The Art and Science of Governance (excerpt from Blind Tribute)

Chapter Fifty



by P. H. Wentworth III
National News Editor

April 9, 1864

United States Senate Joint Resolution 16, passed April 8, 1864

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Science and Philosophy are often at loggerheads, but in truth, are natural bedfellows, sharing many commonalities: distrust of accepted wisdom, untidy experimentation, exacting analysis, flashes of brilliance on the back of years of laborious work, the paring away of supposition and half-truth, and a canon on which to build initial reflections into what we call “natural law.”

However: Laws are never natural; they are always man-made.

Long before the discovery of oxygen, human beings were inhaling and exhaling, and no one can argue our need for food and water; either we eat, drink, and breathe, or we die. Presumably, Adam and Eve learned, after their first cold night away from Eden, to shelter against intemperate weather; they surely found a way around their fig leaves to procreate, or humanity itself would not exist. (For those more inclined to Mr. Darwin’s hypotheses, as I am, the same might be said for any ancestor we share with monkeys.)

Killing one another indiscriminately was considered immoral long before the Code of Moses, but even the prohibition against murder is not “natural law,” at least until such time as one is deprived of corporeal existence by an unseen force upon committing such an act. On that day, however, I doubt the entity passing judgment will distinguish soldiers at war, executioners at law, or men upholding their honor.

This question of intrinsic, universal human law may also be explicated by the rules of the physical universe. While Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion are integral to our understanding of the physical world, even without him, apples fall from trees. Before we understood the Earth to be round, it was already circling the sun; Copernicus had no influence on the orbit, for all he opened up the Heavens.

By Enlightenment principles, though, the theories of both men might yet be disproven. Gravity might be nothing more than Satan dragging us down to Hell. When we travel to the moon, we may discover it is made of cheese and held up by a puppeteer’s strings. We may one day come across a hidden race of people who would choose service over self-determination, but I think it unlikely, at best.

Nature (God, in some circles) is the arbiter of life and death, not scientists, not philosophers, not governments. The extent of the human imperative is biological. Every other law has been constructed by man to improve our lot and is, accordingly, fallible.

Everything we consider vital to our existence—civilization in general—is a moral imperative, not physiological, and moral imperatives change, day-to-day, year-to-year, generation after generation, between cultures, religions, one person and another. Values—personal and patriotic—are never universal. Never.

Simply put, this misapprehension is why civilizations rise and fall.

Such was the case even in America’s naissance. Whether or not they were responsive on the subject of slavery, the founders of our nation were enlightened men of reflective inquiry, who understood the implications of the march of time. Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Washington stood on the backs of Locke, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Rousseau. This is how and why their social constructs emphasized free will, personal autonomy, individual responsibility—the most progressive, self-directed philosophy of governance in history.

They knew they could not decide the course of our nation based on eighteenth-century facts and values. They could not decide the course at all. Only time would bear out their thesis, which, paradoxically, would only prove true after change had become the accepted norm.

So, in their wisdom, the framers imposed frequent and habitual reexamination of our collective morality. They understood that knowledge changes history, and there is never a dearth of new knowledge. It is, therefore, our responsibility—as caretakers of the vision of our forefathers—to reflect upon matters of principle and consider our society’s advances and changing mores.

There is no doubt amending our Constitution is not to be taken lightly. It is an enormous step to change the underpinnings of our government (especially so without the input of half our nation, who will be assimilated back into a society that has made a fundamental shift in priorities, policies, and parity).

However, not only have we made such changes before, we are only clarifying what we have declared all along to be “natural law”: humans (or rather, Americans) have unalienable rights, among them freedom from involuntary servitude.

Is the call to freedom, or is it not, as natural a law as breathing? Is it not at the core of every person born everywhere? True, one can survive without it, demonstrated by countless unfortunates around the globe, but is it not a half-life? Does the futile yearning for self-rule not starve the soul?

A successful system of governance (using longevity as measure) maintains internal stability in the face of external events—economic, social, cultural—but permanence is a balance between past and future that must be maintained in equilibrium. Formal governance is meant to impose social norms, but no widespread edict has ever sprung from the ether fully formed. Every “accepted fact” was accepted first by one person, then a second, a third, and so on. No great sea change is spontaneous.

Though some moral imperatives have proven more pervasive and long lasting than others—commandments set out in religious doctrine tend to have staying power—there cannot ever be a man-made, universal “natural law.” The premise is entirely faulty.

