fun they had with it, despite all the stress. I mean, nobles forced to work for their bread is interesting on its own, but I had SUCH fun not only making them investigators, but investigators who use the most unexpected skills, learned from the very entertainers on whom they father wasted their legacy!

 

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

Though I love all my human characters, my absolute favorite for this is actually an animal—Leonidas, a retired circus lion who now lazes about the stables at my heroine’s family estate, Fairfax Tower. Leonidas considered Lady Marigold and her brother Yates part of his pride…so naturally he has some pretty fun roles to play in the story! I actually loved him so much that I purchased a gorgeous, colorful painting of a lion from artist Leonid Afremov. It captures him perfectly!

 

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

When I discovered that 1909 was the year when England’s first multi-brand intelligence service was formed, MI5, plus when haute couture really began gaining ground—it’s when Coco Chanel opened her first boutique in Paris—and also discovered that England was in the grips of a full-on spy mania at the time thanks to, of all things, a novelist…well, I knew that was the right year for me!

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Questions about Roseanna’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

Connilyn Cossette’s Voice of the Ancient just arrived in my mailbox, and it’s calling to me every time I walk by my shelf! I love how she takes me away to the biblical world and sheds new light upon it for me.

Voice of the Ancient

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

Jocelyn Green’s The Metropolitan Affair. I love-love-love Egyptology, so those themes were total Roseanna-nip, and I especially loved the insight the heroine shares about identifying fakes—the best way to know when something isn’t real is to study what is.

Metropolitan Affair

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Ladies of the Lake – Cathy Gohlke

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Are you looking for something other than romance? Perhaps an ensemble cast book about friendships? Then try Cathy’s latest. Welcome to the Index, Cathy!

Ladies of the Lake ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  

Ladies of the Lake

After two young women’s deep bond is torn apart, what will it take to bring them together again? In Ladies of the Lake, the beloved author of Saving Amelie and Night Bird Calling returns with a transformative new historical novel about the wonder and complexities of friendship, love, and belonging.

When she is forced to leave her beloved Prince Edward Island to attend Lakeside Ladies Academy after the death of her parents, the last thing Adelaide Rose MacNeill expects to find is three kindred spirits. The “Ladies of the Lake,” as the four girls call themselves, quickly bond like sisters, vowing that wherever life takes them, they will always be there for each other. But that is before: Before love and jealousy come between Adelaide and Dorothy, the closest of the friends. Before the dawn of World War I upends their world and casts baseless suspicion onto the German American man they both love. Before a terrible explosion in Halifax Harbor rips the sisterhood irrevocably apart.

Seventeen years later, Rosaline Murray receives an unsuspecting telephone call from Dorothy, now headmistress of Lakeside, inviting her to attend the graduation of a new generation of girls, including Rosaline’s beloved daughter. With that call, Rosaline is drawn into a past she’d determined to put behind her. To memories of a man she once loved . . . of a sisterhood she abandoned . . . and of the day she stopped being Adelaide MacNeill.

Cathy’s Website

Gohlke_Cathy

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Questions about Cathy’s Story

What inspired this story?

When I first read of the Halifax Explosion (December 6, 1917), I was astonished that I’d never heard of it, considering that before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in WWII, this was the biggest man-made explosion that had ever occurred.

Reading of the devastation, of lives lost and those forever changed by burns, crippling, and blindness in the Halifax Explosion, I was reminded of all my mother endured as a small child after being badly burned, how she overcame that tragedy, and yet how those injuries affected her throughout her lifetime.

It was fascinating to me that with so many disappearing in the explosion some took the opportunity to reinvent themselves and change their identity. I asked, why would a person do that? What would make a person choose to leave everything and everyone behind and forge a new life?

Also, the growing disregard for others and increased bullying that I witness through social media and in our society greatly concerns me. I wanted to show through story that such things—to which we may turn a blind eye—can go beyond rudeness and can have serious and lasting consequences that we may never intend or imagine.

I was inspired by Joseph’s handling of those who wronged him in the Bible, how he reacted when faced with the opportunity to retaliate or to forgive and embrace, and I wanted to see how that could play out through fictional characters.

Lastly, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of young people growing up in boarding schools, so I looked for a girls’ boarding school in New England, knowing that I wanted to set the main part of the story in the US. That’s when I discovered Miss Porter’s School and its long and interesting history. I could well imagine four girls growing up as close friends in such a setting and together facing numerous challenges—many like challenges we face today.

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

I am blessed with a precious natural sister who was my very first friend and lifelong confidante, and dear longtime women friends, each a true sister of my heart. Those relationships have taught me the importance of sharing faith, truth from our hearts, trust, integrity, of championing one another’s successes, of comforting through trials and sorrow, and of refusing to allow jealousy, envy, or competition to worm their way between us.

Close relationships can be challenged when years, courses and stages of life, or miles come between us. Love is not fragile, but it does require nurturing. Staying connected through letters or emails, cards, phone calls, and visits requires diligence and commitment. The value, the joy, and the strengthening of those relationships is worth every investment for ourselves, for those who observe our relationships, and for the generations that will follow.

So while the experiences of the women in Ladies of the Lake are far from my own, the love and support they ultimately offer one another are things that my sister and friends and I have grown into through the years.

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

Addie is my favorite character. I understood her shyness, her desire to fit in with other girls, her feelings of shame and vulnerability as a young person and her eagerness to grow into her desired gifts of teaching and writing. I understood her desire for friendship, her sacrificial loyalty to those she embraces as family, as well as her desire to disappear when the thought of returning to the world she’d known became conflicted and difficult, and when duty called her in a new direction.

I appreciated Addie’s/Rosaline’s sacrifice, her determination to raise her niece as her daughter, and her great love and desire to protect her. I was inspired by Addie’s courage in overcoming her fear to return to the school years later for her daughter’s sake, even though she knows it will cost her everything to confess her secrets, to remember and confront all those she’s left behind, especially the man she’s always loved. I loved writing Addie’s character arc, witnessing her growth into the woman she was meant to become.

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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?

I just finished reading Carrie Turansky’s new novel, The Legacy of Longdale Manor. I loved how Carrie explored the building of godly relationships while needing to maintain faith through very serious trials and disappointments, and how she revealed the restorative fatherhood of God. Set amid the dramatic beauty of England’s Lake District—one of my favorite places on the planet—The Legacy of Longdale Manor is a romantic and deeply satisfying love story revealing our heavenly Father’s shepherding grace.

The Legacy of Longdale Manor

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that surprised you with a plot twist you didn’t see coming?

Mystery at every turn threads The Wings of Poppy Pendleton, Melanie Dobson’s captivating family saga set amid the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. Absolutely fascinating and beautifully written—I could not put this book down. Through plot twists and the gradual unfolding of deeply buried secrets dawns the realization that our plans are not always best, but that truth, seeking forgiveness and moving forward in faith in the sure light of God’s love is the path to peace and greatest joy.

The Wings of Poppy Pendleton

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

Amanda Barratt’s Within These Walls of Sorrow is a brilliant novel—a story so steeped in historical detail and ringing with such a voice of truth that you can hardly believe it’s fiction. Within These Walls of Sorrow recounts in stark reality the lives and losses of men, women, and even children cast into a raging sea of inhumanity, incomprehensible for its calculated brutality. Unflinching, brave, stark, never sentimental but penned with the deepest emotion, the novel recounts the story of persecuted and condemned Jews and of the Gentile pharmacists of Apteka Pod Orlem, the only pharmacy determined to remain open within the walls of Krakow, Poland’s ghetto during WWII. The pharmacists and their network of collaborators daily risked their lives to help Jews within the city of Krakow—inside its ghetto and out. Convicting and inspiring are the two words that best capture this story for me.

Within These Walls of Sorrow

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Heart’s Choice – Peterson and Woodhouse

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This is the first book in a new series! Those are always fun because they promise a whole new “world” to explore. Welcome, one half of this writing duo, Kimberely Woodhouse, to the Index!

Heart’s Choice ,  ,  ,  ,  

The Heart’s Choice

They must uncover the truth before it’s buried forever.

After witnessing a wrongful conviction as a young girl, Rebecca Whitman–the first female court reporter in Montana–is now determined to defend the innocent. During a murder trial, something doesn’t sit well with her about the case, but no one except the handsome new Carnegie librarian will listen to her.

Librarian Mark Andrews’s father sent him to college hoping he would take over the business side of the family ranch, but Mark would rather wrangle books than cows. When a patron seeks help with research in hopes of proving a man’s innocence, Mark is immediately drawn to her and her cause.

In a race against time, will Rebecca and Mark find the evidence they need–and open their hearts to love–before it’s too late?

Kimberley’s Website

woodhouse

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Questions about Kimberley’s Story

If you could be one of your characters, who would you choose to be and why?

Funnily enough, I love the character Marvella Ashbury. She is in all three books of the series and as a side character, she makes me laugh. I hope when I’m older, I’m as much fun as she is. Just maybe… not as pushy. 😊

 

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

Because it was when the Carnegie Library opened and in each book of this series, we are using an historical landmark (they are all currently still there in Kalispell) as a backdrop for the story.

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Questions about Kimberley’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

The Metropolitan Affair by Jocelyn Green

Metropolitan Affair

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

TRACIE PETERSON – no doubt there.

And which is your favorite by that author?

Wherever You Go

whereveryougo

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Confessions to a Stranger– Danielle Grandinetti

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I love that this is a Fish out of Water story with a fisherman main character. How appropriate! Welcome, Danielle, to the Index!

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Confessions to a Stranger

She’s lost her future. He’s sacrificed his. Now they have a chance to reclaim it—together.

While fleeing for her life, Adaleigh Sirland’s rescue of a child introduces her to a family who provides her safe harbor. When her identity comes under threat of exposure, she must choose between running once more or helping the man who teaches her to hope again.

First mate David Martins is intrigued by the mysterious woman taken in by his grandmother, but she wrestles with a troubled past. When his estranged father is arrested for murder, can David put aside his own struggles in time to discern which secret threatens Adaleigh before it kills them both?

Danielle’s Website

Danielle Grandinetti

Next in the Series:

Refuge for the Archaeologist

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Questions about Danielle’s Story

What inspired this story?

My background is in Intercultural Communication, and one fascinating aspect of communication is about sharing personal information with another person, especially when that information is highly personal and the person a near stranger.

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

Yes. I wrote this book after a traumatic birthing experience. Writing became a place for me to wrestle with those emotions. Out of that, Adaleigh’s character was born.

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

When David finally takes Adaleigh out on a date, I mean boat, to go fishing. It turns magical and romantic … until, well, I won’t share all the details.

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

Yes. In 1930, Memorial Day was always May 30, no matter what day of the week it fell on. It wasn’t until 1968 that it became set on the last Monday in May. Confessions to a Stranger begins on Memorial Day, which happens to be a Friday that year.

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Questions about Danielle’s Reading

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?

