The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew by Denise Heinze review + giveaway

The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew
by Denise Heinze

Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Blackstone Publishing
Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook; 176 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Determined to set the historical record straight, and clear her conscience, Temperance Flowerdew — the wife of Virginia’s first two governors — puts quill to paper, recounting the hardships that nearly brought the Jamestown colony to its knees, and the extraordinary sacrifice of her servant girl, Lily.

When she steps aboard the Falcon in 1609, Temperance Flowerdew was not only setting sail from England to the distant shores of America, she was embarking upon a future of opportunity. She didn’t yet know how she would make her mark, but in this new place she could do or be whatever she wanted.

Willing as she is to brave this new world, Temperance is utterly ill-equipped to survive the wilderness; all she knows is how to live inside the pages of adventure and philosophy books. Loyally at her side, Lily helps Temperance weather pioneer life. A young woman running from lifelong accusations of witchcraft, Lily finds friendship with Temperance and an acceptance of her psychic gifts. Together, they forge paths within the community: Temperance attempts to advise the makeshift government, while Lily experiences the blossoming of first love.

But as the harsh winter approaches, Lily intuitively senses a darkness creep over the colony and the veneer of civilized life threatens to fall away — negotiations with the Indians grow increasingly hostile and provisions become scarce. Lily struggles to keep food on the table by foraging in the woods and being resourceful. Famine could mean the end of days. It’s up to Lily to save them both, but what sacrifice will be enough to survive?

A transporting and evocative story, The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is a fiercely hopeful novel — a portrait of two intrepid women who choose to live out their dreams of a future more free than the past.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Switching between the narrative story and the account being written for posterity, the early years Temperance Flowerdew and her maid Lily spend in the colony of Jamestown begin to unfold. Having committed to traveling to the New World in a fit of pique, Temperance survives the various threats and privations of the infamously difficult winter of 1609-1610 only through Lily’s resourcefulness. While this is Temperance’s report, it is very much the story of both Temperance and Lily.

At times poetic, barbarous, proper, amusing, heartbreaking, and devastating, this is a story that had me at the title, again at the dedication to “all the women gone missing from history,” and held me through to the melancholy of the last sentence.  I’ve been familiar with the story of Jamestown, the strained relations with the Powhatans, and the Starving Time, but never experienced it in this way or had it feel this real.

Highly recommended.

This review refers to a finished copy I voluntarily received and read, courtesy of the publisher. It contains only my own honest opinions. A positive review was not required.


‘Denise Heinze has written a stirring novel about America’s first pioneers, with particular attention to the women whose pluck and forbearance made it all possible. Temperance Flowerdew’s ‘Brief and True Report’ retells the story of America’s first colony, established by English settlers in 1609, all but destroyed by Powhatan Indians twenty years later, then rescued from oblivion by remnants of Britain’s exploratory fleet. In that saga, Heinze manages to preserve the formal language of the period with a storytelling appetite for narrative, complete with native savagery, thwarted romance, the harsh realities of seventeenth-century ocean travel, and the unpredictable currents that made such explorations so daunting and so frequently fatal.’ –C. Michael Curtis, Fiction Editor Emeritus, The Atlantic

‘With a poet’s tongue and painter’s eye, Denise Heinze summons the wonder, horror, and selfless grit of the women who pioneered a new world. Temperance Flowerdew makes compulsive reading.’ –Elizabeth Cobbs, bestselling author of The Hamilton Affair

‘With careful research, and lyrical and evocative writing, Denise Heinze’s The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew transports the reader to the harrowing seventeenth-century Jamestown settlement. The richly imagined story of two pioneering women who escape a stifling old-world existence, only to face a tempest at sea, and land in a new world of hunger, thirst, and desperation, is captivating from first page to last. Temperance and Lily represent the untold stories of the heroic American Founding Mothers.’ –Tracey Enerson Wood, author of The Engineer’s Wife

‘The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew by Denise Heinze is a vivid novel about the winter of 1609-10 in Jamestown, Virginia, America’s first colony. A relentless drought preceded the winter, and a siege by natives of the region blocked access to food. Through the voices of Temperance and her housemaid and friend, Lily, Heinze takes us into the desperate days of what became known as ‘the Starving Time’ in sometimes ruthless detail. This richly researched novel, in an elegant narrative using the vernacular of the seventeenth century, is a must-read for those who love historical fiction and for all who enjoy a compelling drama well told. I read this captivating book straight through.’ –Anna Jean Mayhew, author of Tomorrow’s Bread, The Dry Grass of August, and a third novel in progress.

