21 December 2014

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Joan Fallon on THE SHINING CITY

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author JOAN FALLON with her latest release, THE SHINING CITY. One lucky visitor will get a free ebook copy of The Shining City, gifted from the author through AmazonBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

Exotic, romantic, and rich with historical detail, The Shining City is a timeless story of love, family, and the unexpected consequences of our actions. Set in 10th century Spain, in the time of the Moorish occupation, it is, above all, a story of love and honour.
When he moved to Madinat al-Zahra, Qasim thought he had escaped his turbulent past but when his youngest son, Omar, falls in love with the Caliphs concubine, he sets off a train of unimaginable consequences and puts all his family, including Qasim, in danger. Qasims secret is about to be revealed and all he has worked for destroyed.

Praise for the novel - from HISTORICAL NOVELS SOCIETY August 2014

"The Shining City by Joan Fallon is a beautifully told story set in tenth-century Spain which focuses on a city in southern Spain that flourished for a brief time only: Madinat al Zahra.

Built by the caliph, it becomes a rival to the capital, Cordoba. The book covers many aspects of the times: history, culture, religion and day-to-day life. Giving great attention to detail, Fallon depicts court etiquette with the same confidence as minor details, such as bakery and food preparation. I knew comparatively little about Spain under Muslim rule and found myself easily and entertainingly educated.
The characters are well chosen and developed, likeable and driven by their dreams and ambitions...."

Q&A with Joan Fallon

What attracted you to writing a novel about Spain in the 10th century?

I have been fascinated with Andalusia’s Moorish inheritance since long before I moved to Spain and had considered writing a book set during the Moorish occupation but never quite knew how to go about it until recently.  Now I live in Andalusia and evidence of the Moorish occupation is all around us, so it’s hard not to become interested in the culture; it’s also easier to envisage what life was life then.

And where did the inspiration for this particular book come from?

I have to admit that the original inspiration for this particular story goes back 14 years.  In 2000 I picked up a leaflet about an exhibition of Umayyad art that was to be held in a place called Madinat al Zahra, just outside Cordoba.  It was just a couple of hours away so we decided to go although at that time I had no idea who the Umayyads were.  As I have subsequently discovered, the Umayyad’s were the rulers of the Arab Muslim world until the 8th century when a coup by a rival tribe wiped out almost the entire Umayadd family and a new dynasty was established.  But one man escaped and made his way to Spain where he was proclaimed Emir in the year 756 AD.   He was Abd al Rahman I and he brought the Umayyad dynasty and its culture to Spain.
The exhibition was excellent but I was more impressed by the site they had chosen for it: Madinat al Zahra.  For those of you who have not heard of it before, I will briefly explain.  Madinat al Zahra was a palace/city built by one of Abd al Rahman I’s descendents, Abd al Rahman III just after he proclaimed himself Caliph of Al Andalus (the name for Moorish Spain).  It is now in ruins but it was reputed to have been the most wonderful city in the western world.  There are a number of theories as to why Rahman III built Madinat al Zahra.  Why did he need another city when Cordoba was so close by?  Some said he built it for a concubine called al-Zahra, and named it after her.  Others said it was because he felt demoralised after being defeated by the Asturian king.  But recent research says it is much more likely that it was built to reinforce his position as Caliph and to promote his independence from the old caliph in Baghdad.  Rahman III had converted al-Andalus from a collection of individual tribes into a centralised Arab state, proclaimed himself the Caliph, the supreme ruler and now he wanted to make sure everyone knew who was the boss. 
But what was much more fascinating to me was the length of time that the city was in existence.  Work was started on it in the year 936 and only 70 years later it was already abandoned, and falling into decay.  There had to be a story there.

There must be a lot of research involved in writing a novel like this.  Can you tell us what was involved?

Yes, it did involve a lot of research because to begin with I knew very little about that period.  It is also a time in Spanish history for which there are very few contemporary written sources.  Although Cordoba in the 10th century had more than 70 libraries and 400,000 books, very few written documents remain.  All the libraries and universities were destroyed and the books burned.  What little historical evidence there is has to be taken from the later accounts of scholars and historians.  This made research difficult but at the same time, it meant there was less for me to go through.  I was writing a novel, after all, not a thesis.
Still attention to detail is crucial in writing any novel and particularly a historical one.  I spent the first six months reading all I could find, making notes, visiting Cordoba to see the mosque, making numerous visits to Madinat al Zahra and its museum and of course I was constantly Googling to find further information.  Then I started to look at the story itself and made a first draft.  But that wasn’t the end to the research because I would be writing a scene and suddenly realise that I didn’t know if some item I was about to mention was actually in existence at that time.  For example, the hero writes a note to the Caliph’s concubine and folds it.  Was I sure that they had paper in 10th century Spain?  It had been invented by the Chinese by then but had it arrived in Spain?  In fact when I checked, I discovered that it wasn’t recorded as being used in al-Andalus until the 12th century.  So I had to make my hero rewrite his note on parchment and roll it up instead of folding it.