Roseanna M. White. She is probably my favorite historical romance author and four of her books have my top favorite heroes. I’d probably put them in this order:
Sheridan (To Treasure an Heiress)
Camden (On Wings of Devotion)
Brice (The Reluctant Duchess)
Thad (Whispers from the Shadows)

totreasureanheiress

What was the last Christian Historical Novel whose characters stayed in your head days after you finished reading it?

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer, and I loved that whole series.

no other will do

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Dreams of the Heart – Penny Zeller

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A great big welcome to Penny Zeller on the Index. I don’t know what it is about pink on covers, but it always entices me! AND IT’S ONLY 99 CENTS RIGHT NOW as an ebook!

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Dreams of the Heart

Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.

Poverty and abuse at the hands of her drunkard father leaves Hannah Bane trapped and alone. Without hope, she prays for a miracle just on the off-chance God will hear her. Will the handsome new deputy, who seems to be watching her every move, be Hannah’s one chance to escape the only life she’s ever known?

For as long as he can remember, John Mark Eliason has wanted to be a deputy sheriff. When a job opens in the nearby town of Poplar Springs, he eagerly accepts, but finds his greatest mission won’t be tracking down criminals and bringing justice to the ruthless Wyoming town, but saving a beautiful young woman he barely knows.

Will an unexpected answer to a difficult situation show how love can endure—and even thrive—in an unconventional situation? Or will fear and uncertainty keep two hesitant hearts apart?

Penny’s Website

zeller author photo

Other Books in the Series:

Love's New Beginnings

 

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Questions about Penny’s Story

Did any of the characters in this book “surprise” you?

Pritchard definitely surprised me. He sauntered into the book and made himself right at home, and I had no idea how he would fit in or what his story was. With a love for a certain woman’s cooking and his easygoing and witty nature, Pritchard soon became one of my favorite secondary characters.

 

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

I chose 1894 so that main character, John Mark Eliason, would be old enough to be a deputy sheriff. He makes his first appearance in Forgotten Memories as a thirteen-year-old.

 

What do you hope readers learn from this story?

The main theme of this book is hope. Hannah often wondered if God heard her prayers because He hadn’t yet answered one of the biggest dreams of her heart. Even in the hardest times, the Christian can be assured that God is in control and has a plan no matter how difficult the circumstances are.

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Questions about Penny’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel did you last personally recommend to someone and why did you recommend that one to them?

The writing world is a tough one, and I love to help and encourage debut/up-and-coming authors in any way I can. I recently wrote an endorsement for Abbigail Raine B.’s debut novel, The Guardian: A Three Sisters Novel.

the guardian

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

It’s been a little while since I read it, but I recall Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke making me cry.

savingamelie

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you laugh out loud?

I love Lorna Seilstad’s historical novels in the Lake Manawa Summers series. What an amazing writer!

makingwaves

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Rescuing Rose – Susan Pope Sloan

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Isn’t this a lovely cover? Welcome Susan Pope Sloan to the Index with her Civil War set novel!

Rescuing Rose

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Rescuing Rose

His army destroyed her livelihood. She represents the people he scorns. How can they reconcile their differences when the whole country is at war?

When the Union Army marches into Roswell, Georgia, and burns down the cotton mill where Rose Carrigan worked, not only is her livelihood destroyed but she’s also taken prisoner and shipped northward with the other workers. Only the unlikely kindness of one of her guards makes the trip bearable.

Union Captain Noah Griffin hates the part of his job that requires him to destroy the lives of innocent civilians, but at least he’s able to protect these women he’s been ordered to transport to Louisville, Kentucky. Especially the one whose quick wit and kindness draw him.

While they’re forced to wait in Marietta, two fugitives arrive to complicate matters between Rose and Noah. As Rose heads north and Noah returns to the battlefront, they each face fears and prejudices. With survival so tenuous, only faith can help them find love in the midst of so much tragedy.

Susan’s Website

sloan

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Questions about Susan’s Story

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

Yes, the whole premise of my story is based on a historical event, and I include several historical characters.

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

The event dictated the setting, which begins in Georgia and moves to Louisville, Kentucky

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

The event dictated the year and almost every date. I used the calendar of events from the Union’s Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry to trace the movements of my hero, Noah Griffin, who was an officer in that unit.

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Questions about Susan’s Reading

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

Pegg Thomas’s Sarah’s Choice

sarahschoice

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you laugh out loud?

Mary Connealy’s Braced for Love

bracedforlove

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

Both Jocelyn Green (Yankee in Atlanta) and Stephenia McGee (Eternity Between Us) have similar stories that begin in the South or with Southern women who travel North.

eternitybetweenus

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Secret Society of Salzburg – Renee Ryan

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Friendships, World War II, and Opera–What a combination! Welcome Renee Ryan to the Index with her newest release!

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The Secret Society of Salzburg

At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.
 
Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.

Renee’s Website

renee ryan's website

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Questions about Renee’s Story

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

In my research about British Immigration Policy during the interwar years, I stumbled upon the daring Cook sisters, Ida and Louise. These brave women orchestrated the rescue of 29 Jews from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. What drew me to their story was my indirect connection to the younger sister. Between 1936 and 1985, Ida wrote 112 romance novels as Mary Burchell for Mills and Boon, many of which were later reissued by my publisher Harlequin. Like the fictional Hattie and Vera, the Cook sisters were civil servants with a strong passion for opera. In fact, they first learned of the persecution of Jews through their association with Austrian conduction, Clemens Krauss, and his wife, Viorica Ursuleac. If you’re interested in finding out more about Ida and Louise Cook, I highly recommend Ida’s autobiography, We Followed Our Stars, which was reedited and expanded in 2008 as Safe Passage.

What research did you have to look up to make your character(s) authentic?

I wasn’t much of an opera fan before I wrote this book, which was a challenge since one of my two main heroines is an international opera star and the catalyst for the heroine’s first meeting. After spending hours watching video clips and learning about vocal control, I am a true devotee. I highly recommend any version of The Queen of the Night’s aria from the second act of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

My personal favorite rendition is by Diana Damrau from her performance with The Royal Opera. The Flower Duet from Lakmé by Delibes is another recently discovered gem. Check out Elīna Garanča & Olga Peretyatko’s performance.

Did you stumble upon anything in your research for this book that you thought was strange or surprising?

A particularly twisty path down a rabbit hole landed me at the gates of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. Located in northern Germany in the town of Bergen, the facility began its life as a prisoner of war camp during the second world war. The official opening date is somewhat in question. However, in 1943, a portion of the facility became an “exchange camp” where valuable Jewish inmates were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war. Estimates claim that some 2500 Jews were released or exchanged between the summer of 1943 and December 1944, though it may have been more. By March of 1944, a portion of the facility was designated as a “recovery camp” and inmates too sick to work were brought there from other camps. With them came innumerable diseases. In November of that same year a section was dedicated solely to women and, sometime in the spring of 1945, both Margot and Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belson.

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Questions about Renee’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.

Patti Callahan’s Once Upon a Wardrobe was a revelation on so many levels. Her voice soared off the page. I can pick up a Patty Callahan book, flip to any page and know she’s the author. What a master of word choice and staying true to your own style. She made me smile, sigh, and sob like a baby. My biggest takeaway as a writer was to remember when crafting my main characters that each one must have a unique way of thinking and original way of conveying those thoughts. I shouldn’t need a chapter header for the reader to know which character’s story arc I’m following.

Once Upon a Wardrobe

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

I recently reread Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love because of the recent movie. I last read the book over ten years ago. The story still holds up. The brokenness was at times painful to read, but also inspiring. I also reread the book of Hosea and was blown away with the truth that God never lets us go. Or, as I like to say, God is always faithful, even when we are not.

redeeming love

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?

I always recommend Patti Callahan’s books. Once Upon a Wardrobe is my favorite, with Becoming Mrs. Lewis a close second. I’m a huge CS Lewis fan and she really brought him alive for me in both books. I would love to sit down and chat with him. Reading Patti’s books was the closest I’ll ever get and that’s okay with me. He came off quite likeable and very multi-dimensional.

becomingmrslewis

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Blackout Book Club – Amy Lynn Green

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What avid reader doesn’t love a book about books? Welcome Amy Lynn Green, once a lady who helped market my books and now writing her own!

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The Blackout Book Club

In 1942, an impulsive promise to her brother before he goes off to the European front puts Avis Montgomery in the unlikely position of head librarian in small-town Maine. Though she has never been much of a reader, when wartime needs threaten to close the library, she invents a book club to keep its doors open. The women she convinces to attend the first meeting couldn’t be more different–a wealthy spinster determined to aid the war effort, an exhausted mother looking for a fresh start, and a determined young war worker.

At first, the struggles of the home front are all the club members have in common, but over time, the books they choose become more than an escape from the hardships of life and the fear of the U-boat battles that rage just past their shores. As the women face personal challenges and band together in the face of danger, they find they have more in common than they think. But when their growing friendships are tested by secrets of the past and present, they must decide whether depending on each other is worth the cost.

 Amy’s Website

Green_Amy

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Questions about Amy’s Story

 

Did any of the characters in this book “surprise” you?

Since I start writing with only a vague idea of what will happen next, the character of Louise Cavendish, heiress and owner of the library building, turned out much differently than I’d planned. Throughout the book, we see glimpses of her past that shaped who she is in the present, and the ideas that came to me suddenly helped me understand her and feel more sympathy toward this somewhat-difficult character. From her lost love to her desire to serve as a nurse in WWI and then in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, her past was much more complicated than I’d realized at the start.

 

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

In chapter 27, my feisty Rosie the Riveter character, Ginny, talks herself into a pancake eating contest with a local man at a war benefit breakfast. It was one of the first scenes I wrote to understand who she was, and it still makes me laugh every time, although later in the writing process I added some devastating news to the end of the chapter that puts more of the plot into motion.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

There were many real WWII home front details I got to sneak into the story, but my favorite was this can’t-believe-it’s-real detail: the Hooligan Navy. That was the nickname for a ragtag group of civilian volunteers who were commissioned to patrol up and down the Atlantic Coast in borrowed yachts and other crafts on the lookout for U-boats. I included some of the actual comical hijinks that ensued, including a city slicker who almost had the crew radio in a German sub sighting, but found out that the “periscope” he’d seen was just a surfacing porpoise. They did have a few moments of heroism along the way that made it worth the effort, but the majority of the days were filled with tedium and sunburn.

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Questions about Amy’s Reading

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin has some overlap because of the theme of books bringing very different people together during wartime, though her book has a French Resistance plotline. And the cast of female characters with strong and varied personalities on the U.S. home front was inspired by one of my favorites of Lynn Austin, A Woman’s Place. I love and would highly recommend both of them!

untilleavesfallinparis

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.

I’ve learned so much from current Christian historical fiction authors, but for this one, I’m going to dive way back and say Saint Ben by John Fisher. You may never have heard of this one, but it was the first Christian fiction book I ever read, set in the 1950s, with a preteen pastor’s kid as the narrator. Not only did it resonate with me because of the exploration of questions of faith and doubt, but as a writer-in-training, on multiple re-reads I paid attention to the engaging voice, loveable characters, balance of humor and serious issues, and most of all, the way that Fisher raised questions for the readers to consider rather than preaching at them. It’s a brilliant story that still impacts me now, over fifteen years later.