‘A literary thriller. This remarkable novel infuses the history of the Jamestown experiment with the tale of two women, a mistress and her servant, who find in one another the full measure of sacrifice and survival. This story is spun of silk and rendered in blood.’ –Elaine Neil Orr, author of Swimming Between Worlds

‘In this vividly imagined historical novel, Denise Heinze gives voice to one of the few survivors of the darkest period (1609-10) in the life of the Jamestown colony. The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is not only an unforgettable account of the extreme hardships faced by the colonists but also the moving story of two remarkable young women who faced the challenges with courage and ingenuity.’ –Nancy Grayson, executive editor emeritus, University of Georgia Press

‘Denise Heinze skillfully resurrects a forgotten life, and puts her heroine where she belongs — at the center, not the sidelines, of early Jamestown history. Wonderfully inventive, briskly plotted, and rich with historical detail, this fact-filled novel will delight readers of historical fiction and women’s history alike.’ –Kate Bolick, bestselling author of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own

‘At the end of Denise Heinze’s compelling new novel, main character Temperance Flowerdew wonders ‘what goes missing when the women are nowhere to be found as actors in history.’ Heinze has created a character whose life answers that question. A product of the English landed gentry, Flowerdew endures the Starving Time in the early days of the Jamestown colony. Surrounded by desperation and death, she manages to prevail, eventually documenting her story of survival and salvation using a quill from a Christmas goose. Although this book is a novel, it is a powerful, truthful, richly detailed portrayal of the daily struggle to survive in early seventeenth-century Virginia.’ –Fred Sauceman, associate professor, East Tennessee State University

‘An enthralling tale of female strength and courage against seemingly impossible odds. Denise Heinze’s Temperance is a complex, nuanced character (as is her maid, Lily, a real treat), and the world we see through her eyes is fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. The research is impeccable but sits lightly on the narrative. The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is more than an engaging tale of a pivotal time in America’s history — it draws the women who lived it out of the shadows and, finally, lets them take their rightful place at the center of the story.’ –Meg Keneally, author of Fled

About the Author

Denise Heinze, a former literature professor and a PhD graduate of Duke University, writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She is the author of the novel Sally St. Johns and her work has appeared in Now and Then, Thought and Action, Reunions, Wow! Women on Writing, THEMA literary journal, and Gemini Magazine; her story The Grid, was a quarter-finalist for the Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award. The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is her second novel and was a finalist for the University of New Orleans Press Publishing Lab Prize. A descendant of Louisa May Alcott, she lives in North Carolina.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 21
Review at The b00kreader
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, September 22
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Wednesday, September 23
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Thursday, September 24
Review at Novels Alive

Friday, September 25
Review at Bookworlder

Monday, September 28
Review at Jorie Loves A Story

Tuesday, September 29
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Wednesday, September 30
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Review at Books and Zebras

Thursday, October 1
Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Friday, October 2
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Saturday, October 3
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, October 5
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 6
Review at History from a Womanís Perspective

Wednesday, October 7
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Thursday, October 8
Review at A Book and a Latte
Feature at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, October 9
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 paperback copies of The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Temperance Flowerdew

A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham (review)

Book Cover: A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham

Second chance romance with long held secrets and social divides set in a rugged frontier town, with childhood sweethearts who have grown and changed, facing new challenges together – not the least of which is how to navigate their once close relationship – is served up with warmth and charm in Rachel Fordham’s A Life Once Dreamed.

Continue reading “A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham (review)”

Multiverse by Robert Mercer Nairne (excerpt)

I always enjoying being able to share a book excerpt, and I also like to support local authors when I can (though in this case, the author is formerly local to Seattle). Today’s selection is courtesy of Smith Publicity, for the blog tour they are hosting with Miracle, and it features some interesting character names along with storyline developments that are both plausible and somehow familiar.

