It has been a hard year for all of us, and this holiday season will be like no other. Restrictions may mean fewer people at your Thanksgiving table, and fewer hugs all around, but this day can still be special. That’s because restrictions can only go so far. No one can restrict our ability to spread love, laughter, and kindness. No restriction can limit how much faith, hope, and gratitude fills our hearts. Nor can any restriction stop our ability to create new traditions and make new memories.
Thanks to the miracle of technology, restrictions also can’t keep us from reaching out to each other and, for that, I’m especially grateful. It allows me to tell you how much we fillies appreciate your staying with us during this difficult time. Your continued support has truly been a blessing. To show our gratitude, I’m giving away three ten-dollar Amazon gift cards today.
To enter the drawing, tell us how your Thanksgiving will be different this year? What new traditions do you have planned? What is your hope for the season?
Christmas stories on sale now for only 99 cents.
It was just his luck to run into a trigger-happy damsel
Am really excited to let you know that my newest effort, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is due to be released on November 15th. Yea!
So, I thought I’d give you a quick glance at the cover and a little excerpt from the book, as well as the blurb. Hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt!
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE
I will return to you, my love…
Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.
Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest. But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away. Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane. However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another. And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.
But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son. Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?
Warning: Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.
Iron Wolf’s Bride
Despite the warmth of the evening, the marble flooring of the foyer was cold beneath Jane’s slippers. She was gazing forward, looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows which graced the manor’s entryway. Lacy, white curtains framed the windows, and, as Jane reached out to touch their softness, she recalled the feel of a smooth, deerskin bag that Iron Wolf had given her upon their marriage. She’d had to leave it behind.
Iron Wolf… How she wished that this evening were already over.
Biting her lip, she looked forward once more, out the window. There were so many carriages out there; there must have been fifty or more of them, carrying the cast from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show here tonight. And, one by one they pulled into the sweeping driveway of her uncle’s red-brick mansion.
The hour was early evening, and the many lanterns—which were scattered here and there along the brick drive—shone with a hazy light into the mist of the darkness, causing small pockets of foggy light to glitter, as though held there by a ghostly hand. It caused the carriages to be appear to be as dark and as dreary as a funeral procession.
A shiver rushed over Jane’s skin as she realized that the ghosts from her past had come to haunt her tonight. Iron Wolf would be amongst these people, and her tension because of this knowledge was so great, she held onto Nathaniel with a tight grip on his arm. Luckily, he didn’t seem to mind and he patted her hand, his touch reassuring and gentle.
That her uncle had invited the entire cast of the Wild West Show to his estate was to Jane not to be believed, especially because tonight should have been the celebration party of her marriage to Nathaniel. But, her uncle had explained that because the musicians had already been hired and an assortment of cooks were still on hand to provide the dinner, the original form of the party had changed from being a quiet dinner party to a ball and a sit-down dinner.
Why was her uncle honoring Bill Cody’s Wild West Show? Didn’t he disdain those public gatherings which he labeled as “spectacles”? Was it because Jane’s sister, Luci, performed with the show? Perhaps.
And, of course Luci would be present here tonight, as would Luci’s husband, Wind Eagle. Blue Thunder would also be present…and Iron Wolf. There would be little chance she could avoid her former husband this evening, since he and his two friends were known to be Buffalo Bill’s most popular act—popular, that is, with the ladies.
During The Wild West’s long run, the threesome’s performances—which included not only daring feats of horsemanship, but also expert marksmanship—had gained steady popularity. Indeed, a few years past, the three young men had added the American Indian style of singing and dancing as part of their entertainment. From there, and because of that, the number of tickets sold to those of the female gender—young and old—had tripled the income of the show, if one were to believe the newspapers. Indeed, her uncle had informed her that Buffalo Bill had asked the three young men to entertain this small gathering of London’s “elect” which was to be present here tonight.
At the moment, she could do little more than wonder how she was to get through the evening with her emotions still intact. Pray, it might be the greatest acting performance of her life, since she was upset with them all: her sister, Wind Eagle, Blue Thunder and especially Iron Wolf. But, she would sooner die from the heartbreak they had caused her than to openly show the hurt of their two-and-a-half-year indifference. She promised herself that she would paste her most cordial smile onto her countenance, and she would grin as though her life depended upon it…and perhaps it did.
Jeremy, her son, would not be present at the festivities tonight, and for this Jane was indebted to Marci, who would attend to him and ensure his bedtime schedule remained the same as usual. More commonly, Jane saw to her son’s nighttime storytelling and to the delightful chore of tucking him into bed. Often, when there was a party, Jeremy was permitted to attend it.
But not tonight. Tonight she needed every bit of her attention focused upon her smile and getting through the evening without grief and tears.
Suddenly her heart seemed to stop. There he was, exiting a carriage and stepping toward the house in the casual manner he seemed to have perfected. His friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder, as well as Jane’s sister, Luci, flanked him on either side. Suddenly Jane’s breathing stopped and her heart raced, reminding her that she had not yet healed from the wounds Iron Wolf had inflicted upon her.
How innocent she had been back then, although, if she were to be honest, she would admit to wishing to be so happy again. Ah, if life could only be like that once more.
She sighed, noticing at the same time that her sister, Luci, was dressed as she usually was when she performed with the show—as a boy—and Jane was startled to witness it. Surely, Luci didn’t have to still pretend to be someone she was not, did she? Didn’t she realize that dressing as a boy here would give away her true identity?
Whatever the reason for the disguise, it made Jane feel uneasy. Was there a continuing danger to Luci and to herself, as well, that demanded her sister continue the disguise?
But, she quickly forgot the question, when, seeing Iron Wolf walk slowly toward her, Jane’s attention came away from her sister to focus squarely onto her former husband. He wore his best clothing tonight, she noted, and he looked so handsome that she could not suppress the soft gasp which fell from her lips.