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

So many! But one high up on my list is All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes. Her stories are always full of light and hope, and this one has so many intriguing elements (bookstore, Venice setting, mystery plotline) that I can’t wait to read it once it releases.

all the lost places

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Hidden Prince – Tessa Afshar

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Do you love Biblical fiction but want to see more variety of who the stories are based on? Tessa does a lovely job of finding new people to create her stories, check out her latest!

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The Hidden Prince

The beloved daughter of Jewish captives in Babylon, Keren is sold into Daniel’s household to help her family survive. She becomes Daniel’s most trusted scribe, while taking lessons and swordsmanship training alongside Daniel’s sons and their best friend, Jared.

But after a tragic accident changes the course of her life, Keren finds herself in a foreign country, charged with a mysterious task: teaching a shepherd boy how to become a lord. When she overhears whispers that hint at his true identity, she realizes she must protect him from the schemes of a bloodthirsty king.

Jared cannot forgive Keren. Still, he finds himself traveling over mountains to fetch her back to the safety of home. When he discovers the secret identity of Keren’s pupil, Jared knows he must help protect him. Love battles bitterness as they flee from the king’s agents, trying to save the boy who could one day deliver their people from captivity.

Tessa’s Website

Tessa Afshar

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Questions about Tessa’s Story

What inspired this story?

I was researching and writing The Hidden Prince in the midst of the pandemic. It was a dark time for me, personally, as I went through some health challenges. I felt a lot of discouragement about the future. I decided to write a story about someone who felt like they had lost all hope that the future would be good again. But in the process of writing, I rediscovered my own hope for a fulfilling future! Like me, my heroine Keren found that just around the corner from the worst life has to offer, you will often run right into God’s best.

 

If you could be one of your characters, who would you choose to be and why?

I would probably choose to be Keren. She is strong and vulnerable at the same time, has a great sense of humor, and is incredibly nurturing. She is resourceful and manages to crawl out of the pit to face her fears! Unlike me, she is also a great traveler.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

There are several historical characters in this novel. King Cambyses of Persia and his wife Mandana; Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; King Astyages of Media (he is mean!); and the Prophet Daniel to name a few.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

I was born in the Middle East, and the Persian Empire, especially, remains an important part of my heritage. Although several Persian characters are named in the Bible, most Christians know very little about this fascinating kingdom. I loved discovering more about an important part of our history as God’s people.

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Questions about Tessa’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

I don’t often reread novels. But A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers is one that draws me again and again. I have reread sections of this book multiple times, both for the romance and the well-sketched Roman world.

avoiceinthewind

Who is your favorite Christian Historical heroine?

I will have to say Jane Eyre! You may not think of this book as “Christian” fiction. But I think it actually sets the standard for good Christian fiction. I love that Jane comes from such a broken background, and yet nothing that has happened to her robs her of a faith that leads her to virtuous choices that ultimately lead her to genuine happiness.

Jane Eyre (with an Introduction by Mary Augusta Ward)

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

That would have to be a tie between Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham, and Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen.

hopebetweenthepagesshadowsofswanfordabbey

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Secrets of Emberwild – Stephenia McGee

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What makes a cover better than a horse and a bright splash of sun! 🙂 Welcome Stephania to the Index with her latest book revolving around a woman desperate to save her horses!

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The Secrets of Emberwild

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The Secrets of Emberwild

1905 – Mississippi

A gifted trainer in a time women are not allowed to race, Nora Fenton prefers horses to men. They’re easier to handle, they’re more reliable, and they never tell her what to do. After her father’s passing, Nora is determined to save her struggling horse farm, starting with entering her prize colt into the harness races at the 1905 Mississippi Fair. If she wins, she may have a chance at independence. But when a stranger arrives and starts asking disconcerting questions, she suspects he may have other motives than unseating her in the training job that is rightfully hers.

Silas Cavallero will do whatever it takes to solve the mystery of his father’s death–even if it means training an unwieldy colt for Nora, who wants nothing more than to see him gone. But when mysterious accidents threaten their safety and circumstances shrouded in secrets begin unlocking clues to his past, Silas will have to decide if the truth is worth risking ruining everything for the feisty woman he’s come to admire.

Stephenia’s Website

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Questions about Stephenia’s Story

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

I actually have a degree in equine science, so I used my knowledge of natural horsemanship and my experiences with horses in this book. It was a lot of fun for Nora to share my love of horses and a few of my more interesting debacles with training!

 

Did any of the characters in this book “surprise” you?

Silas Cavallero turned out to be different than I expected him to be. He asserted himself on the page with a quiet strength that not only captivated Nora, but me as well. He continued to insist that he wasn’t the character I’d originally planned him to be and he ended up be the perfect complement to Nora’s strong spirit.

 

What research did you have to look up to make your character(s) authentic?

There were a lot of things to research for this book, including horse training methods and tack of the time as well as how harness racing would have been in the early 1900s.
I also spent a lot of time researching the Neshoba County Fair, which is a tradition that continues in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to this day. Every July, an entire population moves into a small city of fair cabins for a full week of horse races, contests, the midway, and time spent with family and friends. Cabins have been passed down for several generations, and it’s a place where you almost feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.

For this story, I got to go back to the early days of the fair when two hotels stood around the square with the original founders’ cabins. I dug through the Mississippi historical archives and studied maps laid out from the early 1900s fair. I was also able to find several newspapers from around the state advertising both the Neshoba County Fair and the Mississippi and Alabama Fair, which heavily publicized their harness races.

 

What research book or website used to write this book was your favorite to peruse?

I bought a reproduction copy of Gleason’s Horse Book, which Nora studies during the novel, an original copy of Correct Social Usage—these are the things Nora’s mother insists upon and Nora chafes against—and I have an original copy of a Mississippi State Fair premiums list from 1927. While this one was a few years past the time of the story, it gave me great ideas for the types of prizes that would have been offered. There were a lot of other research materials, but these were my favorites.

mcgee books

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Questions about Stephenia’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.

Can I just say anything at all by Joanna Davidson Politano? Oh my stars. That lady can write! Her imagery makes me go back and read paragraphs over and again because the wordsmithing is so beautiful. She really knows how to captivate the reader and draw you deep into the world of the characters. Her imagery taught me a lot about painting artful strokes with my words.

Lost Melody

Which character in a Christian Historical Novel do you wish you could spend time with in the real world and why?

I would love to meet Grace from Pepper Basham’s The Mistletoe Countess! That girl is so much fun! She’s witty, resourceful, and always ready for an adventure. Spending a day with her wouldn’t have a single dull moment.

mistletoecountess

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof. There was such a deep well of emotion in this story. I think I read the entire thing one Saturday and went through all of the feels. She did an amazing job of creating powerfully emotional scenes and that one has really stuck with me.

ladyandthelionheart

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Come Down Somewhere – Jennifer Wright

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Looking for a very unusually set book? Look no further than Come Down Somewhere, a coming of age story of two women involving the Trinity testing site during World War II in New Mexico.

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Come Down Somewhere

1945 – New Mexico

Sixteen-year-old Olive Alexander has lived on a ranch in the Jornada del Muerto region of southern New Mexico her entire life. But when World War II begins, the government seizes her family’s land for the construction of a new, top secret Army post.

While her mother remains behind, Olive is forced to live in nearby Alamogordo with her grandmother and find a place in a new school. When Jo Hawthorne crosses her path, Olive sees a chance for friendship—until she learns that Jo’s father is the Army sergeant who now occupies her beloved ranch. Already angry about her new reality, Olive pushes Jo away. But as she struggles to make sense of her grandmother’s lapses into the past and increasingly unsettling hints about what’s happening at the ranch, she slowly warms to Jo’s winsome faith and steady attempts at friendship . . . until one devastating day when the sky explodes around them and their lives are torn apart.

Seven years later, Jo returns to Alamogordo, still angry and wounded by the betrayals of that fateful day. Determined to put the past behind her once and for all, Jo hunts for answers and begins to realize the truth may be far more complicated than she believed, leading her on a desperate search to find her friend before it’s too late.

Jennifer’s Website

Wright_Jen

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Questions about Jennifer’s Story

What inspired this story?

My family and I moved to southern New Mexico in 2014, and we actually live less than 100 miles from the Trinity test site. Although I’d heard of the test, I didn’t know much about it. Living here, however, changed Trinity from something that had happened to something that is still very much happening to this day. This isn’t just history; where I live, it’s present in many people’s everyday lives, especially when you consider the effects of the test still being felt over seventy-five years later. I wanted to bring this story to the forefront and draw attention to the overlooked and underappreciated sacrifice of the people of southern New Mexico during World War II.

What was the hardest part of your book to write?

I have been to Hiroshima and seen the remnants of the bomb dropped there. Now I live in southern New Mexico as part of a military family but also part of a community that is still feeling the effects of the test. Because of this, my own personal feelings about Trinity are very complicated. I don’t think it was all bad, but I definitely don’t think it was all good either. Attempting to honor both those who worked on the bomb, believing they were doing something that would win the war and save lives, as well as those living here who were affected in monumental ways through the choices of others, was an extremely difficult balancing act.

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

The 1945 story line was obviously set to coincide with the Trinity test itself. Jo’s subsequent story line, however, was set in early 1952 because, later that year, the “green glass sea,” a layer of trinitite left over after the explosion, was bulldozed and buried. I knew I wanted to give Jo an opportunity to see it, as Trinity played such an important role in her journey, so I had to make sure she made it back to Alamogordo before the waning months of 1952.

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Questions about Jennifer’s Reading

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?

I have yet to read a book of Lynn Austin’s that didn’t absolutely knock it out of the park, so I think hers would be easy to sell. Her books are so fantastically well-written that it’s hard to choose but I’d have to say her latest, Long Way Home, has been my favorite read of 2022 so far.

Long Way Home

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

Stephanie Landsem’s upcoming release, Code Name Edelweiss, sounds absolutely fascinating. It doesn’t come out until March 2023, but I am waiting on pins and needles for that one!

code name edelweiss

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Author Interview and Giveaway – By Way of the Moonlight – Elizabeth Musser

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If you love horses and timelines, check out this book and the fascinating inspiration that relates to the author’s own life that brought about this story!

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By Way of the Moonlight

Two courageous young women, tied together by blood and shared passion, will risk everything to save what they love most.

For as long as she can remember, Allie Massey, a gifted physical therapist, has dreamed of making her grandparents’ ten-acre estate into a trauma recovery center using equine therapy–a dream her grandmother, Nana Dale, embraced wholeheartedly. But when her grandmother’s will is read, Allie is shocked to learn the property has been sold to a developer.

Decades earlier, headstrong Dale Butler’s driving passion is to bring home the prized filly her family lost to the Great Depression, but with World War II looming, she’s called upon in ways she never could have imagined. And while her world expands to include new friends and new love, tragedy strikes close to home one fateful night during the Battle of the Atlantic, changing her life forever.

As Nana Dale’s past comes to light in Allie’s search for answers, Dale’s courage and persistence may be just what Allie needs to carry on her grandmother’s legacy and keep her own dreams alive.