Continue reading “Multiverse by Robert Mercer Nairne (excerpt)”

No Filter by Heather Day Gilbert (blog tour review)

First of three books in Heather Day Gilbert’s new Barks & Beans Cozy Mystery series, No Filter opens with Macy Hatfield joining her brother Bo’s new Cafe/Dog petting venture in their West Virginia hometown. With both siblings still reeling from the end of their relationships, their cafe and it isn’t long before Macy is a bit distracted by a local murder and Bo is joining in on the investigation.

Continue reading “No Filter by Heather Day Gilbert (blog tour review)”

The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin (review)

Navigating in increasingly treacherous waters, both in the capital city and abroad, The Story Hunter finds Tannie faced with challenges complicated by a misguided revolt and friends who have been misled. Told from three points of view, Brac’s first person narration was an unexpected and added more dimension to his character.

Continue reading “The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin (review)”

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert (review)

Exotic pet-sitter/game reviewer Belinda Blake has barely started her temporary job at a wolf preserve before the inevitable occurs. Murder.

Written in Belinda’s distinct voice, an assortment of new characters are quickly introduced, many with both motive and opportunity. And, of course, the wolves are not above suspicion either, but that’s what seems to happen when you are first on the scene.

This is an entertaining and well-written cozy mystery with good pacing. As with the first Exotic Pet-Sitter mystery, the story is lightened and lifted by Belinda’s slightly off-kilter personality, her romantic prospects and by her family, particularly her psychiatrist sister Katrina.

Again, author Heather Day Gilbert has struck just the right notes of depth and heart. If you enjoy cozy mysteries, then this series just might tick a lot of boxes for you. I’m looking forward to reading the third Exotic Pet-Sitter book soon.

This review refers to a digital galley read through NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

~About the Book~

Exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake is nervous about her new job at the White Pine Wolf Preserve, but it turns out that the care and feeding of wild carnivores may be the least dangerous part of the gig . . .

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake is no stranger to dealing with wild animals, but she’s wary when the owner of the Greenwich, Connecticut, preserve asks her to help out with her “fluffy darlings.” Her caution seems justified on her very first day, when she discovers a tour guide—dead, bloodied, and surrounded by wolves in the enclosure.
Was it death by predator or something more sinister? The body count rises, but something’s not adding up. As she gets to know the rescued wolves and wolf-dog hybrids better, Belinda realizes that her human colleagues are not above suspicion. With help from her own “pack”—her pregnant sister, Red the chauffeur/bodyguard, and hunky farmer Jonas—Belinda is hot on the killer’s tail, but if she doesn’t find him soon, he’ll do more than muzzle her to keep the truth from escaping.

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert (Exotic Pet-Sitter, #2) | Lyrical Underground, October 2019 | ebook & paperback, 256 pages

Spotlight: Of Darkness and Light by Heidi Eljarbo with a giveaway!

Of Darkness and Light
by Heidi Eljarbo

Publication Date: May 12, 2020

Series: Soli Hansen Mysteries, #1
Genre: Historical Mystery



In this first book of a new historical mystery series, a young art historian faces a tough choice in German-occupied Norway.

“Artful prose and at a pace that makes for a can’t-put-down, first-class literary voyage.”–Melissa Dalton-Bradford, bestselling author of Global Mom

Oslo, 1944. Soli Hansen’s passion for art history is and always has been a way of life for her. While she spends her days working in an art shop, WWII is taking its toll on everyone. Apprehensive of the consequences, Soli avoids becoming entangled in the war resistance efforts. She closes her eyes in hopes the enemy will retreat and leave her beautiful country for good.

But when a woman is found dead in the alley alongside the art shop and a painting from the last auction goes missing, Soli is thrown into the thickest of the fray involving both Nazi art theft and the Norwegian resistance.

Once Soli finds her courage, there’s no turning back. Her personal life is turned upside-down with danger, lies, spying, and an incredible discovery.

In this dual timeline novel, Heidi Eljarbo paints a vivid picture of what people are willing to do in desperate times. With unforgettable characters and rich historical details, Of Darkness and Light will keep the reader mesmerized until the last satisfying page.

Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, Katherine Neville, and Kate Mosse.

Available on Amazon

~Praise for Of Darkness and Light~

“Interspersing love, hope, and courage, the participants are drawn together in mysterious paths.”–Pauline Isaksen, bestselling author of Dying for Justice

“Of Darkness and Light will reel you in and keep you hooked until the end.”–Mette Barfelt, bestselling author of The Solvik Series

           ~About the Author~

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of Catching a Witch. She grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren–so far–in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.

Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter. Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

If you would like to know more, please visit Heidi’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

~Blog Tour Schedule~

Tuesday, May 12
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 14
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, May 15
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 18
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, May 19
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Thursday, May 21
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 22
Feature at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Monday, May 25
Review at Foals, Fiction, and Filligree

Tuesday, May 26
Feature at Books and Backroads

Thursday, May 28
Feature at Bookworlder

Monday, June 1
Review at History + Fiction + Adirondack Spirit

Tuesday, June 2
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story

Wednesday, June 3
Review at Jessica Belmont
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away one copy of Of Darkness and Light in paperback! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Of Darkness and Light


Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree by Lillah Lawson (Review with Excerpt + Giveaway)

Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree
by Lillah Lawson

Publication Date: September 20, 2019
Regal House Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 384 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Southern



It’s an unusually warm autumn, 1929, and O.T. Lawrence is about as content as a cotton farmer can be in Five Forks, Georgia. Nothing – not poverty, drought, or even the boll weevil – can spoil the idyllic life he shares with his doting wife and children and his beloved twin brother Walt. Until illness and Black Tuesday take everything O.T. ever held dear in one fell swoop. Grieving, drinking, and careening toward homelessness, O.T. is on the brink of ending it all when he receives an odd letter from a teenage acquaintance, the enigmatic Sivvy Hargrove, who is locked away in Milledgeville’s asylum for the insane. Traveling through desperate antebellum towns, O.T. and his daughter Ginny are determined to find Sivvy and discover her story. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a love story to Georgia and the spirit of its peopleóa story of family, unconditional love, poverty, injustice, and finding the strength inside to keep on going when all is lost.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


“Lillah Lawson spins a yarn that ís wonderful in its knottiness. Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a historical Southern fable about butterflies, biscuits and the healing power of family, both biological and chosen. The images are evocative, the dialogue rough and realistic, the emotions achingly real. A must-read.”  Lauren Emily Whalen, author of Satellite

“A hauntingly beautiful story, full of twists and tragedy, rich in detail and told with gorgeous lyrical flair. A deeply moving, unforgettable read.”  Alice Hayes, author of The Thread that Binds

“An exquisite read, with the tender yet gritty undertones of Steinback, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a solemn walk through the deep south during one of the most difficult eras in American history: the early twentieth century. Lawson captures the southern gothic through the often fragile, yet always hopeful hearts of her characters as they try to cope with the hard knocks of life. This book will touch your heart in the beautifully tragic way that only southern gothic can, slowly at first, and then all at once.”  Melanie Cossey, author of A Peculiar Curiosity

~My Thoughts~

From the first line, Lillah Lawson immerses the reader into the hard scrabble life of cotton farmers in rural Five Forks, Georgia and the life and loves of Owen “O.T.” Lawrence and his twin brother Walt. From the fateful meeting with Sivvy Hargrove as teenagers during a tent revival in 1916, through struggles, hardships, and devastating losses during the Great Depression, this is a wonderfully written portrait of grit and humanity set against ever present hunger, social divides, and the constant, underlying menace of a predatory traveling evangelist.

Sassafras tea and moonshine, side meat, boll weevils, red dirt, and the distinctive colloquial language of early 20th Century small town and Appalachian Georgia all lend themselves to what is ultimately the story of O.T. and Sivvy’s long journey to awakening from the numbness of debilitating grief to finding each other.

Full of all the heartache and resilience that I crave in fiction set in the 1930’s, in the rough and tumble way that so evokes that era, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is a story of healing and redemption.  This is a work of Southern fiction to slowly savor, with characters that will linger.