A tanned-buckskin shirt and leggings seemed to caress his casual movements, and she realized she had rarely seen him dress in this manner, for Buffalo Bill provided the cotton shirts and trousers that the American Indian performers wore. His style of buckskin clothing was adorned with beads set in round designs of orange, blue and yellow colors, and the same scheme was repeated on his breechcloth and his moccasins. She caught sight of the several feathers that were fastened together and fell down from the back of his head, disappearing from her view as Iron Wolf stepped readily forward. He had left his hair loose and long tonight, the whole of it thrown over his shoulders. There was no bow in his hands or quiver full of arrows upon his back, but still, she could see that he was armed, for a colt .45 was neatly tucked into a holster that fit around his lower waist.
He had painted two streaks of red upon his cheeks, but he wore no other war paint. From this distance, Jane’s stomach was already reacting in turmoil toward him, warning her of the danger he presented her. But, she had no choice but to ignore it. She had promised herself that she would play her part of a happy young lady tonight and nothing would distract her from that, pretense though it was.
The havoc of her emotional fears and grief, however, was so great, that when the four of them walked into the foyer, Jane thought she might faint. But, she mustered up the act she had decided to present them, and, as she and Nathaniel paced toward the four of them, her grip on Nathaniel’s arm was so tight, it might have been made of iron instead of flesh and blood.
She smiled at all four of them briefly, then said, “Luci, Wind Eagle, how are you?”
“We are well,” answered Wind Eagle.
“Good, I am glad to hear it.” Jane smiled again, but couldn’t quite look at Iron Wolf as she continued, “Iron Wolf, Blue Thunder, you are both welcome here tonight.”
Blue Thunder nodded. Iron Wolf, however, did nothing and said nothing, causing Jane to look up at him briefly. In that glance, short as it was, she saw that he did not gaze at her, but had cast his glance upon her hand which remained clutched upon Nathaniel’s arm, while Nathaniel’s hand covered hers.
And then, before she could look away, Iron Wolf thrust his chin forward and stared down his nose at her, looking at her as though she were made of something distasteful. He didn’t smile; he didn’t say a word. And, the expression on his countenance—outside of disgust—was so blank that little other emotion could be seen there.
He continued to remain silent, though his brief look at Nathaniel could have melted steel. But, instead of speaking, he turned quickly away from Jane and Nathaniel, following the other performers into the ballroom. And Jane, glad to have the first introductions accomplished without error on her part, sighed. Hopefully, the rest of the evening would go as planned.
To say that Iron Wolf was upset would not have done justice to the fury raging within him. Who was that man? Whoever he was, he had been touching her. And worse, she had let him, had perhaps encouraged him, for her hand had rested on that man’s arm.
What had happened here in this strange country of England? Was his wife’s love for him so lacking that she had placed another man in her affections? He blew out a breath in revulsion. It might be so.
Well, let them both look at and try to rationalize the performance he had this moment decided to give in this foreign and hostile place. Their music featured both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder as the vocalists in their trio. Wind Eagle also kept time with a buffalo-hide drum and Blue Thunder accompanied the rhythm by shaking two different rattles. While Iron Wolf also sang at times, he usually played his flute in these performances. Also, he had become the group’s dancer.
For this, Iron Wolf was grateful. His part in their performance tonight would allow him to give the presentation of his life. She might not like what he was about to do, but he would ensure she would never again relegate him to the back recesses of her mind.
Áwicakeya, he dared her to forget about him again…ever.
Jane didn’t wish to view Iron Wolf’s and his friends’ act of drumming, singing and dancing. Indeed, she wished she could be anywhere else but here, looking on. But, it was not to be.
The gala which should have been her wedding party had turned sour. Not that it was anyone else’s fault. It was she, after all, who had postponed her wedding, and all because of one man, her former husband, Iron Wolf.
Servants had arranged the front of the ballroom into a stage for the performers, who were billed under their English names: Charles Wind Eagle, Luke Blue Thunder Striking, and of course her former husband, Michael Iron Wolf. Chairs were clustered around the stage in five different rows. After this performance, a ball was scheduled to follow, and, immediately after that, a sit-down dinner.
As the three men stepped forward, Iron Wolf turned so he was facing forward. He caught her eye, and Jane drew in her breath sharply. His look at her was so hostile, she had no choice but to look away.
Soon, the music began. Both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder were singing. Blue Thunder took the lead with the song’s high-pitched intro. Wind Eagle followed the lead, singing the same minor-keyed melody. Wind Eagle beat out time on a hide-covered, hand-held drum, and Blue Thunder shook the two different rattles. Iron Wolf wasn’t singing, instead he was playing his flute, but it wasn’t long before he began to dance. Indeed, he was the only one of the three men who was dancing.
Too soon, it became evident that Iron Wolf was fashioning his performance to be much too personal, and Jane caught her breath as he stared directly at her while his dance took on a sensual, sexual nature, his hips jutting forward in time to the music. Jane stirred uneasily, for a passionate sort of excitement was arising within her, and she didn’t wish to experience it.
As his dance continued in much the same manner, she wondered how much of this she could take. Already recollections of their lovemaking from their not-too-distant past were materializing in her mind, and the reminiscence of their lovemaking flooded her body with an unwanted, yet passionate response. As she watched, she couldn’t control the unwelcome, yet soul-stirring excitement which burned like fire over her nerve endings. It was too much and she knew she had to get away.
But she couldn’t jump up suddenly and run from the room. Her uncle, her aunt and even Nathaniel would be scandalized. Briefly, she looked over her shoulder, searching for a reprieve. But, all she saw were her uncle, Buffalo Bill and her uncle’s moneyed friends, who were standing or sitting toward the back of the room.
There was no comfort to be found there. Looking forward again, her eyes met Iron Wolf’s angry and openly hostile gaze. What did he have to be angry about? It was she who was the victim of his scandalous affair.
