Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Tides #2
Gail Chianese

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Date: 8/22/2017

A military
police officer on the verge of a new beginning. A beautiful woman
devoted to her career and her dream of putting down roots. The
hardest thing they’ll ever do is to take a chance on love . . .
Navy Chief
Master at Arms Jackson “Jax” Faraday is at a crossroads. He has
to decide whether to reenlist or get out while he’s young enough to
make a difference in the civilian world. Either choice could mean
leaving behind his girl: his K-9 partner, Bella. But when she’s
injured during a training session, Jax’s only concern is making
sure she’s okay.
As the Navy
base veterinarian, town local Risa Reynolds is right where she
belongs: close to her parents in a farmhouse full of animals—with
room to grow. She’s seen enough to put military men are on her “not
happening” list, because they always leave.
But when a
tall, hazel-eyed sailor arrives in her clinic with his dog in his
arms, Risa finds herself falling hard. And all kinds of rules will
get broken when Jax, a man who sticks to the straight and narrow,
learns that there’s no predicting the twists and turns of the heart

. . .

Jackson Faraday was worried about his girl.

He should have been worried about his future. Time was running out for him to make a decision—stay in the Navy or get out—and the detailer was breathing down his neck. But the decision to throw away the past twelve years wasn’t easy.

He wanted more.

If NCIS—Naval Criminal Investigative Service—would make a decision on his application, that would be great. But what if they turned him down? Did he stay in for twenty years and retire? Then what? Start over at the bottom? Go home to a one-stoplight town with a police force that spent all its time dealing with bored teens wreaking havoc or frustrated couples fighting? Work security for one of the nearby casinos? All viable options, just not what he wanted.

He wanted to make a difference.

He shoved away the nagging questions. He had more pressing concerns. Like what was wrong with Bella, which was why he was at the base training center, even though his shift was officially over.

“Come on, Bella. Give me your best for an hour, and then I’ve got a treat for you.” He wagged the Frisbee to get her attention. Instead, Bella whined and flicked her ear.

“Hey, Jax. Heard we had a win in the courtroom today.” Chief Casey Thomas drove his Jeep up next to the chain-link fence.

“Stone? Yeah, he’s going away for a good couple of years for that little video stunt of his. Not that it makes up for what he put Lieutenant Riley through, but it’s a start.”

“Me and a couple of the guys are going to grab some grub and head out to the beach. Enjoy what’s left of summer. Come join us.” Casey drummed his fingers on the outside of the driver’s door, giving away he had more on his mind than a night’s celebration.

“What’s up with you, man? You seem agitated.” He and Casey went back a ways; spent some time in the sandbox together. Normally the guy was as easygoing as cool beer slipping down your throat on a summer day. 

“Got my orders in today.” Casey slid out of the vehicle and walked through the gate. “I’m heading to Pensacola.” 

“Isn’t your ex-wife there?”

“Near enough.” Casey squatted down and scratched Bella’s ears. “Did you hear back on your application yet?”

“You know what they say: No news is good news.” At least he hoped that’s what it meant.

“You know what you need? To find a nice lady who can take some of your stress away and make you forget your worries.”

“The only lady I need in my life is Belladonna.”

“She’s a little hairy and full of attitude.”

“Aw, but you forget. She loves me unconditionally and always has my six.” 

Gail Chianese's love of reading began at
the tender age of three, when she'd make her grandpa read Fourteen
Country Rabbits over and over and over again (and correct him when he
skipped parts). While she's branched out over the years by reading
mystery, women’s fiction, and urban fantasy, she always circles
back to romance in the end. That's probably because she's married to
her real life hero. Her wonderful hubby has served in the US Navy for
the past twenty two years and he’s done things he can’t tell her
about. But it doesn’t stop her from being extremely proud of him
and the sacrifices he makes for her, his family, and his country.
He’s also uber-supportive of her dreams and of their three
children. Living in Mystic, CT and a member of Connecticut Romance
Writers of America, Gail loves to hear from readers.

the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Monday, August 28, 2017


Winner of the Bride Brigade Series $50 Giveaway is Mary Preston! Congratulations, Mary. Message me or email me to let me know whether you want Amazon or Paypal and the address you use for that choice.