Elizabeth’s Website

Elizabeth Musser Website

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Questions about Elizabeth’s Story

What inspired this story?

As a Southern girl, most of my novels are set in the South, with Atlanta being my favorite city setting. But in this novel, I am not just focusing on Atlanta or even Buckhead, the neighborhood where I grew up and the setting of The Swan House. This time, I focus on the house and property where I grew up in Atlanta. I weave a fictional tale around my parents’ home on Nancy Creek Road as I ask questions about the worth of land, family history, memories, and shared dreams.

The inspiration for the Atlanta part of the novel came from growing up in the middle of Atlanta with a barn filled with horses in my backyard and several buried in the riding ring. Our five-acre property has been in the family since 1938, when my grandfather built a small house and a two-horse barn out in the boonies of Buckhead on a dirt road for his only child, my mom, to keep her horse and indulge her in her love of riding and showing. My mother was a great equestrian, showing and jumping until she was seventy, and I rode and showed as a child and teen.

Over the years, the house and barn have evolved into something of a rustic private paradise for our family. But estates like my parents’ are being bought up and sold to contractors who implode the house and create cluster mansions on the property. That was my mother’s worst nightmare, and I feel the same way. So I’ve wrestled in my mind for years with the question of “How can we keep this property after my parents are gone?” My novels often touch on themes that mirror events and ruminations in my own life, and so I began to pen a novel about finding alleged dinosaur bones in the backyard of an estate.

At the same time, I serendipitously happened on a photo of a group of military men galloping their mounts along the beach of Hilton Head Island—my family’s favorite vacation spot for the past fifty years. But this photo was taken during the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII when the island was mostly deserted. I found myself cantering into the world of the Coast Guard Mounted Patrol, affectionately called the Sand Pounders, and what a wild ride that was!

So I created a dual-time novel that highlights the wonder and adventure of my mother’s life as a young equestrian star, referring to real events but scooting the storyline back to the 1930s and ’40s (Mom’s heyday was in the ’50s)—the heroine is called Dale in the novel—combined with the intrigue of the Battle of the Atlantic, and then brought in my present-day protagonist, Allie, as her granddaughter, who has dreamed for all her life of turning Nana Dale’s estate into an equine therapy center.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

After finding that photo of the Sound Pounders, I started doing research in earnest. I discovered an article about a father-daughter team who reenact the famed Beach Patrol horseback units. Wayne Ormsbee, a civilian employee at Coast Guard Base Boston, and his daughter, Petty Officer Keisha Kerr, a coast guard active-duty boatswain’s mate, make appearances at parades, civic celebrations, veterans’ events, and horse shows, helping to rekindle interest in the storied Beach Patrol units.

Keisha was kind enough to do a Zoom call with me while she was on duty in Guam. She also pointed me to the book, Prints in the Sand by Eleanor Bishop. From there, I dug down many rabbit holes and learned about the two US tankers who were sunk by a German U-Boat off the coast of St. Simons Island. Then my husband and I journeyed to the island and spent hours perusing the excellent displays at the World War II Homefront Museum. We met a docent historian, Dr. George Cressman, who also provided previously classified documents detailing the creation of the Coast Guard Mounted Patrol and the different stations along all of the coasts of the United States. We also spent an afternoon on the grounds of what was Camp McDougal on Hilton Head Island, where the military camp and horses were housed during WWII.

Suffice it to say, I spent many, many hours understanding the Battle of the Atlantic and found it inspiring and fascinating. Especially the heroism of so many Stateside civilians doing their part to construct Liberty ships and guard the coasts when the German threat was at its height.

 

What do you hope readers learn from this story?

Allie and her Nana Dale are both strong women who are courageous, savvy businesswomen with a deep respect for family and a deep love for horses. One of the themes in the novel is about obsession. I wanted to examine the thin line between fighting for what you believe in and developing an unhealthy obsession. Both women learn important lessons about pursuing dreams at all costs, which may cause them to sacrifice something or someone they love.

While I was writing this story, my beloved father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away last February. My mother passed away six years ago. Suddenly, I was not only dealing with deep grief, but also all the questions that had originally inspired the story—how to keep the property—became very real. I have had to consider that theme of obsession for myself. My novel is preaching a sermon to me, and I hope it will also give my readers a lot of food for thought. A few other ‘takeaways’ I’d love to leave my readers are:

• Be kind and courageous.
• Find joy in helping others.
• Fight for what you believe in but fall on your knees often to make sure the Lord has the last say.
• Hold tightly to those you love.
• In life, you often have to take the risk of being misunderstood.
• Practice gratitude—Husy, Dale’s nursemaid, says it well: “It will never be enough, Dale, until you decide that you already have it all. You settle in your mind a grateful heart, a content spirit, and everything else will be gravy, girl.”
• Embrace paradox—Nana Dale tells Allie, “Life is paradox, Allie. When you learn to embrace it all, let it mix together like molasses in oats, well, the sweet fragrance comes out. Even when life stinks.”
And my favorite, which I found myself doing over and over as I wrote this novel:
• When life gets hard to stand, kneel.

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Questions about Elizabeth’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

As I was writing By Way of the Moonlight, I reread Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. That story was so compelling, I could read it ten times! I am always fascinated (and saddened, sickened, horrified, in the case of this story) to learn about a little known real historical incident.

I also wanted to see how Lisa constructed the time slip in the novel since I was writing my first true time slip novel. I came away once again deeply touched by the story, by the power of Lisa’s prose, and by her giftedness at keeping the reader engaged in two different time periods.

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?

Lynn Austin has been delighting her readers with wonderful Christian Historical Fiction for over 25 years. I’ve enjoyed many of her novels, but I think If I Were You is my favorite so far.

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

I was privileged to read for endorsement Janyre Tromp’s debut Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and especially appreciated her treatment of PTSD in veterans.

Shadows in the Mind's Eye

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Songs That Could Have Been – Amanda Wen

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This author and I live in the same city! She came to see me at a book signing several years ago hoping to be signing in the same bookstore one day, and she is! This book features the county we both live in through a dual time storyline. And the first book in this series I saw was just nominated for a book award recently, you should check this one out!

The Songs That Could Have Been

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The Songs That Could Have Been

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Two couples in love. Two sets of impossible circumstances. One powerful God of grace.

After a tailspin in her late teens, Lauren Anderson’s life is finally back on track. Her battle with bulimia is under control, her career is taking off, and she’s surrounded by a loving family. Then a chance meeting with Carter Douglas, her first love and the man who broke her heart, leads to old feelings returning with new strength. And suddenly her well-balanced world is thrown off kilter.

Now a TV meteorologist, Carter is determined to make amends with Lauren. After all, she still owns his heart. But the reasons they broke up aren’t lost–and those old demons are forcing him toward the same decision he faced in the past. He isn’t sure he’s courageous enough to make a different choice this time around.

When Lauren’s elderly grandmother, Rosie, begins having nightmares about a man named Ephraim–a name her family has never heard before–a fascinating and forbidden past love comes to light. As Lauren and Carter work to uncover the untold stories of Rosie’s past in 1950s Wichita, they embark on a journey of forgiveness and second chances that will change their lives–and Rosie’s–forever. Along the way they’ll learn that God wastes nothing, his timing is perfect, and nothing is beyond his grace and redemption.

Amanda’s Website

amanda wen

Other Books in this Series:

rootsofwoodandstone

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Questions about Amanda’s Story

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The Songs That Could Have Been is the second in my Sedgwick County Chronicles series, and my favorite part of writing it was fleshing out supporting characters from the first book. The free-spirited, sentimental Lauren was a perfect foil to her type A uber-planner brother, Garrett, in Roots of Wood and Stone; I fell in love with her and was thrilled to be able to explore her character more and give her a story of her own. Similarly, Garrett and Lauren’s grandmother Rosie always fascinated me, and I wanted to dig into her background. It was also a blast to bring back Garrett and Sloane in supporting roles in this book; turns out having a character who works in a historical museum is pretty handy when you’re writing split-time.

 

What was the hardest part of your book to write?

Basically the entire past timeline was the hardest part! Most of the scenes depicting racism were emotionally difficult for me to write as well as tricky: how do I portray the past accurately without causing unnecessary pain to present-day readers? I’m very grateful to my amazing sensitivity reader, Jayna Breigh, for helping me do the best I can to achieve that balance.

In my research, I also uncovered some of the Scriptures used to justify racial prejudice, and it made me think about how we modern-day Christians might also be misinterpreting or outright twisting Scripture. It’s alarming to think about, and caused me to pray for wisdom!

 

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

When I first started kicking around ideas for this story, I thought it might be interesting to set it in 1958 and include the sit-in at Wichita’s Dockum Drug, which—unbeknownst to many—was the country’s first successful lunch counter sit-in. However, as Rosie and Ephraim’s story unfolded, it became clear that I needed to set it in a time when there was very little hope for change and no reason to believe that an interracial romance would ever be accepted in mainstream society. The decision was for practical reasons, as well; I specifically stated Rosie’s age and high school graduation year in Roots of Wood and Stone, so that definitely limited my flexibility with her character!

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Questions about Amanda’s Reading

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

This might be cheating, because I actually had the privilege of reading this one for endorsement, but Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Still My Forever is charming and gorgeous and sweetly romantic, and I can’t wait for its release date in September so readers can fall in love with it just like I did! Gil and Ava’s second chance story is beautifully done, and Kim beautifully captures the soul of a musician in the character of Gil. Historical readers are going to devour this one!

still my forever

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

I’ve got two that are both taunting me from the pile, and I’m super frustrated that I haven’t found time to read either of them! I’m a huge fan of Joanna Davidson Politano, and her newest release, A Midnight Dance (which isn’t really that new anymore and I’m devastated to admit that I still haven’t read), looks outstanding! I’m also excited to dig into Crystal Caudill’s debut, Counterfeit Love. It sounds amazing and I have to admit a soft spot for Kregel authors. 😉

midnightdance

counterfeitlove

What was the last Christian Historical Novel you read that wasn’t something you’d normally pick but you ended up enjoying?

Gabrielle Meyer’s When The Day Comes intrigued me with its premise (a woman who’s a “time-crosser,” meaning she lives two lives in two different eras and must choose on her 21st birthday which era she’ll live out the rest of her life), but at the same time I was a little bit wary about it. I usually can’t suspend disbelief enough to enjoy books containing plots that couldn’t happen in real life, but I’d heard so many good things about this one that I grabbed it anyway, and I’m thrilled I did! Gabrielle’s writing is beautiful, both timelines are equally compelling and weave together beautifully, and even though the premise could never happen, the way she integrated faith into the stories is timeless and highly relevant. Also, the ending? *chef’s kiss* Perfection.

When the Day Comes

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Season of My Enemy – Naomi Musch

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Doesn’t the cover model look cute in her overalls? Welcome Naomi Musch to the Index, bringing us another heroine of World War II book!