Still, she wished now that Nathaniel hadn’t picked the front section of seats in order to watch the entertainment. She had nowhere to go.
Luckily, Luci had taken up a position on Jane’s left while Nathaniel reposed on her right, and, despite Nathaniel’s presence beside her—perhaps because of it—Iron Wolf’s gaze at her did not allow to her look away. All the while, his blatantly passionate dance made love to her. Even his flute playing did not detract from the explicit, carnal manner of his movements.
Unfortunately for Jane, his dance was causing her usually conservative composure to shatter. Suddenly, Iron Wolf squatted down on one knee, jutted his hips forward briefly, then jumped up with a vigor that proclaimed his youthful prowess. The suggestive movement caused her heart to leap, and Jane wished she were embarrassed by his antics. The truth was, however, she wasn’t. She was responding to it—unwillingly, yes. But, she was reacting to it all the same, and in kind.
She had to look away. She tried to do so, but found it was impossible. He was seducing her in front of everyone here, plain and simple. With his legs spread apart, he fell down into a partial side-split, and, taking the mouthpiece of his flute out of his mouth, he held his hands up in the air as he slid back up into a standing position. He then fell into a dance step—up and back, standing straight, then hunched over—all the while rocking and jutting his hips forward in so sensuous a manner, and in such an apparent, sexual way, it took Jane’s breath away. Parts of her body appeared to be out of her control, being awakened by Iron Wolf’s display, and, try as she might to suppress the stirred-up lust he was causing, she couldn’t. She gulped nervously.
Luci reached out to take Jane’s hand into her own, and Jane was glad of her presence beside her. At last the music became low and soft, allowing Iron Wolf to speak out in English, and he said,
My wife, what has happened to us?
My wife, I have waited for you.
My wife, did you wait for me, honor me?
No, you did not.
And yet, my wife, I give you all of me now.
Will you take me?
It is not too late, my wife; it is not too late for us.”
His gaze was direct and piercing, and there was no doubt that his poetry was for no one but her. In response, Jane could barely move; she couldn’t speak.
After his few words, the performance ended and he stepped quickly toward her. But, Jane wasn’t about to confront him. Not here, not now.
She jumped up as though there were a wound-up coil within her, and, turning around toward the entrance of the ballroom, she ran out of the room as fast as she could, aware of, but unable to look at the many curious glances sent her way. She didn’t stop, nor did she pause. Instead, she fled out into the foggy, darkened night, running along a pathway which led toward the gardens. There was a labyrinth there that she knew well. She intended to lose herself in it. Now.
Iron Wolf followed her. It was time to learn what was happening here. Who was that man?
He intended this to be his first question to the woman who should be, and still was, his wife. His second question to her would be why she believed he, her husband, had betrayed her. But this could wait.
He noted that she had fled into a maze that was flanked by fragrant bushes which were taller than a man, and, were he not the scout and tracker he was, he might have become lost within these high shrubs, for the paths intersected one another and led in multiple directions. But he didn’t lose his way. He found her soon enough.
Once he had discovered her, he spoke out softly, so she might become aware he had followed her. “What is going on here? Who is that man you were touching, the one who sat next to you? What is he to you?”
Jane spun around, the look of surprise on her countenance quickly turning to anger. She didn’t pause an instant, though, as she accused, “How dare you follow me!”
“I am your husband. It is my duty to follow you.”
“Well, you can go away now. I came here to be alone.”
Iron Wolf didn’t leave. Instead, he repeated his question, for he intended it to be answered, and asked once more, “Who is that man?”
“The one you touched. The one who sat beside you tonight.”
“He and I were to be married today.”
She turned her back on him and Iron Wolf didn’t speak; he couldn’t, for he felt as though she had punched him in the gut.
She added, “We didn’t marry today, as it turns out, because I would like my sister to be a part of the marriage ceremony. So we have postponed our wedding for the time being. And now you see that I, too, might marry another, as you have.”
Although he wished to speak out loudly, to rage the truth at her, he found it impossible to find his tongue, and so he paused until at last he was able to say, “My wife, you have become like a wild pony in my absence. How can you marry another when you are already married to me?”
“Am I? Do you forget you divorced me? And, how dare you call me ‘wild,’ when you…when you…” Her voice caught.
He ignored the insult and said instead, “You have now accused me of this too many times. Who has told this to you?”
“No one has ‘told’ it to me, as you say it. It was written up in the newspapers, and I have the divorce papers that you signed, or have you conveniently forgotten that? And, how dare you seduce me in front of all these people tonight; you, who are married to another. Is she here tonight? Does she care that you looked at me as you danced as though you were making love to me?”
She spoke so swiftly that he took a moment to understand all she had said, and then he asked, “Do you speak of the white-man’s newspapers where you saw my ‘wife’?”
“Who showed this to you?”
“Does it matter?”
He sighed. “Hau, hau, it matters. I would ask you again, who has said this to you?”
“My uncle, if you must know.”
“Your uncle who owns this house?”
Iron Wolf took a moment to collect his thoughts, then said, “You are wrong to believe these people, even if they be family.”
“So you can say easily enough. But, my uncle is beyond reproach and I am certain he wouldn’t lie to me. Besides, you forget that I have evidence of your betrayal of me.”
“No,” he countered, “what you have is ‘proof’ that is a lie. And, now I say that it is good you did not marry that man this day, for had you done so, you would have committed a grave error, one I could not easily set aside. So now, you must decide and choose between one or the other of us: me—your husband or that man. For, even in my society, a woman may have only one husband.”
“I have already chosen, and that man is not you.”
“Hau, then I will go.”
“But before I go, I wish to see these papers you have mentioned to me many times. I would witness these lies with my own eyes.”
“They are not lies.”
He raised his voice. “I say they are, and if you continue to tell me these untruths, I will say that you are a woman of no honor, who tells lies, as well.”