A Reference to Murder

A Book Barn Mystery #2
Kym Roberts
Cozy Mystery

Charli Rae Warren is back home in Hazel Rock, Texas, spending her time
reading, collecting, and selling books—at least, the ones that
don’t get eaten first by her father’s pet armadillo. Running the
family bookstore is a demanding job, but solving murders on the side
can be flat out dangerous…
The Book Barn is more than just a shop, it’s a part of the
community—and Charli is keeping busy with a fundraising auction and
the big rodeo event that’s come to town. That includes dealing with
the Texas-sized egos of some celebrity cowboys, including Dalton
Hibbs, a blond, blue-eyed bull rider who gets overly rowdy one night
with the local hairdresser . . . and soon afterward, disappears into
thin air.
Dalton’s brother also vanished seven years ago—and Charli is thrown about
whether Dalton is a villain or a victim. After a close call with an
assailant wielding a branding iron (that plays havoc with her hair),
and some strange vandalism on her property, she’s going to have to
team up with the sheriff to untangle this mystery, before she gets
gored . . .

Fatal Fiction

A Book Barn Mystery #1

When kindergarten teacher Charli Rae Warren hightailed it out of Hazel
Rock, Texas, as a teen, she vowed to leave her hometown in the dust.
A decade later, she's braving the frontier of big hair and bigger
gossip once again . . . but this time, she's saddled with murder!
Charli agrees to sell off the family bookstore, housed in a barn, and settle
her estranged dad's debt--if only so she can ride into the sunset and
cut ties with Hazel Rock forever. But the trip is extended when
Charli finds her realtor dead in the store, strangled by a bedazzled
belt. And with daddy suspiciously MIA, father and daughter are
topping the most wanted list . . .
Forging an unlikely alliance with the town beauty queen, the old beau who
tore her family apart, and one ugly armadillo, Charli's intent on
protecting what's left of her past . . . and wrangling the lone
killer who's fixin' to destroy her future . . .

Perilous Poetry
Book Barn Mystery #3
October 10th!!

Charli Rae Warren doesn’t plan on striking it rich as the owner of an
independent bookstore in Hazel Rock, Texas—especially one with a
pink armadillo as its mascot. But when an ingenious advertising
campaign puts her business on the map, it ropes in some deadly
publicity . . .
Charli can’t believe writer Lucy Barton has agreed to promote her latest
Midnight Poet Society novel at The Book Barn Princess—or that
there’s only a week-and-a-half to prepare for the signing. It’s
all because of The Book Seekers, a smartphone app created by her
cousin Jamal exclusively for Charli’s bookstore, which sends fans
on a virtual scavenger hunt around town for a chance to meet the
bestselling author. But as soon as it goes live, people turn up dead
. . .
Someone’s using The Book Seekers to track victims and copycat the fictional
Midnight Poet Society homicides, and horrified locals suspect Jamal
could be the mastermind behind the crimes. While Charli readies the
Barn for a stampede of new customers, it’ll take true grit to
shelve the culprit before her brainy cousin gets locked behind bars,
Ms. Barton backs out of the visit, and she finds herself up a
creek—with a serial killer holding the paddle!

Kym Roberts, Author
Three career paths resonated for Kym during her early childhood: a
detective, an investigative reporter, and...a nun. Being a nun,
however, dropped by the wayside when she became aware of boys--they
were the spice of life she couldn't deny. 

In high school her path was forged when she took her first job at a dry
cleaners and met every cop in town, especially the lone female police
officer in patrol. From that point on there was no stopping Kym's
pursuit of a career in law enforcement--even if she had to duct tape
rolls of coins to her waist to meet the weight requirements to be

Kym followed her dream and became a detective that fulfilled her desire
to be an investigative reporter, with one extra perk--a badge.
Promoted to sergeant Kym spent the majority of her career in SVU. She
retired from the job reluctantly when her husband drug her kicking
and screaming to another state, but writing continued to call her

the tour HERE
for exclusive content and a giveaway!

Friday, August 25, 2017


Please remember the two giveaways at the bottom of this post.

What a poignant day! I’ve loved writing the Bride Brigade Series, but today is the release of PRUDENCE, the final book of the series. This book wraps up some loose ends and settles Lydia's situation. Although I’m eager to dive into the many projects I have planned, saying goodbye to Tarnation, Texas and its citizens is bittersweet. Here’s the Amazon buy link:   

Prudence Lynch learned to be a midwife and folk healer from her maternal grandmother. After Granny’s death from cancer, nothing held Prudence in the tiny backwards village. With hope in her heart—and dash of fear—she set out to make her future. As much as she wanted to leave the place where she’d been raised, she had no practical experience of the outside world.