It seems to me that many authors of historical fiction write trilogies.  Have you considered making The Shining City part of a trilogy?

Yes, this idea has occurred to me because it would sit very well as the second book in a trilogy.  The early part of Rahman III’s reign was also very interesting; it was a turbulent period, beset with rebellions and would have made a story on its own.  The end of the 10th century too was interesting because when Rahman III died, his son Hakim succeeded him but died pretty soon afterwards, leaving the throne to his son, an eleven-year-old child.  The regent, al-Manzor who took over ruling the country was a powerful and ruthless man and his actions led ultimately to the break up of al Andalus and the end of the Umayyad dynasty.  It was also the reason that the beautiful city of Madinat al Zahra dwindled in importance and was eventually destroyed.

Were you influenced by any other writers when you planned this novel?

Yes, two books contributed to the structure of my book.  I had read the Ken Follett novel, Pillars of the Earth, which is the story of a builder who helps to build a cathedral in medieval England; in The Shining City the hero is the son of a potter, working on the new city of Madinat al-Zahra.  The other book that inspired me was Capital by John Lanchester, a contemporary novel which tells the story of a street in London through the people who live in it.  That’s what I decided to do in my novel, tell the story of Madinat al-Zahra through the lives of the people who lived there.

What is it about writing historical fiction that you find so interesting?

I have always been interested in history, especially social history.  I am a History graduate and when I was a teacher, my favourite lessons were teaching history to primary-age children.  With young children the knack of making history interesting is to bring it to life and to let the children imagine they are living in a different time.  It is a very similar process when writing a historical novel; you want the reader to feel that they are there, experiencing the same things as your characters.

Have you written any other novels that could be classified as Unusual Historical Fiction?

Yes, two others: ‘The Only Blue Door’ and ‘The House on the Beach’.  One is a novel about three young English children who are sent as child evacuees to Australia during World War II; the story traces their experiences in a strange land and their search for their mother.  The second one, ‘The House on the Beach’ is once more set in Spain, in the period immediately after the Spanish Civil War; it is the story of the friendship between two young girls growing up in a country ruled by an uncompromising dictator.

Links to the books:



http://www.amazon.com/Only-Blue-Door-Joan-Fallon/dp/0957689136/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382960163&sr=1-1&keywords=the+only+blue+door

Learn more about author Joan Fallon






19 December 2014

New & Noteworthy: December 19


• Just in time for the holidays, Jennifer Mueller is excited to announce the release of two new titles: MURDER BESIDE THE SALISH SEA and A NEW BEGINNING. She’s also re-released part of her back catalog! Eight titles are currently available, with more to come in the new year. You can browse the list, read summaries, and find purchase links at Jennifer's website.

• Kim Rendfeld will visit the Museum & Arts Place in Hagerstown, Indiana to discuss her latest release THE ASHES OF HEAVEN'S PILLAR and her writing process on Saturday, December 20, from 2-4 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Blythe Gifford will be blogging about medieval and early Tudor Christmas traditions on December 23 at Deanna Raybourn's blog. WHISPERS AT COURT, Blythe's June 2015 release, is partially set during Yuletide celebrations at King Edward III’s court at Windsor Castle in 1363.


Everyone here at Unusual Historicals would like to wish our readers a safe and happy holiday season, and all the best for 2015.

18 December 2014

Excerpt Thursday: THE SHINING CITY by Joan Fallon

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author JOAN FALLON with her latest release,  THE SHINING CITY. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free copy of The Shining City. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

Exotic, romantic, and rich with historical detail, The Shining City is a timeless story of love, family, and the unexpected consequences of our actions. Set in 10th century Spain, in the time of the Moorish occupation, it is, above all, a story of love and honour.
When he moved to Madinat al-Zahra, Qasim thought he had escaped his turbulent past but when his youngest son, Omar, falls in love with the Caliphs concubine, he sets off a train of unimaginable consequences and puts all his family, including Qasim, in danger.  Qasims secret is about to be revealed and all he has worked for destroyed.