“How dare you shout at me, and how dare you say I am not honorable!”
He blew out his breath in an attempt to control his temper. At length, he said, “I am a man who must be convinced. Show me the papers you speak of, for I tell you true: I did not place my written name on anything. I have no other wife, but you. Why would I want another woman when the one I have is the sweetest, the most beautiful woman I have ever known or seen? I ask you, why would I throw away the woman of my heart, for, if I were to do that, would I not destroy her and myself, too?”
He noted that the compliment, spoken as it was from his heart, might have found its target. However, she did not respond favorably, and she turned her back upon him.
He encouraged, “Show me.”
When she turned around, she was crying, and his heart sank to realize that his raised voice and unkind words might have caused her grief. Still, what he’d said had been true.
“Do you really think I stoop to tell fibs? That I don’t have these things in my possession which show you betrayed me and then married another?”
“I would see them.”
She paused, as though she seriously considered his demand, even against her will. At length, she said, “I suppose that might be a fair request. So follow me. I will show you, although I am certain you are already aware of what I am talking about.”
He nodded, but said nothing except, “Show me. I will do as you ask and follow you.”
She turned around then and stomped out of the maze. And, Iron Wolf, astonished again by the obvious—that this was no act and that his wife truly hated him— trailed after her.
Well, that’s it for now. Look for the book November 15th, 2020 on Amazon. Hope y’all will let me know if you like the cover as well as I do. The male model is Lakota, by the way.
Also, book #1 of the Wild West Series is on sale now for $.99. It’s the first time this book has been put on sale for this low of a price.
You can get the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Itunes, but I’m going to leave the link here on the blog for Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/w49evpb
Also, I’ll be giving away a free e-book or paperback of the first book in The Wild West Series, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME. Remember to look at the rules we have here for giveaways. Just leave a comment and you’re entered into the drawing.
As I waited in the pharmacy for my flu shot, I checked out a book display. Among various inspirational books was Wise Dogs by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. and Dale C. Spartas. The book pairs words of wisdom with beautiful dog photos. The small book brightened my day and got me thinking.
Animals have always been there for me during good times and rough patches. They never judge, love unconditionally, are fantastic listeners, and never share my secrets.
But pets offer more than companionship. Studies show they can improve our mood and immune systems, reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure. (A common statement in my house when someone’s cranky is “Will you pet a dog to lower your blood pressure and calm down?” It’s also a handy excuse. “Sorry. I can’t _______. I’m lowering my blood pressure now.”) There are stories of people who would’ve committed suicide if not for having a pet to care for.
I have a “Dogilosophy” coaster. If you can’t read it in the picture it says, “Listen more than you speak. Act like you have purpose. Appreciate a simple life. Give more than you receive. Be happy with what you have. Be a best friend.” What fabulous advice. Ever since, I’ve tried to follow this.
I’ve added to this list of what dogs and pets have taught me from Wise Dogs, bestlifeonline.com, and the Huffington Post.
Live in the moment/Enjoy life/Enjoy the journey—I think this is especially important now with social media. How often do we see people ignoring those around them in favor of their phone? Some people are so busy posting what they’re doing they’re not really present in what’s happening. I’ve learned sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Wise Dogs says, “Who you’re with is always more important than where you are.”
Walk more—Very few of us get enough exercise. I know I don’t. (I’m adding walking the dogs more to my resolutions.)
Drink more water—Again I’m adding to things to work on in 2021!
Greet everyone with enthusiasm/Jump for joy when you’re happy—We don’t celebrate successes and the positives in our lives enough. Dogs do. Finding a stick, barking at a squirrel outside the window, their human coming back after checking for mail are all celebrated with gusto.
Everyone needs a hand to hold and a heart to understand—This has been difficult with COVID-19. We need to find other ways to stay connected such as notes and phone calls.
Play and run daily—We need to have more fun!
Be loyal/Defend and protect those you love—Truly good friends are a rare gift and should be treated as such.
Don’t hold a grudge/Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship/Leave the past in the past—I’ve fostered dogs who came from terrible situations that are still capable of love. They don’t let their tragic past steal their future.
Family doesn’t have to be blood—I’m a big believer the one and the theme runs through many of my books.
Don’t have the time or space for a pet? Consider volunteering at an animal shelter walking dogs or playing with cats or dogs. Or, visit a friend with a pet. I bet you’ll receive health benefits.
As we thankfully approach the end of 2020, I pray 2021 is better for the people who have suffered or still are and may we all be a more like pets. I’ll leave you with one last quote from Wise Dogs. “May your dreams defy the laws of gravity.”
Today’s giveaway is a “live like someone left the gate open” (one of my favorite sayings) mug and A Cure For the Vet which contains my book The Rancher and the Vet. My heroine, Avery McAlister, is a veterinarian who runs an animal shelter. To be entered in the random drawing, comment on this question. Of the above lessons from dogs, what’s your favorite?
I love the South! Several years ago my hubby and I went to Baton Rogue, Louisiana, and visited the South’s oldest and most beautiful plantation estates the renowned “The Sugar Palace” Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens situated between Baton Rogue and New Orleans. Although I was familiar with the Southern Plantations of yesteryear, I was astonished at the beauty and mystic of this now thirty-two acre estate with it’s five hundred year old oaks, scenic bridges, and pathways that crisscross the former sugar plantation. Some of my blog today will be facts as I interpreted them during our tour.
Warning: This is a bit longer blog than I usual do, but there’s just too much to tell you all and I want you to enjoy my adventure.
French Explorer LaSalle first landed at this site in 1682 and described The Houmas Indians and the great herds of bison on the river banks surrounding the Houmas Village. By the 1720’s, French settlers acquired a Spanish Land Grant and were living there amongst the indigenous Indians, in the fertile plain between the Mississippi and Lake Maurepas to the north.