A century ago, when our country was deciding how to govern itself, we only had knowledge of the same six planets as Copernicus in 1543, when his De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium rejected the hypotheses of Ptolemy’s Almagest, by that time “natural law” for almost fourteen hundred years.

Today, a star chart is filled with named planets and moons, more classified each day. We have rejected great swaths of Copernicus’ work, one experiment at a time, even redefined the taxonomy. Our understanding of this fixed force of nature, the night sky, has changed radically during my lifetime, and is yet as impermanent as stardust.

One hundred years hence, we may find there are millions more planets than we can see. If we make such discoveries, it will happen because Newton was dissatisfied with accepted wisdom, so advanced the technology of the telescope. Scientific innovation—theorizing and testing and reframing—changes what we believe possible, again and again.

A century ago, there was little question in America of the rightness of slavery (and precious little question elsewhere)—a few toothless voices drowned out by the rumble of a worldwide financial engine. Now, human servitude is at issue all over the globe, even to the point of full-scale war in America. (Ironically, given the stance of the British Commonwealth, it is only by dint of our hard-won independence that slavery still exists here at all.)

One hundred years hence, perhaps human bondage will be eradicated everywhere on the planet, but first, we must accept this philosophic proposition: human beings are not property, no matter their complexion, desperation, or circumstance, and freedom itself is a natural law. Only in decades to come will our moral code evolve to meet our highest American ideals.

This should not be such a vexing question: without Enlightenment philosophers, without rigorous inquiry, without a document declaring it so, every person on Earth understands—for himself, in any case—it is better to live free than enslaved.

Returning for a moment to Newton, his 1687 Principia defined the “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.” Most applicable here, The First Law of Motion: Inertia. An object at rest will remain so unless acted upon by some catalyst. A moving object will maintain the same speed and trajectory until acted upon by an external force.

The question of Southern secession forced action by the Northern states. The military defense of slavery forced action by people of conscience everywhere. Any manner of external (and internal) forces surrounding our Black population have set into motion this remarkable momentum toward the Thirteenth Amendment, not least, our President and esteemed Senators, to be commended for their courage and resolve.

Bad luck for those who would rail against it; there is no stopping the trajectory now, for freedom is every man’s natural state, and “all men are created equal.”

Even if the South won the war tomorrow, the American Negro will not now stand for anything less than absolute liberty and full citizenship, nor should he. If not imposed by economic sanction, by martial law. If not enforced by Lincoln, by the Crowned Heads of Europe. If not now at the hands of the Federal government, a year from now by armed insurrection. Slavery cannot, will not, stand.

Much as our founding fathers outlined their philosophical treatise using theoretical principles to explain intangible truths—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—Lincoln knows his courage in the short-term will transform our nation’s moral center in the long run, perfecting our most deeply held values.

This is why Lincoln cannot give up the forest for the trees, much like the framers, who knew there would be conditions on “life,” responsibilities to “liberty,” and more definitions of “happiness” than citizens, but still deemed enforcement of “natural law” to be worth the cost in American lives. If their suppositions remain true today, the Thirteenth Amendment and its resultant legal precedent will move our society in the direction of freedom, equality, and brotherhood.

The president’s personal interest has, perhaps, been the deciding factor for the passage yesterday of Senate Joint Resolution 16, and rightly so; he has no other honorable choice. His Emancipation Proclamation does not carry the full force of American jurisprudence, and would not withstand a drawn-out test in the courts. As a man of principle, he must make the injustice right, and he has only so long—and so much Congressional currency—to do it.

If Lincoln is to fulfill his promise and leave an end to slavery as his legacy, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution must be passed by the House and ratified without delay. This legislation is far from law and, much like a Presidential proclamation, it only takes a shift in the political wind, a change in milieu, for the House bill to fail, or to invite an amendment to amend this one. The very idea of four million Americans given freedom to have it snatched away is appalling.

As such, President Lincoln is following the example of our learned antecedents, defending his thesis so it might take hold and become part of the American philosophic canon. So freedom might, eventually, come to be thought unalienable for everyone in our borders.

I, personally, am more partial to scientific illumination than philosophical. Perforce, both hold pride of place in our understanding of ourselves, individually and cooperatively, but both also have something weighty in common with American governance: the creative process. At some point, all looks a jumble, maddeningly muddy and indistinct, but by application of rules, systems, context, experience, trial, error, evaluation, and correction, one ends with a masterpiece: a hypothesis or doctrine or piece of legislation changing the trajectory of “natural law.”

© 2017 Mari Anne Christie. All Rights Reserved

Blind Tribute

As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears. As such, he must finally resolve his own moral quandary: comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?

