Friday, March 29, 2019

First Line Fridays

Goodness gracious!  I completely forgot that today was Friday--I thought it was Thursday--I've just been a day behind all week!  Thankfully, I saw everyone's FLF posts on Twitter.  :)  So, very quickly, let me introduce you to another book this week.  Happy reading! 

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from: 

  The Truth about Miss Ashbourne   
by Joanna Barker

And the first line is...

"A governess must be a model of modesty and decorum.  She should speak with deference, act with propriety, and aspire toward all that is genteel, refined, and respectable."  

Happy reading and happy Friday!   

Let me know your first line in the comments & then head over to Hoarding Books  to see who else is participating! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Golden Hour - Spotlight Book Tour

The Golden Hour 

by Malia Zaidi

Publication Date: March 26, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 398 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Lady Evelyn Mystery, Book 4

Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch. Adding to the tension in the house a neighbor has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is the suspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder?

A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park's May Day celebration awakens Evelyn's sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family. What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own. With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before the murderer can stop her and tragedy strikes again.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Malia Zaidi is the author of The Lady Evelyn Mysteries. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Oxford. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides vicariously (if temporarily) in countries around the world.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, March 26 To Read, Or Not to Read Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen Wednesday, March 27 The Caffeinated Bibliophile Thursday, March 28 Tar Heel Reader Friday, March 29 The Book Review Saturday, March 30 Historical Fiction with Spirit Monday, April 1 Bookish Rantings Tuesday, April 2 Book Frolic Wednesday, April 3 CelticLady's Reviews Thursday, April 4 Donna's Book Blog Friday, April 5 Passages to the Past Monday, April 8 Jorie Loves a Story

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a paperback copy of The Golden Hour! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on April 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – No sweepstakes accounts. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner will be chosen. 

The Golden Hour

Friday, March 22, 2019

First Line Fridays

I have been reading this book for the past week, and it is as wonderful as the first text in the series.  It's always so nice when you can continue reading a tale you love.  Thank you Joanne Bischof for continuing to write these characters' stories!  What series of books have you been enjoying lately?  Let me know in the comments below.  As always, happy reading! 

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from: 

  Daughters of Northern Shores  
by Joanne Bischof 

And the first line is...


December 3, 1894 
Eagle Rock, Virginia 

"Aven looped a hand around her husband's strong forearm, holding tight to Thor's steadying strength."  

Happy reading and happy Friday!   

Let me know your first line in the comments & then head over to Hoarding Books  to see who else is participating! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

First Line Fridays

Happy Friday!  I am so excited that spring is finally around the corner!  I love this time of the year, because everything is starting again.  The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and the weather is perfect.  What is your favorite season and why?  Let me know in the comments below.  Happy reading friends! 

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from: 

  Murder by the Book   
by Lauren Elliott 

And the first line is...

"Addison Greybourne breathed in the intoxicating scents of tangy sea air and New England autumn leaves infused with the comforting aroma of fresh-baked bread."  

Happy reading and happy Friday!   

Let me know your first line in the comments & then head over to Hoarding Books  to see who else is participating! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Becoming Mrs. Lewis - My Review


Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Becoming Mrs. Lewis 

by Patti Callahan 

Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Release Date: October 2, 2018

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.”

When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.


Patti Callahan (who also writes as Patti Callahan Henry) is a New York Times bestselling author. Patti was a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, has been an Indie Next Pick, twice an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year. Her work has also been included in short story collections, anthologies, magazines, and blogs. Patti attendedAuburn University for her undergraduate work and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time. The mother of three children, she lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton,South Carolina, with her husband.  

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR: website | facebook | twitter | instagram

Reading this book was a complete joy!  When I first learned that this book was being published, I was instantly excited to pick up a copy, because C.S. Lewis is so near and dear to my heart.  In college, I was honored to be able to study abroad in Oxford, England, and I studied the life and literature of C.S. Lewis.  It was so wonderful to hear certain words in this text--the Kilns, Magdalene College--because I visited these places!  This scholar named Lewis was truly gifted by the Lord to write wonderful stories that brought people closer to Christ and caused them to ask certain questions--just like Joy Davidman did.  My best friend even found Christ on this school trip.  I will always be grateful to Lewis for the thoughts and teachings he shared with the world.  

