Welcome to Teacups & Tales, where for the month of May 2018 we'll be talking about the themes in the various novellas of the Backcountry Brides Collection.
You'll get a peek into the deeper layers of the stories, as well as the lives of the authors, along with opportunities to connect with each. I know each reader will take away a blessing from this uplifting collection!
Love's Undoing: The Takeaway Value by Gabrielle Meyer
- Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers (March 2018, Barbour)
- The Backcountry Brides Collection (May 2018, Barbour)
- Victorian Christmas Brides Collection (September 2018, Barbour )
My story, Love’s Undoing, begins in what would one day become central Minnesota on the banks of the Upper Mississippi River in 1792 at a Scottish fur post. Abi is the daughter of a Scottish fur trader and an Indian mother. Henry is the second son of an English earl and has come to Montreal to make his way in the world. She longs to get away from the confines and expectations of the fur post and see what the world has to offer, and he longs to discover where he belongs.
Because Abi and Henry are from two very different worlds, they have many things going against them from the start. When they are in the woods, Abi shines, but when they are in a ballroom in Montreal, Henry shines. She isn’t accepted by his peers and he isn’t accepted by hers. They both face many prejudices and are treated poorly, but the things that society rejects in them are the very things that make them fall in love with each other. Abi’s unlike any of the delicate women Henry knows, and Henry is unlike any of the rough frontiersmen Abi knows. They compliment each other and bring out the best. In the story, they must make difficult decisions we all face. Do we give in to the pressure placed on us by our culture, or do we pave our own paths? Do we look beyond race and economic differences and see the heart within? These are the questions Abi and Henry will have to answer.
A Heart So Tender: The Takeaway Value by Debra B. Marvin
So Tender is a story of friendship during a volatile time at Fort
Niagara. To some, that may not sound swoony-romantic for a romance novella, but
it’s what draws together my hero, a British Army officer and my heroine, a
young schoolteacher. Lieutenant Archibald Walsh is dogged by anger and he
fights against outright hatred for the native people he holds responsible for his
best friend’s death at the Massacre at Devil’s Hole. My heroine, Susannah,
feels quite alone because of her desire to open a girls’ school along the
frontier, and because she’s a young woman at a crossroads in her life without
the friendship and advice of a mother.
Within the walls of the fort, Arch and Susannah are forced together for her safety despite their conflicting views on the hundreds of native warriors attending the Great Gathering. While Susannah loves her father and adopted brother, her father wants her to have a much more traditional life than the one she has worked for. The stoic lieutenant Walsh seems to have even less tolerance for Susannah’s untraditional goals. How could these two ever grow in friendship?
By talking. By being honest.
Because having someone believe in you when you’re going through something difficult makes all the difference. Once Arch and Susannah decide that being friendly is the best way to get through their days of forced companionship, they find a great solace in that friendship. In fact, they become a shelter for one another in what feels like a storm. That feeling of shelter is a reflection of the true love we have from God. While both Arch and Susannah are dealing with their own fears, the encouragement of having someone believe in them draws them closer. I enjoyed the progression of their friendship through those difficult days and I hope you will too.
The Counterfeit Tory: The Takeaway Value by Shannon McNear
Today we welcome Shannon McNear of The Backcountry Brides Collection, as she shares about the theme of her novella, The Counterfeit Tory, set in 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.
The main theme of both my heroine’s and hero’s journeys seems to be one of hope—for her, that God was indeed real and cared enough about her to send someone to help her escape her formerly hopeless, abusive life. For him, that after years of war and the loss of much immediate family and a former sweetheart, God would give him fresh reasons to live and continue fighting for justice and honor. His suicide mission becomes very personal indeed as he witnesses the suspected—and later confirmed—maltreatment of his host’s daughter, and finds not just his sympathies entangled, but soon his affections as well.
So, the takeaway … are we ever too hardened, or too mired in a terrible situation, for God to reach? Are our circumstances ever so hopeless that even the merest thread of faith couldn’t make a difference? I think not. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) And, “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 Chron 16:9) And finally, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy.” (Psalm 33:18)
And the prequel to The Counterfeit Tory, The Highwayman, is available as a standalone: https://amzn.to/2GA53S5
After more than two decades in the South, Shannon McNear now makes her home on the windy northern plains with her husband, four of their eight children, two German Shepherds, four cats, several chickens, and a noisy flock of guinea fowl. She serves in worship and youth ministry, and has been writing novel-length fiction since age 15. Her first novella, Defending Truth, from A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® nominee. When not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the Dakota prairies.
Her Redcoat: The Takeaway Value by Pegg Thomas
Henry Bedlow and Laurette Pettigrew, my hero and heroine in Her Redcoat, are as different as chalk from cheese, but they have something very much in common. Neither one fits into the world where they live. Henry is bookish and clumsy and everything a British soldier shouldn’t be. Laurette is part French and part Indian, but doesn’t feel fully at home with either side. Both are captives, to an extent, of their circumstances. Sometimes, however, we have to break free of where we find ourselves so that we can expand our horizons and exercise our gifts to do the most good. Finding where we belong takes time and prayer and sometimes a little push.
To celebrate the release of The Backcountry Brides Collection, including my story, Her Redcoat, I’m giving away one of my signature shawls. Today the area around Fort Michilimackinac is known for its beautiful lilacs. One subscriber to my newsletter will win Northern Lilacs, my handspun, handknit wool shawl on May 31, 2018. Subscribe today to be entered!
Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. They raise sheep and chickens, keep a few barn cats, and Murphy the spoiled rotten dog. A life-long history geek, she writes "history with a touch of humor." Pegg is published in the Barbour historical romance collections. Pegg also works as Managing Editor of Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.
Themes of Beauty & Self-Worth in Denise Weimer's Across Three Autumns
The theme or moral of every novel I write springs from the flaws and struggles faced by a main character, usually the heroine. My leading ladies in The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and my novellas have battled prejudice, grief, shyness, abuse, and perfectionism. Across Three Autumns, my novella in Backcountry Brides, offers no exception. Its main character carries deep-seated insecurity.
Jenny White, inspired by real-life Revolutionary War heroine Nancy Hart, represents the opposite of the sweet, delicate, feminine heroine populating many romance novels. Growing up on the Colonial Georgia frontier as the eldest, tallest, and strongest of four surviving children, Jenny can do most things her father can. But as valuable as her skills with farm implements and Brown Bess might be, she’s given up on finding a man to appreciate them. Jenny believes herself “curiously wrought” rather than “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Then she meets Scottish militia scout Caylan McIntosh, who doesn’t seem to mind her fire-red hair and freckles or the fact that she can almost look him in the eye even though he’s over six feet tall. Rather, he praises her skill with herbs when she nurses him back to health after the Battle of Kettle Creek, her quick wits for saving her family from Loyalists, and her ability to keep her mother and little sisters in food and clothing. But when a bout with the pox—“a foe she can neither outwit nor intimidate”—leaves its mark, Jenny feels certain Caylan will prefer the affections of her lovely younger sister, Hester.
My tagline for this series is “On the frontier, strength is beauty, and courage is life.” My hope is that the reader, many of whom struggle with their own insecurities, will come away strengthened in the belief that we are all made beautiful in God’s image … culturally-held notions of beauty aren’t the only valid assets … and that even when we’ve suffered great loss in our lives, when we let Him, God makes “beauty from ashes.”
Backcountry Brides on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Backcountry-Brides-Collection-Colonial-America%C2%92s/dp/1683226224/
Rev War Heroine Nancy Hart: The Real "Jenny White" from Across Three Autumns
This May, Backcountry Brides releases with Barbour Publishing! I'm so excited to have my novella, Across Three Autumns, included in this beautiful collection. The tale centers on the Battle of Kettle Creek, while my protagonist Jenny White is inspired by Revolutionary War heroine, Nancy Hart. Jenny is not Nancy, but I did borrow from Nancy's appearance and exploits to create a strong, atypical heroine who secretly struggles with insecurity.
“On the frontier, strength is beauty and courage is life.”
Nancy Ann Morgan Hart is believed by most to have been born in North Carolina’s Yadkin River Valley in the mid-1730s and to have moved to the Broad River (Elbert County, Georgia) in the early 1770s. With her husband Benjamin, who became a lieutenant under Col. Elijah Clark, she had six sons and two daughters. Their one-room, pine cabin—its walls covered by antler hunting trophies and peppered by holes in the chinking to defend against Indians—rested in a crest of a hill overlooking what became known as Wahatche Creek, embraced by an extensive apple orchard and herb garden Nancy used in her medicinal cures.
But Nancy was not the expected meek, traditional Colonial woman. Beauty and grace passed six-foot-tall Nancy right on by. Pipe-smoking, crossed-eyed, and pock-marked, Nancy was a crack shot the Indians called “Wahatche” or “War Woman,” and named her creek after her. Possessing no patience for weak men, she was said to be “a honey of a patriot but a devil of a wife.”
Hart became the stuff of Georgia legends during the Revolutionary War. Refusing to leave the “Hornet’s Nest” when other civilians fled, Nancy provided a prime example of using what she had in the interest of a cause. During the British occupation of Augusta when Clark needed information on enemy plans, she was said to have dressed as a man and pretended to be “addle-pated” to gain confidences in the British camp. On another occasion, while making soap over the fire, one of her children noticed an eye peeking in the cabin chinking. Nancy threw lye into the crevice and went outside to hog tie and take the prisoner to local militia.
Another time, six British soldiers, irritated with Nancy, who dressed as a sick woman and misdirected them in their pursuit of a rebel, shot her last turkey and insisted she cook it for them. Nancy broke out the corn liquor and sent her daughter Sukey to the swamp ostensibly to get water but really to blow a conch shell to summon her father and neighbors working in a far field. Meanwhile, Nancy passed the soldiers’ stacked weapons through a chink in the wall. She got caught on the third. Nancy leveled the musket she held and warned the men she’d shoot any who advanced. One made that mistake and was rapidly dispatched. The others froze, convinced, and also quite confused by Nancy’s roving eye as to who her next target might be. She held the others at bay until help arrived, then insisted shooting was too good for the interlopers. Legend says the settlers hung the party of British. In 1912, a railroad grading crew uncovered six skeletons under three feet of Hart dirt, giving credence to this particular story.
Nancy’s later days ended well. Gov. George Gilmer’s mother testified late in life that Nancy “went to the house of worship in search of relief.” Cutting the fastening off the door of the Methodist meeting house, Nancy barged in and stated she’d heard how the wicked might work out their salvation. “She … became a shouting Christian, [and] fought the devil as manfully as she had fought the Tories.”