Praise for the novel - from HISTORICAL NOVELS SOCIETY August 2014

"The Shining City by Joan Fallon is a beautifully told story set in tenth-century Spain which focuses on a city in southern Spain that flourished for a brief time only: Madinat al Zahra.

Built by the caliph, it becomes a rival to the capital, Cordoba. The book covers many aspects of the times: history, culture, religion and day-to-day life. Giving great attention to detail, Fallon depicts court etiquette with the same confidence as minor details, such as bakery and food preparation. I knew comparatively little about Spain under Muslim rule and found myself easily and entertainingly educated.
The characters are well chosen and developed, likeable and driven by their dreams and ambitions...."

**An Excerpt from THE SHINING CITY**

Córdoba
987 AD

The old man sat in the shade of the mosque wall.  It was still early but already the heat was building with its usual summer ferocity.  He loosened his robe slightly and fanned himself with the napkin he had in his hand.  Omar was not a rich man but neither was he poor.  His djubba was made of the finest white cotton, with long narrow sleeves and over that he wore his djellaba, a hooded cloak of the same material.  It was light, cool and comfortable.  He was of the generation for whom appearances mattered.  Even his cap, crocheted in a green and white design, sat elegantly on his long, white hair.  His beard was trimmed and shaped; once it would have been touched with henna but now it was as white as his hair.
‘More tea, old man?’ the waiter called from the entrance to his tiny shop.
Omar waved him away, irritated that he did not automatically come over and refill his cup.  That was so typical.  Standards were slipping all the time.  He took off his cap and scratched his head.
‘There you are, uncle.  We’ve been looking for you everywhere.’
It was his nephew, Musa, the youngest son of his brother Ibrahim.  He was with his friend, Ahmad.  Omar looked at them and smiled.  Lanky youths, with their hair cut short in the latest fashion, they behaved as though life was theirs for the taking.  If only they knew what vicissitudes lay ahead of them.  Not that they would pay any heed.  He certainly hadn’t at their age.  The boys sat down beside him. The two were never apart; it was as if they were joined by some invisible rope.  Where one went, so did the other.  They reminded him of his own childhood; he had had a close friend named Yusuf.  Just like these boys they had done everything together and were so similar in looks and mannerisms that they were often mistaken for brothers. 
‘Drinking tea, uncle?’ Musa said.
‘Would you like some?’
The boys nodded and Omar waved across to the waiter, who still lounged in the doorway.
‘Another pot of tea and two more glasses, please,’ he said.
He turned to his nephew and asked, ‘So child, you have been looking for me.  What is it that you want?’
He already knew the answer: nothing, just the opportunity to drink mint tea and listen to Omar’s stories.
‘We wanted to see if you were all right.’
‘And why wouldn’t I be?’
The boys looked at each other and giggled.
‘Is it true that you are more than a hundred?’ Ahmad asked.
‘No, it’s not true, although I certainly feel like it some days.  Now what is it you want to know?’
‘Have you ever been inside the Khalifa’s harem?’ Musa blurted out.
‘The Khalifa’s harem?’
‘Yes, what’s it like?’ they both chorused.
‘Well ...’
The waiter arrived and set the freshly brewed mint tea on the table.
‘Maybe something sweet for the boys to eat,’ Omar said, looking at the waiter.
‘Churros?’
‘Excellent.’
Omar turned back to his eager audience.
‘So, what were you saying?’
‘The harem.’
‘Oh yes.’
The old man smiled; for a moment he let his thoughts drift back to when he was young.  He sighed and turned back to the boys.
‘Yes, well, let me see.  The harem you say?’
‘Yes uncle,’ his nephew said, barely keeping the impatience from his voice.
‘You do realise that no man is permitted to enter the Khalifa’s harem, other than the Khalifa himself.  It is an offence punishable by death.’
The boys nodded.
‘We know that, uncle.’
‘Very well, as long as you do not tell anyone that I was once there, I will tell you about the most beautiful harem in the world.’
He paused and looked at the boys; their eyes were as round as moons.
‘Now, in the year 947, when I was not much older than you, my father took me with him to work in the new city, Madinat al-Zahra.’
The boys looked at each other and smiled.  Omar’s stories always began in that way.
‘Our ruler, Abd al-Rahman III, wanted to build a city-palace worthy of the title of Khalifa so he sent his engineers and architects out to find the perfect location.  And they did.  They found a spot in the foothills of the Sierra Moreno, green, fertile, sheltered from the north winds, with as much water as you could wish for, yet set high enough above the plain so that you would be able to see anyone approaching.  From there you could see across the valley of the Guadalquivir to Córdoba and beyond.’
‘He called it after his favourite concubine, didn’t he?’ Ahmed said with a smirk, urging him to get to the more interesting details.
‘His favourite concubine was certainly called al-Zahra and he lavished every possible luxury on her so it is possible that that was why he called the city al-Zahra.  But do you know what else the name means?’
He looked at the boys, who shook their heads.
‘It means shining, glistening, brilliant.  Possibly his concubine glittered and shone with all the jewels and beautiful silks he showered upon her but then so did the city.  It was indeed the Shining City.  When visitors entered through the Grand Portico, passing beneath its enormous, red and white arches, when they climbed the ramped streets that were paved with blocks of dark mountain stone, passing the lines of uniformed guards in their scarlet jackets and the richly robed civil servants that flanked their way, when they reached the royal residence and saw the golden inlay on the ceilings, the marble pillars, the richly woven rugs scattered across the floors and the brilliant silk tapestries, when they saw the moving tank of mercury in the great reception pavilion that caught the sunlight and dazzled all who beheld it, then they indeed knew that they were in the Shining City.’
It was a shame that his nephew had never been to Madinat al-Zahra and probably would never go.  Soon the city would be as if it had never been, its stone buildings returned to the rock from which they came.
‘But they say that he loved his concubine more than anyone else,’ said Musa.
‘Maybe.  Who knows what goes on in the hearts of men, even less in the heart of a Khalifa.’
‘They say she was the most beautiful woman in his harem.’
‘She was certainly very beautiful, but the most beautiful, no.  There was another more beautiful than her, more beautiful than all his wives and concubines.’
‘Who was she?  What was her name?’ asked Ahmed.
‘Jahwara,’ he whispered.
He could still feel the pain as he said her name.  The boys waited, eyes wide in anticipation but Omar did not elaborate.
  