Folk healing is a tradition that goes back as far as even the most basic civilization. Every ancient culture has healers and plant-derived medicines. For years, I’ve collected folk remedies and alternative healing methods. One of the fun things I did in this pursuit was take Beth Trissel’s herbal class. In fact, I took two of them.

At the same time as sincere, well-informed healers practiced, there were charlatans popping up from under every rock. No doubt you’re familiar with the salesman hawking his cure-all formula from a caravan then leaving town quickly. I was surprised to learn there actually was something called snake oil. Who knew?

Some of these so-called curatives were actually detrimental to health. The most chilling are the ads that promise to “cure” cancer. Makes me hope karma got those criminals.

In one ad I’ve seen numerous places, overweight persons were encouraged to swallow tapeworm eggs. "Sanitized" no less. Knowing obese King Henry VIII had a massive tapeworm (supposedly twenty-six feet long), I wonder how this was supposed to aid anyone who wanted to lose weight. What do I know? I’m certainly not going to experiment!

A large variety of harmful patent medicines were available by mail or from druggists. I suspect genuine folk healers were too knowledgeable to use them. For instance, I doubt a practiced healer would prescribe heroin or laudanum for fretful babies. I take that back. Paregoric was prescribed for fretful babies who had colic or were teething.

I shudder when I think of some of the so-called cures I’ve been told were used on my ancestors. One—a diabetic—developed gangrene after her swollen feet were slit and leeches applied to drain off the excess liquid. Another took up smoking because he had asthma and sinusitis and was told cigarettes would help.

And here are a few more examples:

Many think of cannabis as a modern problem. Nope. Cannabis powder processed by Lilly Pharmaceuticals. 

And we have the mysterious remedies which list no ingredients but offer to "cure" almost everything, like Hamlin's Wizard Oil: rheumatism, headache, toothache, diptheria, sprains, bruises, corns, colic, sore throat, lame back, cramps, diarrhea, and all pain and inflammation. "No sore it will not heal, no pain it will not subdue."  Wow, makes me wonder what it contained. I'd wager it was in a base of at least 45% alcohol, which made it 90 proof. 

When these abounded, is it any wonder Dr. Riley Gaston was wary of Prudence's folk healer remedies?

Here’s the summary of PRUDENCE:

Prudence Lynch’s beloved grandmother trained her in midwifery and in folk medicine. Always ostracized because they were different—until someone needed their help—they lived in poverty at the edge of a tiny Virginia village where rumors plagued them. After Granny’s death, Prudence leaves for Richmond. There, Prudence is fortunate to be chosen to accompany Lydia Harrison to Tarnation, Texas. She believes she’s left trouble and gossip behind to establish her healing business and begin a new life.

Doctor Riley Gaston wants a wife and children. He’s threatened to move out of Tarnation to seek a wife, but he would never actually leave the community he loves. One of the young women Lydia brings home mesmerizes Riley. That is, until he learns her so-called profession is folk healing, which he views as dangerous as it is worthless.

Prudence is as stubborn as Riley. Trouble causes them to reconsider their opinions. Is their change of heart too late?

Here’s an excerpt of when Prudence sets up her practice across the street from Riley’s office:

He walked slowly, hoping to read the sign, but it was covered by bunting. Soon enough, he’d be back and by then he could meet his new neighbor. Wait—there was no one new in town except the seven women who’d accompanied Lydia.
He froze in his spot. 
No, she couldn’t, not across the street from him. He turned and hurried across the road. Disregarding the superstition of walking under a ladder causing bad luck, he walked into the office. Sure enough, there was Prudence setting out bottles and packets of this and that.
He walked up to her. “What do you think you’re doing?”
She barely glanced up. “I’m organizing my herbs and tinctures and salves for my grand opening on Saturday.”
He edged closer. “What are you playing at? Are you setting out to deliberately cause trouble with me?”
She continued arranging things on shelves. “Certainly not. Why would you even say that? In your opinion, which you’ve made known to me and probably most of the townspeople, you don’t believe we’re in the same business. Having me here shouldn’t have anything to do with you.”
He fought for calm but it wouldn’t come. “It’s as if you’re. . . you’re saying you’re in the medical profession the same as I am.”
She stopped messing about with the dratted shelves and faced him. “Dr. Gaston, I’ve never said that. I am interested in helping people in any way I can. If that alarms you, that’s your problem.”
He leaned in so they were nose to nose. “You’re setting yourself up as a medical authority. That’s a big problem. You can do untold harm with your so-called healing.”
Sparks shot from her blue eyes. “So can you. Do I tell you how to run your office and treat your patients? No.” She poked him in the chest. “Doctor Gaston. Butt. Out.”
Fuming, Riley turned on his heel and strode from the building. He rushed to Mrs. Eppes’ home. Where did Prudence get off thinking she could do this to him? 
He’d come close to kissing her. Thank heavens he’d resisted. Who was he fooling? If he were being truthful, only her anger stopped him. What was he going to do about Prudence?
More importantly, what was he going to do about what being near her did to him?


Please remember to comment on this blog post to be entered for my $50 giveaway. Winner will be announced Monday, August 28.

To be entered in the Back To School $250 Cash Giveaway, follow the Rafflecopter. Kathy Habel of I Am A Reader Not A Writer will announce the winner after the contest’s end on September 11.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Please leave a comment to be entered in my Bride Brigade Contest for a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash, to be announced on August 28. For the $250 Back To School Giveaway, enter via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

When you were a teen, what did you plan for your life’s work? Is that even close to the profession you actually have? One of the things I wanted was to be a newspaper reporter—a goal I achieved much later. Like women of my fictional character Lorraine Stuart’s day, I was assigned “soft” or “fluff” reporting: weddings, theater, city council meetings (yawn), and human interest. I especially loved the human interest stories. Unlike Lorraine, I was content with my job. In fact, I loved it and the interesting people I met through reporting.

Lorraine Stuart, heroine of Bride Brigade book six, wanted to write. She worked as a librarian while writing and submitting work for publication. To increase the likelihood of having her stories published, she used the pseudonym L. S. Truharte.

In 1873 when this series is set, a woman might be published in fiction, such as Louisa Mae Alcott. She might also be published for recipes and household advice. In general, women were not considered for serious news reporting or for magazine stories. Using a pseudonym increased the possibility of a woman’s work being accepted for publication.

One of the outlets Lorraine found was Frank Leslie’s Monthly Magazine and his weekly newspaper. Although Lorraine Stuart is a fictional character, Frank Leslie is not. His publications were popular across the nation. In reality, Mr. Leslie accepted stories from women. However, writing using initials instead of a gender-revealing name increased the chance of reaching publication and reader acceptance.

In the 1880s, a woman achieved change for newspaper reporting. Nellie Bly was the pen name of American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She was a ground-breaking investigative reporter—the kind of work Lorraine Stuart craved.

In my opinion, the most chilling of Nellie Bly’s reporting was an exposé in which she took an undercover assignment for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, The New York World. She agreed to feign insanity and be incarcerated to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island. After ten days, Bly was released from the asylum at The New York World's behest. Her report, later published in book form as TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE, caused a sensation and brought her lasting fame.

TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE also brought about changes in the care of the insane by the Department of Charities and Corrections and new regulations concerning the examination of patients to insure only the genuinely mentally ill went to the asylum. Nellie Bly was also known for an 1889 record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg from AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS.

Lorraine Stuart longed for recognition of her work, although she didn’t want to go to Nellie Bly’s lengths in investigative reporting. Like me, she wanted her stories to be read and appreciated. (As a writer, most of my characters include a bit of me.)

Grant Pettigrew, like newspapermen of his time, believed women could only report gardening, social events, and recipes. Actually, he’s a very good man but stubborn about changing his mind and representative of his time. He’s invested much of his savings and a great deal of sweat in his newspaper and can’t afford to pay for anyone to work for him—or so he thinks.

Here’s the summary of LORRAINE, Bride Brigade 6:

How to escape marriage to an odious man . . .
Leave the state!

Lorraine Stuart joins a group of women traveling to Tarnation, Texas, a town with numerous bachelors but no unmarried women. She longs to meet a man who will admire her and the writing ability that has her published in several publications, by a pseudonym, of course. Just her luck, out of all those in Tarnation, she falls for the most stubborn man she’s ever met. But the handsome newspaper owner is the only one who makes her heart flutter.