Mrs. Pittman sat in the driver’s seat, her dainty white gloves gripping the wheel, her mouth pursed grimly. Betty Lou sat in the passenger seat, her own face flushed and distressed. O.T. glanced in the back of the cab and instantly forgot his embarrassment at looking so bedraggled. Walt was sitting in the backseat, leaning on Hosey Brown, his face streaked with tears.

O.T. ran to the car, to his brother, forgetting all about Betty Lou. “What’s happened?” he asked. “What in the hell has happened?”

“Let’s get us inside and we’ll tell you, son,” Mrs. Pittman said, her mouth still pursed. O.T. began to panic—-had he been found out, somehow?  Had Walt had come clean and told everyone that it had been O.T. with Sivvy after all? Had Betty Lou and her mother had driven here to give him the hosing down he deserved? Betty Lou’s face was grim. Even Hosey, usually a blabbermouth, was quiet and gray-faced. O.T. had no choice but to lead them all inside, his insides quivering, as Walt trailed behind him, sniffling.

Inside, Hazel sat out coffee, teacakes, and dried apples. O.T. furiously wiped his dirty hands on his coveralls and threw on his old pair of shoes, inwardly cussing at how filthy he looked. Mrs. Pittman bit daintily into a teacake and accepted a cup of coffee silently.

“Walter, hon, tell us what’s happened,” Hazel said finally,  placing a gentle hand over Walt’s.

“I didn’t do what he said I did,” Walt protested sullenly, through his tears. Dropping his head into his hands, he started to beat at his face. “I. Did. Not. Do. It.”

“He’s doing it again,” Mrs. Pittman said helplessly to Betty Lou, who looked stricken. “He was doing that in the car.”

“He’s awright,” Hosey said, gently guiding Walt’s hands back down to his lap.

“Would somebody tell me what in the sam hell has got my brother so worked up—” O.T. interjected impatiently.

“O.T., calm down. I’ll tell you,” Betty Lou said quickly, touching his hand. “We were leavin’ the diner after lunch, and we happened upon Walt and Billy Rev. Walt was crying and carrying on. Doing like he’s doing now, with his hands. Billy Rev was screamin’ at him.”

“He shore was,” Mrs. Pittman agreed. “Bellowin’ like a bull, right in that poor boy’s face. And to think—a man of the Lord!”

O.T.’s heart begin to sink. “Sivvy warn’t there?”

“No, she wasn’t,” Betty Lou replied, “just Billy Rev. And he was yelling to beat the band. Sayin’ all kinds of things, and Walt just standing there, crying, saying he didn’t do it. We thought we might be of help, so we went up to ’em, asked if everything was awright. Billy Rev took no notice of us. He was plum red in the face. Yellin’ at Walt, accusing him of things.”

“What things?” Hazel’s face had gone a little white.

There was a long silence. “Of…of tarnishing his niece,” Mrs. Pittman said, after a pause. “Accused him of meeting her in secret last night. Said he’d taken her girlhood from right under his nose. Accused him of being a—” She blushed, her cheeks turning a pretty pink. “Of…meddling with her.” She looked down at her lap, her lips pressed together so tight they all but disappeared.

“But Walt wasn’t even out last night!” Hazel exclaimed. “O.T. was out with Hosey, but Walt was here!”Hosey looked at O.T. sharply, and O.T. thanked the good Lord that Hosey was the best friend he had in the world, knowing that Hosey would die before exposing O.T.’s lie.

“That’s just what we told him,” Mrs. Pittman said firmly. “We told the reverend that hemust be mistaken. That Walt’s the sweetest, most God-fearing boy in town and that he’d never, ever—”

“I told him,” Walt interjected, his face ashen. “I told him I never.”

“We all told him,” Betty Lou said angrily. “But he was raving like the dickens and wouldn’t listen. That skinny, chicken-necked old codger.”

“Betty Lou!” Mrs. Pittman exclaimed, feigning shock.

“The reverend talked like he was going to get the sheriff have Walt locked up,” Betty Lou went on. “We told him no he wasn’t.And we wanted to know where he’d even got such an idea that Walt had taken advantage of his niece.”

“What did he say?” O.T. asked, straining to keep his face calm.

“Said he just knew. Said a little bird told him. I like to spit in his face.”