Learn more about author Joan Fallon








17 December 2014

Legendary Heroes and Feats: Siegfried

By Kim Rendfeld

The story of Siegfried is part dragon slayer and part tragic soap opera, and it’s deeply ingrained in the Germanic psyche. You only need drive along the Rhine and encounter Drachenfels, the high hill where he slew the beast, and Worms, the city where he was betrayed and murdered.
The roots in history are tenuous. Part of Siegfried’s story might be based on a fifth century slaughter of rebellious Burgundians by the Romans, and a supporting character has a similar name to the Burgundian Gundahar. But we don’t know if Siegfried or someone like him existed. Nevertheless, he captured the Frankish imagination, and the story spread to the north, where Siegfried is called Sigurd. In the 19th century, Wagner gave the tale new life in his Ring Cycle operas.
Siegfried slaying the dragon - 1911, Arthur Rackham
Like any legends, there are variations, but here are the basics. Siegfried, the son of a slain warrior, forges a sword from the pieces of his father’s blade, one that can split anvils. At the instigation of the dwarf Regin, he goes after a giant-turned-dragon, guarding a cursed, stolen treasure.
The hero has one chance. He digs a ditch and lies in it. When the dragon goes for a drink, Siegfried stabs it in the soft underbelly. The dying dragon warns him that Regin plans to kill him.
Regin emerges from hiding, cuts out the dragon’s heart, and begs Siegfried to roast it. While it’s on the fire, Siegfried burns his fingers and sticks them in his mouth. He understands the speech of birds, who also tells him of Regin’s treachery. This time Siegfried listens and kills Regin. He bathes in the dragon’s blood, which makes him invulnerable except for where the linden leaf falls between his shoulders.
His next quest: Rescue a maiden in an enchanted sleep. She isn’t the stereotypical Sleeping Beauty. She’s Brunhild, a warrior queen who will marry only a man who must prove he knows no fear by riding through a fire that surrounds her.
Brunhild and Siegfried - 1920, Harry George Theaker
Siegfried makes it through the flames and cuts off her too tight armor, which revives her. They fall in love. If only the story ended here, we’d have a happily ever after and could forget about the curse on the treasure. But the story continues, and we come to the part that resembles a soap opera.
When Siegfried leaves to do heroic deeds, Brunhild pledges her troth, and he promises to remain faithful.
Siegfried arrives at Worms, and that’s when his troubles really begin. There, he meets the lord, Gunnar (one of two or three brothers), and his sister, the beautiful Gundrun (also called Kriemhild). Siegfried drinks a potion that makes him forget Brunhild and then marries Gundrun.
Then it gets more complicated. Gunnar wants to marry Brunhild, but he can’t get through her wall of fire. The solution: he and Siegfried change forms, then Siegfried rides through the flames and claims Brunhild on Gunnar’s behalf. Fooled by the ruse, Brunhild reluctantly agrees to marry Gunnar. Siegfried removes the ring he originally gave to her and replaces it with a ring from the hoard.
And this could have been a happy ending for both couples, sort of, except for one problem. Brunhild learns the truth. When the women were about to bathe in the river, Brunhild refuses to be downstream from Gundrun, claiming a better father and husband. Gundrun can’t stand it and tells her Siegfried was the one who braved the fire. Then, she shows her rival a ring—the original token of Brunhild’s betrothal to Siegfried—as proof.
This becomes a matter of honor of Brunhild. She can’t be married to two men and plots with Gunnar and his brother to kill Siegfried. While they are hunting, the hero is stabbed in his only vulnerable spot, between the shoulders.
Brunhild is overcome with remorse, stabs herself with a sword, and pleads to burn with Siegfried on his funeral pyre. The grieving Gundrun lives only for vengeance, one with betrayal, murder, and cannibalism.