This book is incredible.  All I can is that you must buy a copy!  The opening line in the prologue says it all: "From the very beginning it was the Great Lion who brought us together.  I see that now.  The fierce and tender beast drew us to each other, slowly, inexorably, across time, beyond an ocean, and against the obdurate bul-warks of our lives.  He wouldn't make it easy for us--that's not his way."  These few statements were the perfect introduction to this story.  The story of a woman who made an incredible journey and discovery about herself.  Never within the realms of her imagination could she have ever thought she would end up where she did.  Always wanting answers to questions, she befriended a man named Lewis through the forgotten art of letter-writing.  Joy and Jack became "pen-friends" and finally met one another one incredible day in Oxford.  

This meeting was not by chance.  It had already been appointed by Someone who had greater plans, and it is so incredible to see how those plans unfolded.  This "Great Lion" brought two people together who needed each other--even when they had no idea how much.  This book is a wonderful adaptation of their life story told through the eyes of Joy.  Please purchase a copy today!  Happy reading friends!  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the JustRead Tours for my copy.

bml blog giveaway


(2) winners will each win a hardcover release copy of Becoming Mrs. Lewis. 

Be sure to check out each stop on the Blog and Takeover tours for more chances to win. Full tour schedule on this tour shown below. Giveaway began at midnight March 12, 2019 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 19, 2019. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Due to shipping cost, only US mailing addresses valid. For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!


Be sure to stop at the following tours for more chances to win!


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Friday, March 8, 2019

First Line Fridays

Hope everyone is having a great March thus far--what books have you been enjoying this month?  I recently joined Kindle Unlimited, so it has been nice to discover some new works I might not have noticed otherwise.  This week's FLF is one such book; however, I do own the first book in the series.  :)  Isn't it so crazy how you sometimes forget to continue reading a particular series?  What series of books do you hope to finish soon?  Let me know in the comments below--happy reading friends!

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from: 

  My Brother's Bride     
                                                                        by Rachel Anderson 

And the first line is...

"Music pervaded the crowded ballroom, carrying couples through the steps of the quadrille, while onlookers clustered around the dancers, talking, laughing, sipping drinks, and observing." 

Happy reading and happy Friday!   

Let me know your first line in the comments & then head over to Hoarding Books  to see who else is participating! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Brandon: Tudor Knight - Spotlight Book Tour

Brandon - Tudor Knight 

by Tony Riches

Publication Date: December 3, 2018
Preseli Press
Genre: Historical/Tudor/Biographical

From the author of the international bestselling Tudor Trilogy comes a true story of adventure, courtly love and chivalric loyalty. Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the King’s consent.

Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry’s wars in France. Mary’s public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king’s new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell. Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?

Available on Amazon

Tony Riches is a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present-day Kenya. A specialist in the history of the early Tudors, he is best known for his Tudor Trilogy. Tony’s other international bestsellers include ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’.

For more information please visit Tony’s website and his blog The Writing Desk. He can also be found on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Visiting Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk, Home of Charles Brandon, Tudor Knight

One of the highlights of the research for my new book, Brandon - Tudor Knight was my trip to Suffolk to see what I could uncover about his Charles Brandon’s manor house at Westhorpe. The house features prominently Brandon, as well as in my previous book, Mary - Tudor Princess.

Like many Tudor houses, it was demolished in the mid eighteenth century, but I was keen to see what I could learn from the site and its location in the Suffolk landscape. Westhorpe became the main residence for the Brandon family up to the time of Mary's death.

Charles Brandon had been made Duke of Suffolk by King Henry VIII and rebuilt Westhorpe using Mary's French dower income. He used the moated site of the former de la Pole property, although the new building was on a grander scale.

