Last Day for Byway to Danger eBook Sale!

by Sandra Merville Hart

This is the final day for BookBub’s Featured Deal sale for Byway to Danger, Book 3 in the “Spies of the Civil War” series!

This means that Byway to Danger eBook version will only be available for 99 cents one more day!

Here’s a bit about the book:

Everyone in Richmond has secrets. Especially the spies.

Meg Brooks, widow, didn’t stop spying for the Union when her job at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency ended, especially now that she lives in the Confederate capital. Her job at the Yancey bakery provides many opportunities to discover vital information about the Confederacy to pass on to her Union contact. She prefers to work alone, yet the strong, silent baker earns her respect and tugs at her heart.

Cade Yancey knows the beautiful widow is a spy when he hires her only because his fellow Unionist spies know of her activities. Meg sure didn’t tell him. He’s glad she knows how to keep her mouth shut, for he has hidden his dangerous activities from even his closest friends. The more his feelings for the courageous woman grow, the greater his determination to protect her by guarding his secrets. Her own investigations place her in enough peril.

As danger escalates, Meg realizes her choice to work alone isn’t a wise one. Can she trust Cade with details from her past not even her family knows?

Buy your copy today!

The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

The Daughters of the Mayflower series

The story opens with Eliza Gentry at 12 and Wyatt Creed at 14 on a cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail. She loves watching the stars and he watches them with her—when he can avoid a beating from his drunken father. Eliza’s own father is the trail boss and he owns the cattle being driven north to Kansas.

Something terrible happens on the cattle drive. Wyatt is there when Ben Barnhart kills Wyatt’s father. It’s Wyatt’s word against Ben’s. The trail boss’s word is law on the Chisholm Trail. It’s swift justice when a single gunshot rings out into the night.

The story picks up again nine years later and the feisty Eliza still misses Wyatt, her friend who watched stars with her on the cattle drive.

The characters in the book drew me into the story right away. I loved the western setting and the story had plenty of twists to keep me guessing the outcome.

I loved seeing Texas cities, Galveston and Austin, and New Orleans, Louisiana, through the novel’s action. A page-turner for me.

Recommended for readers of inspirational historical romances.

Christianbook.com

Announcing Byway to Danger eBook sale!

by Sandra Merville Hart

BookBub has selected Byway to Danger, Book 3 in the “Spies of the Civil War” series, for a Featured Deal!

This means that the eBook for Byway to Danger will be available on all retailers from September 19 – 22 at 99 cents—a great deal!

Here’s a bit about the book:

Everyone in Richmond has secrets. Especially the spies.

Meg Brooks, widow, didn’t stop spying for the Union when her job at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency ended, especially now that she lives in the Confederate capital. Her job at the Yancey bakery provides many opportunities to discover vital information about the Confederacy to pass on to her Union contact. She prefers to work alone, yet the strong, silent baker earns her respect and tugs at her heart.

Cade Yancey knows the beautiful widow is a spy when he hires her only because his fellow Unionist spies know of her activities. Meg sure didn’t tell him. He’s glad she knows how to keep her mouth shut, for he has hidden his dangerous activities from even his closest friends. The more his feelings for the courageous woman grow, the greater his determination to protect her by guarding his secrets. Her own investigations place her in enough peril.

As danger escalates, Meg realizes her choice to work alone isn’t a wise one. Can she trust Cade with details from her past not even her family knows?

Buy your copy today!

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, and Books 2 Read.

Every Day Filled with Hope by Shelia Stovall

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

A Weldon Novel, Book 2

I have read other books by this author set in the town of Weldon, Kentucky, and I looked forward to reading this newest release. I wasn’t disappointed, even though much of the story takes place in Niger.

Casey was a famous model for many years before returning to her home in Weldon. Shoppers travel to buy clothing from her boutique and meet her. She dreams of marrying Daniel, whom she has dated for about a year. However, she has a secret.