Source
The Nibelungenlied, translated by Daniel B. Shumway (Houghton-Mifflin Co., New York, 1909)

Siegfried likely was already a legend in the eighth century, the time period for Kim Rendfeld’s books, The Cross and the Dragon (2012, Fireship Press) and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (2014, Fireship Press). Alda, the heroine of Kim’s first book, grows up across the river from Drachenfels. To read the first chapters of either novel or learn more about Kim, visit kimrendfeld.com. You’re also welcome to visit her blog Outtakes of a Historical Novelist at kimrendfeld.wordpress.com, like her on Facebook at facebook.com/authorkimrendfeld, or follow her on Twitter at @kimrendfeld, or contact her at kim [at] kimrendfeld [dot] com.

07 December 2014

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Betty Bolte on EMILY'S VOW

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author BETTY BOLTE with her latest release,  EMILY'S VOW. One lucky visitor will get a free, signed paperback copy of Emily's Vow - offer available only to US residentsBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.


In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal...

Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser--a former beau--promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer--the only man she's ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family's reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

**Q&A with Betty Bolte**
 
 
Where and when does Emily’s Vow take place?

Emily’s Vow is set in Charleston, South Carolina, at the end of the British occupation of that port city. It’s October 1782, the American Revolution is winding down, and the town is anxiously awaiting the departure of the enemy troops from their harbor. Tension is rife as the Britons strip whatever they can from the town before they leave. As a result, it’s dangerous for young ladies to venture from home unescorted, a restriction Emily refuses to adhere to, which lands her in trouble.

Some romances are more about story than historical accuracy. Is it a simple romance or can we believe the historical facts?

It’s very important to me to make sure my history is correct to the best of my ability. To that end, I’ve visited Charleston twice to dig into details not readily available online or in books. Walking the cobblestone streets and knowing the distances between the American Revolution-era houses helps me put myself into the characters’ shoes, so to speak. I also visited Brattonsville, South Carolina, which is a plantation originating from the 1700s. Of course, I’ve also been researching this time period since 2008, and have read dozens of historical works related to the times. I’ve also scoured the Internet for details to specific questions and contacted historians related to other specific questions.

What inspired you to write this story?

While working on my Master’s in English I came across an essay written by Judith Sargent Murray in the late 1700s. The topic was a call for equal education for boys and girls, which started me thinking the genesis for what would eventually become women’s lib and equal rights actually kicked off with the start of America as an independent country. In fact, the ideal of independence became more about individual liberty for everyone (male, female, black, white, etc.) rather than for only the white wealthy landowners. I don’t think most people today realize or remember how deeply profound the impact would be of an independent America.

Is this a standalone story or part of a series or trilogy?

Emily’s Vow is the first of three closely linked stories about three women that kicks off the A More Perfect Union series. These three stories span three months, October through December 1782. Emily is a secret essayist who only wants to avoid death in childbirth by remaining unwed, despite her father’s urging of her to marry Frank. Her cousin Amy is a renowned storyteller who finds herself in deep trouble she can’t talk her way out of while Benjamin tries to rescue her. Their friend Samantha is a healer whose practice is threatened by young doctor Frank’s intention to open a new hospital. Emily’s Vow and Amy’s Choice are available now, while Samantha’s Secret won’t release until early 2015.