The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.

Buy in ebook or print at major online retailers.

Keep up with Mari’s new books and other projects:

Amazon Author page
Mari’s Muses Street Team

The Cutting Room Floor – Blind Tribute

One of the most unique elements of Blind Tribute is the epistolary writing that underpins the narrative. Not only letters and telegrams you might expect in a certain type of historical novel, but also the newspaper editorials the main character, Harry Wentworth, writes about the issues of the day (in the 1860s in America, slavery, secession, and the Civil War). However, as with any novel, there were many pieces of the book left on the cutting room floor. In this case, one of the shortest editorials ended up replaced with:

“Today, however, would be a true day of rest, which always required solitude. He knew he needed to consider how to address General Sherman’s despicable show of force, as well as the fact that his family, friends, and colleagues were still spread out across the Confederacy, about to be trampled by the annals of history, if they hadn’t been already.”

So, indicative of the flavor of the dozen or so editorials that remain in the book, today, I am offering up an exclusive look at one that didn’t make it through the final editing round.

December 3, 1864

by P. H. Wentworth III
National News Editor


An age-old weapon in the waging of war is a heavy-handed, uninhibited use of force by the prevailing army. While force is clearly the objective of any armed conflict, the spectacular nature of such a campaign is undisputed and has been the making of many wartime triumphs. This will likely be the case with the long, terrifying, and ruthless march of General Sherman, which began with the burning of Atlanta and continues unchecked through the countryside.

I am not conflicted as to the validity of such an act of war, nor the rightness of using all necessary force to put down the Rebellion. Such a crusade—as it has been for centuries—is the consequence of many failed military actions. Compassion and mercy are rare in a clash between generals, and Sherman’s actions do not disappoint in this regard. This serves as a microcosm of the gratuitous destruction of the entire South, and a warning to the losing side of what is to come upon their defeat.

There are many reasons such military exploits are not in the best interest of the Union Cause. While it is true that I have personal feelings about the burning, looting, and terrorist actions Sherman’s men are taking—fear for the lives of my family, grief at the destruction of the countryside I love, futile longing for a peaceful resolution—the primary arguments I present here are not predicated on my limited concern for what remains of the Confederacy.

Economically, this campaign and its larger context are the death knell of prosperity for the winners and those defeated. The wanton destruction of property that might otherwise be used to finance the dwindling Confederate Cause also ensures such material goods may not be used to repay debt raised in the pursuit of Northern victory, nor assist in the reintegration of the Southern States at the conclusion of this conflict. It also brings surety that global interest in a newly formed Union will remain elusive due to internal instability and a marked shortage of agricultural production. Additionally, this war in its entirety will leave America burdened with debt and our military inadequate to defend against outside invasion.

Societally, this march ensures a long-term, radical distrust of half the populace of a united nation. The willful ruin of noncombatants—women, children, the sick, the elderly—and the pilfering of already inadequate stores demonstrates that the South will be denied justice from their appointed overseers for many years to come.

Such a population will naturally eschew efforts toward integration. Sherman’s actions will only create additional reason for the Southern states to remain in defiance, in heart and mind if not in action, long after the cessation of combat. This is incompatible with the best interests of both a defeated South and a victorious North.

Further, perhaps least important to those carrying out General Sherman’s orders and possibly to you, Reader, this campaign impugns the honor of these men, and indeed the Union Cause itself. Assuredly, men given free rein to indulge their basest instincts will never be inclined to mercy toward their eventual countrymen, even with the Southern population vanquished. It is with great sorrow I predict continued atrocities against the populace long after the cessation of military hostilities. There is no telling what form this violence may take, but it is certain such punishment will be swift, terrible, and long-lasting.

I have not been a centrist in many months, and this remains true even with knowledge of Sherman’s troubling tactics, but I am justifiably concerned for the future of a unified nation. A Union victory is inevitable, as it has been since the first shots of the war, and the pillaging of the defeated Southern homeland serves no purpose but the unbridled terror of the conquered Confederate states. This has been the goal of nearly every military conquest in history, but in this instance, will only result in an irreparable tear in the loosely woven fabric of this new American nation.

Blind Tribute

As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears. As such, he must finally resolve his own moral quandary: comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?

The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.

Buy in ebook or print at major online retailers.

Keep up with Mari’s new books and other projects:

Amazon Author page
Mari’s Muses Street Team

New Historical Romance from Heather King

The Missing Duke

By Heather King

When his father dies, Lord Adam Bateman refuses to succeed to the dukedom which rightly belongs to his missing elder brother. Whilst performing secret and sensitive missions for the Duke of Wellington, he continues his efforts to find his twin. The search has become Adam’s all-consuming passion, leaving no time for affairs of the heart.