Daniel had planned to propose to Casey before his doctor tells him the reason for his headaches is a brain tumor. He may not survive surgery. How can he propose now? Nor can he tell her. Their church’s mission trip to Africa may be the last time he can share with her.

Casey’s past reaches out to her in this multi-layered story that kept me turning pages.

Secondary plots involving foster children drew me in as much as the main story.

There are many unexpected twists and turns in this novel that changed where I imagined it to be heading. The author grabbed and held my attention.

Recommended for readers of inspirational contemporary romances.

Amazon

Cinnamon Cake Recipe

by Sandra Merville Hart

Something I enjoy doing as an author of historical novels is searching through old recipe books for the time period that I’m writing. I include those dishes in my novels. “Spies of the Civil War” is my series that released in 2022. Cinnamon cake is one of the staples baked by our talented baker hero in Byway to Danger, Book 3. Our heroine works as his assistant. 😊

A basic recipe for cinnamon cake in an 1877 cookbook, Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping is courtesy of Miss M.E. Wilcox, Selma, Alabama.

Mis Wilcox didn’t provide any measurements for ingredients, which is common for cooks in the 1800s. I’m sharing what I used to make her cinnamon cake. My pre-school granddaughter helped me.

Start with making sponge.

Mix together 4 cups of flour and 2¼ cups of scalded milk that cooled to lukewarm.

Dissolve a packet of yeast in ¼ cup warm water and let it stand for about 5 minutes before adding it to the dough. Knead this into the dough. It will feel soft and elastic.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Set it in a warm place and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Knead the dough again and then roll it on a floured surface until about ¾ inch thick.

Prepare your baking pan with shortening and flour or use cooking spray. (I used a 13 x 9 pan.) Arrange the dough in the prepared pan, gently pressing it to even the layer.

Miss Wilcox used slices of butter, sprinkles of cinnamon, and then sugar but didn’t provide measurements.

I took a little artistic license on this part and melted 4 tablespoons of butter and spread it over the top of the dough.

My granddaughter mixed 2½ teaspoons of cinnamon with 1 cup of sugar. We sprinkled it over the top. I think we could have used about ¼ cup less, but she got on a bit of a roll with the cinnamon sugar—a sweet one! 😊

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

My family enjoyed the delicious cinnamon flavor. If you like cakes very sweet, then 1 cup of sugar is the right amount. If not, ¾ cup of sugar should be plenty.

The cake itself has the sponginess of a bread, which isn’t surprising since that’s how the dough is made.

Also, it’s easier to eat this cake holding it in your hand.

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe.

Sources

Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 2011.  

An Afternoon in Ripley, Ohio

by Sandra Merville Hart

My husband and I recently joined a group of author friends for a fun day of learning about the Underground Railroad in Ripley, Ohio.

We started out with lunch at the Cohearts Riverhouse. This restaurant is on Front Street, which borders the Ohio River. Friendly staff, a cozy atmosphere, and good food made for a wonderful experience.

Next, we went about a half mile to John Rankin House. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, built his home high on a hill. He kept a lantern lit in his front home where it was visible across the Ohio River to the slave state of Kentucky.

Rankin, his wife, and his children helped hundreds of escaped slaves, escorting them on their way to that next station on the Underground Railroad. Although there were many times when sheriffs and slave catchers sneaked onto the Rankin homestead in the middle of the night, accompanied by gunfire, in pursuit of fugitives, no one was ever caught. None of the family members were killed and all of the fugitives made it safely to the next station.

We were all impressed by the success and sacrifices of the entire Rankin family as we traveled less than half a mile to the Parker House, a man equally as inspiring.

John P. Parker was born into slavery and was sold away from his mother. He ended up at a doctor’s home where the doctor’s sons taught him how to read. John ran away repeatedly but was always caught. Eventually he was sold to a woman who agreed to allow him to buy his freedom for $1,800. He accomplished this and bought his freedom in less than 2 years.