What makes this series unusual or unique?

Most informational and fictional publications related to the American Revolution focus on the northern colonies and states, though they often include Virginia too. It’s an interesting fact that the first and last shots fired during the tensions that would become a war were in South Carolina.

Do you only write romances? What’s your next project?

This year I’ve released four novels in two series, but I have been published in nonfiction as well as fiction, and a combination thereof that is an award winning book. Hometown Heroines: True Tales of Bravery, Daring, and Courage won the gold medal from the Children’s Literary Classics organization for gender specific young adult book. It is a collection of 18 short historical fiction stories based on 19 real American girls from the 1800s. Each girl has a landmark in recognition of the event I shared as fiction (to make it more interesting for a younger audience) and includes the biographical details the fiction is based upon as well as the location of the landmarks. I’ve also written books on horse sports and school clubs, as well as using computer software programs. Next I’m working on a series of historical women’s fiction stories. Of course, there will be other stories in the A More Perfect Union series, as well as in my Ghosts of Roseville series, Traces and Remnants.


Learn more about author Betty Bolté

Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories that feature strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @BettyBolte

Buy Links
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1wZML3a

04 December 2014

Excerpt Thursday: EMILY'S VOW by Betty Bolte

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author BETTY BOLTE with her latest release,  EMILY'S VOW. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free, signed paperback copy of Emily's Vow - offer available only to US residentsBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.


In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal...

Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser--a former beau--promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer--the only man she's ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family's reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

**An Excerpt from Emily's Vow**

Chapter 1
 "Frank is due to return any day." Emily Sullivan suppressed a shiver and quickened her pace. If asked, she would blame the early evening breeze blowing inland across the Charles Town harbor for her reaction. Frank had once claimed to be a patriot but now had switched his loyalties to serve as a loyalist broadside printer in the occupied town. How dare he even show his face? Did he truly believe in the British cause or did he have such loose morals as to pretend for his own profit? Either way, she'd have naught to do with the man. Her long skirts swirled about her hurried steps. "I'm glad you wanted to walk with me, Samantha. Your company calms me. And of course it's nicer than traversing the distance home from Aunt Lucille's house with my servants."
"Together we'll be safe enough for such a short walk," Samantha McAlester replied, "though I doubt your father will agree given his insistence that you remain at home."
"It is my fault we left the sewing circle later than I intended, but I miss St. Michael's bells chiming the hour. What shall we do without them? The British should pay dearly for stripping our treasured bells from the steeple."
"Come, let's get you home and off the streets." Samantha quickened her pace.
Emily hurried down the sandy road beside her friend, noting the waning sunshine draping shadows across the street. The slap of the waves at the distant convergence of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers beat a syncopated rhythm against the array of ship hulls, large and small, in the protected harbor. Many of the masts bobbing against the darkening sky sported the hated British flag. The losing army had resorted to sanctioned looting of the beautiful homes—those still standing after two years of British occupation as well as fires and bombardments—as booty for the officers and soldiers before they withdrew. She hoped they would leave soon, but nobody knew exactly when the British ships planned to depart. They'd already sent the bells to London along with other pilfered items. In fact, the British officers sought retaliation for the threat posed by the patriots, who had hidden their true allegiance, against the loyalists living in the city. The officers encouraged harassment of the American citizens, which translated into her father, a leading merchant in town, fearing for her safety more than ever. Until the British actually evacuated, uncertainty and fear blanketed the town.
Dragging in a deep breath, unease settled over Emily's frayed nerves at the thought of Frank's return. "I cannot believe Father insists I marry him after all that man has done. Surely Americans have matured enough they wouldn't force a woman to marry. It's 1782, after all. I'm not a child. Why doesn't he understand?"
A seagull glided past, its laughing call bringing a smile to her face. Her enjoyment didn't last long, though. The occupation of the town created fear and disquiet throughout the citizenry. Add in the horror of her sister Elizabeth's fiancé Jedediah dying, leaving her pregnant and in need of a husband. Then Jedediah's brother Frank, the man Emily had secretly cared for, married her sister to keep the child from being a bastard. Emily survived the misery of watching Frank marry Elizabeth only to suffer much more when Elizabeth died in childbirth with Frank away at war. Emily had come to terms with the prospect of raising her nephew, but being forced into marriage with Frank, too? How could life turn and twist with such disregard for her future goals and plans?

Learn more about author Betty Bolté

Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories that feature strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.

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Twitter: @BettyBolte

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