Miss Lucy Mercier is also seeking answers. Her father, a tailor, had been used to make hot air balloons for various noble patrons, including Lord Adam’s sire. Believing the deceased Duke of Wardley had been involved in her papa’s failure to return from the Continent, she takes employment in Lord Adam’s household in order to discover the truth. Then she accompanies him on an important commission for the Allied Army, and finds herself having to guard against a growing attraction for a man she knows she can never have.

Are the two disappearances connected and will two heads prove better than one in the pursuit of answers? Will Adam and Lucy find true happiness together or will the past – and their different stations – rise to keep them apart?


Adam urged his hired roan to greater efforts. It was game enough, a little French blood horse of sleek lines and clean limbs, but somewhat one-paced. If only he had his Goliath under him! With a bloodline that traced back to the fleetest racehorse of a generation, Flying Childers, his black stallion would have eaten up the miles with his effortless stride. There was no sense in repining, however. Goliath was safe back in Berkshire and his owner must make the best of what was available.

By the time Gilbert Mercier’s message had reached him at a coffee-house in the Palais Royal, where he had been conducting a further meeting with Mrs. Perkins, the escaped balloon was already flying at speed across the roofs of Paris. Adam was therefore well in advance of the pursuers who had set out from Mousseaux. Nevertheless, the velocity of the globe was so great, due to the swirling gale, mere horsepower was insufficient to keep up with it and the balloon had soon stretched the distance between them.

The roan started to flag, so Adam drew rein for a while and allowed the animal time to recover. Negotiating the narrow streets choked with vehicles and pedestrians had been exhausting and time consuming. He turned on to one of the perimeter boulevards and on reaching an open stretch, the roan’s heaving flanks having lessened, he pushed on again. Above the trees, the balloon was still visible, although considerably smaller, its’ bright colours easily remarked against the angry black sky behind it. Without conscious thought, he pulled the horse up and stared at the receding object of his attention. Was the basket hanging nearer to the forest than it had been? Shaking up the bridle, he took a track into the wood and galloped as fast as he dared.

The balloon was definitely sinking in the sky. Catching glimpses of it now and then between the branches of the canopy – fortunately far thinner than it would have been, but for the war – he saw several flares of orange flame as the aeronaut worked to raise his vessel. It appeared to be having little effect; although now some miles distant, the globe looked to be shrinking. Buffeted by the storm, it swayed and tilted in an alarming fashion, tossing the flimsy wicker boat from side to side. With difficulty, Adam forced himself to remain calm. Panic would not serve either him or the man and woman in the basket. Lucy! He raised his eyes to the broiling heavens and sent up a silent prayer for her not to be harmed. She was everything he had ever dreamed of… although when the recognition of that had come to him, he could not conjecture. She was beautiful; she was intelligent, determined and brave. She had entered into that foolish masquerade with no thought for her safety, and then had allowed him to autocratically oblige her to accompany Madame Grancini and the silver to Paris. How dangerous a position he had put her in. How wrong could it have gone? Thank the Good Lord he had inadvertently provided her with a chaperone! Praise was also due to Captain Ratcliff for the measures he had taken.

Adam took a huge breath and swallowed a mouthful of rainwater. Even within the shelter of the trees, the drops were getting heavier and heavier; a steady veil of rain of the kind which soaked in minutes. The roan’s pink-red hide was turning a red-brown patterned with white foam. Water trickled from Adam’s hat and down the back of his neck. He could barely see for the stream of precipitation driving into his face and had, perforce, to trust to his horse’s instincts.

The roan proved sure-footed and they at last emerged from the relative darkness of the wood. The damp smells of peat moss and sodden earth lingered in his nostrils and he had to blink for a few moments in order to see properly. It took several seconds to find the balloon from this different perspective, and his heart plummeted to the base of his chest. The joyful red and yellow silk stripes had collapsed inwards and the craft was fast descending on the other side of the river.

Almost frantic now, he set spurs to his horse and charged along the road to find a bridge. To his relief, the aeronaut had managed to nurse his vessel to the other side of the Seine’s broad expanse, so at least they would not drown. A wry smile teased his cold lips. He would wring Lucy’s lovely neck for this start… and then kiss her into oblivion. Then, when she fully comprehended how many times he had died on this ride, he would pink both Gilbert and the balloonist on the end of his small-sword for allowing her into the machine in the first place. The time of waiting for her to trust him enough to confide in him was well and truly past.

