Author of Courting Morrow Little, Laura Frantz credits her grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's ancestors followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in the late eighteenth century and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. She has also authored the highly acclaimed The Frontiersman's Daughter and her much anticipated The Colonel's Lady will release in August of this year.
Author, Julie Lessman
Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?
This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop you as it takes you from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness of the West.
Red River, Kentucke
Morrow paused on the river trail to wipe her brow with the hem of her linsey shift. It was a true Kentucke July, and the woods were hot as a hearth, the leaves of the elms and oaks and sycamores curling for lack of water, the dust beneath her bare feet fine as flour. Even the river seemed like bathwater, its surface still and unbroken as green glass. She’d been following her brother Jessamyn to swim, but a treasure trove of wild grapes along the river’s edge slowed her.
“Morrow, quit your dawdlin’, ” Jess yelled over his shoulder.
She stuffed the grapes into her mouth till it wouldn’t close then filled her pockets for him. His quick grin was thanks enough.
“Why, them’s big as marbles—or trade beads,” he exclaimed, filling his own cheeks. “Reckon Ma would want some to make jelly?”
“We can pick her some after we swim,” she said, shucking off her shift and hanging it from a sticker bush.
At the sight of her, Jess began to snicker. “Morrow Mary Little, you’re fat as a grape yourself. And so white you hurt my eyes.”
Truly, she was as plump as she could be. Stout, Pa called her, like most of the Little clan. Though five years old, she’d still not lost her baby fat, and only her face and feet and hands were tan. The rest of her was white as milk.
She grinned, bubbling with glee at his teasing. “You’re so skinny I can see right through you. And you’re brown as bacon.”
Only ten, he worked the fields alongside Pa like a man, tending tobacco and corn while she mostly toted her baby sister around and helped Ma spin. Joining hands now, they jumped off their favorite rock, shattering the river’s calm. Cool at last, they surfaced, smiling, glad to be free of the fields and Euphemia’s fussing.
Morrow twirled in the water. “Ain’t it fine—” she began.
But the smile had slipped off Jess’s face. He held up a hand as Pa sometimes did, forbidding further talk. Bewildered, she looked about. But her brother wasn’t looking, he was listening.
Beyond the noisy jays and flighty cardinals and whisper of wind, past the heat shimmers of midsummer and the wall of woods, came a startling sound. The humid air was threaded with shrieking and screaming.
All at once Jess began to wade to shore. Morrow followed, but he turned, his freckled face suffused with a strange heat.
“You stay put—don’t even twitch—till I come back.”
She watched the woods swallow him up as she sat in the shallow water, unable to stand up any longer on her trembling legs, unable to listen to the shrieking and screaming out there somewhere. With her hands over her ears she waited, and then when the water turned cold she started up the trail to their cabin, forgetting her dress. Naked as a jaybird, she flew into the quiet cabin clearing. The slant of the sun told her it was nearly time for supper. But where was Ma calling her to come in? Or the ring of Pa’s ax as he split wood? Or Jess reminding her to bell the cow before he turned her loose in the meadow? For once she even missed her baby sister’s wailing.
Her bare feet ate up the dry, dun-colored grass leading to the cabin porch. There on the steps, like a discarded doll, lay Euphemia. The dying sun lit her baby sister’s wide blue eyes, only Euphemia didn’t blink or cry. Had she fallen down and hurt herself? Morrow looked around. Where was Ma? Her breathing was a bit ragged now as she surveyed the toppled churn and water bucket by the cabin door. Some unseen hand seemed to tug her ever nearer, but she saw she’d have to step over Euphemia to get there, and she couldn’t do it.
Sweat trickled down her face, yet she started to shiver like it was winter, eyes on the open door. Frantic, she looked around for Ma and Jess and Pa. Digger should have been here too, alerting them with his bark, welcoming them home. As soon as she thought it, she saw his furry body beneath the rosebush to one side of the cabin, an arrow through his middle.
An Indian arrow.
With a cry she jumped over Euphemia and ran into the ransacked cabin. Ma was slumped over her spinning wheel, but Morrow couldn’t get to her past the splintered furniture and broken glass and scattered clothes and quilts. A flurry of feathers from the tick that had been Ma’s pride were dancing in the draft coming through the cabin door. They rained down around Morrow restlessly, soft as a snowfall, almost as white. Standing there, her heart hurt so fiercely she felt it would burst.
Behind her, hard hands scooped her up and tore her away from the sickening sight. Pa carried her to the barn, away from the blood and the smell of death and their torn-up things. But he couldn’t remove the gruesome memory. And he couldn’t explain why the Almighty had let it happen in the first place.
READ CHAPTER ONE HERE.
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For a chance to win a copy of Courting Morrow Little please visit on Friday, May 27th when Laura Frantz shares on our feature, Tools of the Trade.