Grant Pettigrew has worked hard to establish the Tarnation Gazette. He is intrigued by Lorraine but he won’t let a woman write for his newspaper. Besides, he can’t afford to hire anyone yet. The redhead is gorgeous and ignites dreams of family, but he’s never met a more obstinate woman.

Will two immovable forces join to form a forever love?

Here’s an excerpt from the reception at which Lorraine and Grant first conversed:

[Lorraine is speaking] “Apparently I came at a good time. I hope to be settled in my own home long before the railroad arrives.”

[Grant answers] “I’m sure you will be if that’s your wish. With only seven women and sixteen men plus others in town, you’ll be wed in no time.”

She hoped so. “Only if I find the right man. Other people may marry for fondness or merely to have a companion, but I’m going to hold out for love.”

“Guess that’s what most of you young ladies want.” A wistful expression crossed his face. “I wouldn’t mind falling in love myself. With the odds against me, I’d probably fall for a woman who’s interested in someone else.”

She took his arm as they walked back to the house. “Aw, poor Mr. Pettigrew. You look so downtrodden that I almost feel sorry for you. Almost.”

He smiled down at her. “Have a care, Miss Stuart. You’ll hurt my sensitive feelings.”
“Hmm, why do I doubt you?”

When they entered the house, several men had left and others were bidding goodbye.

Mr. Pettigrew bowed to her. “I apologize for monopolizing you, but I enjoyed the time we spent together.”

A man she thought might be Zane Evans clapped Mr. Pettigrew on the shoulder. “We’ve almost outstayed our welcome, Grant.”

Lorraine watched as the two friends said goodbye to their hostess before leaving.

Prudence stopped beside her. “You certainly spent a lot of time with that one man. He must have been interesting.”

“Yes, but also annoying. He thinks women can’t write for publication without gushing adjectives.”
Prudence giggled. “What a thing to say to you of all people.”

Casting a look around, Lorraine pulled her aside. “Shhh. You’re the only one here besides Lydia who knows.”

“I don’t understand why you want to keep your success a secret. I’d be telling everyone if I’d published stories in Frank Leslie’s Magazine and Frank Leslie’s Weekly Newspaper plus the New York Times and other places. Heavens, I’m rooming with a celebrity.”

Lorraine tapped a finger against her chin. “I need a way to prove to that man I’m a good writer. Just wait until he reads something of mine and doesn’t know a woman wrote it.”

“I expect he has, don’t you? I’ll bet he subscribes to both of the Frank Leslie publications. Wouldn’t it be funny to find out he enjoyed a story before he learned you wrote it?”

Lorraine only smiled in answer, but she shared Prudence’s opinion. She’d bet Grant Pettigrew had read many stories by women and didn’t realize he had. Like her, many other women used initials or a man’s name as a pseudonym. She wondered if Mr. Pettigrew had read L. S. Trueharte’s work.

If you haven’t read this series, I hope you will. Writing the story of the seven women and their hostess has been a pleasure. On Friday, August 25, the last of the series, PRUDENCE, will be released! In the meantime, here’s the buy link for LORRAINE:


To be entered for the $50 Bride Brigade Contest, leave a comment for this post. Winner will be announced Monday, August 28.

To enter the Back To School $250 Giveaway, enter on the Rafflecopter below. This contest lasts through September 11.

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Monday, August 21, 2017


Please leave a comment to be entered in my $50 giveaway and check the Rafflecopter to enter the Back To School $250 giveaway at the end of the post.

I’ve loved writing the story of each woman in the Bride Brigade. Many readers have contacted me to tell me how much they’ve loved them. On Friday, the last of the series, PRUDENCE, will be published. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll read the series of sweet romances (RACHEL includes one curse word).

The story of RACHEL, Bride Brigade 5, is one of my favorite and sent me researching two subjects. The first was women in prison, which was the most difficult of the two—and disturbing. I could discover no specific instances regarding Virginia, where Rachel was falsely imprisoned. Stories of deprivations and violations abound about treatment of women prisoners throughout history and today. In the nineteenth century West, juries and judges tended to give women lighter sentences that involved local jail time, but not prison, except in the most severe cases. For many years in Texas, women who were sentenced to prison were sent to the male prison at Huntsville until a female unit was finally constructed.