Further ruminations were abruptly curtailed by the sight of the balloon jerking and leaping in violent parody of a mummer’s dance, before it dropped like the Prussian artillery which had cannonaded the distant palace of Saint-Cloud. Adam leaned forward over the roan’s neck and demanded another burst of effort. The little horse complied with a will and they clattered at full-pelt across a wide, many-arched wooden bridge. The balloon had come down in farmland to the north of the town and the sculptured, terraced gardens of the great château. Turning his back on this splendour without a second thought, Adam careered recklessly down the road bordering the river.

Dodging a cart laden with baskets of squawking poultry, and a peasant straddling a bare-backed nag reminiscent of Rosinante, Adam clapped heels to the roan’s sides and pressed on. The horse being too tired to jump a hedge, Adam was forced to waste precious minutes searching for a gate. By the time he reached the stricken craft in the corner of a field of barley, therefore, Lucy was already sitting on the inverted basket, one hand nursing her temple. The aeronaut was on his hands and knees, attempting to gather up the acres of sodden silk.

“Lucy! I mean, Mademoiselle, are you harmed?”

Her head shot up; her eyes were wide with shock. “Sir—? Lord Adam! How do you come to be—? You know who I am?”

He dismounted and ran to her side, drawing her up to face him. “Foolish girl, of course I know who you are.” Anxiously, he studied her. “Are you harmed?”

“Nothing of moment, my lord,” she answered. She lifted her hand towards her head. “’Tis no more than a graze, I am sure, though I will admit the place is tender. I will not consider it; I am fortunate to have escaped greater injury.”

“Indeed you are!” he said gruffly, to hide his emotion. “I have it in mind to throttle you for indulging in such sport. Whatever possessed you? And you, sir!” he called to the other man. “I should call you out for permitting her to join you in such a perilous enterprise.”

“It was an accident, my lord,” she protested, clutching the sleeve of his waterlogged coat. He could not tell whether she intended to hold him back or support herself.

The balloonist turned around… and Adam died yet another death.

About the author

A confessed romantic and bookworm, Heather King has always made up stories. Discovering Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels began a lifelong love of the era, although she enjoys well-written books from other times too. Heather’s stories are traditional romps – light-hearted and witty, with bags of emotion. You walk with her characters through the world they inhabit. She also writes Paranormal Shape Shifter romance.

Visiting her Dark Side as Vandalia Black, she wrote Vampires Don’t Drink Coffee and Other Stories which includes a novella set during the English Civil War.

When not looking after her two hairy ponies, three cats and boisterous Staffie X, or frowning over keypad or notebook, she likes nothing better than taking long walks and curling up with a good book.




New Historical Fiction from Jude Knight

A Raging Madness

By Jude Knight


Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him. 

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.


17973986_803367466479488_289686069_n17976696_803367609812807_756542353_oAlex poured the coffee, his rinsed shaving mug doing service for Jonno’s portion. Ella sat and sipped while Jonno cleared the table and pushed the serving trolley out of the way. At Alex’s gesture, he sat on the stool again.

“Now, Lady Melville. What trouble are you in, and how can we help?” And should he believe a word she said? She did not act like a lunatic, apart from appearing half-naked in his room in the middle of the night. Apart from the panicked response to her brother-in-law.

That she had taken opium in some form was beyond a doubt. The contracted pupils, the loss of appetite, the shaky hand, the restless shifting in her seat, all spoke to that. Thanks to his injury, Alex had far too close and personal an experience of the symptoms to mistake them. The bruises on her jaw hinted that the drug taking might not have been voluntary, but perhaps her keepers needed to drug her to keep her calm.

Sane or not, Alex hoped he would not need to hand her back to Braxton. Her fear might be irrational, but when she had stood at bay, begging for his help, he had been thrown back ten years. Not that she begged him then. But he left camp on a short trip for supplies, and returned to find Ella married and much changed, her fire banked; her joy extinguished. That time, he had ignored her plight, hardened his heart and left her to the fate she had engineered. And had suffered with her as the consequences quenched her vitality and sucked away the last of her childhood. Suffered, and been powerless to help.

“I have been drugged,” Ella said baldly. “Twice a day. For weeks now. They won’t tell me why. If I refuse, they force me.”

“‘They’ being Braxton and his wife?” Alex prompted.

“And Constance’s dresser.”

“Go on.” He was careful to show no disbelief, no surprise.