He eventually ended up in Ripley, Ohio. John’s hatred of slavery spurred him to take many trips into Kentucky at night to help fugitives to freedom—journeys filled with danger for, if caught, John would have been hung.

Docent Dewey Scott made the story come alive in his presentation.

We learned a lot that afternoon at both museums. The Rankin and Parker families are an inspiration.

I found this whole afternoon especially inspiring because one of the characters in Byway to Danger, Book 3 in my “Spies of the Civil War” series, has a station on the Underground Railroad in Richmond.

Sources

“John P. Parker House,” National Park Service, 2022/08/08

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/oh2.htm.

“John Rankin House,” Ohio History Connection, 2022/08/08 https://www.ohiohistory.org/visit/browse-historical-sites/john-rankin-house/.

An Inheritance Among the Nations by Dorthy Qualls with Phyllis Qualls Freeman

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Female Missionary Evangelists Share the Gospel with the World

What an inspiring true story!

This book, written by Dorthy Qualls with Phyllis Qualls Freeman, is an autobiographical account of Dorthy’s missionary journeys with Dr. G. Faye Whitten. It’s a biographical account Faye’s life and missions.

Faye did the preaching and Dorthy (Dot) did a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the ministry team.

The book begins with the background for each woman, their friendship, and how each felt the calling to go to other nations to spread the Gospel.

The rest of the book is an overview of a ministry that spanned decades to different countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Danger and hardship await the ministry team, not the least of these are physical difficulties that plague Faye throughout her life. She doesn’t allow them to keep her from preaching.

Dot observes in the book that she learned the power of praising God regardless of the circumstances. It shows, for the hardships that might have convinced others to abandon the ministry didn’t stop the ladies from trusting that God was with them daily.

The author doesn’t dwell on the danger. This can give the illusion that it’s not a concern. Danger is real and those entering the mission field should understand that reality.

An inspiring story about two courageous women! It hops around a bit when earlier events affect current happenings to remind readers how those scenes/people are connected.

One important fact is that they began their ministry in their late forties. Their ministry continued over twenty years, beautifully illustrating we can all make a difference, no matter our age. All in all, the courage these women demonstrated in harsh circumstances is an encouragement to Christians, whether in the mission field or at home.

To purchase the book, contact Dot Qualls.

Free to Love by Bettie Boswell

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Prequel to On Cue

I had read On Cue, Boswell’s contemporary romance that began this series. This prequel to that story is very strong and I had a hard time putting it down.

This novel is a time-slip story. The modern-day story is that Ginny Cline is researching to write a musical as a fundraiser for the Woodson House, a recent addition to a local museum. Ginny’s task is to write a musical showing the Woodson House’s connection to the Underground Railroad.

Missy, the teenaged daughter of an Alabama plantation owner in 1858, has been raised with Early, one of her father’s slaves. The teenagers who bear a striking resemblance to one another are friends, though Early begins to understand that things are not the same between them after Missy’s father remarries. The harsh stepmother is the least of the girls’ worries because Sidney, Missy’s new stepbrother, has evil designs on both young ladies.

To make matters worse, Missy’s father’s health is failing and he does little to protect either girl.

But Missy’s aunt is coming for a visit. Will she help them?

The historical thread comprises over 90% of this story, which was fine with me. My interest was quickly snagged and I couldn’t turn pages fast enough. The danger to both ladies continues throughout, adding to the suspense. The author does a wonderful job building tension and suspense. The relationship between the two ladies changes and revolves through the story.

I couldn’t put the book down. There were punctuation errors that jumped out at me but, on the whole, it’s a great book.

I will look for more books by this author.

Amazon

Henry “Box” Brown

by Sandra Merville Hart

Henry “Box” Brown earned his unusual nickname in a surprising way. Wishing to escape slavery in a Richmond tobacco factory, Brown mailed himself to Philadelphia.