Betty Lou,” Mrs. Pittman warned again, but with a smile.

“That’s when Hosey come up, and by then there was a crowd of folks watchin’ us. A couple spoke up for Walt. And then Miss Sivvy come out herself. She’d been cryin’, too, poor thing. You could tell. She told the Rev that Walt had never laid a finger on her, had never even clapped eyes on her more’n twice. I felt right bad for her.”

“So what happened?”

“Oh, he puffed and ranted a little bit more, and then put his big ol’ fat finger in Walt’s face and told him to stay the devil away from his niece. Said he’d lock him up if he so much as looked in her direction. A bunch of dumb threats,” Hosey said with a grin. “Said he’d never come back to this one-horse town to spread the word of the Lord again. He was gon’ leave us to our sin. Then he stomped his ass back down to the motel, ’’bout wrenchin’ that poor girl’s arm out of the socket the whole way. Her just a cryin’. That sumbitch.”

“Language,” Hazel warned, before Walt had a chance, and Hosey winked at her. She pretended not to notice.

“He hurt Miss Sivvy,” Walt moaned, dropping his head into his hands again. “She was crying so hard!”

“It’s okay,” O.T. said softly, placing a protective arm around his brother’s shoulders.

“No, it ain’t,” Walt cried, his voice muffled. “I never did give her my address. How we gon’ write to each other now?”

O.T couldn’t answer, the shame bubbling up deep in his belly. Somehow the reverend had found out what had happened. He thought Walt had ruined his niece, but it had been O.T. all along.


The road was in ill repair. Every time the wagon hit a bump or a pothole, Sivvy was thrown into Harvey’s shoulder, rigid and tense beside her. She could feel the fear and anger coming off him in waves, but his face, when she caught a glimpse of it, was blank.

Billy Rev drove erratically down Highway 29, out of Five Forks, and towards Athens. The moon was visible from Sivvy’s window, high in the sky and round and as white as a breast. Sivvy thought of her mother, whom she missed but would never admit it. She and her mother had never really found each other’s threads. Sivvy’s six brothers and sister, who came before her, had sapped up the best parts of Mama before Sivvy had had a chance. Even after all this time, she could not bring herself to forgive her parents; the door to her heart was shut to them, even though she knew it wasn’t fair.

But there was no use dwelling on that now.

Her face felt crusty and tight with her tears dried on her cheeks, tears she hadn’t bothered to wipe away.  She had wanted Billy Rev to see those tears and feel bad, unaware, then, that it would only spur him on, that any evidence of her pain was a thrill to him.

Hours before, Sivvy had been giddy with excitement at the thought of meeting the boy. She’d wanted only to feel young, free—just for a minute. How could she have ever thought she could get away with it? And she’d gone and gotten that sweet boy in a heap of trouble.

For a brief moment, as she gazed at the moon, Sivvy wished she were lying with her head on her mama’s chest, a child again, warm and safe in the grove of crooked trees back on the ridge.She dropped her eyes to her lap, to her hands, which were streaked with grime, the skin around her fingernails ragged, ugly, and torn. They trembled a little as she brought them up to her face and wiped off the old salt of her tears.

Harvey’s shoulder twitched beside her, then was still. The wagon rumbled on.

~About the Author~

Lillah Lawson has been writing since she was 8 years old, when she won a short story contest at her elementary school. The story was about a Princess who gets tired of waiting for the Prince to show up and saves herself. Once she saw her words printed in the local newspaper, she knew she wanted to be a writer.

Having written professionally as well as dabbling in poetry, children’s books and blogging, Lillah finally completed her first novel, Aroha, as part of a NaNoWriMo challenge in 2012.

She lives in Georgia, in the United States, with her partner and son and three rambunctious animals. She is currently working on another novel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

~Blog Tour Schedule~

Monday, May 18
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 19
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story
Feature at Books in their Natural Habitat

Wednesday, May 20
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, May 21
Review & Excerpt at Bookworlder

Friday, May 22
Review at Nursebookie
Feature at View from the Birdhouse


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Sassafras Tree

The review above refers to a digital copy I voluntarily received through #HFVBTBlogTours. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree is Historical Fiction written for the general market and contains adult language and content.