“I have been kept in my room. They locked the door. They took all my clothes, my shoes. I saw you out the window and so I came. Will you help me, Alex?”

“I can take you to the rector.” Even as he said it he remembered the plump little man greasing at Braxton’s elbow. Ella would find no help there.

“No!” Her rejection was instant and panicked. “He will give me back and they will send me to that place. No, Alex. You do not know what they plan for me.” She was weeping. Alex had seen her calm under cannon fire, dry-eyed at her father’s funeral, efficient and unemotional in the midst of the carnage of a hospital tent after a battle. He had never seen her weep.

He captured her hands, and kept his voice low and soothing. “I do not, Ella. Tell me.”

About the author

10726384_438048036344768_1967130616_nJude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.



Historical Fiction Book Tour: The Yankee Years

The Yankee Years Books 1-3

By Dianne Ascroft


After the Allied troops arrived in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland during the Second World War, life in the quiet, rural county would never be the same again.

The Shadow Ally

June 1941: When Ruth Corey finds a letter her journalist beau, Harry Coalter, has written, revealing details of the secret construction of an American flying-boat base, she fears it could destroy America’s neutrality and land him in serious trouble. The letter must not be posted. She enlists the help of attractive Italian-American civilian contractor Frank Long to help her stop Harry. Can Ruth safeguard this military secret and protect her beau?

Acts of Sabotage

December 1941: After the attack on Pearl Harbour, the new American flying-boat base must be ready when the first US troops arrive on Northern Ireland’s shores. But, despite Frank’s best efforts, religious conflict within the workforce and thefts on the construction site threaten to scupper the project. Frank confides his worries to Ruth and the pair devise a plan to catch the thieves. Can they stop these acts of sabotage and then what does the future hold for them?

Keeping Her Pledge

June 1942: Pearl Grainger’s life is much more exciting since the Allied troops arrived but she is unprepared for the harsh reality of war, and her RCAF boyfriend is determined to protect her from it. Can Pearl keep her pledge to do her bit for the war effort without losing the man she loves?

Links for Purchase
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the author

da-bio-picDianne Ascroft writes historical and contemporary fiction, often with an Irish connection. Her series The Yankee Years is a collection of Short Reads and novels set in World War II Northern Ireland. After the Allied troops arrived in this outlying part of Great Britain, life there would never be the same again. The series brings those heady, fleeting years to life again, in thrilling and romantic tales of the era.Her other writing includes a ghost tale inspired by the famous Coonian ghost, An Unbidden Visitor; a short story collection, Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves, and an historical novel, Hitler and Mars Bars.



Historical Fiction Book Tour: Sedahlia



Cynthia D Toliver

After fleeing post-Civil War Georgia, John Masters, Sr., his wife Virginia Masters, and their rebellious servant Jessie Lindsey have built new lives in Texas ranch country.  Now their offspring, Johnny Masters and Rachel Lindsey, are in love.  On the isolated, sprawling Sedahlia ranch, their youthful dalliances are largely overlooked until Rachel becomes pregnant, forcing Rachel to leave Texas for a freedman’s school in Georgia.

From the insulated Sedahlia ranch to the Jim Crow south, the rails both separate and unite – parting lovers, reuniting family, pushing out the old, bringing in the new.  It is in these settings that the Masters and Lindseys live and love, and their personal needs and mores clash with society.  The repercussions rumble through this family and the surrounding community, tearing them asunder and bringing them together as only love and tragedy will.

Links for Purchase 

About the author

Cynthia D. Toliver is a 1980 graduate of Rice University and a native Texan. She has enjoyed a varied career as an engineer, environmental consultant, educator and author. Sedahlia is her second novel and third book. She has two previously published works, Crown’s Jewel, a historical novel and Come See a Man, an inspirational book. She also hosts a Christian blog, Back to Eden at
Follow Ms. Toliver at


My inspirations come from multiple sources. Sometimes it is a word or title. Other times it may be a thought, observation or dream. From that seed, I will develop my characters and write an outline. The seed for Sedahlia was a dream about disparate lovers. Their story sprouted and grew to the family saga it is today.
I love the creative process, from beginning to end. My books are very much character driven. As a writer, I become invested in the characters and their stories. If I’ve crafted them well, my readers will do the same.
Other Links
Author website
Christian blog, Back to Eden
twitter @ctoliver58



Historical Fiction Book Tour: Before the Darkness

Before The Darkness
Annette Creswell
In pre-World War Two London, Penny works as a maternity nurse at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Happy in her work and with two really good friends and several doctor suitors, little does she realise how her life will be changed by a chance lunch-time encounter. Who is the ruggedly handsome man who helps her? And how will their lives entwine as the war clouds gather?

