Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar -- Review by Tina St.Clair Rice

Review by Tina St. Clair Rice
This story is set in 1816 Middletown, Virginia where Lillyanna “Lily” Laughlin lives with her Aunt Brunhilda “Hilda” Gunther and two younger brothers, 14-year-old Jonah and 12-year-old Jed. Since the recent death of her father, Lily now cares for her brothers as well as their small farm and home.  However things soon change when she learns she no longer owns part of the land across from her beloved home.  Her guardian, Silas Everett, sold it without even discussing it with her and her family to a stranger, Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright.  I enjoyed the way Lily and Mac initially meet, although it was rather embarrassing for Lily, and hoped maybe something more than friendship would develop between them.  Unfortunately Lily and her family's troubles were only beginning thanks to a very deceitful and evil man.  Lily and her family quickly became favorite characters.  I admire Lily’s dedication to caring for her family. Not only is she lovely and has a beautiful singing voice, she has a giving heart, strong work ethic, kind spirit and strong faith. Will her new neighbor see all those godly qualities in her?

I felt for Mac and the reason he left his family home and moved to the Shenandoah Valley.  He has had his own troubles in the past but with his friend, John Blake to help, he hopes to make a fresh start in Middletown.  Will his past troubles follow him there?  He soon became another favorite character in this story.  He is physically strong...and very handsome...which he will need in order to work the farm and orchard he just bought, and his honesty and integrity are admirable.

Mac’s friend John, Lily’s two brothers and aunt, along with some of the other secondary characters are just as endearing and bring much to the storyline.  John especially, who is lighthearted and fun and often brings smiles and laughter.  There is one character who I did not like at all, Silas Everett.  He is an evil, conniving man, out for his own selfish wants regardless how he obtains them or who he hurts in the process. 

The author certainly developed the characters in this story well...some I grew to love and one I did not like at all.  The characters experience humor, more than one sweet romance developing, adventure and suspense, deceitfulness and conniving, evil intentions, trust….others and oneself as well as trusting and learning God’s plan for each of them, love and faith. I enjoyed the spiritual aspect of the storyline.  Oh, I love the ending, perfect!

The historical details and descriptions of the Shenandoah Valley are beautifully done and invite the reader to step off the pages into the valley itself. The author has a note in the back of the story explaining the history of Middletown of 1826 which is very informative.  I like that the stories in each of the My Heart Belongs series (10 stories) are based on actual historical locations and plan to read the other 8 that I have not read yet.

~I received an e-book copy via Net Galley (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~

Bio: Tina St.Clair Rice is Colonial Quills' Reader/Reviewer. A former nurse, Tina lives in Maryland with her family. Tina enjoys Christian historical fiction and is a beta reader for several authors.

Marie Antoinette and the Intrigues of Louis XVI’s Court

Now that the Northkill Amish Series is finished, I’m back to work on my American Patriot Series. Next up is Book 6, Refiner’s Fire, in which we’re going to catch up with the American commissioners in Paris, who negotiated France’s support in the war with Britain. In this episode Jonathan Carleton’s uncle, Admiral Alexandre Bettár, le comte de Caledonne, sweeps Elizabeth Howard off to France to remove her from the reach of assassins sent by British General Henry Clinton to kill her after her rescue from a British prison ship in New York Harbor.

Caledonne is highly connected at the French court, so Elizabeth is going to end up being drawn into life at court during the reign of King Louis XVI. For this book I’m delving deeply into what was going on at Versailles during 1778 and 1779. There’s always a multitude of complicated and dangerous intrigues swirling in the shadows of every royal court—and especially so in France—which happily will provide plenty of opportunities for getting Elizabeth neck-deep into even more hot water.

Marie Antoinette at the age of thirteen,
Joseph Ducreux
A major player, of course, will be Marie Antoinette, the queen who, along with her husband, Louis XVI, met a tragic end in the French Revolution during the Reign of Terror. Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna was born on November 2, 1755, at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, the youngest daughter of Maria Theresa, empress of the Habsburg Empire, and Francis I, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1770 she was married to Louis-Auguste of France, her second cousin once removed and the French dauphin, or heir to the throne, first by proxy in Vienna, and then in a lavish ceremony in the royal chapel at Versailles, before more than 5,000 guests. She was 14 and he was 15. She would go down in history with the French form of her name: Marie Antoinette.