When Mary died her French income ceased and Brandon found himself back in debt to the Crown. He soon remarried, to his young ward, the wealthy heiress Katherine Willoughby, (the subject of my current work-in-progress, which continues Brandon’s story) and his Suffolk manor house was taken over by royal trustees in 1535.

An inventory of the property three years later in 1538 records a moated house of brick decorated with terracotta panels, built round an open courtyard 126 feet square. The main range of the house on the eastern side was approached from the west over the moat by an arched bridge, the lower parts of which survive to this day, and that:

'All the wyndowes of the said place be at this present well glassed, and all the walls of the same of bricke and imbateled, leyed over with playster cheker wise white and blake, and all the houses covered with tyle, the gatehowsse and the towers covered with leade'.

A feature of the house was an internal corridor with windows overlooking a large central   courtyard. On the south side were four main rooms, linking at the east end with the service rooms at the lower end of the Hall. The east range contained the Hall, measuring some seventy feet long, with mullioned bay windows onto the courtyard, with service rooms and five other rooms over which was the Brandon's Great Chamber, with large bay windows to the east and west.

A dining chamber overlooked a garden to the east, which is thought to have been designed in the French style, like those Mary would have known in the royal palaces of Paris. A tower and private chapel (where Mary lay in state from 25 June until 21 July, 1533) formed the north eastern corner.

The buildings now on the eastern edge of the moat are on the site of the Tudor kitchens, boiling house, pastry house, scalding house and wet and dry larders. When the house was being demolished in the late 1760s, Westhorpe was visited by the antiquarian Thomas Martin of Palgrave, who wrote:

'I went to see the dismal ruins of Westhorpe Hall, formerly the seat of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. The workmen are now pulling it down as fast as may be, in a very careless and injudicious manner. The coping bricks, battlements and many other ornamental pieces, are made of earth, and burnt hard, as fresh as when first built. They might, with care, have been taken down whole, but all the fine chimnies, and ornaments were pulled down with ropes, and crushed to pieces in a most shameful manner. There was a monstrous figure of Hercules sitting cross legged with his club, and a lion beside him, but all shattered in pieces. The painted glass is likely to share the same fate. The timber is fresh and sound, and the building, which was very lofty, stood as when it was first built. It is a pity that care is not taken to preserve some few of our ancient fabrics.'

In 1839 John Wodderspoon, in Historic Sites and Other Remarkable and Interesting Places in the County of Suffolk  noted that:

'The Hall of Westhorpe was of large dimensions and had attached a chapel with cloisters in which existed a fine window of stained glass.  The gardens of large extent were kept in the style of the continental pleasure grounds, the princess having imbibed a taste for the quaint conceits of the French mode of gardening by her brief sojourn in France. The  whole building is however removed.’
In 1988 trial excavations were undertaken to establish the accuracy of the earlier descriptions and measurements, principally by examining the gatehouse. Part of the cobbled floor of the gatehouse was exposed, as well as part of the inner courtyard.

Exploratory trenches were excavated on the inner edge of the moat adjacent to the bridge. These revealed the walls of the southern half of the gatehouse, which appeared to be 22ft square. The walls varied from 60 to 90cm in width and were built up on three courses of brick footings. This building was bonded into the moat wall.

Another trench was dug next to the southern arm of the moat, with the intention of finding the wall of the outer court. The moat wall was located and at its eastern end it was built over by several later walls. At its west end the moat wall formed a straight join with a wall made of re-used Tudor building materials of terracotta, glazed floor-tile and brick.

The pottery recovered was mostly early to mid 18th century, coinciding with the final phase of occupation, although several Tudor sherds were found. Quantities of roof tiles and two sizes of brick were also found. Amongst these were fragments of moulded bricks, including a moulded mullion. Green-glazed floor-tile was found in the gatehouse and red-glazed ones were re-built into a later wall.