Huntsville, Texas, prison 1870s

The other area involved freight wagons. I had researched this for my novel HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and that subject has more information. My favorite tale on freighting involved Brit Johnson, a black freedman. When his wife and children—along with others—were kidnapped by Indians, Brit went after them. He recovered his family and all but one of the other captives. Unfortunately, Brit’s freight wagon was attacked by a large band of Kiowa. Each of those with Brit was killed. Brit—after firing 179 shells to defend himself, was the last to die. A sad end for a heroic man.

Mules pulling heavy freight were
hardier on hills than horses

That gives you insight into the danger of driving freight wagons. The cargo and the men protecting the goods were at risk for attack by renegades of all nationalities. In RACHEL, the freight company owner is Zane Evans, also the story’s hero. To protect his wagon, he cleverly hires four former gunslingers to ride as guards. Zane is a former Pinkerton agent, so he is no stranger to danger. In RACHEL, he finds more threat.

Imagine living in a remote area where every item you needed and couldn’t grow had to be brought in on freight wagons. The cost of paying freight would be passed on to you, the customer. No Costco or Sam’s or WalMart or Target. Not even a Walgreen’s or Dollar Store. ☺ I would be at a definite disadvantage. Was life in a new, isolated area worth the hazards? Fortunately for us, many people thought it was.

Here’s the summary of RACHEL:

A shameful past…

Rachel Ross’ secret haunts her. She joins other women leaving Virginia for Texas, object matrimony. Vowing never to trust again, she is rebuilding her life. She likes the dusty little town of Tarnation and is attracted to Zane Evans. She accepts a job as his bookkeeper. Her past has made her cautious and she vows never to let down her guard. The attraction is there, and she allows him to court her.

Zane Evans is a former Pinkerton agent who wants to forget all he saw in that profession and in the war and build a good life in Tarnation, Texas. He has carefully planned his future. He’d never believed in love at first sight until he meets Rachel. Now he’s determined to discover and remove the reason her beautiful brown eyes look haunted.

One event reveals her past in a spectacular way. Will Zane forgive her silence?

Here’s the URL for the book at Amazon:      

Here’s an excerpt:
Unable to bear waiting any longer, Zane cupped Rachel’s delicate face in his hands. He expected shock or surprise but she merely gazed at him with her berry-colored lips parted. Did she realize what an invitation she offered?
“Rachel, promise me you won’t accept another man’s proposal while I’m gone. Please, give me a chance to court you.” Damn, he sounded pathetic.
Her gorgeous smile wiped away all his embarrassment. “I promise. Will you promise me you’ll be extra careful on your trip?”
“I will. Now that I’ve found you, I have a powerful reason to remain alive.” When her eyes widened, he added, “Rachel, we never take risks, and my guards are very good. And, I’m hardly defenseless.”
She grasped his forearms. “Hauling freight is taking a chance, but I realize someone has to bring in supplies. We’d be in trouble if we only had things the stage can carry.”
“Most of the businesses would shut down. Even the doctor occasionally has me bring in supplies and medicines.”
She smiled at him. “As I see things, I’m bookkeeper for the most important man in town.”
With her in his arms he felt like the most important man in the world. All resistance fled and he gathered her into his embrace and pressed his lips to hers, gently at first. When she leaned into him, he deepened his kiss. Her arms slid under his jacket and around his waist. Elation almost felled him.


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Friday, August 18, 2017


Don't miss the double giveaways at the end of the post--but please read the post first!

OPHELIA is Bride Brigade book 4. I love Ophelia’s gentle nature and loving heart. Certainly her experiences might have caused another to hate and turn to violence. So often we hear on the news of terrible incidents of child abuse that resulted in the child’s death or near death. Seldom can we learn of the continual abuse which creates life-long emotional and physical problems and sometimes contributes to criminal behavior.

In my mind, there is nothing worse than child abuse. We are here to protect those weaker than us, not prey on them. According to an article in the New York Times, each day in the Unites States at least three children die from parental mistreatment. I was interested to learn about the first documented case of child abuse, Mary Ellen Wilson. Please stay with me even though this is a long blog. This is important information!