Life as a public figure was not easy for a young girl. She was dropped suddenly into struggles for power, prestige, and financial gain between royals and nobles, the king’s brothers and devout aunts, and his ministers, diplomats, and other advisors, played out through highly complex French customs of etiquette and modes of address. Any influence wielded by women was unofficial, and since romantic liaisons were de rigueur at court, the greatest influence belonged to mistresses rather than wives.

Marie Antoinette in Court Dress,
Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, 1778
Let’s take a look at how the court scene would have appeared. According to long tradition, women were expected to wear a round spot of rouge on each cheek. This wasn’t the delicate highlighting you’d see today, but huge, precisely drawn scarlet circles. Rouge was very expensive, and so a badge of rank and distinction. Mozart, for one, thought the French court makeup detestable, “unbearable to the eyes of an honest German.” Sounds like it! One’s hair also had to be powdered. The queen popularized hair styles called poufs, monstrous affairs supplemented by wool, tow, pads, and wire up to three feet high and topped by the panache, a spray of feather plumes, as you can see in the portrait at right.

The portrait also shows the cumbersome court dress with its wide hoops. Managing the long, heavy train was an art form. Young ladies who were to be presented at court had to be coached by a special dancing master in Paris to move in a “Versailles glide” without seeming to touch the ground, and to make the three requisite curtsies, which began at the door, with modesty and grace. And then the lady’s appearance was likely to be torn to pieces by the spectators. The queen gradually began to make changes in court customs, abandoning heavy makeup and wide-hooped panniers. The new fashion she introduced called for a simpler look, initially in the rustic robe à la polonaise style.

View from Place d'Armes, c. 1722, by Pierre-Denis Martin
In contrast to the tortuous formality of the court, there was an extraordinary lack of security at Versailles. Royal bodyguards did use spaniels to ferret out vagrants who set themselves up in the palace’s various nooks and crannies, but there wasn’t much else they could do. Traditionally every French subject had the right of access to their sovereign, so the palace was open to the public. As a result random people wandered in and out, thronging the antechambers and even at times trying to push into the royals’ private apartments. A public dinner was held regularly, called the grand couvert, and anyone who was decently clothed could come to watch the royals eat. Men were required to wear a sword, but if that was lacking, one could be obtained at the palace gates.

Fishwives and market women held a customary right of access to the queen and used the privilege to comment freely on her perceived failings and those of the princesses. Then there were the royals’ beloved pets. Dogs, cats, monkeys, and other animals had free rein in the palace, roaming over the furniture and even on the table at meals. It was common for foreigners to remark on how dirty the place was! I can just imagine. Ugh!

As far as privacy was concerned, the king and queen were attended at every moment by numerous nobles except during the most intimate marital act—which, however, could not be accomplished without witnesses to the king’s trip to the queen’s suite! This in itself was a problem. Louis didn’t consummate the marriage for 7 years, which, as you can imagine, strained their relationship, the more so since they were expected to speedily produce an heir. In the fishbowl that was the royal court, rumors were bound to fly, and so they did, including the claim that Louis was incapable of sexual relations. Part of the complication may have been that they had met only two days before their wedding and were almost complete strangers. He was also shy, and both were young and inexperienced.

Marie Antoinette and Her Children,
Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, 1787
It surely didn’t help that the French public was hostile to the union. France’s alliance with Austria had drawn the country into the disastrous Seven Years’ War, which had ended in defeat by the British, the loss of Canada and France’s Caribbean colonies, and a massive national debt. His cold behavior toward her in public fueled the gossip but was evidently due to his fear that she would attempt to manipulate him in favor of Austrian interests. They did develop an affectionate relationship, however, and their marriage was finally consummated in 1777. After 8 years of marriage, Marie Antoinette gave birth to Marie-Thérèse Charlotte, Madame Royale, who was born at Versailles on 19 December 1778—with numerous royals and nobles looking on! They eventually had 4 children, one of whom died in infancy.