Much terracotta was discovered, confirming the extensive use of terracotta decorations as described in the demolition account. Several pieces, including a panel and a capital, were found in the gatehouse area. A large fragment of a window mullion was recovered and many small fragments of roll mouldings and panel were found.

In 1990 the Suffolk County Council archaeological service undertook more investigation of the site following de-silting of the eastern arm of the moat. This included excavation of the base of the north-eastern tower, which consisted of flint and mortar with stone quoining, on a foundation of crushed building material over a raft of elm planks on timber piles. It was estimated that the tower measured 10 metres (32.8ft) by 8.5 metres (27.9ft).

In 1991 a grant was obtained as part of an English heritage project to pump the moat dry and recover and study the terracotta fragments. These proved to be press-moulded, which might explain the reversal of the crosses on Brandon's coat of arms over the doorway of the present building:

Westhorpe Hall moated site and associated fishponds were scheduled in July 1999 under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and deemed to be of national importance. The listing states that the moated site of Westhorpe Hall is of particular historical importance because of its association with Charles Brandon and his wife, and the surviving descriptions of the great house which he built here show that it was an outstanding example of early 16th century domestic architecture.

After living with every detail of Mary and Charles Brandon's lives for the past four years it was amazing to walk in their footsteps over the Tudor bridge which they crossed so often. The village of Westhorpe is a beautiful place and although it is a shame the Tudor manor house was demolished, I am grateful to Patrick Barker for his time and allowing me full access to such a fascinating site.

Tony Riches


Note among the papers of Thomas Martin (d. 1771). quoted in Edward Wedlake Brayley and John Britton (1813). The Beauties of England and Wales (Suffolk, p 203), and in John Wodderspoon (1839). Historic Sites and Other Remarkable and Interesting Places in the County of Suffolk.

Archaeology in Suffolk 1987 compiled by Edward Martin, Judith Plouviez and Hilary Feldman

Gunn, SJ, Lindley, PG Archaeological Journal Volume:145 January 1988

Suffolk Institute Report and notes on some findings, 2002

Architectural Terracotta from Westhorpe Hall, Suffolk,  Anderson, S, The Archaeological Journal 2003.

Thursday, February 28 Review at Passages to the Past Friday, March 1 Feature at CelticLady's Reviews Review at Locks, Hooks and Books Monday, March 4 Interview at Passages to the Past Tuesday, March 5 Review at Donna's Book Blog Wednesday, March 6 Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen Thursday, March 7 Feature at T's Stuff Friday, March 8 Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads Monday, March 11 Guest Post at On the Tudor Trail Tuesday, March 12 Review at Hisdoryan Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read Wednesday, March 13 Review at For the Sake of Good Taste Thursday, March 14 Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots Friday, March 15 Review at Coffee and Ink Review at A Darn Good Read Sunday, March 17 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit Monday, March 18 Review at Maiden of the Pages Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views Tuesday, March 19 Review at The Tudor Enthusiast Review at Just One More Chapter

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Brandon-Tudor Knight! 

To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

  Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Enduring Promises of the Heart - Spotlight Book Tour