Season of My Enemy ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  

Season of My Enemy

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1944 – Wisconsin

Only last year, Fannie O’Brien was considered a beauty with a brain, and her future shone bright, despite the war pounding Europe. With her father’s sudden death and her brothers overseas, Fannie must now do the work of three men on their 200-acre farm—until eight German prisoners arrive and, just as Fannie feared, trouble comes too. Someone seems intent on causing “accidents,” and Fannie is certain the culprit is one of the two handsome older Germans—or possibly both. Can she manage the farm, keep the prisoners in line, and hold her family together through these turbulent times?

Naomi’s Website

musch website

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Questions about Naomi’s Story

What inspired this story?

When I learned that there were thirty-eight prisoner of war branch camps in Wisconsin during WWII, and that German prisoners of war were sent to work on the farms and in the factories of my home state, I could hardly wait to write a story about the “what-ifs” of such a time, especially after reading some of the true stories told by those who lived through those experiences. Enemies really did become life-long friends and sometimes more.

Some people might think that to be impossible, or even that I was looking at that period through rose-colored glasses. After all, we’re talking WWII here. Atrocities. Horrors. Man’s evil to man. But the historical record is full of accounts where Germans and Americans sat down and ate together, shared a cold drink, and sometimes kept up a correspondence after the war—and more. There were a large number of prisoners that later immigrated to the United States to begin a new life.

Of course, one of the great difficulties in writing this story was in realistically being able to bring my characters together in situations where they, as enemies, could get to know each other a little bit more. I also needed to create an atmosphere where they might even develop an attraction. All this while keeping true to the narrative of mistrust and other historical nuances of the war, such as fear of sabotage.

 

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

In trying to introduce attraction between the hero and heroine while also not overlooking the antagonism and suspicion inherent to the situation, I had to create a few scenarios that brought the characters into close contact—and gave them the opportunity to see each other through different lenses than they expected. Throughout the first part of the book, my heroine Fanny is mistrustful and even hateful toward the Germans. She resents needing to have their help on the farm, and she only sees them as having evil intent. Then one day she and her siblings are taking a much-deserved respite with a swim in the nearby creek.

Fannie has almost set aside her worries about the farm, until the rustle of bushes announces the presence of the prisoners, then she and her younger brother and sister are caught swimming by themselves while a host of Germans stand on the embankment, watching them.

Fannie immediately feels vulnerable and angry at once. They’re all staring at her. Some are stripping off their shirts, getting ready to swim, and she can’t get her and her siblings out of the situation fast enough. She’s especially abashed by the German captain who speaks to her as she passes and another German prisoner who has shown her special attention.

But later on, when the prisoners also return from their respite, the captain asks permission of his American guard to speak to Fannie. She has no idea he’d been learning English, and she’s taken aback—especially when she learns he was a teacher back in Germany, something she desires to become. Even that some of the other prisoners were his students. Meanwhile, there’s the other prisoner who pays close attention to the discourse between Fannie and the captain.

This was a fun scene to write, and I think readers will enjoy the underlying sense of romance and suspense it entails.

 

What research book or website used to write this book was your favorite to peruse?

My favorite research book for this story was an out-of-print book called Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WWII Prisoner-of-War Camps by Betty Cowley. It was filled with historical accounts of those who remembered the prisoners staying in Wisconsin and working among them. Every PW camp in the state is described, and accounts of each are written about.

I tried to convey the same sense of reality in Season of My Enemy that I read about that I read about in those stories—many of which had very happy endings! I also included a few instance that were unusual, such as some I learned about in the book also.

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Questions about Naomi’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.

I just finished Sarah Sundin’s novel from a couple years back The Land Beneath Us (and now I’m on to her newest release, Until Leaves Fall in Paris). Sarah’s such a wonderful writer. She is at once precise and eloquent. Her plot threads are well woven and fully charged. She knows how to keep ramping up the tension, getting her character into deeper and deeper situations. There’s not a character that isn’t rounded and developed well. She is a master at research, and with each book she writes she gets better at rolling that research naturally into the storyline without bogging it down. It’s artistry, and I’m always trying to learn from all these aspects.

thelandbeneathus

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

I’m a huge fan of Pegg Thomas. Pegg writes mostly American colonial fiction, and she’s also coming out with a new Civil War series called A More Perfect Union. I already read books 1 and 3 in her Forts of Refuge series (Sarah’s Choice and Abigail’s Peace), and I can’t wait to sit down and read book 2, Maggie’s Strength. Each book is set at a different wilderness fort during Pontiac’s Rebellion which, along with the French and Indian Wars through the Revolution, is a period of history that’s a favorite of mine.

maggiesstrength

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that surprised you with a plot twist you didn’t see coming?

Just pick up any Jennifer Lamont Leo novel, and you’ll find a surprise waiting! Her stories are usually set in or around the 1920s. She’s terrific at including a twist that always works in perfectly. I love her writing, and she frequently tells very poignant stories. I was privileged earlier this year to be a co-author with Jennifer in the Lumberjacks & Ladies novella compilation from Barbour. And the only thing that didn’t surprise me, was that Jennifer gave readers another surprise!

lumberjackandladies

Naomi is giving away either a (signed paperback) (USA Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – A Promise Engraved – Liz Tolsma

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Hearken back to the time of the Texas Revolution with this dual timeline! Jim Bowie is a favorite at our house, in fact, there’s an unfinished Bowie knife on my computer table as I type this up….why all the unfinished knives end up on my desk? I don’t rightly know….but I’m sure a cameo in a book just might draw two of the men in my house. 🙂

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A Promise Engraved

Can Promises Made in Times of Struggle Endure 200 Years?

Young, spirited Josie Wilkins life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and secret love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. If he discovers the secrets of her painful past, he will never have anything to do with her. But then comes the Battle of the Alamo. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love?

Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hewland takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring that helps her discover who killed her parents. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Mullins, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to the ring end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love?

Liz’s Website

Liz Tolsma

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Questions about Liz’s Story

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I got to travel to San Antonio to research this book. At least, that’s what I tell people. I did spend two days there, visiting the historical sights, especially the Alamo, tasting the food, just getting the feel and the flavor of the city because I had never been there. The bonus is that my son lives in Austin, so I managed to sneak in a two-day visit with him!

 

What was the hardest part of your book to write?

The hardest part was that this was my first dual time novel. From learning about how to write two timelines, getting the stories to fit together in the end, how to tie the two stories together, and so much more, it really was a huge learning experience for me. I’m so grateful to Melanie Dobson for guiding me along the way.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

There are many historical characters in this book, including Santa Anna, Jim Bowie, William Travis, and Davy Crockett. Then there are the battles of Gonzales, Concepcion, and the Alamo. I don’t go into too much detail about these battles (except for the Alamo), but they do play a very important role in the book. If you read all the way to the end, I have historical notes in there. I don’t want to say too much because some might be spoilers!

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Questions about Liz’s Reading

What was the last Christian Historical Novel you read that wasn’t something you’d normally pick but you ended up enjoying?

Jody Hedlund has a series of time travel novels. The first is Come Back to Me, and the other is Never Leave Me. I wasn’t at all sure about time travel, but I had to read them because she was going to be a guest on my podcast. Wow, I was blown away by them. I couldn’t believe how much I loved them.

comebacktome

 

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

I’m just about finished reading Ashley Clark’s latest, Where the Last Rose Blooms. It’s so good. There’s a bit of suspense to it that I wasn’t expecting, so I really liked that.

wherethelastroseblooms

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.

Melanie Dobson’s book, The Winter Rose. Wow! The way she writes with such depth of character and setting, and how she so deftly weaves together the two timelines is amazing. I really studied her as I wrote this book. And often suffered from imposter syndrome because I did so!

winterrose

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Master Craftsman – Kelli Stuart

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Are you looking for unusual historical event in your reading? Look no further, we’ve got a Faberge egg designer in this one! A dual time line of treasure hunting and artistic secrets. Welcome Kelli to the Index!

The Master Craftsman, , , , , , , , ,

The Master Craftsman

Alma Pihl, a master craftsman in the House of Fabergé, was charged to protect one of the greatest secrets in Russian history–an unknown Fabergé Egg that Peter Karl Fabergé secretly created to honor his divided allegiance to both the people of Russia and the Imperial tsar’s family. When Alma and her husband escaped Russia for their native Finland in 1921, she took the secret with her, guarding her past connection to the Romanov family.

Three generations later, world-renowned treasure hunter Nick Laine is sick and fears the secret of the missing egg will die with him. With time running out, he entrusts the mission of retrieving the egg to his estranged daughter, Ava, who has little idea of the dangers she is about to face. As the stakes are raised, Ava is forced to declare her own allegiance–and the consequences are greater than she could have imagined.

Kelli’s Website

author kelli stuart

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Questions about Kelli’s Story

What inspired this story?

I stumbled across a news article a few years ago about a Russian imperial crown, and buried in the article was a side note about an American scrap metal dealer who had purchased what he thought was an innocuous piece of art at an auction, and he planned to melt it down and sell the gold. As he cleaned it up, however, he realized he had something much more valuable on his hands. He soon learned that he had found one of the missing Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs, and its value was estimated at $33 million. Immediately, I had my story. Where were the missing eggs, and what would happen if someone set out to find one?

 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The research! The House of Faberge was magical and opulent, and in its glory days was the center of Russian advances and culture. I loved exploring the making of the eggs and the life of Peter Karl Faberge. And when I discovered that he employed female master craftsmen, very advanced for his time, I was even more intrigued.

 

What was the hardest part of your book to write?

I often felt underqualified for this story. It felt much bigger than me and intimidated me quite a bit. It was the most challenging story I’ve written to date.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

The historical timeline is very accurate to real events, minus a few creative liberties. Did Peter Karl Faberge really design a mystery 53rd egg that he never told anyone about? Maybe. I don’t actually know. But it’s possible. He was a deeply creative man. But all the events and facts of the other designs, and the historical rumblings that led to the Russian Revolutions and ultimate demise of the Romanov family were all very accurate.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

I have a deep fascination with Russian culture and history, and on my bucket list is to visit St. Petersburg someday. Visiting it through fiction was step one!

 

What research did you have to look up to make your character(s) authentic?

I read extensively about the Faberge family and the House of Faberge. I ordered every book I could get my hands on, and I studied every picture of each Imperial Egg in detail.

 

What do you hope readers learn from this story?

I hope readers walk away a little intrigued about the history of the eggs. There are still 11 Imperial eggs missing. Perhaps one of my readers will take it upon themselves to find the next one.

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Questions about Kelli’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. Patti Callahan’s Once Upon a Wardrobe was a masterful piece of fiction in that it brought C.S. Lewis to life in such a realistic way that I felt like I knew him. Patti wastes no words in her writing.

once upon a wardrobe

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

I think Susie Finkbeiner is a master at taking a simple story and turning it into a powerful story. I love her writing.

thenatureofsmallbirds

Kelli is giving away either a paperback (USA Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Spark of Love – Amanda Cabot

15 Comments on Author Interview and Giveaway – The Spark of Love – Amanda Cabot

Our featured book this month is a love story with our hero and heroine dealing with their family in a beautiful area of Texas. With the ice covering the cars where I live, I’m thinking a trip to Texas sounds heavenly right now, even if it can only be a trip through the words of a book. 🙂 Thanks to Amanda for this month’s giveaway of her new Texas set release!