Since Marie Antoinette had very few official duties, she passed the time by forming deep friendships with her ladies in waiting at court and eventually befriended a number of her male admirers—the source of more malicious gossip. She spent most of her time devising social events and indulging her extravagant tastes. While the country was in the midst of a serious financial crisis and the common people were suffering great want, she spent huge amounts of money on the latest fashions and creating new ones, all manner of luxuries, and gambling. In spite of her initial popularity, a growing number of people turned against her. Widely circulated newspapers and cheap pamphlets spread vicious, pornographic gossip about her, calling her the“Austrian whore,” accusing her of sympathizing with France’s enemies, particularly her native Austria, and doing everything she could to undermine France, charging her with adultery, and even calling the parentage of her children into question. Increasingly she became the focus of the French people’s rage.

In reality, it was the 18th century colonial wars, including the Seven Years War and the American Revolution, that buried France under a mountain of debt. Those who owned most of the property paid little or no taxes, leaving the rest of the people saddled with an unreasonable burden. The natural result was growing resentment against the conspicuous spending of the king, queen, and nobles, which came to a head in 1789 with the beginning of the Revolution.

A side note: There’s no evidence that Marie Antoinette ever said “Let them eat cake,” when she was informed that the French peasants had no bread and were starving. That tale arose from the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions, written around 1766 when she was 11 years old. In fact, Marie Antoinette, who had been raised in a court where the monarchs believed that they were responsible for the welfare of their subjects, carried out many notable acts of charity during her reign. One observer wrote: “She was so happy at doing good and hated to miss any opportunity of doing so.” That she didn’t curtail her extravagant spending, however, was one of the factors that eventually led to her death on the guillotine.

All things considered, there’s more than enough juicy fodder here for a really entertaining plot for Refiner’s Fire. And I mean to make the most of it!
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. She is also an author, editor, and publisher. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with Bob Hostetler, won Foreword Magazine’s 2014 Indie Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, releases April 1, 2017. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year.

Monday, November 13, 2017

This Month In Colonial History ~ November

Welcome to this month's edition! Just one more month to go and then I'll be on to other interesting things ...

1 - Charles II of Spain dies and is succeeded by Philip V, kicking off the War of Spanish Succession. (1700)

1 - Mission San Juan Capistrano founded in California. (1776)

2 - Peter I proclaimed Emperor of all Russia. (1721)

Daniel Boone at age 84
2 - Birth of Daniel Boone (1734-1820) in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

2 – Birth of James K. Polk (1795-1849), 11th U.S. President, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. After serving from March 4, 1845 to March 3, 1849, he “declined to be a candidate for a second term, saying he was ‘exceedingly relieved’ at the completion of his presidency.”

3 - King Henry VIII is made Supreme Head over the Church of England. (1534)

5 - Guy Fawkes Day in Britain:  the anniversary of the failed "Gunpowder Plot" to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I in 1605.

5 - First issue of the New York Weekly Journal published by American printer and journalist John Peter Zenger. (1733)

8 - Cortes captures Aztec emperor Montezuma and thus conquers Mexico. (1519)

8 - Birth of astronomer and mathematician Edmund Halley (1656-1742) in London, who “sighted the Great Comet of 1682 (now named Halley's Comet) and foretold its reappearance in 1758. Halley's Comet appears once each generation with the average time between appearances being 76 years. It is expected to be visible again in 2061.”

10 - The U.S. Marine Corps is born in 1775! Established as part of the U.S. Navy, it became a separate unit on July 11, 1789.

10 – Birth of Martin Luther (1483-1546) in Eisleben, Saxony.

11 - Birth of Abigail Adams (1744-1818) in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

11 – The signing of the Mayflower Compact by 41 Pilgrims, onboard the Mayflower, just off the Massachusetts coast. (1620)

14 - The first experimental blood transfusion takes place in Britain, utilizing two dogs. (...winning the weird science of the month award!) (1666)

14 - Scottish explorer James Bruce discovers the source of the Blue Nile on Lake Tana in northwest Ethiopia. (1770)

14 – Birth of Robert Fulton (1765-1815), inventor of the steamboat, in rural Pennsylvania.