Book Extract

Read by Emma Calin

Links For Purchase

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About the author
Annette Creswell is the author of Before The Darkness, published 2015. Creswell loves to hear from readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

A Book and Its Movie: Gone With the Wind


I’m trying something new to bridge the gap between my Historical Romance books and upcoming Civil War Historical Fiction. I am teaming up with Laura Michaela Drone Banse and her Banse’s Book Club for a long-term read of Gone With the Wind, and an eventual movie night. Please come join the Facebook Group for discussion every Sunday.


A Book and Its Movie: Gone With the Wind
August 21 – January 22

We will read and discuss Gone With the Wind, a chapter or two a week, with new discussions opening every Sunday, culminating in a Sunday afternoon viewing and discussion of the movie on January 22.

To order the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

Stepping Back: Practice Does Not Make Perfect.

by Barbara Monajem

Mr. Darcy is a great comfort to me. Let me explain:

It’s hard to believe, but lately I’ve been watching Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth as Darcy) for the first time. (It came out 20 years ago. How can I have just gotten to it now??) Needless to say, I’m enjoying it very much, and I’m awed by Firth’s portrayal of Darcy as a man of great natural reserve. Darcy is not really a sociable sort, although he can be with those he knows well. (It’s eons since I read Pride and Prejudice, but I assume this is pretty close to Darcy’s character in the book as well.)

There’s a scene in the third episode where Lizzie accuses Darcy of rudeness at an earlier ball where he only danced four times, thus depriving ladies of a partner. He excuses himself on the grounds that he doesn’t converse easily with strangers; she replies that she isn’t as proficient at playing piano as she might like to be, but that it’s her own fault for not practicing. In other words, he has no excuse for his behavior. (And one of the awesome things about Darcy is that her reprimand doesn’t upset him! In fact, it makes him love her even more! Can’t help but adore such an upright, thoroughly besotted man.)

Valid excuse or not, I can’t help but sympathize with Mr. Darcy. Like many writers, I’m an introvert. I completely relate to being uneasy with strangers. I was very nervous going to my first Sisters in Crime meeting years and years ago. I didn’t know anyone. I had never, ever introduced myself to strangers in such a situation. I’m the sort of person who never even asks for help or directions unless I have no choice. But because writing matters so much to me, I went to the meeting, and everyone was kind and welcoming. I was slightly less uneasy at my first romance writers’ conference and then my first Georgia Romance Writers meeting. Over the years I have learned to introduce myself to strangers and carry on conversations even though I’m sure I have nothing to say. I’ve even taken the astonishing step (for me) of co-presenting a workshop, something I had never, ever imagined doing. In other words, I practiced a lot.

But none of this social stuff has become easy for me, and I assume it never will be. In other words, practice does not make perfect. I’m a better writer because of practicing. (A better cook, too.) Less uneasy in social situations, yes. But have I become an extrovert? No, and I never will be. Nor, I suspect, will Darcy. He makes a point of being cordial to Lizzie’s aunt and uncle because her approval matters so much to him, but will he ever become an extrovert like his friend Bingley? Frankly, I can’t imagine it, and anyway, I prefer him as he is.

So I’ve decided to stop practicing. I’m competent enough in social situations. I don’t have to get any better. (I’m good enough at cooking, too.) But I can’t take this attitude toward writing. I must never stop practicing, even though I will never attain perfection. There will always be room—and hopefully the capacity—for improvement, and this is a great source of inspiration and comfort to me.

To Kiss a Rake (coming July 29)To Kiss a Rake 600x900


Melinda Starling doesn’t let ladylike behavior get in the way of true love. She’s secretly assisting in an elopement . . . until she’s tossed into the waiting coach and driven away by a notorious rake.


Miles Warren, Lord Garrison, comes from a family of libertines, and he’s the worst of them all—or so society believes. When Miles helps a friend to run away with an heiress, it’s an entertaining way to revenge himself on one of the gossips who slandered him.

Except that he drives off with the wrong woman . . . and as if that wasn’t scandalous enough, he can’t resist stealing a kiss.

Buy at: Amazon  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon Canada  |  Amazon Australia

Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic 81O8T58bcmL._SX80_awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. When they grew up, she turned to writing for grownups, first the Bayou Gavotte paranormal mysteries and then Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Some of her Regencies have magic in them and some don’t (except for the magic of love, which is in every story she writes).