The Houmas sold the land to Alexander Latil in the mid 1700’s and he immediately began construction of the two story brick dwelling (now the rear wing of the mansion). Wade Hampton, the largest sugar producer in Louisiana and the largest slave holder in the South, built the present mansion in the late 1820’s, making Houmas House one of the first great columned mansions on the Mississippi River.
The original French Provincial house erected by Latil is situated directly behind the “Mansion”, adjoined by a carriageway to the grand home described during its antebellum heyday as “The SugarPalace.” The original home was later used as living quarters for the staff that served the great house. The day we were there, they were having a wedding, so we had lunch in the beautiful Café Burnside overlooking the beautiful fountain and gardens.
In 1810, Revolutionary War hero General Wade Hampton of Virginia purchased the property and shortly thereafter began construction on the Mansion. It wasn’t until 1825 when Hampton’s daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Col. John Preston, took over the property that the grand house truly began to take shape.
Irishman John Burnside, assumed ownership of the plantation in the mid-1850’s for a whopping $1 million. After purchasing the property, he began accumulating sugar cane plantations and became the largest sugar planter in America, boasting over 300,000 acres giving him the title “The Sugar Prince of Louisiana”. A businessman and a character, Burnside increased production of sugar until Houmas House was the largest producer in the country, actively working the crop on 98,000 acres. During the Civil War, Burnside saved the Mansion from destruction at the hands of advancing Union forces by declaring immunity as a subject of the British Crown. In addition to building a railway to carry his products to market —“The Sugar Cane Train (1862)” — Burnside, a bachelor, is also said to have offered payment to any parents in the parish who would name their sons “John.”
An avid sportsman who wagered heavily in horse races, Burnside once secretly purchased a champion thoroughbred back East with the intent of defeating the steeds of fellow local businessmen in a big race. He quietly slipped the racehorse into the billiard room of the Mansion where it was “stabled” until Burnside’s surprise was unveiled at the starting line and hailed in the winner’s circle.
Houmas House flourished under Burnside’s ownership, but it was under a successor, Col. Williams Porcher Miles that the plantation grew to its apex in the late 1800’s when it was producing a monumental 20 millions pounds of sugar each year.
In 1927, the Mississippi roared out of its banks in the epic “great flood.” While Houmas House was spared, the surrounding areas were inundated. I learned on the tour that there was originally a tunnel of ancient trees that rose from the banks of the Mississippi up to the Houmas House, thus creating a wind tunnel and kept the house cool. After the flood, many of these trees were destroyed and a levee was built to protect the property.
The plantation then withered away, fell into disrepair, and closed. It remained that way until 1940 when Dr. George B. Crozat purchased it to be a summer home away from his native New Orleans. He renovated the property with the intent to give it a more “Federal” look than the stately Greek Revival style in which it was conceived. The structure was painted white inside and out. Crown moldings and ceiling medallions were removed and both interior and exterior forms and finishes were simplified.
Eventually, the Crozat heirs opened the property to tourists. In 1963, the defining Bette Davis film Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte was shot on the property. The room in which Ms. Davis stayed while filming is preserved as part of today’s Houmas House tour.
When New Orleans businessman and preservationist Kevin Kelly fulfilled a lifelong dream by purchasing the home in early summer, 2003, he set about recreating the experience of encountering Houmas House circa 1840. He still resides on the property.
There were a few things I’ll never forget and one would have to see to visualize. The mansion’s faux marble exterior is painted in rich ochre which reflects the influence of Mediterranean villas owned by the wealthy Europeans that the southern planters emulated. The belvedere that crowns the house has been restored, and interior features and finishes have been reinstalled in their original form. The twin Garconierre that distinguish the property have been renovated, and the central hallway of the grand house bears a room-size mural with a sugar cane motif that characterizes the original entryway artwork common in many plantation homes along the Mississippi.
But, the most interesting of all to me from a writer’s view point is Col. John Preston’s 1847 Louisiana Census Map by LaTourette that was found in the attic in the 1980’s. Yes, 1980’s! It was preserved because it was stored in native cypress, which is totally unaffected by moisture, varmints, including termites, and other elements that would have destroyed it. According to our tour guide, if this map had gotten into the hands of the Union they would have known the location of every plantation in Louisiana, but without it all they could do was guess and roam around the bayous and swamps. It’s my opinion, with my writer’s imagination, that very likely this is the reason the Civil War didn’t reach Texas until a month after the war was over.
Oh by the way, I learned from our tour guide that the men were not being rude when they ascended the stairs ahead of the women, but were being gentlemen, as it would be inappropriate for them to view the ankles of the women as they had to lift their skirts to go up the stairs. Very inappropriate. Also, if a Southern Belle’s petticoats were showing, they were told “It’s snowing down South”. I don’t want to tell my age, but I can remember being told that when we wore can-can petticoats.
I wonder in this picture, if Miss Scarlett knew it was snowing down South?
I’d love to hear about the most interesting house you’ve ever visited.
To two lucky readers who leaves a comment, I will send you your choice of an iBook of
trade size copy of my latest Kasota Spring Romance “Out of a Texas Night”.
I’m excited to announce that I have a new sweet holiday release.
A Home for the Holidays is the story of a world-traveling engineer who has never had a place to call home, except for during the four years he spent in Holly, Idaho, living with his aunt while attending high school. Jason Regan has no time to celebrate holidays, and no reason to settle down…until a Holly, Idaho judge sentences him to 100 hours of community service at the local animal shelter for a decade-old unpaid parking ticket. Jason is, in effect, sentenced to Christmas.
Tess Evans is a recovering lawyer who now runs Forever Home animal shelter. She is thrilled to have a new volunteer, even after discovering that it’s the guy she’d crushed on in high school; a guy who had no clue that she was alive until a blabby friend told the world. But Tess will do her best to put her embarrassment behind her to join forces with Jason to empty the shelter by Christmas.