15 - The Articles of Confederation were adopted by Continental Congress. (1777)

17 - Elizabeth I crowned Queen of England at the age of 25, “reigning until 1603 when she was 69. Under her leadership, England became a world power, defeating the Spanish Armada, and witnessed a golden age of literature featuring works by William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and others.” She defined the Colonial Era in ways few others have. (1558)

17 - New York Weekly Journal publisher John Peter Zenger is arrested and charged with libeling the colonial governor of New York, a year after the newspaper was established. (1734)

17 - The U.S. Congress meets for the first time in the new capital at Washington, D.C.; and President John Adams becomes the first occupant of the Executive Mansion, later renamed the White House. (1800)

17 - Birth of German mathematician August Mobius (1790-1868) in Schulpforte, Germany.

18 - First book in the English language, The Dictes and Sayengis of the Phylosophers, printed by William Caxton. (1477)

18 – Birth of German composer Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) in Eutin, Germany.

18 – Birth of Photography inventor Louis Daguerre (1789-1851) in Cormeilles, near Paris. Inventor of the daguerreotype, the first practical photographic process to produce lasting pictures.

19 - Puerto Rico discovered by Columbus during the second voyage to the New World. (1493)

19, 1703 – Death of the "Man in the Iron Mask," a prisoner of Louis XIV in the Bastille in Paris. Speculation abounds on this man’s identity:  was it Count Matthioli, who double-crossed Louis XIV, or possibly the brother of Louis XIV? (1703)

20 - New Jersey is the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights. (1789)

21 - The first free balloon flight takes place in Paris as Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis Francois Laurent d'Arlandes ascended in a Montgolfier hot air balloon. The flight lasts about 25 minutes and travels nearly six miles at a height of about 300 feet over Paris. Witnessed by Benjamin Franklin, among others. (1783)

22 - Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama, leading a fleet of four ships, is the first to sail round the Cape of Good Hope, searching for a sea route to India. (1497)

22 - Death of Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard the pirate, off the coast of North Carolina after a long and prosperous career. (1718)

24 – Birth of Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) 12th U.S. President, in Orange County, Virginia. Only served as President from March 4, 1849 to July 9, 1850, when he died in the White House from illness.

25 – The last British troops leave New York City at the end of the Revolutionary War. (1783)

26 – Observance of the first American holiday, proclaimed by President George Washington to be Thanksgiving Day, a day of prayer and public thanksgiving in gratitude for the successful establishment of the new American republic. (1789)

26 - The first lion exhibited in America (1716)

26 – Birth of Harvard College founder John Harvard (1607-1638) in London.

27 – Birth of Anders Celsius (1701-1744) in Sweden. Inventor of the centigrade (Celsius) temperature scale commonly used in Europe.

28 - Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan passed through the strait later named for him, located at the southern tip of South America, thus crossing from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific. (1520)
John Bunyan's magnum opus

28 - Panama declares independence from Spain and joins the fledgling nation of Gran Colombia. (1821)

28 – Birth of British artist and poet William Blake (1757-1827) in London.

28 - Birth of John Bunyan (1628-1688) in Elstow, Bedfordshire.

30 - The Battle of Narva takes place, where 8,000 Swedish troops under King Charles XII invade Norway, defeating a force of 50,000 Russians. (1700)

30 - Provisional peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States is signed, ending America's War of Independence. (The final treaty was signed in Paris on September 3, 1783.) It declared the U.S. "...to be free, sovereign and independent states..." and that the British Crown "...relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same, and every part thereof." (1782)

My thanks as always to The History Place, Holiday Insights, Marine Corps University, and Wikipedia. :)

Friday, November 10, 2017


On this November 11, it will have been 98 years since President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day marking the end of World War I. While World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, it was formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, when the Armistice with Germany took effect. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. Some other nations honor it as Remembrance Day.

Some people confuse Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
On Veterans Day, we honor ALL who have served honorably, or are
currently serving, in the United States Armed Forces during wartime or peacetime.

On this day, particularly in Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, you may notice people wearing red poppies. That practice originated from the poem In Flanders Fields, written at the battlefront on May 3, 1915, during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields”

It was Moina Michael who was so inspired by the poem that she penned her own, and began the tradition of wearing red poppies:
“We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.”

Memorial Day honors those who have died in battle or as a result of
wounds received in battle in service to our nation.
Memorial Day is an American day observance on the last Monday of May, originating after the Civil War ended in the spring of 1865 and originally referred to as Decoration Day.