Mary Ellen was born in 1862 to Frances and Thomas Wilson. Her father was killed in battle at Cold Harbor. Her mother worked two shifts as a laundress at a New York hotel. As was a custom at the time, she boarded Mary Ellen for two dollars a week, which consumed her widow’s pension. After Frances missed payments and visitation several times, the woman turned Mary Ellen over to New York City Children’s Charities. Later when Mrs. Wilson came to visit Mary Ellen, she was told the child had died.
From there, the child’s luck continued downhill. She was placed with Mary and Thomas McCormack. Mary went on to marry Francis Connolly/Connelly following Thomas' death. According to Mary McCormack Connolly's court testimony, Thomas McCormack, Mary Connolly's first husband, claimed to be Mary Ellen Wilson's biological father.  The Department of Charities placed Mary Ellen into the McCormacks' care illegally, without any documentation.
Thomas McCormack signed an "indenture" agreement upon retrieving Mary Ellen from the Department of Charities' care, but did not explain his or his wife's relationship with the child to the Commissioner of Public Charities and Correction. This body administered the city's almshouse, workhouse, insane asylums, orphanages, jails, and public hospitals. The McCormacks were required to report the child's condition annually to the Department. According to Mary Connolly's later court testimony, this only occurred once or twice during Mary Ellen's stay.
Thomas McCormack died and his wife married Francis Connolly/Connelly and moved with him and Mary Ellen to an apartment on 41 Street in Hell’s Kitchen. It was at this address that neighbors first became aware of young Mary Ellen's mistreatment. Her foster mother forced her to do heavy labor, repeatedly beat, burned and cut the child, and locked her in a tiny closet. She was not allowed to go outside or even to look out the window but no one came to her rescue.
When the Connollys moved to a new address, one of the concerned neighbors from their 41st Street apartment asked Etta Angell Wheeler to check on the child. Some accounts say Mrs. Wheeler was a Methodist missionary who worked in the area and others that she was an employee of the New York Department of Public Charities and Corrections (and I insist she deserved the Angell part of her name). Wheeler, under the pretext of asking Mrs. Connolly's help in caring for Connolly's chronically ill and home-bound neighbor gained access to the Connollys' apartment to see Mary Ellen's state for herself. When Mrs. Wheeler saw the glaring evidence of severe physical abuse, malnourishment, and neglect, Wheeler began to research legal options to redress the abuse and protect the young girl.
Some jurisdictions had laws prohibiting excessive physical discipline and New York permitted the removal of neglected children. However they determined they would not intervene and Mary Ellen was not removed from the care of Mrs. Connolly. If Mary Ellen's treatment wasn’t severe enough, one wonders what would be! 

Apartment in which Mary Ellen lived before rescue

After finding the local authorities reluctant to act, Wheeler turned to a local advocate for the animal humane movement and the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Henry Bergh. He made it clear that his work was as an individual and not part of his office of the ASPCA. However, he had powerful ties in the community which made people take the case seriously. Once he was involved, Mary Ellen was rescued from her home within forty-eight hours.

Mary Ellen when rescued

Mary Ellen was ten but malnutrition made her only the size of a five or six year old. Her face was blemished because the previous day Mrs. Connolly had slashed her with scissors. The child was carried into the courtroom wrapped in a blanket and screaming. She feared Mary Connolly would punish her for leaving the apartment. A policeman gave her a peppermint stick to calm her. Once she settled down, she revealed a horrific life.
On April 9, 1874, Mary Ellen testified, “My father and mother are both dead. I don‘t know how old I am. I have no recollection of a time when I did not live with the Connollys…Mamma (Mrs. Connolly) has been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day. She used to whip me with a twisted whip—a raw hide.(A rawhide horse whip was found at the apartment.) The whip always left a black and blue mark on my body. I have now the black and blue marks on my head which were made by mamma, and also a cut on the left side of my forehead which was made by a pair of scissors. She struck me with the scissors and cut me; I have no recollection of ever having been kissed by any one—have never been kissed by mamma. I have never been taken on my mamma‘s lap and caressed or petted. I never dared to speak to anybody, because if I did I would get whipped…I do not know for what I was whipped—mamma never said anything to me when she whipped me. I do not want to go back to live with mamma, because she beats me so. I have no recollection ever being on the street in my life.”