Brown’s wife, Nancy, was also enslaved by Samuel Cottrell and lived with their children on an adjacent plantation. Brown developed skills at the factory that enabled him to earn money. Cottrell charged Brown $50 a year to not sell his family. Brown paid it but Cottrell sold his pregnant wife and three children anyway in 1848.

His grief spurred him to escape. Brown, a Christian, sang in the choir at the First African Baptist Church. He prayed for guidance about his escape and the answer came to get in a box and mail himself.

Brown turned to James Caesar Anthony Smith, a free black choir friend, for help. James knew a white sympathizer, Samuel Alexander Smith, who agreed to help for a price. Samuel arranged for Henry to be shipped via Adams Express Company to James Miller McKim of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society who also participated in the Underground Railroad.

On March 23, 1849, Henry traveled in a 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 2 ½ feet deep wooden box labeled “Dry Goods” and “This Side Up.” The box was lined with coarse wool cloth. With one air hole cut into the box, a few biscuits and water, Henry traveled by train on the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad to a steamboat on the Potomac River.

His box was turned upside down and Henry felt like he wasn’t going to survive the trip. Then two men who needed a seat turned his box the right way to sit on it, possibly saving Henry’s life.

When he finally arrived 26-27 hours later, four men opened his box. Henry recited a psalm about waiting patiently on the Lord. Then he sang the psalm, which touched the men who helped him.

Instead of keeping his escape methods to himself, as Frederick Douglass suggested, Henry began speaking to audiences about his experiences two months later. He also performed for them the psalm he had sung. The Narrative of Henry Box Brown written by Charles Stearns was published in 1849, and Brown and Stearns sold them at lectures.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, requiring slaves to be returned to their owners even when in a free state, passed on September 18th, and Henry feared he’d be captured and taken back to Richmond. He fled to England with Smith.

Henry lived there for 25 years. During those years he performed for audiences as a mesmerist. When he returned to the United States with his wife and daughter, he also performed as a magician.

Henry “Box” Brown is remembered for the creative way he escaped to the North, inspired by the prayers of a man of faith.

Brown and others inspired me in my writing. One of the characters in Byway to Danger, Book 3 in my “Spies of the Civil War” series, has a station on the Underground Railroad in Richmond.

Sources

“Fugitive Slave Act,” American Battlefield Trust, 2022/06/20 https://www.battlefields.org/learn/primary-sources/fugitive-slave-act#.

“Henry Box Brown,” Encyclopedia Virginia, 2022/06/20 https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/brown-henry-box-1815-or-1816-1897/.

Newby-Alexander, PHD, Cassandra L. Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad, History Press, 2017.

Walls, Dr. Bryan. “Freedom Marker: Courage and Creativity,” PBS.org, 2022/06/22 https://www.pbs.org/black-culture/shows/list/underground-railroad/stories-freedom/henry-box-brown/.

At Lighthouse Point by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Three Sisters Island, Book 3

I bought this book without realizing it was Book 3 in a series. I normally try to read books in order as the characters tend to build on another in each story. I’d recommend reading the other books in the series first. Still, I was able to understand the gist of what happened in earlier stories and it made sense.

Chef Blaine Grayson is back home on Three Sisters Island. She dreams of running the restaurant for Camp Kicking Moose, her family’s campground, but nothing goes according to plan—beginning with her sister’s completed design for the camp’s kitchen. Blaine had dreamed of remodeling it. Plus, both her sisters are pregnant and had decided to surprise her with the news when she arrives.

Her estranged grandfather is staying with them.

And her best friend, Artie Lotosky, gives Blaine the cold shoulder. She doesn’t understand his reasons and he’s not explaining them.

There is romance in this story yet it’s more about family relationships. The story is told in multiple viewpoints. The characters are lovable—and, at times, frustrating. The author inserted many scenes from Blaine’s past into the story, which jarred me from the current scene.

This well-written book kept me turning pages. I will look for more books by this author.

Christianbook.com