By the late 1860s, Americans in cities and towns throughout the country began decorating their graves countless fallen soldiers with flowers each spring.  The federal government declared official birthplace of Memorial Day to be Waterloo, NY which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866. 
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, called for a nationwide day of remembrance.

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,”

It was called Decoration Day in order not to associate it with the anniversary of any particular battle.

General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Decoration Day, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Southern states chose to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I when it truly became a national day of remembrance.

On this Veteran's Day, we thank all who have or are serving in the military. We also appreciate the service families who often endure long separations and many stresses unknown to the civilian population.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Backcountry Brides Collection Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

For years I had the idea of a collection of stories set in the colonial backwoods. I began discussing it with other Colonial American Christian Writers a long time ago, with the hopes that one day we'd have a collection. Well, our members have changed over the years but I'm delighted to have our new cover for The Backcountry Brides Collection from Barbour Publishing (May 2018). And I'm so pleased that nine of us have novellas in this collection. I'm in the midst of edits to my novella so I'm getting to spend time in the Shenandoah Valley, which is where my ancestors, the Rousches, lived. My novella is entitled "Shenandoah Hearts" and is set the same year the French-Indian War kicked off. We've got nine stories we hope our readers will love!

Love on Colonial America’s Frontier

Travel into Colonial America where nine women seek love, but they each know a future husband requires the necessary skills to survive in the backcountry. Living in areas exposed to nature’s ferocity, prone to Indian attack, and cut off from regular supplies, can hearts overcome the dangers to find lasting love?

Rooted in Love by Carla Gade
1748, New Hampshire Grants (Vermont)
Surveyor Shiloh Morgan pursues wild ginseng trade in America’s northern frontier. When he encounters mixed-blood healer Truelove Walden, might love take root in his restless heart and bring healing to hers?

Shenandoah Hearts by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1754 - Great Wagon Road, into the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia)
As the French-Indian War commences, Magda Sehler wonders if Jacob Owens lost his mind to have abandoned his Philadelphia business and moved to the Shenandoah Valley. Or has he lost his heart?

Heart of Nantahala by Jennifer Hudson Taylor
1757 - (North Carolina)
Joseph Gregory plans to buy a lumber mill, but Mabel Walker becomes a formidable opponent. When she’s forced to make a painful decision, she must choose between survival and love.

Her Redcoat by Pegg Thomas
1763 - Fort Michilimackinac (Michigan) during Pontiac’s Rebellion
Laurette Pettigrew grew up in the northern frontier. Henry Bedlow arrived against his will. Their chance meeting changes everything. Will a deadly clash of cultures keep them from finding happiness?

A Heart So Tender by Debra E. Marvin
1764 – (New York)
As thousands of Native warriors converge on Fort Niagara, jaded British Lieutenant Archibald Walsh and idealistic schoolmistress Susannah Kimball learn the greatest risk lies in guarding their hearts.

A Worthy Groom by Angela K. Couch
1771 - Sapling Grove settlement on the Holston River (Tennessee)
The Cowden temper has been Marcus’s lifelong bane. A trait Lorinda Cowden curses. Now, winning the heart of his bride hinges on fighting a war without raising a fist.

Across Three Autumns by Denise Weimer
1778-1780 – (Georgia)
Fighting Loyalists and Indians, Jenny White settles for strength over love . . .until Scottish scout Caylan McIntosh leads her family on a harrowing exodus out of Georgia’s Revolutionary “Hornet’s Nest.”

The Counterfeit Tory by Shannon McNear
1781 – (South Carolina)
Tasked with infiltrating an infamous Tory gang, Jed Wheeler has no wish to endanger the leader’s cousin, Lizzy Cunningham. He risks not only his life. . .but his heart.

Love’s Undoing by Gabrielle Meyer
1792 - Fur Post on the Upper Mississippi River (Minnesota)
When Englishman Henry Kingsley meets Abi McCrea, the daughter of a Scottish fur trader and Indian mother, will their worlds keep them apart, or have they finally found somewhere they truly belong?

Giveaway: Want to win a copy of this book? Share this post on social media and come back and leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback! We'll ship you a copy once it releases in May, 2018!