This series introduces my new small town series Holly, Idaho, so I’m giving away a Holly Jolly Christmas mug to one lucky commentor.
Here’s an excerpt from my story:
“Hold on!” Tess Evans hung up the phone as her dad attempted to open the door to Forever Home while balancing two cinnamon lattes and carrying his toolbox. Pete Evans had a proclivity for doing things on his own, be it raising three motherless daughters or opening a door with his hands full. He was usually successful, but in this case, he was about to lose a latte.
“Really, Dad?” Tess said as she rescued the top cup of steaming coffee just before it toppled.
“I almost made it.”
Tess took the other cup from him and set it on her desk. Pete set down the other, then jerked his head toward the door leading to the dog kennel area. “Will Lisa be done feeding before her coffee gets cold?”
“Judging from the decibel level, I think she’s almost done.” Morning feeding was always a loud and happy time as the food trolley rolled along the concrete aisle between rows of kennels. But once the dogs had their meals, barking stopped as eating commenced, and the sound level dropped accordingly.
“Why the big smile?” Pete asked as he set down his toolbox.
“I don’t need you today.” Tess was still feeling slightly dazed from the phone call she’d just received from justice court.
“You don’t need me?” Her dad sounded shocked, but Tess read the relief in his gaze. Despite having a very tight schedule on his latest project, he stopped by the shelter every Tuesday morning to spend an hour nailing things back together. The problem with retrofitting an old garage into a new animal shelter was that there were a lot of hidden issues that poked their heads up at the most inopportune times. She and Lisa had painted the place cheerful colors—yellow and aqua—and kept it sparkling clean, but they didn’t have the time or the skillset to deal with loose concrete bolts and flapping siding—the latest ills.
“I have a new warm body.” Which was nothing short of a miracle this time of year when everyone was so busy. There was just one teensy part of that good news that kept Tess from doing a full-on happy dance.
“Cat? Dog? Iguana? No, wait. You said warm body, not cold. Scratch the iguana.”
Tess smiled. “No, Dad. A human. One with building skills. Judge Nelson sentenced a guy to community service and decided that I needed the most help right now. I get him for one hundred hours.”
“One hundred hours?” Pete tipped his chin toward the ceiling as he did a quick mental calculation. “Twelve days? That seems like a healthy sentence.” His eyes narrowed. “What, exactly, did this guy do to earn that much community service?”
“Parking ticket. And it’s twelve and a half days.” Judge Nelson’s assistant had emphasized that the entire sentence was to be served, down to the last hour. No early outs due to holiday bon homie.
Her dad’s eyebrows lifted. “Did he park in the mayor’s reserved space?”
“The ticket is years old. I think Judge Nelson gave him ten hours for each year it wasn’t paid.”
Pete gave a short laugh. “That sounds like something the judge would do. Who is it?”
“Jason Regan.” The instant the name left her mouth, Tess felt her cheeks go warm, and gave herself a mental kick.
You are not the same geeky girl who crushed on the man long ago.
Law school had changed her, given her confidence, leadership abilities…migraines. But if she hadn’t gone, hadn’t buried herself in research and paperwork for eighty hours a week, she wouldn’t have known how happy she was not doing that, or that her true calling was managing the animal shelter her late grandmother had started five years ago to take the pressure off the regional shelter that Holly shared with the nearby town of Everly.
Her dad’s forehead creased. “Must be an out-of-towner.”
“No,” she said in a casual voice. Too casual? “He was a senior during my sophomore year. He left right after high school. Mae Regan is his aunt.” It seemed best to leave out the part about him being her unrequited crush and utterly oblivious to her existence, except for one small incident in the school cafeteria. Oblivious, that is, until gossipy Melissa Braddock had read the signs, guessed the truth, and ratted Tess out to the general school population.
“Just doing you a favor,” Melissa had said when Tess had confronted her in horror after word had gotten back to her. “How else will you get his attention?” The amazing thing was that Melissa really believed she had done Tess a favor.
But Tess would give Jason this—he never treated her differently. Meaning, of course, that he hadn’t given her so much as a side-eye. Her hope was that the news had never reached him, or if it had, he’d brushed it off as so much gossip.
“Jason Regan…” Her dad’s eyebrows drew together. “Oh, yeah. He was the kid with the mean three-pointer.”
“That’s the one.” Tess shooed away her embarrassed teenage self as she confronted her new reality. “He’s mine for one hundred hours, and I intend to get every bit of work out of him that I possibly can.”
Mr. Regan was going to be a terribly busy man, and she was close to betting money that he wasn’t as amazing as she remembered him. Backyards got smaller and all that stuff. She’d probably take one look at him and wonder what the big deal had been.
To enter to win the holiday mug, tell me the place where you most enjoy spending the holidays. Please note that I’ll be on the road tomorrow, but will answer comments when I get back home. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 30.
My latest novella collection hit the shelves yesterday, and I can’t wait to share Barnabas and Phoebe’s story with you!
The Kissing Tree is a multi-generational collection of stories that center around a giant oak in Texas where couples carve their initials through the years.
The tree that inspired our giant oak was The Century Tree on the Texas A&M campus. In fact, my daughter (who is now at A&M working on a PhD) was kind enough to ask the tour guide to take them by the tree so she could get her nerdy mom a photo during her college visit last spring.
They don’t allow initial carving in this glorious tree, but there is a tradition for proposals happening beneath these branches.
In my story – Inn for a Surprise – Phoebe Woodward and Barnabas Ackerly are forced to work together to design a romantic retreat for couples. The Kissing Tree Inn is Phoebe’s brainchild, and she has definite ideas about how to make the place romantic.
For example, she starts off by having it painted the color of love – a shockingly vivid shade of pink. Barnabas does his best to hide his shock when he sees the inn for the first time, but his professional life flashes before his eyes – and not in a rose-colored glasses type of way.