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The Spark of Love

When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra carves out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach.

But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler.

With so much to lose—and hide from one another—Alexandra and Gabe will have to come together if they are ever to discover whether the sparks they’ve felt from the beginning can kindle the fire of true love.

Amanda’s Website

Amanda Cabot

Others in the Series:

outoftheembersdreamsrekindled

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Questions about Amanda’s Story

What inspired this story?

I’ve always been fascinated by family dynamics and how our relationships with our parents have influenced our lives, and so when I started plotting this book, I knew that both Alexandra and Gabe would make critical decisions based on their relationships with their fathers. One relationship is warm and loving. The other … let’s just say “warm and loving” aren’t words I would use to describe it, but they were both so important that they provided what authors call the inciting incident that led both my hero and heroine to the same little town in Texas.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

The majority of my books are set in the Texas Hill Country. Why? It’s arguably one of the most beautiful parts of Texas, but even more than that, it’s a location with a rich history that just begs to be explored.

 

What research did you have to look up to make your character(s) authentic?

Although Alexandra is a skilled painter, my artistic skills are best described as nonexistent, so I spent a fair amount of time researching painting techniques, specifically working with watercolors. The research was enjoyable and left me with an even greater appreciation for artists’ talents.

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Questions about Amanda’s Reading

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?

I absolutely loved Regina Scott’s American Wonders series. It’s hard to pick a favorite, since each of them was beautifully written and meticulously researched, giving me fascinating insights into things as diverse as nineteenth century photography and mountain climbing, but since you’ve asked me to pick a favorite, it would be A View Most Glorious, set near Mount Rainier and featuring – you guessed it – the challenge of climbing the mountain.

aviewmostglorious

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

That would be Sarah Sundin’s Until Leaves Fall in Paris. I’ve been a fan of Sarah’s WWII books from the beginning and as a Francophile can’t wait to see how she portrayed Paris during that critical time.

untilleavesfallinparis

Amanda is giving away either a paperback (USA 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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Author Interview and Giveaway – Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War – Mary Davis

32 Comments on Author Interview and Giveaway – Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War – Mary Davis

Mary’s problems with hurricanes in this book reminds me of the time I had to move my story by year’s to avoid a snowstorm that would have ruined my whole plot! This story sounds like a great testament to the resilience of women, hope you check it out!

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Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War

A WASP Goes Above the Call of Duty to Free Captive American Soldiers
 
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
 
Peggy Witherspoon, a widow, mother, and pilot flying for the Women’s Airforce Service in 1944 clashes with her new reporting officer. Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg was injured in combat and is now stationed at Bolling Field in Washington D.C. Most of Peggy’s jobs are safe, predictable, and she can be home each night with her three daughters—until a cargo run to Cuba alerts her to American soldiers being held captive there, despite Cuba being an “ally.” Will Peggy go against orders to help the men—even risk her own life?

Mary’s Website

Mary Davis Headshot

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Questions about Mary’s Story

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran was an American female pilot and a pioneer in women’s aviation. She conceived of and headed the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). I mention her a few times and have her show up in a scene near the end. She was rather a high-level person working with the military brass, generals, and our country’s leaders, so I didn’t feel she would be working directly with my ladies. I also included hurricanes which took place during my story. I knew once I realized my story happened during and where hurricanes were, I needed to deal with them one way or another. (More about hurricanes in my next answer.)

Were there any historical facts that you discovered in your research that made you change something in your story?

Yes, the 1944 East Coast Hurricane season. I was working through some of the details of my plot, minding my own business—or rather the business of my characters—when a stray thought popped into my head. When is hurricane season? Being a West Coast gal—born and bred—I don’t think much about hurricanes until a big one hits and makes the news. So, I researched the 1944 hurricane season and cringed. I needed to either move my story to earlier in the year to avoid the hurricanes, move my story to a different part of the country, again, to avoid hurricanes, or plunge headlong into one of the worst ones that year. Who wants to race into a hurricane? With all the challenges I had planned for my WASPs, the last thing they needed was a hurricane to content with. Also, I really didn’t want to do extensive hurricane research. On a cursory scan of 1944 hurricanes, I found the perfect storm, the Cuba/Florida hurricane. What’s an author to do but shift the timeline and throw her characters into the thick of it? “Watch out hurricane, here come the WASPs.” I don’t know if Peggy has quite forgiven me yet.

What research did you have to look up to make your characters authentic?

I researched a lot about WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). I needed to know how they were affiliated with the military, what duties they had, their uniform, where they might have been stationed, and so much more about them, as well as how things might have worked. Every time I turned around, there was something else I needed to know, most of them were little things. I couldn’t always find the exact answer I needed and had to extrapolate from what I could learn. One of those little things was what color of flashy lights did the military emergency vehicles on base have?

Did you stumble upon anything in your research for this book that made you sad?

One of the things that made me sad—and also mad—was how poorly some of the military men treated the WASPs. The WASP were given the worst aircraft to fly. They would refer to them as “bucket of bolts,” because they were planes deemed unfit for the men to fly and were poorly maintained. One story I recall from one of the books I checked out of the library was about a WASP in training who was waiting for her final test flight to be certified to fly the military planes. She was told to wait in the hangar for her instructor even after asking multiple times if she should go out to the aircraft. A few hours later, she went out to the aircraft anyway, only to be told she was too late and would have to reschedule her test flight. She had one last opportunity, days later, to take and pass her test. This time she sat in the aircraft and waited. And waited. And waited. She sat for several hours in the Texas heat in the aircraft on the flight line, waiting for her instructor to arrive to test her. Her fellow WASPs brought her a bottle of soda because she had been there so long in the heat. Finally, the instructor showed up and grudgingly tested her. She passed and officially became a WASP. However, it wasn’t only men, women also didn’t think women should be flying, and certainly not military aircraft. When the WASPs were in a parade (I think it was in Boston) both men and women threw things at them in protest to them flying. The WASPs did a huge and great service for our country and the military but didn’t get credit for it. If asked if they would serve again, knowing they wouldn’t get acknowledged and would be treated poorly by some, I believe they would all say, “Yes, sign me up!” They were patriotic and wanted to serve our country.

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Questions about Mary’s Reading

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

The other novels in the Heroines of WWII series. We all have strong women who answered the call to help others and their country with the backdrop of World War II. These stories are full of intrigue, adventure, and romance.

thecryptographersdilemmapictureofhopesavingmrsroosevelt

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

I am woefully behind on reading with my recent writing schedule, coupled with a learning disability. However, I do have my sights set on a few novels I hope to read soon. At the top of that list is Jen Turano’s The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency series, starting with book 1, To Steal a Heart. This series promises mystery, laughs, and romance in a historical setting. It sounds wonderful!

Mary is giving away either a paperback (USA Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Harmony on the Horizon – Kathleen Denly

31 Comments on Author Interview and Giveaway – Harmony on the Horizon – Kathleen Denly

This story is based on a real scandal and makes me want to read it all the more! What about you?

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Harmony on the Horizon

Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.

On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.

After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.

As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.

Kathleen’s Website

Author Denly Photo

Others in this Series:

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Questions about Kathleen’s Story

Which scene is your favorite, the one you never tired of working with?

There’s a scene involving a dance on the beach which I loved writing because we get to see the relationship progressing between the hero and heroine. Plus, it’s a secret wink to my husband who taught me to waltz on the beach beneath the stars on my twenty-first birthday.

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

There are so many true historical people, facts, and events included in this novel that I literally wrote pages about them in a “Dear Reader” letter at the back of the book. Not only is the primary plot line inspired by an actual scandal and romance which occurred in 1865 San Diego, but there are direct newspaper articles briefly quoted, and actual events from 1865 newspapers were rewritten to fit the story.

Were there any historical facts that you discovered in your research that made you change something in your story?

When I discovered that San Francisco’s volunteer fireman had brawled in the streets on their way to a fire, it turned out to be the perfect ingredient for a key moment in my story. I also found a way to sneak in the one-man band I learned about, although his mention is brief.

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Questions about Kathleen’s Reading

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

I tend to think of my stories as something of a cross between Elizabeth Camden, Melissa Jagears and Mary Connealy, with a touch of Lauraine Snelling if you remember her Dakota Treasures series. If you enjoy Misty Beller, Melissa Jagears, or Sondra Kraak, those authors are probably the closest to what I write, although none of them have (yet) set their stories in California like I do.

What Christian Historical Novel taught you something about the craft of writing because it was so well done?

Gilbert Morris’s Lone Star Legacy series and Francine River’s Redeeming Love showed me that I could address the raw, uglier side of life in my novels and evoke deep emotions in readers without crossing lines I didn’t want to cross. Mary Connealy’s novels have shown me that humor and fast action don’t displace truth, but come alongside it. Jane Kirkpatrick’s Kinship and Courage series have shown me how history can be woven into beautiful novels.

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

Crystal Caudill’s Counterfeit Love! The premise sounds amazing and I just know Crystal will do it justice. It’s set to release February 15, 2022 and I can’t wait to read it.

Kathleen is giving away either a (signed paperback) (USA Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Saving Mrs. Roosevelt – Candice Sue Patterson

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I’m so excited to have Candice Sue Patterson with us and her contribution to the Heroines of WWII series. The book crosses spying with Lobster catching, what’s not to love!

Have you read any that have come before this one? This is #6 in the series already! All can stand alone.

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Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

The Safety of the First Lady Rests in Shirley’s Hands

Shirley Davenport is as much a patriot as her four brothers. She, too, wants to aid her country in the war efforts, but opportunities for women are limited. When her best friend Joan informs her that the Coast Guard has opened a new branch for single women, they both enlist in the SPARs, ready to help protect the home front.
 
Training is rigorous, and Shirley is disappointed that she and Joan are sent to separate training camps. At the end of basic training, Captain Webber commends her efforts and commissions her home to Maine under the ruse of a dishonorable discharge to help uncover a plot against the First Lady.

Shirley soon discovers nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust? Why do the people she loves want to harm the First Lady? With the help of Captain Webber, it’s a race against time to save Mrs. Roosevelt and remain alive.

Candice’s Website

candicepatterson

 

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Questions about Candice’s Story

What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?

I learned that God is so vital to my writing. I knew this already, of course, but more so with this book. I’ve never written a WWII-era story and I knew that I had to give my very best to the manuscript or I would fail miserably. I prayed over this manuscript more so than any other, and I was amazed at how God provided in so many areas during the journey. That’s what I love most about Christian Fiction. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, God is in the midst.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

Yes! While researching the SPARs, I discovered that the military reached out to Dorothy C. Stratton and asked her to consider directing the reserve. I believed there had to be something special about her that made them go to her, so I began diving deeper into her life. She was a fascinating, highly-intelligent woman with a rich background who could command and stand up for what was right while being a classy lady at the same time. She was the essence of the SPARs, and I knew right away she needed to be in my book. I adore the interaction she has with Shirley (the heroine) and Dorothy soon became one of my favorite characters.

