ACFW New Releases

Curl up by a warm fire on these cold winter days with an ACFW New Release!

January 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Her Handyman Hero by Lorraine Beatty — Reid Blackthorn arrives in Dover on a personal mission—to make sure his terminally ill brother gets a chance to meet his daughter. Deceiving little Lily’s guardian isn’t his intention. Yet once Tori Montgomery mistakes Reid for her new handyman, he knows it’s the only way to be close to his niece. Tori is honoring her friend’s last wish by keeping Lily away from her father’s family. And once she learns who Reid truly is, she realizes there’s too much at stake—including custody of Lily—for her to fall for the former DEA agent. But in keeping a promise, is she losing out on her chance for a happily-ever-after? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin — It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward. Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Ain’t Misbehaving by Marji Laine — True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air-conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school daycare in the worst area of town. Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundation’s after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her. (Contemporary Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Finding Grace by Melanie D. Snitker — Single dad Tyler Martin can’t be more grateful to the woman who finds his missing daughter. Even though he feels a spark between them, falling in love is a risk he shouldn’t take. Too bad chance encounters and his stubborn heart keep trying to convince him otherwise. After escaping a nightmarish relationship, Beth Davenport is content with her safe and blessedly normal life. Yet something about Tyler and his adorable daughter makes her wish for more. With the walls around her heart finally starting to crumble, she’s afraid of a future she can’t predict. Can they let go of their fear and trust God to lead them to the love they desperately need? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Marrying Mandy by Melanie D. Snitker — Mandy Hudson swore she’d never marry. Abandoned by her parents and raised by her grandparents, she has a hard time trusting that real love will last. When her grandmother dies, Mandy’s shocked to discover a stipulation in the will. Considering marriage to her best friend may be the only way to keep her family’s beloved bed-and-breakfast. The loss of his job threatens Preston Yarrow’s shaky financial stability. Besides, he can’t watch his best friend give up the only real home she’s ever known. Frustrated by Mandy’s stubborn refusal to let him help, he’s certain they are stronger together than they are apart. A marriage of convenience might be crazy… or an answer to both their prayers. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Son of Promise by Caryl McAdoo — Can a wife find the grace to forgive when her husband’s withheld the truth? Travis Buckmeyer has a secret son, and the morning’s come to tell his sweet wife. He hates breaking Emma Lee’s heart. She promised him one ten years ago, but hasn’t been blessed to carry a baby to term. Every miscarriage made the telling harder, but now his clock’s run out. He’s going for his son, praying he won’t lose her.
Cody knows who his mother claims his father is, but he’s only interested in getting sprung from reform school then boosting enough from the do-gooder to bust out on his own.
Can Travis find redemption, Emma Lee forgiveness, or Cody the love he’s been longing for? (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

Hearts Entwined by Mary Connealy, Melissa Jagears, Regina Jennings, and Karen Witemeyer — Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Love Knot,” Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister’s arrival by train. Mary Connealy’s “The Tangled Ties That Bind” offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede. Regina Jennings offers “Bound and Determined,” where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels? And Melissa Jagears’ “Tied and True” entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Kathleen E. Kovach, Paula Moldenhauer, Suzanne Norquist, Donita Kathleen Paul, Donna Schlachter, and Pegg Thomas — For seven bachelors, this bouquet of brides means a happily ever after. Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Mother For His Family by Susanne Dietze
Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for.
All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

His Forgotten Fiancee by Evelyn M. Hill — Liza Fitzpatrick is stunned when her fiancé finally arrives in Oregon City — with amnesia. Matthew Dean refuses to honor a marriage proposal he doesn’t recall making, but Liza needs his help now to bring in the harvest, and maybe she can help him remember… Matthew is attracted to the spirited Liza, and as she tries to help him regain his old memories, the new ones they’re creating together start to make him feel whole. Even as he falls for her again, though, someone’s determined to keep them apart. Will his memory return in time to save their future? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White — Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I–to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales. Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe. But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Surgeon’s Choice by Richard L. Mabry, MD — Dr. Ben Merrick thought his biggest problem was getting his fiancé’s divorced parents into the same room for the wedding–and then, people started dying. (Mystery, Independently Published through White Glove)

Romantic Suspense:

