Mesquite Springs, Book 2
BY AMANDA CABOT
Categories: Christian Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Stand-Alone
Date of Publication: March 2, 2021
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He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up.
Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers–until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is.
Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new–and completely uncontroversial–start in the Hill Country.
As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood.
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SOMETHING WORTH DOING
A Novel of an Early Suffragist
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 336
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Some things are worth doing—even when the cost is great
In 1853, Abigail Scott was a nineteen-year-old schoolteacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway. Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother. When Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family, what she sees as a working woman appalls her—and prompts her to devote her life to fighting for the rights of women, including the right to vote.
Based on a true story, Something Worth Doing will resonate with modern women who still grapple with the pull between career and family, finding their place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices when competing in male-dominated spaces.
PRAISE FOR SOMETHING WORTH DOING:
“I have long admired Jane Kirkpatrick’s rich historical fiction, and Something Worth Doing is well worth reading! Oregonian Abigail Duniway is a vibrant, fiercely passionate, and determined activist who fought for women’s suffrage. Women of today have cause to respect and admire her—as well as the loving, patient, and supportive husband who encouraged her to continue ‘the silent hunt.'” —Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love
“On the trail to Oregon, young Jenny Scott lost her beloved mother and little brother and learned that no matter what, she must persist until she reaches her goal. Remembering her mother’s words—‘a woman’s life is so hard’—the young woman who became Abigail Scott Duniway came to understand through observation and experience that law and custom favored men. The author brings alive Abigail’s struggles as frontier wife and mother turned newspaper publisher, prolific writer, and activist in her lifelong battle to win the vote and other rights for women in Oregon and beyond. Jane Kirkpatrick’s story of this persistent, passionate, and bold Oregon icon is indeed Something Worth Doing!” —Susan G. Butruille, author of Women’s Voices from the Oregon Trail, now in a 25th anniversary edition
Something Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick is an eye-opening look at the lives of women in 19th century America. As someone who views that period through a lens of Laura Ingalls Wilder mixed with historical romance books, it was a bit jarring to read about a woman who describes herself as strident. I’m not going to lie, I had to look that one up. A quick search defines strident as “loud and harsh; grating,” also “presenting a point of view, especially a controversial one, in an excessively and unpleasantly forceful way.” I think that the first definition was a more accurate description of Abigail Scott Duniway, but I could see how people in her time saw her as the second.
To be honest, I cared more for Jenny Scott – Abigail’s nickname before she married – who had a softness to her before marriage and life in general wore her down like a child’s teddy bear. She was still smart and headstrong in those early days, but you got the feeling that she smiled and laughed more often then too. I guess marrying a man before you were sure about whether you loved him or not could do that to you. But even after she realized that Ben was a good husband to her and an advocate for her passions, her cynicism could be overwhelming at times.
That feels unfair now that I’ve typed it. I hate doing laundry even with the wonderful modern inventions of the washing machine and dryer. There are days that I wish that I could quit working and do what I really love. Heck, hire a housekeeper so that I don’t have to vacuum my house ever again. And I can. Because women like Abigail broke the mold and fought for women’s suffrage. Equality has a long way to go yet, but because of women’s rights activists, I am not limited to certain jobs or activities because of my gender. I realize now that tact is a four-letter word when one needs ferocity and tenacity to breakdown oppression.
Kirkpatrick’s ability to create a captivating story from pieces of personal correspondence and archival research is truly remarkable. I would have to read all of the author’s source material to ascertain where the real Abigail Scott Duniway ended and the fictional shading to bring her to life began. With the exception of a small section where the narrative shifts to Ben’s point of view, the entire novel is seamless. I felt fully immersed in the time period and was excited to see which business venture Abigail tackled next. I related to her struggle of pursuing her dreams while taking care of her family at the same time. Although her mission was much more noble than any of my own undertakings.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history, but especially to women who want more adventure in their life or those who worry that they are spreading themselves thin. I know that’s a wide spread, but there are so many connections to today’s modern woman that make this book a real gem.
Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of more than thirty books, including One More River to Cross, Everything She Didn’t Say, All Together in One Place, A Light in the Wilderness, The Memory Weaver, This Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center.
Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. Jane divides her time between Central Oregon and California with her husband, Jerry, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Caesar.
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SEPTEMBER 15-25, 2020
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WHAT MOMMA LEFT BEHIND
Cindy K. SprolesChristian Historical Fiction
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 256
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Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Worie’s mother has been secretly feeding a number of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain. But when she dies suddenly, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.
Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers—one greedy and the other a drunkard—Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her begrudging care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma’s children.
Storyteller and popular speaker Cindy K. Sproles pens a tender novel full of sacrifice, heartache, and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
PRAISE for What Momma Left Behind:
“Worie Dressar isn’t your typical heroine—she’s tough, she’s opinionated, and she’s loud. But at her core she wants to love and be loved—just like the rest of us. Cindy’s special talent is in telling about life the way it is—hard parts and all—while preserving the beauty and wonder of love shining through even the darkest night.” —Sarah Loudin Thomas, Christy Award-nominated author of Miracle in a Dry Season
“Seldom does a story move me to tears and encourage me to examine my life. A powerful story. Highly recommended.” —DiAnn Mills, author of Fatal Strike
“Cindy Sproles has a way of placing readers inside the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her ability to transport readers into her Appalachian adventures is nothing short of genius. Leaving us hanging on every word, Cindy writes with feeling and incredible historical knowledge. This book is a must-read!” —LaTan Murphy, writer, speaker, author of Courageous Women of the Bible
What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles is the kind of book that I will reread when I need to feel inspired and find inner strength or peace. If you were to judge this book by its cover, you would probably assume that this was another run of the mill historical fiction with a fluffy love story. I wouldn’t blame you because the cover is gorgeous and fits right in with that type of book. And the description on the back cover also does not prepare you for the harrowing story contained within.
We lay eyes on Worie Dressar at the lowest point of her young, hard life. Sproles points out several times that her characters have had to grow up quickly because of their environment. But the opening scene is something that someone even near the end of his or her life would have a hard time coping with. Physically, we see the characters in this novel carry on because nothing would get done if they threw themselves down and mourned for days on end. But Sproles lets us in on their inner turmoil with subtle descriptions and inner dialogue since the story is told from Worie’s perspective. And I suppose it dawned on me that this was not a romance novel when the author did not waste words on the physical appearance of the characters. As a reader who craves love stories in even action or horror genres, this was a big jarring to me. But it made sense given how pragmatic Worie is.
Sproles’ authenticity is consistent in every way, from the characters’ dialect (even in Worie’s narrative point of view) to the description of daily life and the norms of that society. And it is because of that authenticity that it never registered to me that this was a Christian book as well. I suppose because the Bible was the one book that everyone in America read if they knew how to read, I just assumed that folks from that time period quoted the good book frequently. Also, Christian books are not the only ones that teach us lessons in faith and forgiveness.
Maybe you’re not into Christian books. Fear not, because What Momma Left Behind does not read like one. The villain in this novel is among the worst human beings I have ever read in fiction. This is not your cloyingly sweet novel with a picture perfect happy ending; nor does it thump you over the head with the Bible unnecessarily. There are quotes from scripture, but they’re used in a way like if Dan Brown wrote his cryptic clues down and floated them in a bottle. So basically, they have a purpose beyond getting some heathens to read the Word of God.
I thought I was going to read a soothing story of a young woman who teaches orphans to hunt and farm the land. That is not what this story is. It is so much better and more real. I recommend this book to people who like to read realistic historical fiction. Not to mention, a book about the effects of an influenza and typhoid pandemic in America is quite timely during COVID-19.
Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. An author, storyteller, and popular speaker, Cindy teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and directs the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. Editor of ChristianDevotions.us and managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, Cindy has a BA in business and journalism and lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her family.
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First Winner: Copy of What Momma Left Behind + $20 B&N Gift Card
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