Mary Ellen after rescue

Wheeler and Bergh successfully removed Mary Ellen from the Connolly home and took Mary Connolly to trial. On April 21, 1874 Mrs. Connolly was found guilty of felonious assault and sentenced to one year of hard labor in prison. Apparently nothing happened to her husband, who certainly had to be aware of the abuse. Even though he might not have participated, neither did he protect Mary Ellen.
Mary Ellen was sent to what was basically a reform school for girls who had been in trouble. That was not where she needed to be. Mrs. Wheeler was able to get Mary Ellen released into the custody of her family and the child went to live with Mrs. Wheeler’s mother, Susan Angell, where she flourished. She lived there until Mrs. Angell died, at which time she went to live with Etta Wheeler’s sister and brother-in-law. 

Mary Ellen married at age twenty-four to Francis Schutt. He was a widower with three children. Together, they had two daughters, the first named Etta after Etta Angell Wheeler. They also adopted a daughter.

After her first ten years, Mary Ellen deserved all the happiness she found. She died in 1956 at age 92.

Mary Ellen circa 1906

Here's the summary of OPHELIA:
A painful past…
Hope for the future…

Ophelia Shipp wants safety, a home, husband, and to raise a family. To achieve her goal, she travels halfway across the country to a tiny Texas town, Tarnation. What awaits her there must be better than what she left. She longs for a respectable man who will be a gentle and kind husband.

Elias Kendrick had a difficult childhood but he has overcome poverty to build his empire in Tarnation. Now that he owns a successful saloon and the opera house, he is ready to marry and start a family. He’s vowed his children’s life will be different from his—if only he can find the right woman.

Two opposites attract—or are they? Ophelia and Elias must learn to overlook their superficial differences to work out their chance at lasting love.

Amazon buy link is:  

Here’s an excerpt of Ophelia and Elias Kendrick meeting at the first reception:
“What brings you to Tarnation, Miss Shipp?”
“Same as the others I suppose and there’s no point pretending otherwise. I want a kind husband, a secure home, and children. This appears to be a nice town even though it’s small. I notice there’s even an opera house.”
His smile broadened. “That there is. In fact, I built the opera house only a year ago. The manager and I try for a variety of acts so that by the end of the season, everyone has enjoyed at least a couple of shows.”
She leaned forward, happy to know he was so fair-minded. “I’m sure I’ll enjoy them all. Actually, I’ve never been to a live performance.” Oops, why did she have to confess that?
He leaned back and his eyes widened. “Never? You mean except at school, of course.”
A blush’s heat seared her face. How embarrassing to admit she was a country bumpkin who had done nothing. “My father was very strict. I couldn’t appear in or attend school plays. Mr. Kozlov has invited me to the opera house opening performance in two weeks. I’m looking forward to the event.”
Was that disappointment she saw flash across his face? “You’ll enjoy Geraldine Chitwood. We were exceptionally fortunate to book her. Normally, she only plays larger towns more easily reached. Being without railway access places us at a severe disadvantage.”
She had to stop herself from rubbing her sore rear. “Oh, I haven’t forgotten that stage ride.” She leaned toward him. “Tell me about yourself, Mr. Kendrick. Besides owning the opera house, I mean.”
“I’m twenty-nine and never married.” He took a deep breath and averted his gaze before he spoke. “If you led such a quiet life that you weren’t allowed to attend plays, then you’ll no doubt look down on me because, as well as the opera house, I own the local saloon.”
She hoped she hid her surprise that Lydia had included a saloon owner in this group of “acceptable” men. What should she say? A saloon owner here went against everything she’d ever been told. Yet, didn’t she trust Lydia? And, Mr. Kendrick appeared so nice. Think, what would Lydia or Jo say?
“I seek never to pass judgment, Mr. Kendrick. I don’t approve of drunkenness but I know most men enjoy meeting with others and sharing a drink or game of cards.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Very broad-minded of you. Do you play cards, Miss Shipp?”
Relief relaxed her and she couldn’t help laughing at his question. “I don’t play anything. All I’ve ever done is work.”

Don’t forget the giveaway! There are two. One is from me for $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal cash to one commenter on one of the seven blogs about the Bride Brigade, ending with the release of PRUDENCE on August 25. Winner will be announced on August 28.
The other—which makes mine look paltry—is Kathy Habel’s $250 Cash Back to School Giveaway. Look for the Rafflecopter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photos, Google commons except my cover, which was designed by Skhye Moncrief