Innocent Lies by Robin Patchen — Desperate to be safe from the man who held her captive and ruined her life, Kelsey must ensure her child is protected before she can take her enemy on. But a string of bad luck gets her arrested and lands her face-to-face with the only man she’s ever loved—the only man who can destroy all her plans. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Cold Truth by Susan Sleeman — When research chemist Kiera Underwood receives the cryptic phone call about her twin brother, she tries to contact him to no avail. Her twin sense tingles, warning her that something is wrong. Kiera’s not prepared when an attempt is made on her life and Blackwell Tactical operative Cooper Ashcroft delivers her second shock of the day. Someone killed the supervisor at the research lab where her brother works and stole a deadly biotoxin. The main suspect? Her brother, and Blackwell Tactical has been hired to bring him in. If that wasn’t shocking enough, she’s suspected of colluding with him. Setting out to prove herself and her brother is innocent, she is almost abducted before Ashcroft rescues her. He’s faced with the reality that she’s telling the truth and someone has likely abducted her brother—perhaps killed him—and now Kiera’s very life is in danger, too. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Posted in ACFW New Releases, Christian, historical heartbeats, Historical Romance, Inspirational Romance, Mystery, Romance | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plans for the Wades of Crawford County Series in 2018


To begin the New Year of 2018, I’m looking ahead to the writing projects I have planned for the Wades of Crawford County series. The newest book in the series, Heaven Must Wait Wait, Part II, continues Ralph and Leann’s story about their very rocky road to engagement and marriage.

Times are difficult in Missouri after the Civil War. Families struggle to keep their property from creditors and outlaws. The desire of Ralph Wade’s heart is to marry the girl of his dreams, beautiful Leann Clark, but many obstacles stand in their way. Ralph finds love is not enough to persuade Leann’s father to give his permission for their marriage. John Clark wishes more than love for his daughter. He wants her husband to provided a good living with a secure future. Ralph is much too hot-tempered and unreliable in John’s eyes. Leann desires the dashing Ralph and defies her father to be with him. She believes her love is strong enough to see them through the hard times. Through adverse circumstances, the young couple struggle to keep the fires of their love and faith burning.


Heaven Must Wait, Part II



Leann felt she couldn’t be happier. Her parents seemed to have forgiven Ralph for the altercation he had with Wesley Snipes over a saloon girl and were making friendly overtures toward him. She knew Pa expected both she and Ralph to act responsibly, and she determined not to break his trust. Her heart sang as they walked to the oak tree where Maude waited patiently.

Ralph put his hat on, then untied his mare. “I love you, Leann. I’ll see you next week.”

“I love you. I can hardly wait ’til next Tuesday.” She looked toward the house, then stood on her tiptoes and lightly kissed his lips.”

He quickly glanced toward the house, bent down and planted a firmer kiss on her mouth, then mounted Maude. Without saying anything more, he turned his horse toward home. She stood watching until he rode out of sight. With a heart bursting of love for Ralph, Leann made her way back to the house.


The next book planned in the Wades of Crawford County series is a novel entitled, Morning of Joy. The story takes a surprise turn for the Ralph Wade family, and is the last Leann Frances Clark Wade story.


The last book in the series is about Sonny Wade who is Ralph’s brother, Civil War veteran, and in love with Leann. The novella entitled, Coming Home, tells the story of Sonny’s return after several years. He brings a surprise with him, altering the lives of the Ralph Wade family.

Posted in American Historical Romance, Brenda B. Taylor, historical heartbeats, Inspirational Romance, Sweet Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas in Old Scotland

Mary, Joseph, Jesus

Christmas and New Year were equally welcomed by Scots before the Reformation of the 16th-17th centuries. All the customs of both festivals stem from that time.

The name comes from the Scandinavians, for whom ‘Yultid’ was the festival celebrated at the twelfth month, being the twelfth name of Odin, who was supposed to come to earth in December, disguised in a hooded cloak. He would sit awhile at the firesides listening to the people, and where there was want he left a gift of bread or coins. (Strains of Father Christmas here!)

Christmas was often known as Nollaig Beag , Little Christmas. The custom was to celebrate the Birth of Christ with all solemnity, the festivities began a few days later, and spilled into New Year and Twelfth Night, which was known as ‘Little Christmas’. However, the French often called Christmas colloquially, ‘Homme est né’ (Man is Born) which is thought by some scholars to be the origin of the word, ‘Hogmanay’, stemming from the time of the ‘Auld Alliance’.

The Reformation hit Scotland as hard as everywhere else. By 1583, bakers who made the Yulebreads were fined, their punishment could be lessened if they gave the names of their customers!

In 1638 the General Assembly in Edinburgh tried to abolish Yuletide.