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups, and is an avid reader. There are only two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and succeed at knitting socks. She’ll manage the first but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

You can find Barbara online at:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads


Stepping Back: Extinction of a Domesticated Dog

by Betty Bolte

In my most recent release, Samantha’s Secret, I chose to have a very special dog adopt Samantha, a healer/midwife. This story takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1782, right as the American Revolution is winding down. While she and Trent, the young doctor, are walking home, discussing their patient, a friendly dog takes a liking to her:

“Say, looks like we have company.” Trent stopped, bending down to greet a medium-sized white dog with caramel colored splotches that had trotted up and halted before them.

“I wonder where it came from. Oh, it looks like it’s a bit bloated, too. Maybe it has worms?” Samantha paused beside the pair, smiling at how friendly the young dog appeared. She offered it her hand to sniff and then patted its head. The soft fur slid easily through her fingers, and she rubbed its chin. “Whose is it? Do you know this dog?”

Trent shook his head, scouring the passersby for any one who may have missed the animal. “Appears to be a stray, so it could be worms inside.”

“Let us continue. Surely someone will come looking for him.” Samantha started down the street, aware of the late hour and afraid she’d miss bidding her parents farewell. For the last time. She choked on tears and swallowed them. She’d not cry in front of Trent.

Trent caught her up in two long strides. “Her, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Her who?”

He indicated the dog walking beside them. “I believe she is a female Water Spaniel, a good hunting dog by all accounts.”

“Shoo, now.” Samantha waved a hand at the dog, but it smiled up at her, tongue lolling out one side of its mouth. “I don’t need a dog.”

Never heard of this breed? It’s not surprising, as it went extinct by the early 20th century. But it’s believed to be the foundation of our present day spaniels and retrievers. In fact, it’s been compared to a heavy golden retriever or a Welsh springer spaniel by at least one blogger.[1] It may also be part of the heritage stock of the American Water Spaniel. [2] This is an ancient breed, one that even Shakespeare included in at least one play, and yet today is unknown except in histories on dog breeding.

English Water SpanielThis painting is titled, “Quaille, An English Water Spaniel” and is what I referred to when writing the scene above. Isn’t this dog a beauty? Only old paintings exist that show what the English Water Spaniel looked like. But there are several descriptions, which I used to provide the details of the silky hair and the reputation as a good hunting dog.

This breed is said to have hair that is “long and naturally curled” with “legs feathered but not curled.” Of a medium size, often the dog is depicted with liver and white coloring though other colors like black have been mentioned. The water spaniel is said to be “that kind of dog whose service is required in fowling upon the water, partly through a natural towardness, and partly through a diligent teaching.”[3]

What I find intriguing is the fact that dog breeders let the water spaniel disappear. What was it about the breed they didn’t want to continue? Maybe the longer hair proved an issue in the winter, freezing after they came out of the water with the fowl? Or maybe there was something in their personality, like whining or barking, they wished to avoid. Nonetheless, apparently traces of the breed’s nature and characteristics do continue to reveal themselves in present day spaniels.[4]

Most of the time, we decry the event of an animal going extinct. This is why we have endangered species lists and the like. Yet in this case, it appears this breed was intentionally bred out of existence. What do you think? Should dog breeders, or any animal breeders, have that right?

[1] Retrieverman, Canis Lupus Hominis: The Retriever, Dog, & Wildlife Blog. Accessed 6/2/2015.

[2] “American Water Spaniel.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed 6/2/2015.

[3] Dalziel, Hugh. British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, and Exhibition. Chapter XXX: The English Water Spaniel. Accessed 6/2/2015.

[4] Henriques, Harry. “History of Spaniels-Norfolk and English Water.” Spaniels in the Field and Flushing Retrievers Foundation. Accessed 6/2/2015.

Samantha’s Secret (A More Perfect Union, Book 3)SamanthsSecretCOVER

In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal in the port city Charles Town, South Carolina.

Midwife and healer, Samantha McAlester returns from the front lines to find Charles Town under British siege and the town’s new doctor at war with its citizens.

Dr. Trent Cunningham intends to build a hospital staffed solely with educated doctors. What he doesn’t need is a raven-haired charlatan spooning out herbs and false promises to his patients, while tempting him at every turn.

Then a mutual friend develops a mysterious infection. Trenton is stumped. Samantha suspects the cure but knows treatment will expose her long-guarded secret, risking all she holds dear… including Trenton.

Buy at: Amazon  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks  |  Google

Betty Bolte-July 2013ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master’s in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. Get to know her at

You can also find Betty online at:
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