The two definitely don’t see eye-to-eye on inn design, but as they work together to make the inn a success, they come to see that practicality and sentimentality can coexist and can even lead to love.
To celebrate the release of The Kissing Tree, I’m giving away autographed copies to two readers chosen from the comments.
To enter, leave a comment about which character you most resemble:
For any of you who have been following my posts about the true story of Pocahontas — a true American heroine — this is the last in a series of three. For anyone who has not been following the story, or who want to go back and read through the earlier posts so that this make more sense, here are the links:
As a quick overview, here is what we’ve learned so far: Pocahontas was too young to have had a romance with John Smith. We also learned that John Smith was adopted into Powhatan society. In my last post I showed that she was abducted by the English and forced to live with them. According to Pocahontas — who confided this to her sister — she was raped and was pregnant. It is believed, however, that she was not married to the man who did this to her…Thomas. Instead she was married to a man who could prove to be useful to the Colony if he could obtain secrets from the Powhatan people to turn those secrets to profit. Note again, her son’s name was Thomas, not John. Here below is the final installment of this story.
“According to …sacred oral history, the Native people of the New World possessed the knowledge of how to cure and process tobacco successfully. The Spanish gained this knowledge from the Native communities they had subdued.” THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS.
But, here might be exactly what the English were looking for to end the financial worries that had plagued the English settlement. The growing of tobacco and its curing methods might, indeed, provide the means to put the problems that had plagued the colonists for so long.
Because of Pocahontas’ marriage to an Englishman, the priests’ concern over the sharing of their secrets concerning the curing of tobacco seemed to be placated. However, oral history points out that the efforts of the Powhatan priests to help the English had the opposite effect of what the priests had hoped for, meaning that the priests had wished to persuade the English into becoming friendly and a part of the tribe. But, instead of the English embracing the Powhatan people as brothers, it appeared that the new success unleashed an extraordinary rash of greed on the part of the newcomers. Tobacco became the gold of the New World. As a result, more Powhatan lands were trespassed and more killing ensued. Additionally, more of the American Indian people became enslaved by the newly “successful” Englishmen.
But, back in the Colony, it was agreed that it was time to go back to England. The infamous Captain Samuel Argall (who had abducted and kidnapped Pocahontas) captained the ship that was to take Rolfe, Pocahontas, their son and members of the Powhatan tribe to England. The reasons for the trip were many: finances were needed to refinance Jamestown, merchants needed to talk to the colonists to ensure more success, but perhaps the most important reason for going back to England was that public approval was needed in order to secure the colony.
Pocahontas provided a means to “show” the English people that the people of Jamestown and the natives were on friendly terms. Pocahontas’s sister, Mattachanna and her husband accompanied Pocahontas to England, as did several other Powhatan people. It had appeared to the Powhatan people that with so many of her own countrymen surrounding her, there would be safety in numbers. Wise men and priests, however, advised Wahunsenaca not to let his daughter go to England; they said that she would never return. But how could he stop it? She was already in the hands of the Englishmen, who could kill her or use her in a bad way. He considered a rescue too risky. She might die.
In the end, Pocahontas went to England.
It was in England that Pocahontas’s “eyes were opened” to the truth. Up to that time Pocahontas hadn’t known that she was being used as a pawn might be used in a game of chess, because she didn’t really understand the English or what drove them to do what they did. But, Pocahontas was far from being a chess piece. She was a flesh and blood heroine.
What opened her eyes was a meeting she had with John Smith. It was because of this meeting that she learned she had been lied to: he was not dead. Moreover, she discovered that he had utterly betrayed her father and her people because he had taken a solemn oath to her people to represent them to the English; he had promised her father that he would bring the English under the power of the Powhatan. She learned he had never intended to honor his word, that he had used her father and her people to simply get what he wanted.
Pocahontas was outraged and she directed her rage toward Smith at their meeting. Understand, she was not angry because of any lost love or any young girl crush on the man. Rather she had been alerted to the truth: that this mad-man had betrayed her father and her people.
It is known to this day through oral tradition that it was with horror that Pocahontas learned what John Smith’s true intentions had been toward her people — had always been toward her people: to take their lives, their lands and everything they held dear.
Pocahontas now longed to go home and inform her father of all she had learned. She intended to do exactly that. Unfortunately, she let that be known to the wrong people and the wrong man. While we don’t know what John Smith did or whom he told of his “talk” with Pocahontas, we can surmise from the evil that followed the “talk,” that he told Pocahontas’ words to those who stood to lose money on their investments, and/or those who stood to gain from the merchants’ investments: i.e., Dale, Rolfe and Whitaker or some other merchants.
Meanwhile, the whole party set sail back to England in the spring of 1617 with Samuel Argall again as the captain of the ship. That evening Pocahontas, Rolfe and Argall dined in the captain’s chamber.
“Pocahontas quickly became ill. She returned to her quarters by herself, sick to her stomach, and vomited. She told (her sister) Mattachanna that the English must have put something in her food. Mattachana and Uttamattamakin tried to care for Pocahontas in her sudden illness. As Pocahontas began to convulse, Mattachanna went to get Rolfe. When they returned, Pocahontas had died.” — THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS.
They hadn’t even attained open sea yet. They were still in the river. Rolfe immediately asked to be taken to Gravesend, where he buried Pocahontas and left Thomas in England for his English relatives to raise. Rolfe never saw him again.
Upon returning to the New World, Mattachanna and her husband, Uttamattamakin — who was the high priest — reported to Chief Wahunsenaca what had happened in England, including the murder of his daughter. It is from this account that the oral history has been passed down from generation to generation.