 

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

Though I’ve never lived anywhere other than Indiana, Maine is the home of my heart. Therefore, many of my books are set in Maine. I chose this location for a WWII-era story because when my agent called to let me know about the opportunity for the Heroines of WWII collection, I had just finished writing the first draft of a contemporary story set in Maine that revolved around the lobster industry. I had researched that subject so deeply it was branded on my brain, and I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to research anything else thoroughly enough to create a proposal before the deadline. I started wondering if I could somehow tie lobstering with a WWII-era home front story and before long, I had a plot that coupled lobstering with espionage.

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Questions about Candice’s Reading

What was the last Christian Historical Novel whose characters stayed in your head days after you finished reading it?

One of my favorite Christian historical novels is A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander. The hero and heroine were real and lovable and complex, and every piece of the plot flowed together like a song. It was such a beautiful story that it’s stayed with me for a few years now. Occasionally, I’ll go back to it and either reread or listen to the audiobook.anoteyetunsung

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that you read that taught you something you didn’t know? What did you learn?

I always learn something from Elizabeth Camden’s novels. She’s a former research librarian, and her books show that, yet the writing is so well done that you’re entertained the entire time you’re reading. Through her books I’ve learned about the birth of the tuberculosis vaccine, how Congress uses personal librarians to fight for and create laws, the early days of the food manufacturing business and the preservatives used, and the pearl industry. Remembering all those books makes me want to go back and read them all again! LOL

witheverybreath

What was the last Christian Historical Novel you read that wasn’t something you’d normally pick but you ended up enjoying?

The book that comes to mind is Jody Hedlund’s Come Back to Me. It’s a time travel novel that begins in present day then falls into the medieval period. The majority of the story is set historically. Time travel is not my preferred genre, but I love Jody’s books, so I gave it a try. I was not disappointed. I devoured the book in two days. I’m looking forward to the next book in that series.

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Candice is giving away either a paperback (USA Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – As Dawn Breaks – Kate Breslin

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Give a lovely welcome to Kate on the Index!! Do you not want to steal this cover model’s ensemble for yourself? I do. I’m sure the story is as lovely as the outfit. Check out Kate’s answers to what you’ll find inside!

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As Dawn Breaks

Her daring bid for freedom could be her greatest undoing.

Amid the Great War in 1918 England, munitions worker Rosalind Graham is desperate to escape the arranged marriage being forced on her by her ruthless guardian and instead follow her own course. When the Chilwell factory explodes, killing hundreds of unidentified workers, Rose realizes the world believes she perished in the disaster. Seizing the chance to escape, she risks all and assumes a new identity, taking a supervisory position in Gretna, Scotland, as Miss Tilly Lockhart.

RAF Captain Alex Baird is returning home to Gretna on a secret mission to uncover the saboteur suspected in the Chilwell explosion, as Gretna’s factory is likely next. Fearing for his family’s safety, he’s also haunted by guilt after failing to protect his brother. Alex is surprised to discover a young woman, Miss Lockhart, renting his boyhood room, but the two eventually bond over their mutual affection for his family–until Alex receives orders to surveil her.

Rose squirms beneath Alex’s scrutiny while she struggles to gain her workers’ respect. But when her deception turns to danger, she and Alex must find a way to put their painful pasts behind them and together try to safeguard the future.

Kate’s Website

kate breslin

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Questions about Kate’s Story

What inspired this story?

During the WWI historical research for my last three novels, I read stories about women who stepped into jobs previously assigned to the men now fighting overseas, in order to keep the country running during the war. In particular, the courageous women working in the munitions industry, making shells, packing them with TNT, and making propellant for ammunition. Extremely dangerous work, but most of the women were patriots and their work literally changed the direction of the war for Britain toward victory. I’ve wanted to write about them, and As Dawn Breaks gave me that chance.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I wrote this novel during the outbreak of Covid-19, and the sudden quarantine that most of us experienced. My own family lives on the other side of the country and I wasn’t able to see them during this time, so writing about the fictional Baird family in my story and my heroine’s longing for a real home made it special for me. As if I had my family near me.

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

I did include a real historical incident with a real British munitions factory in 1918, an event that changed the course of my heroine’s life.

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Questions about Kate’s Reading

inpieces

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

In Pieces by Rhonda Ortiz. So well-written and a beautiful love story. I read it this past July and I still think of it. I definitely recommend it!

midnightdance

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano. I’ve read such great reviews about this book and I’m eager to start!

Kate is giving away  a signed paperback (USA Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – All That is Secret – Patricia Raybon

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Does this cover not lure you into the opulence of the Roaring Twenties and mystery? Though this is Patricia’s first novel, she’s not a stranger to being an author, and her use of Sherlock Holmes quotes has me intrigued! Welcome, Patricia, to the Index!

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All That is Secret

From award-winning author Patricia Raybon comes a compelling new historical mystery series, a riveting puzzle about a young Black theologian–and Sherlock fan–trying to solve her father’s cold-case murder in a city ruled by the KKK.
It’s the winter of 1923 and Professor Annalee Spain―a clever but overworked theologian at a small Chicago Bible college–receives a cryptic telegram calling her home to Denver to solve the murder of her beloved but estranged father.
For a young Black woman, searching for answers in a city ruled by the KKK could mean real danger. Still, with her literary hero Sherlock Holmes as inspiration, Annalee launches her hunt for clues, attracting two surprising allies: Eddie, a relentless young orphan boy searching for his missing father, and Jack, a handsome young pastor who loves nightclub dancing and fast cars–awakening Annalee’s heart to the surprising highs and lows of romance and love.
With their help, Annalee follows clues that land her among Denver’s powerful elite. But when her sleuthing unravels sinister motives and long-buried lies, will clever Annalee become a victim, too?

Patricia’s Website

patricia

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Questions about Patricia’s Story

What inspired this story?

First, I love clergy mysteries—Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton, Grantchester, and the like. My hope was to introduce a faith character in Colorado—a beautiful “sunshine” place, and my home state, but during one of its darkest times, the 1920s. Good fiction needs a threat element, even if it’s only hovering in the background. So that’s how I used the Klan in my mystery. The story’s foreground centers not on the Klan, but on my lead character—a young Black theologian who’s a fan of Sherlock Holmes—whose amateur sleuthing to solve her father’s murder is impacted at every turn by the threat of the Klan. I hope it makes for good tension.

 

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

My lead character—the young theologian—has a love interest, a handsome young pastor. I loved writing their scenes together: their meet-cute, their facing danger together (as he teaches her to drive his car while they’re being shot at), their first kiss, big blowup argument, his coming to her rescue, their hopeful reconnection for the future (book 2). As I learned, the love archetype in a novel isn’t just for romance. The love archetype is a helping character—the person who cares more than anyone else about the well-being of the lead character, so he bends over backward to try to help her in ordinary life and in their adventure together. As it turns out, helping is a powerfully romantic thing to do.

In my real life, the day after I met a young man, he came over to my apartment to help repair the manifold on my car. A few months later, we were married—and we’ve been married now for forty-plus years. So I loved finding ways for my novel’s love interest to show help and concern—and I loved writing those scenes.

 

Were there any historical facts that you discovered in your research that made you change something in your story?

With regard to the Colorado Klan of the 1920s, the big surprise was how many white citizens actively resisted it. For research, I scoured countless historical newspapers from the Colorado Historic Newspapers site and listened to hours of oral histories available digitally from the Denver Public Library’s Digital Collections, both true treasures. Both shed light on “the story behind the story” of the Klan—that while it became a powerful political bloc in Colorado, with the state having the second-largest Klan membership per capita than any state in the US, with leaders from the Colorado governor to county sheriffs as dues-paying members, many ordinary Klan members felt pressure to join, ditching the organization the second it started to fall out of favor.

Opponents included prominent citizens, of course, but also countless nameless citizens who simply didn’t buy into the hype.

The whole Klan trajectory in Colorado teaches us about the mundane nature of homegrown hate and how it can take root—but also how good people help it die.

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Questions about Patricia’s Reading

crythebelovedcountry

What Christian Historical Novel did you reread last, and why did you reread it?

My favorite goes way back. It’s Cry, the Beloved Country by South African writer Alan Paton, published in 1948 and an international bestseller. More recently, Oprah Winfrey picked it for her Oprah’s Book Club. It’s described on Amazon as “the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.”

I’ve read it at least twice and plan to reread it again, hopefully within the next year. It’s stunning, heartbreaking yet hopeful, and truly beautiful.

ordinarygrace

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.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger is a stunning mystery about a pastor’s family caught up in a town’s need for redemption after a daughter goes missing and is found to be murdered. One reviewer called it “pitch-perfect” in every way.  

Similar to Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love (which gets mentioned a lot), Ordinary Grace taught me about possibility in fiction—that no subject was off-limits and that Christian historical fiction doesn’t have to be safe. Redeeming Love was the first Christian novel I ever read, and I remember thinking—as a woman of color and as a believer—if this is Christian fiction, the gloves are off. Surely I can write about race and faith in a novel. Her novel helped give me that permission.

Ordinary Grace showed me that Christian fiction can aim for crossover appeal. I’m grateful for both of these works and I might not have written my novel without having read them.

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

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Author Interview and Giveaway – Shiloh – Lori Benton

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The conclusion to Lori’s duology is here. Aren’t these floral covers pretty. I’m sure everyone who’s read the first book are eager to see a happily ever after…will these two find it–together? IF you haven’t read the first one, you’re in luck, this giveaway if for two lucky people to win BOTH books!

Welcome to the Index, Lori!

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Shiloh

A year has passed since Ian Cameron reluctantly sent his uncle’s former slave Seona and their son, Gabriel, north to his kin in Boston. Determined to fully release them, Ian strives to make a life at Mountain Laurel, his inherited plantation, along with Judith, the wife he’s vowed to love and cherish. But when tragedy leaves him alone with his daughter, Mandy, and his three remaining slaves, he decides to return north. An act of kindness on the journey provides Ian the chance to obtain land near the frontier settlement of Shiloh, New York. Perhaps even the hope for a new life with those he still holds dear.

In Boston, Seona has taken her first tentative steps as a free woman, while trying to banish Ian from her heart. The Cameron family thinks she and Gabriel should remain under their protection. Seona’s mother, Lily, thinks it’s time they strike out on their own. Then Ian arrives, offering a second chance Seona hadn’t dared imagine. But the wide-open frontier of Shiloh feels as boundless and terrifying as her newfound freedom—a place of new friends and new enemies, where deep bonds are renewed but old hurts stand ready to rear their heads. It will take every ounce of faith and courage Ian and Seona can muster to fight for their family and their future . . . together.

Lori’s Website

Benton_Lori

Other Books in this Series:

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Questions about Lori’s Story

What was the hardest part of your book to write? What did you enjoy most about writing the book?