Genre:  Adult, New Adult, Historical, Romance
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Publication date: February 8, 2019
“What if I told you there is a way that we could all be happy? That if I were to propose to you, your father couldn’t deny us?” “What is it, John? Tell me!”
Just then the basket hit the water and the sea began to stream in through the spaces between the reeds. This was the end.
The year is 1887, and the small community of Pleasant View is abuzz over Penelope Pottifer’s serialized romances in the local paper. Since the release of the first volume, the thrilling story has captured the hearts and minds of the entire town— and several towns over!
Each successive edition of the Pleasant View Gazette spins a breathtaking tale of kidnappers, pirates, and forbidden love. Between volumes, however, Pleasant View resident Mary Clarence, the story’s toughest critic, hears a rumor that Penelope Pottifer is not, in fact, the author’s real name. Determined to uncover the mystery, Mary drags her friend Elizabeth Black into a hunt for the elusive author’s true identity. But fiction and reality seem to entwine when along the way, Mary and Liz discover unexpected truths, exciting adventures, and dramatic romances of their own.
Valerie has a love for stories with happy endings and bright comedy. A native to the California high desert, she now considers Utah her home where she lives with her husband, three children and two chihuahuas. Growing up in a family of seven kids, Valerie learned to embrace her unique creativity and way of looking at the world and hopes it will enrich other’s lives. In 2015 she published two children’s books, Singing Not so Sweetly and Anabelle Loves Babies. She believes writing is the ultimate end-all for creative pursuits because there are no limits to what you can create. A picture may say a thousand words but a novel is usually around seventy-thousand.
“Good afternoon,” Liz said, startling Mrs. Vohn, who was deeply entrenched in her gazette.
“Oh, Eliza, you startled me! How are you? What can I do for you today? Are you needing to withdraw for your Pa again?” “Liz,” Mary corrected Mrs. Vohn.
“Where?” Mrs. Vohn searched the room with her eyes.
“Please call me Liz, Mrs. Vohn. I’ve never taken to Eliza,” Liz stated.
“I’m sorry, dear. I had no idea. I swear I heard your father call you Eliza.”
“My pa has about a hundred nicknames for me, and he uses them all, all over town. Just about everyone calls me something different. One time he called me Bathsheba, and I had no idea he was talking to me!” Liz sighed. “No matter. I’m not here for my pa. We are here investigating a mystery.” Liz smiled.
“Ooh. What mystery?” Gladys whispered.
“Well,” Mary interjected, “we want to find out who wrote that story you got your nose buried so deep in that we scared the sin out of you just before.”
“Oh, well, how could I help with that?” Mrs. Vohn looked perplexed.
Mary obliged. “Perhaps if you drank less coffee, you would be less prone to fright.”
“No, Mary, with the Gazette,” Liz said, pointing to the copy Mrs. Vohn was still clutching.
Mary nodded and continued. “Mitzy, from the Gazette, said that Mr. Dixon deposits money into an account here for Penelope Pottifer. We were wondering if you could look up her account and tell us where she lives.”
“Well, why don’t you just get the address from Mitzy?” Mrs. Vohn said as though she had solved the whole problem.
“Well, that’s the thing, the stories come to the Gazette in unmarked envelopes. They don’t have a return address!” Mary explained.
Mrs. Vohn was disappointed. “I see. I’m sorry, ladies. I’m not supposed to give out that kind of information, you know. It’s against bank policy. We’ve got to respect our customers’ privacy. Mr. Vohn would be very upset if I told you an address. But I’m dying to know! Oh! What to do . . .” Mrs. Vohn was clearly torn between knowing who Miss Pottifer was and obeying the bank rules. She walked away from the counter toward the back desk, flustered, and then returned back to the counter in a more composed manner. Mary gave Liz a look. Liz interpreted it as meaning that Mary found Mrs. Vohn behaving strange.
“I’ll tell you what,” Mrs. Vohn began. “I know those deposits come on the first of the month or the following day, if it’s a Sunday or bank holiday. Why don’t you come back on the first? Loiter in the lobby a little. Have some of our complimentary tea. I’ll wink at you if and when I’m helping the person that comes and withdraws from the account that Mr. Dixon deposits in. I never paid attention before, but now that I know that is Miss Pottifer’s account, I’m going to pay attention next time!”
“Thank you, Mrs. Vohn,” Mary chimed.
The girls walked out of the bank together, and Liz caught the eye of Peter Latter, the dashingly handsome bank teller with sea green eyes and floppy dark brown hair. She smiled nervously as she passed. He smiled nervously back. Mrs. Vohn put her nose back in page three of the Gazette.