But who killed her and why? Again, from the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, “Rolfe and the Virginia Company associates ascertained that Pocahontas knew that Smith had lied to her father and that some English businessmen were behind a scheme to remove her father from his throne and take the land from the Powhatan people. This justified the decision by the English colonists not to take Pocahontas back to her homeland…. Certain people believed that Pocahontas would endanger the English settlement, especially because she had new insights into the political strategy of the English colonists and (their intention) to break down the Powhatan structure, so they plotted to murder her.”
Again, from the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, “…Dale, Rolfe, and Whitaker had close ties to each other. All three had major roles in what happened in Pocahontas’s life after she was abducted. Dale eventually took custody of Pocahontas after Argall took her to Jamestown. Whitaker maintained Pocahontas’s house arrest and surveillance. All three sought to convert Pocahontas to Christianity. Rolfe married Pocahontas. Dale provided a large tract of land for Rolfe to grow tobacco. A Dale-Rolfe-Whitaker trio comprising agreements and pacts is not out of the realm of possibility, but … sacred oral history does not reveal who or how many persons were behind her murder. We believe it is most likely that more than one person was involved.”
So ends my story of the abduction and murder of a true heroine. A heroine because she tried to unite two different peoples. A heroine because she endured much in an effort to help her people. She did it with little complaint, though it goes without saying that she yearned for the company of her own people, her own little son and the husband of her heart, Kocoum.
It’s not exactly the Disney version or the fairy tale story that we’ve all been spoon-fed, I’m afraid. But it’s an honest view. It shows the courage and persistence of a young woman who did all she could to help her father and her people. And, to this end, she is a true American heroine.
I believe that the purpose of history is to show what causes created what effects. In an honest report of history, once can easily see what effects were created and thus use history as a real education. As they say “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Of course, one has to presuppose that one’s history is being told truthfully, and not rewritten versions of an event that will further along some vested interest. So what can we learn from this true story of a brave heroine?
I’ll give you my thoughts on the subject, and perhaps you can give me yours. The mistakes that I see that Wahunsenaca (Pocahontas’s father) made were: 1) He didn’t get to know the Englishman’s views of ethics (or lack thereof), supposing instead that all peoples valued the same thing; 2) He sought to placate evil instead of confronting it and eradicating it when he had a chance of winning against it; and 3) One cannot easily placate greed and evil. It seems to feed on itself. To me such greed is vampire-like — one can never do enough. It’s as though one’s own good deeds disappear into a vacuum — a “ho-hum — what else can you do for me,” attitude. The arrogance and snobbery of the criminally insane is beyond belief. And, as far as Pocahontas, herself, I’d say that one could learn that one shouldn’t say too much to those who have raped, kidnapped and/or have harmed or mean to harm you in some way.
After all, the opposite of the right to speak one’s mind is the right to not speak it to those who mean you harm. She was only in her early twenties. Did I know this valuable God-given right when I was this young? I can say quite honestly that I did not.
Well, there you have it. What do you think? It’s doubtful Hollywood would make a movie of this story, though I wish that they would. But this is the story that has been passed down from generation to generation amongst the Powhatan people and their various tribes, specifically the Mattaponi. For further information, I would highly recommend the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS by Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Custalow and Angela L. Daniel “Silver Star.” Read it for yourself and come to your own conclusions. It is a story of the oral tradition of Pocahontas. It is not a made-up story. Here is a link to get the book: https://tinyurl.com/yy6zccl2
So come on in and let me know your thoughts. Is there anything you can think of that can be learned from this “history lesson”?
And now for the give-away promised: I’ll be gifting the e-book, BLACK EAGLE, to a lucky blogger. I’m giving away the e-book, BLACK EAGLE, because this story is one of an Eastern Indian tribe, the Iroquois. Although the Powhatan tribe is not the same as the Iroquois, both of them were North Eastern tribes.
Please note: The pricing of the books, WAR CLOUD’S PASSION, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE and BLACK EAGLE are once again on sale. Temporarily, they had gone up in price to their usual price at $4.99. But check back at Amazon soon. They will be going back on sale from $.99 – $2.99.
Hope you have enjoyed this blog and the previous two blogs about the same subject. Peace…
In my previous life, before writing, one of my side businesses was antiques. I had partners but my favorite and kinda specialty was glass of any type. I absolutely love glass antiques, so when I came across an article about Tiffany and Handel lamps, I knew it would be the subject of today’s blog.
The first Tiffany lamps with domed shaped stained-glass shades were made in 1895. They became very popular and very expenses. In December of 1980 Christie sold the “Pond Lily” created in 1903 for over Three Million Dollars.
Because of their popularity, other lamp and glass companies adapted the idea of how the Tiffany lamps were made and began producing less expensive reverse-painted glass shades colored glass and metal-trimmed shades and copies of the originals. None are as expensive as the original Tiffany lamps today, but some of the wider produced are considered important and sell for thousands of dollars.
One of the first to produce less expensive replicas was Phillip Julius Handel who made lamps in Meriden, Connecticut, from 1893 to 1933, and his reverse-pained shade lamps are now selling for upwards to $8,000.00. Almost all of his lamps are signed on the inside of the shade and on the metal lamp base. Its worth is determined by the design on the shade and the shape of the bronze base. Recently, a Pennsylvania auction house sold a signed Handel “Elephantine Island” table lamp with a bronze base held by three winged griffins (shown to the left). The shade is a painting of the ancient Egyptian ruins on Elephantine, a small island on the Nile. The lamp sold for over Five Thousand Dollars.
I don’t have any Tiffany lamps but love vases and other glassware and have lots of it. My business partners where great to me because I’d buy something and then my heart wouldn’t allow me to put it on display for sale, so it’d come home with me. Every time I go near a garage sale, I slow down but turn my head the other way as a reminder that I have way too much antique glass now. So far it’s working!
Now I ask you, do you have a favorite item you collect? Do you have anything special that has been handed down for generations that you want to share with us?
To two readers who leaves a comment, I will give them