While the same things were going on south of the border, with the Restoration of the Monarchy came the restoration of Christmas. In Scotland, the rigid laws of the new Kirk still frowned upon Christmas celebration, so it stayed underground. Only the High church and the Catholics kept the old traditions going.

Christmas Gifts

The inherent need to celebrate came out in Scotland as a great revival of the New Year celebrations. In fact, hardly changed at all because Old Christmas comprised three days of solemn Tribune, were the church services, fasting and hard work. Church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were followed by a day of Charity on the Feast of Stephen, which we now call Boxing Day. No-one would have thought much about parties and frolics until after these days were over. Then the solemnity gave way to joyous and often rowdy celebration and holiday under the name of ‘Homme est né’ or Hogmanay.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

Being intended by the reformed church, as a day of prayer, the puritanical elements gradually closed in on all those who defied the new laws and continued their festivities. In England soldiers were chosen especially for their noses. A long nose was thought to be able to sniff out the spices in the Christmas baking better! In Scotland the bakers were encouraged to inform on their customers. In their attempts to stamp out frivolity, they prescribed that Christmas would be a working day. So it became the custom to work over Christmas.

This prevailed throughout the whole of Britain, especially in the working classes. Until 40 years ago postmen, bakers, transport workers, and medical staff were commonly expected to work, but because of the Victorian revival of Christmas in England, many other establishments closed, while in Scotland shops and many offices stayed open.

However, this did not mean that people did not celebrate Christmas. Often they would go to Church before work, or at lunchtime, or in the evening. They would have a Christmas Tree and a Christmas Dinner and children went to bed expecting that kindly old gentleman to call with a gift or two.

*Taken from the Christmas Archives of Countess Maria Hubert von Staufer

Read about a Christmas celebration in A Highland Pearl. Click on the cover to purchase.


A sweet romance blossoms amidst feuding and war. With her reputation at stake after being accused of practicing witchcraft and hated as a member of a rival clan, Maidie considers leaving Clan Munro and returning to the home of her birth in Clan Cameron. Fierce battles, a tragic encounter, and a handsome clan chief compel her to make crucial decisions in this haunting romance set in the16th century Highlands of Scotland.

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Yuletide Traditions of Scotland

Nativity by Scott 1872

Nativity by William Bell Scott, 1872

The canvas above was painted in 1872 by the Scottish artist, William Bell Scott. He gives the story a local Aryshire setting. The barn is an old one near Penkill where Scott was then living. Notice the shepherd playing bagpipes. I took a photo of the painting in the National Galleries of Scotland and lightened it to better see the detail. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Yuletide Traditions of Scotland

Elements of Yuletide traditions in Scotland are the same in other Celtic countries, but Scotland has those particular to the country. Many of the Scottish traditions are rooted in the customs of ancient Celtic culture and the Roman Catholic Church practices. During the reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries, Presbyterian Scots did not allow holidays at Christmas. Christmas Day was another work day as you can see in the Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit worked through Christmas Eve.

For Yuletide decorations, Scotland tended to hang evergreens, the holly particularly. A pretty modern Scottish Tree may be decorated with bows made from many different tartans. A strip of cloth is all that’s needed, from 1″ to 8″ widths and around 18″ to 4′ long. Select plain enameled baubles in different sizes to compliment to colors of the tartans, from black (yes they do work!) to rich greens, reds, deep gold, and blues. For the tree top, put a teddy bear with a tartan beret! But you could use a large tartan bow, or a simple star.

Next the music. The most traditional one is Hogmanay Party by Jimmy MacLeod and his band. Rousing and foot-tapping, you can sing , dance or just turn this one down for background music. A must for a Scottish Christmas party!

A good all-rounder with carols like Taladh Chriosta, Scottish songs and music such as New Year’s Day and Bottom of the Punch Bowl, well blended with some of the more popular carols such as God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen. Many of which you can hear a sample of at the music site.

Your reading may include, Silver Bough vol.3. Calendar of Scottish National Festivals – Halloween to Yule. This one has all the customs for you to follow, many of which are very old. A must for anyone who is of Scottish ancestry and wishes to live the seasons as their forefathers did!

Also, if you can find it, The Scottish Yule an American publication by Francis Thompson, who has written many other Scottish books.

You must have a Scottish Shortbread on your table. You can make it, or buy the real McCoy. Black Bun, and a Venison Stew would set the right feel at the table.