The hardest aspect of writing Shiloh was also the one I most enjoyed—moving main characters Ian Cameron and Seona, along with several others from the first Kindred book, Mountain Laurel, from North Carolina to the village of Shiloh, the setting of my debut novel, Burning Sky, on the New York frontier. By doing so I was able to revisit the characters from that earlier novel twelve years beyond the point where it ended, as well as continuing Ian and Seona’s story begun in Mountain Laurel. Weaving those two story-worlds together was painstaking work, requiring many drafts of huge chunks of the book. While Shiloh is primarily a sequel to Mountain Laurel, I wanted to do more than give a few characters from Burning Sky a cameo appearance. I wanted them to be integral to the storyline without overshadowing Ian and Seona’s continuing journey. Being as close to both sets of characters as I naturally am as their creator, I’m thankful for my editing team at Tyndale for helping me find the right balance and a satisfying conclusion to multiple story threads. I couldn’t be more pleased or proud of how we pulled this off.

 

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

I did, and he’s a gem of a character, too. Since it was partly Last of the Mohicans (the book and latest movie version) that ignited my interest in the New York frontier years ago, I was thrilled to discover that author James Fenimore Cooper had a father who was instrumental in settling vast tracts of the New York frontier during the 1790s, the time of Shiloh’s setting. William Cooper rose from a humble wheelwright to become a successful merchant, land speculator, and a politician. He founded Cooperstown in the 1780s and spent the next decades working to entice men to take up farms across the surrounding countryside and elsewhere in New York, including some tracts north of the Mohawk River. Because of a wonderful book called William Cooper’s Town by Alan Taylor it was possible to place the elder Cooper in the path of Ian Cameron when he was on the move north, in search of a new place to settle. And of course I couldn’t resist giving his inspiring author son, James, a cameo in the story, even though he was only a little boy at the time

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Questions about Lori’s Reading

countthenightbystars

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

Count the Nights by Stars by Michelle Shocklee, which doesn’t release until March 2022. I was able to read an early copy for endorsement and suggest readers pre-order this split-time novel set in Nashville, Tennessee during the 1960s and 1890s. I predict you’ll find it so suspenseful you won’t be able to put it down.

anuncommonwoman

What Christian Historical Novel did you last personally recommend to someone and why did you recommend that one to them?

I’m always recommending Laura Frantz’s historical novels to readers of my books looking for something similar. We’re both drawn to those 18th century frontier settings and Laura’s books are always so well written. An Uncommon Woman is one of my favorites.

Lori is giving away TWO SETS of this series in paperback, US entrants only. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Gold in These Hills – Joanne Bischof

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Ghost towns hold a heart-breaking air of mystery. What kind of people once populated the community? Who were the last to live there? What loneliness did they suffer? Joanne brings us the story of a young mother whose husband disappears, leaving her to fend for herself in a threadbare mining town. Welcome to the Index, Joanne!

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The Gold in These Hills

One wild and mysterious ghost town. Two second-chance love stories. And the century-old legacy that binds them together. 

Upon arriving in Kenworthy, California, mail-order bride Juniper Cohen is met by the pounding of the gold mine, an untamable landscape, and her greatest surprise of all: the kind and loving man who awaits her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper’s husband, John, vanishes, Juniper is left to fend for herself and her young daughter in the dwindling boomtown that is now her home.

Juniper pens letters to her husband but fears she is waiting on a ghost. Perhaps worse, rumors abound claiming the man she loves could be an outlaw. Surviving in a ghost town requires trusting the kindness of a few remaining souls, including the one who can unlock the mystery of her husband’s disappearance—and Juniper’s survival depends not only upon these friends but also the strength of heart she must fight to maintain.

Present day. Trying to escape the heartache of his failed marriage, Johnny Sutherland throws himself into raising his children and restoring a hundred-year-old abandoned farmhouse in what was once known as Kenworthy, California, in the San Jacinto Mountains. While exploring its secrets he uncovers Juniper’s letters and is moved by the handwritten accounts that bear his name—and as a love story from the past touches his own world, Johnny might discover yet that hope and resilience go hand in hand.

Joanne’s Website

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Questions about Joanne’s Story

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Most definitely the real-life research! This was the first time that I got to explore the geography of a setting while writing the story and it’s all captured on video for readers to get a sense of Kenworthy and the heart behind the story.

Why did you choose the geographical location in which your book is set?

The Gold in These Hills is set about 20 minutes from my home town in California. Once I discovered that there used to be a gold mine and ghost town nearby, I quickly realized that it would be the perfect place for this story to reside. Not only is the real historical events shrouded in mystery, but because of that, the story is too.

Did you stumble upon anything in your research for this book that you thought was strange or surprising?

Yes! While researching the gold mining town of Kenworthy, California, I discovered that the reason why the boom town soon vanished, was because the mine held no gold—instead, prospectors had taken a worthless mine and salted it: loading gold dust into a shot gun and firing it off inside the mine. They found a wealthy businessman, Herold Kenworthy, who purchased the mine and eventually spent $50,000 to build the town and within five years, only made about $10. It’s a sad story for sure, and is what sparked The Gold in These Hills, as I suddenly longed to unravel the story behind all of that and dig into what motivated the characters to be a part of this historic event.

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Questions about Joanne’s Reading

Who is your favorite Christian Historical heroine?

The Viking, Gudrid from Heather Day Gilbert’s God’s Daughter. It’s one of my favorite Christian historical novels. It’s a beautiful and raw novel and Gudrid is a strong and sympathetic heroine. As it centers around the Viking culture, the story is slightly more intense than the typical Christian historical novel, and yet her story and world-view are complex, as is her faith journey with Christ. I admire the struggles she faces—both internally and externally.  

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

Definitely Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes. She’s a stunning writer and dear friend, and with so many people have been raving about it lately, I know I’m missing out. I can’t wait to be able to settle in and start her beautiful story.

You can check out this cool Mercantile Giveaway on Joanne’s website, but first, enter the rafflecopter below for a copy of Joanne’s book!

Joanne is giving away a paperback, 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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Author Interview and Giveaway – A Time to Weep – Tracy Higley

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Downton-esque settings, archaeology in 1920’s Egypt, and time travel to Ancient Rome? Yes, please! Tracy Higley is here to tell us about her new series, The Time Travel Journals of Sahara Aldridge. Welcome to the Index, Tracy!

 

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A Time to Weep

Sometimes the only way forward is back.

Sahara Aldridge, a young Egyptologist in 1922, is chasing down the trail of her parents through the unknown corridors of time.

But when all clues point to Ancient Rome as the next place to search, Sahara retreats into the safety of her archaeological work, cataloguing treasures from the newly-discovered tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

As the discovery of the intact tomb propels the world into a frenzy of “Tut-mania,” the ever-present Jack Moretti is there to help, but what is his agenda?

And it appears Tempus Vigilia isn’t going to leave her alone. The secret society has sent others, tracking her movements and asking too many questions.

Now it seems her family is in danger. Sahara must once again put her career on hold, to find what she has lost. But will Ancient Rome hold the answers, or only one more reason to grieve?

Tracy’s Website

Other books in this series:

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Questions about Tracy’s Story

What inspired this story?

I’ve been a Downton Abbey fan since the show premiered. When I learned that Highclere Castle, the real estate where the show was filmed, was actually the home of Lord Carnarvon, who funded the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, I thought what fun it would be, to set part of a story there on the “Downton Abbey set,” and part of it at the digsite in Egypt. Mix in a little time-travel, which I’ve been wanting to write more of for years, and this series was born!

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Since most of my other books have been strictly historical, with the occasional contemporary storyline, writing this book set partially in the ancient past, but also partially in the 1920s, was really fun for me. I’d never done much research into the 1920s, so researching the clothes, the music, the cars, and even the golden age of archaeology was really enjoyable for me!

Did you include a real historical character or incident in your story?

This book is chock-full of historical characters!  Sahara works on the digsite with Howard Carter, who discovered King Tut’s tomb, and his patron, Lord Carnarvon, who lived at Highclere Castle in England. Then we have Sahara heading back in time to ancient Rome, where she meets up with a whole cast of historical characters, including the crazy Emperor Nero!

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Questions about Tracy’s Reading

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

I often see my novels likened to Francine Rivers’ historicals, which of course is extremely flattering!

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?

Tosca Lee, who writes beautifully enough to make me cry. My favorite of hers is Havah.

What Christian Historical Novel in your To Be Read pile is begging you to make time to plop down with it right now?

I’ll be reading Brennan McPherson’s Abram next – set aside for my upcoming vacation. Can’t wait. I’ve loved his other books.

Tracy is giving away an e-book copy. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Author Interview and Giveaway – The Nature of Small Birds – Susie Finkbeiner

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With a sensitive touch, Susie Finkbeiner brings to our awareness a little-known historical event surrounding the Vietnam War: Operation Babylift. Susie uses multiple eras to paint the portrait as an American family struggles with the aftermath of a foreign war-time adoption. Welcome to the Index, Susie!

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The Nature of Small Birds

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

Susie’s Website

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Questions about Susie’s Story

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.

It’s hard for me to pick favorite scenes, but one I particularly enjoyed was in chapter three. It’s set in 1988 and involves two teenaged sisters fighting over being late to school. I especially love this scene because it echoes near daily arguments I had with my own sister in high school. Plus, it involves lot of great 1980s references and slang that were just so fun to remember.

Why did you choose the year in which your book is set?

When I first started writing this particular story, I intended to keep it in 1975, the year the Americans evacuated Vietnam and the year of Operation Babylift. However, as I researched, I felt the need to tell this story across three different timelines. 1975, the year that the Matthews family adopted Minh. 1988, when Minh (now known by Mindy) is coming of age and figuring out who she is and her place in her family. 2013, when Mindy is in her forties and interested in seeking out her birth mother.

I learned as I researched that the story of adoption can’t just be told in the months and year following the first time the child and parents meet. It’s a story that spans a lifetime and I really wanted to capture that in this novel.

Did you stumble upon anything in your research for this book that made you sad?

I cried many times as I researched for the writing of this novel. Of course, learning about the after effects of war is always heartbreaking. I think what made this deep dive into history particularly difficult was that I was researching the impacts of war on children.

Perhaps the saddest part of this research was reading about the crash of the very first airplane that was carrying orphans from Saigon to be adopted in the United States. 138 people died in that crash, most of them children. Many of the birth mothers who had recently placed their small children in orphanages mourned, not knowing if their babies were on that flight. Many never learned. Some were surprised when, decades later, the children they’d feared dead made efforts to reunite with them.

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Questions about Susie’s Reading

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

I recently read Shadows of the White City by the remarkable Jocelyn Green. I adored how vibrantly she painted the setting of 1893 Chicago and the World’s Fair. Chicago is a city I so dearly love and it was such fun to read a story set there, and one so well written!

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that made you cry?

The very last paragraph of Allison Pittman’s The Seamstress did me in. It was gorgeously written and even after a year, it still gets me teary eyed.

What was the last Christian Historical Novel whose characters stayed in your head days after you finished reading it?

 Valerie Fraser Luesse’s Under the Bayou Moon is peopled with characters that are so authentic, so endearing, that I couldn’t stop thinking about them even after I read the last page. That’s like magic, as far as I’m concerned.

Susie is giving away a paperback copy, USA addresses 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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