The balloon sank closer and closer to the choppy surface of the inky black ocean. John gently pulled the cord over and over to keep the balloon flying above the water until the flame would no longer light above them. It was inevitable that the balloon would sink and be consumed by the dark, cold hands of the sea. Lavender had no more tears to shed. She held on to John tightly and shivered. John had already offered her his coat, which she took, but it could not keep out the chill of knowing she was about to drown in the depths of the sea.
“John, I’m sorry. I’m sorry we couldn’t be together. I want that exciting life you spoke of, but I also can’t leave my poor father. He would die a thousand deaths if I left him to operate the store alone. You know my mother died, and it broke his heart into a million pieces. I am the glue that holds those pieces together.”
John put a rough hand on Lavender’s petal-soft cheek, “I understand, Lavy. I don’t want you to hurt your father. I want you and him to be happy.”
“It wouldn’t make him happy if I married a mountain man and left town.” Lavender paused, knowing the statement would cut him like a knife. Lavender didn’t much care that John was a mountain man, but she had been through this with her father. He hated the idea. He wanted someone like himself for his precious daughter. Someone who could take care of her, specifically by taking over the store.
“What if I told you there is a way that we could all be happy? That if I were to propose to you, your father couldn’t deny us.”
“What is it, John? Tell me!”
Just then the basket hit the water and the sea began to stream in through the spaces between the reeds. This was the end.
“I cannot read anymore! I can’t!” Sarah Clarence threw the Gazette on the tea table next to the settee, where Mary was arranging flowers on a hat. “Read it! Tell me everything turns out all right!” Sarah shouted at Mary with tears streaming down her face. She shoved the Gazette at her and ran from the room sobbing.
“Oh, good heavens, Sarah!” Mary called after her little sister. “It’s just a bit of fiction!” Mary eyed the paper for a few moments. I wonder what could make Sarah so desperately distraught?
“Fine. I will finish it, for Sarah.” Mary convinced herself knowing full well she was dying to know what could make Sarah so agitated.
She read up to the point Sarah had stopped and could go on no further. A little tear had welled in her eye. How ridiculous she must look, crying over the Gazette featurette. It wasn’t even by a real author!
“Dagum story!” Mary clutched the paper, crumpling it slightly in her tightened fists, wrenching it the same way the literature wrenched her heart.
“Mary! Language!” her mother chastised from in the kitchen.
“Sorry, Ma!” Mary apologized and took a deep breath. Then she wiped the errant tears from her cheeks.
John held on to Lavender in the icy cold water of the ocean. He helped her stay afloat and rest when she could swim no longer. His powerful arms took them miles and miles while she rested on his back as he tried to get her back to shore. But the shore was not even visible anymore.
“How do you know where the shore is? We could be swimming away from it by now or end up in the north country . . . or the south! We could end up on some savage island!”
“I’m following the stars.”
“You surprise me, John! A mountain man that knows how to navigate by the stars also?”
“That is how I got to this country, Lavy. I sailed.”
“John! You’re not from America? I never knew. What else do I not know about you?”
“Much . . .” He was struggling to speak with the exertion of swimming.
“Don’t talk, John. Save your strength.” But Lavender knew he had little strength left, and soon, they would sink together into the cold sea.
A watery grave.
Before all hope was lost, Lavender saw a light bobbing in the distance. John stopped stroking the waves and was doing his best to float and rest.
“John! Look! It’s a ship! A ship, John!” It was coming straight for them. They would be saved. Lavender held John up, renewed with energy at the prospect of being saved and longing to know what it was that John could do so that she and her father could both be happy with her marrying him.
“No. No, Lavy.” John was weak and could barely speak.
“I don’t understand, John. They can save us. HELP! HELP OVER HERE!” The ship had surely spotted them as she heard men calling, “Man overboard!” But there was something strange about their speech. Then a colder shiver shot through her. Colder than the ocean waves in winter. Pirates.
“Oh. Oh, heavens. Sarah! You won’t believe it. I promise they don’t die!” Mary was beside herself. “We are silly to get so worked up over a story. It’s not proper! Good heavens.” She threw the Gazette on the settee and went upstairs to her room for bed.
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