This cake in a crust is the traditional New Year cake in Scotland. Every housewife has her own variations. This one is from a family recipe book.

Preparation First make a 1lb weight of short crust pastry your usual method. Leave to chill.

Take a springform (if possible) cake tin, and line with baking parchment. Set aside.

Mix together

1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground ginger, 1/4 fresh grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper.

Weigh into large bowl 10oz plain flour and 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda, mix well. Add 4oz sugar, then the spices, and weigh in 1lb currants, 1lb raisins, 4oz broken or flaked almonds, 4oz mixed candied peel.

Mix altogether well.

Add two beaten eggs, 5 tablespoons buttermilk (or milk will do) & two or three tablespoons whisky. Mix to a stiff sticky dough.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and line the cake tin with this. Press the fruit mixture into the pastry shell so that it is filled densely. Roll out the rest of the pastry to form a lid, and put on top in the usual way, moistening the edges with water to make then stick.

Take a long skewer, and pierce several times, right through the cake till you feel the tip touch the tin bottom. Brush the lid with a mixture of egg and milk, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 Fahrenheit; 170 Centigrade for about three hours. Test with skewer, when it is done, the skewer will not have any cake mix sticking to it.

*Taken from the Christmas Archives of Countess Maria Hubert von Staufer



Posted in Christmas, historical heartbeats, International, Scotland, Yuletide Traditions | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACFW December New Releases

December 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Rebecca’s Redemption by Lee Carver — A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

Contemporary Romance:

The Christmas Baby by Lisa Carter — Mistletoe Mommy Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher — Nick’s love of thrills and danger and Samantha’s love of safety and security drove them apart two years ago. After her worst fears came true, can they build something new upon the ashes of the past? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Christmas Kind of Perfect by Christine Schimpf — Conrad Hamilton thought his life would be easy. A great job running his own construction business, living in his hometown in Door County, Wisconsin, with Lila Clark by his side. He planned on marrying her as soon as she returned from her Chicago internship but it never happened.
Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor did she plan on spending the last decade in New York. But she did. Can the magic of Christmas turn two hearts back to one another again or is it too late to capture that special kind of perfect? (Contemporary Romance from Prism Christian Publishing)

Under the Mistletoe: A Christian Christmas Anthology by Jenna Brandt, Lorana Hoopes, Carol E. Keen, Elle E. Kay, Mary C. Findley, Judith Robl, Evangeline Kelly, C.J. Samuels — Christmas is the time when families get together and love abounds. Eight inspirational authors have teamed up to bring you 8 wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring you joy this season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Making Spirits Bright by Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, April Hayman — Christmas is a season for new beginnings and second chances. A time for hope and joy and laughter. A time for people of all ages to find love and come together in community. Making Spirits Bright is a collection of just such stories – four never-before-published inspirational Christmas novellas. From romance to cozy mystery, with a generous dash of humor, these contemporary stories are sure to warm your heart as well as brighten your season and lift your Christmas spirit. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection by Mary Connealy — The Old West comes to life under the talented pen of bestselling author Mary Connealy. Enjoy a lighthearted ride alongside seven historical and one contemporary cowboys and the women who tame their hearts. (Historical/Contemporary Romance Novella from Barbour Publishing)

Would-Be Mistletoe Wife by Christine Johnson — Worried she might lose her teaching job if funding is cut for her boarding school, widow Louise Smythe must consider marriage. But the only prospective groom in town is lighthouse-keeper Jesse Hammond, and he wants children–something she may never be able to provide. While Jesse waits for the ideal woman to make his wife, though, Louise can’t help but long for something more than his friendship. If he wants to be promoted to head lighthouse keeper, Jesse needs to find a wife suited to his rustic lifestyle. But as he and Louise partner to give the town’s homeless orphans a joyous holiday, he’s drawn to the petite woman. Will the light of Christmas finally inspire them to trust in each other’s hearts? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Circle of Blessings by Deborah Raney — A young college student is determined to win the love of her English professor at the university in the Dakota Territory where she is studying to be an architect. (Historical Romance from Raney Day Press)


Return to Bella Terra by MaryAnn Diorio — When she receives word that her mother is terminally ill, Maria Landro Tonetta travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When, however, Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream.
But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul? (Historical, Independently Published)

Brides of Minnesota by Lena Nelson Dooley — Follow a Swedish family’s journey as they settle in Minnesota where each brother seeks a living—and wife. (Historical from Barbour Publishing)


Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert — When the dead body of an overdosed teen turns up next to Tess Spencer’s mom’s trailer, it’ll take a miracle to keep Tess from becoming a casualty in her own personal war on drugs. (Mystery, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman — The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they? (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Holiday Secrets by Susan Sleeman — When his ex is thrust into the crosshairs of a deadly syndicate, FBI agent Gavin McKade will do whatever it takes to protect her. Even work the case with his stubborn sheriff dad. As if protecting Lexie from professional killers isn’t difficult enough, the unlikely reunion has rekindled their complicated romantic connection. But if Gavin can’t untangle Lexie from this dangerous web, the blurring line between duty and love may not matter…because this Christmas could be their last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


The Redemption of Jedidiah Pinkney by J.R. Pitts — A crippled and bullied young boy finds redemption and healing after an encounter with Jesus. (Speculative from Ambassador International)

Posted in ACFW New Releases, Christian, Historical, historical heartbeats, Historical Romance, Inspirational Romance, Mystery | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Highland Pearl ~ Spotlight

Author Brenda B. Taylor spotlights the first book in the Highland Treasures series, A Highland Pearl. The book tells the story of a sweet romance that blossomed amidst feuding and war and a Christmastime wedding. Leave a comment to win an ebook copy of A Highland Pearl.



A sweet romance blossoms amidst feuding and war. With her reputation at stake after being accused of practicing witchcraft and hated as a member of a rival clan, Maidie considers leaving Clan Munro and returning to the home of her birth in Clan Cameron. Fierce battles, a tragic encounter, and a handsome clan chief compel her to make crucial decisions in this haunting romance set in the16th century Highlands of Scotland.


The Village of Drumainn, Ross-Shire

Scottish Highlands 1508 A.D.

Maidie rode behind the young warrior on a horse galloping toward the castle. She removed one hand from around his trim waist to pull her wrap closer against the biting wind then secured the kertch trying to fly from her head. The old Cameron scarf was the only one she could find before rushing out of the cottage when Tavish pounded on her door. She replaced her hand, trying not to mind his grimy clothes and gamey smell, and held her bag of precious herbs with the other. Tavish guided the horse between several tenant crofters coming and going from the castle.

The wind whistled through large birch and oak trees lining the road. Leaves of gold, red, yellow, and brown rustled in the wind then floated to the ground. Maidie enjoyed the walk to the castle this time of year, when a lass needed a midwife, but today she could not think about the beauty. She looked back at Sven, who rode behind Maighstir Tam, and held to a small leather bag filled with various implements she used in her work. A chill ran through her, not only from the wind, but also from the dread of seeing the terrible wounds of the injured.

They pulled to one side of a wide wooden bridge leading to the outer bailey of Fàrdach Castle to let a wagon pass. Tavish waved to the guard in the barbican as their party entered through the large, steel-studded oak gates, under the portcullis, and into the outer bailey. The bailey teemed with the life of humans and animals. Their various buildings, dwellings, and shelters lined the curtain wall.

Tavish steered his horse dodging roughly dressed people, went through a second gate in the curtain wall, then across a bridged moat to the quieter inner yard. He waved to a guard on the rampart, and guided his horse to the door of the castle’s keep. Stable boys rushed to take the reins of both horses. Tavish quickly dismounted, then helped Maidie to the ground. She held her bag with a firm grip. He then assisted Sven and Tam from their horse. Large green eyes in the ashen face of her wee son searched hers. She patted his small hand and rubbed his mass of red hair. He tried to smile, giving her a small gift of comfort.

“All will be well, Sven,” she said to reassure him. Not since watching his father die from wounds he received in a battle with Clans MacKenzie and Cameron had she seen such fear in her son’s eyes.

“I dinna wish to go inside, Mam.” The boy drew back from her touch.

“You may stay out here then. Just dinna leave the bailey.” Maidie took Sven’s bag then handed both to Tavish. She cupped the small boy’s chin in her fingers and kissed the lined forehead. “Stay close. Mayhap there are other children close by.”

“Yes, Mam. I will.” His half-smile gave her a sense of relief.

“Just stay close.” Maidie turned and walked toward Tavish who held the heavy wooden door open. Tam followed as they entered the great hall of the keep.

Tavish closed the door with a thud. Maidie stood for a moment so her eyes could adjust to the dimness. Light rays from the small upper windows glinted off the weapons, armor, and heraldry displayed on the stone walls. Lifeless eyes in the heads of boar with long tusks and red stags with huge racks of antlers stared at her from above the weapons.

Although a large fireplace with a glowing fire stood on each of the four walls, the air felt cold and damp. The smell of dirt, blood, human waste, and unwashed bodies blended together into a noxious odor causing a revolt in her stomach. She swallowed a rush of nausea with a gulp. Wounded warriors lying atop rush pallets lined the floor. A servant rushed to the maighstir, pulling him toward a blood-soaked pallet where an unconscious man lay.

Tam began administering last rites to the warrior. Loud groans and cries came from the wounded. One pallet lay apart from the others. Angus MacKay, the castle physician, hovered over it. The laird must be lying there. He made no sound.

Tavish pushed her toward the pallet. “The laird needs your help, Madam.”

She hesitated. “Angus is there with him.”

“His brother asked for you. You must help now.” Tavish grabbed her arm with his free hand and pulled her toward the stricken laird.

She resisted. “So many others need my help.” She counted only three other servants and the laird’s sister, Davina, caring for the wounded.

“Angus can help them.” Tavish tugged on her arm once more. She reluctantly followed. “The tanist said Laird Andrew asked specifically for you to come to his aid.”

“He asked for me?” Maidie pulled against the arm holding her. “He looks unconscious.”

“He’s only resting now. Angus gave him a potion to ease his pain.” Tavish jerked once more.

Maidie reluctantly let him pull her to the pallet that held Andrew Munro. Angus turned to her when they approached, his face covered with a scowl. The castle physician left quickly, making his way to another of the wounded men.

A voice came from the darkness on the far side of the bed. “Thank you for coming Maidie Cameron Munro. As you can see for yourself, my brother needs your attention.”

Maidie’s hand went to the very first thing a Munro noticed— her kertch of Cameron colors. The large form of Gavin, tanist of the clan, rose from the shadows. Filth caked the russet hair tied away from his grimy face with a leather thong. A dirty linen léine hung in shreds from his shoulders and arms. The upper end of his great plaide, now stained with gore, wrapped around broad shoulders with a long dagger sheathed on a wide leather belt at his waist.

“I fought many wearing those same colors this verra day,” he said with heavy brows knit together in a dark, frightening scowl.

Maidie could only shake her head in response. Her stomach churned at the sight and sound of him. Then she looked down at the man lying on the pallet. His face held the green pallor of death she had seen before on the dying. His body, covered with a filthy plaide, trembled. Long black hair, fanned about powerful shoulders. She knelt beside the trembling form, and lifted the plaide. A hand went to her mouth when she uncovered the gaping wound across his abdomen.

A loud gasp escaped between Maidie’s fingers. “Ach! Saints in Heaven! Why didn’t Angus stitch this wound?” She pushed the plaide away from the open wound, leaving it to cover only the lower part of the chief’s torso.


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Author Brenda B. Taylor

Author Bio:

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

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Posted in A Highland Pearl, Book Spotlight, historical heartbeats, Scottish historical romance, Sweet Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Your Heart Comes Home ~ Spotlight

Historical Heartbeats welcomes Author Marilyn Peveto introducing her debut novel, When Your Heart Comes Home. After her husband’s death, Sarah Andersson must care for her small children and run the family business. When her first love returns to town, will Sarah be able to put aside the past?

Sarah Andersson’s immigrant husband becomes homesick for his native Sweden and insists on returning. A prominent member of tiny Pineville, Texas, Sarah decides to stay behind with their two young children. After her husband is killed before leaving American shores, she grieves his death but is asked to rescue the town’s main business, the sawmill.

When her first love, Thomas Carson, returns to Pineville after a five-year absence, Sarah must put aside the past and ask Thomas to do the same. They can only save their town by working together.

While Sarah grieves, cares for her children, and runs the sawmill, she discovers she has feelings for Thomas. But she worries he hides a dark secret.

Will she allow herself to love again?

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Author Marilyn Peveto

Author Bio:

Marilyn Peveto is a lifelong East Texan from a family that has lived in the Piney Woods for generations. Growing up hearing tales of sawmills at the turn of the twentieth century made the region’s history a natural setting for her stories.

Her hobbies include reading, browsing in antique stores for her next treasure and cooking her family’s favorite southern foods.

Marilyn enjoys life with her two adult children, a son-in-law, an adorable granddaughter, her husband of forty-one years and two geriatric beagles who snooze at her feet as she writes.

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Posted in American Historical Romance, Book Spotlight, historical heartbeats, Inspirational Romance, New Release | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment