It has been quite some time since I’ve read a good, and I mean good historical romance. There was a time I read them all day. Thanks to Beverly Jenkins, my love for historical has been rekindled by reading Wild Sweet Love(2007). I seriously did not want to leave the story behind. It has roped my heart in.
Teresa July is a known outlaw. When she is finally captured, she is sent to a corrections house but released early for good behavior. One catch: She cannot go back out West but to Philadelphia to live in the city and learn to be a lady. For one year she can no longer drink, shoot a gun, or get caught doing anything wrong.
“You’re pretty combative aren’t you?”
“And you probably prefer your women a lot more docile. Docile women don’t make the newspapers.” (Wild Sweet Love, pg. 28, 2007.)
Madison Nance does not know what to think when his mom brings in a short haired, ashen, petite woman into his home. When he learns it is the infamous train robbing Teresa July he is astounded, but as the weeks go by and Teresa blossoms before his eyes, he can not help to think that maybe he is not destined for a princess but someone who is wild yet sweet.
The book has so many strengths: historical accuracy, fully developed characters and settings that place you square in the moment.
What really held my attention to this book of course was Madison and Teresa. Teresa is very strong willed and I enjoyed the progression of her going from appearing unattractive to Madison, to her “enthralling him” with her black Seminole eyes and skin. Their banter had me laughing out loud and cheering on the love I knew would sprout between them.
The juxtaposition of the two lovers was also important. Madison, a banker, used to be a gambler too. A wily one at that. Teresa is the gun slinging, fast talking rebel and little did she know, Madison is not all prim and proper as she once thought. The passion shared between them two was so darn hot and sweet; seemingly a perfect blend of tangy and spicy.
It was also interesting to read about a fascinating, hot headed woman of color. The characters were diverse of course and even though at some points I felt as if I were given a history lesson(complete with dates) instead of seeing it play out, the book was incredibly good.
Teresa July’s transformation was not forced either. I loved how the author allow us to see Teresa grow while still allowing her to remain who she was. Madison was by no means a weak male. He was an alpha male who respected and desired his alpha woman.
Definitely a five star book. Highly recommended if you enjoy historicals filled with romance and outlaws.
Sunday school teachers and preachers told Samson’s and Delilah’s story like this:
“She was a vixen that tricked Samson. The end.”
But if we are talking about true accounts of the bible, it may have been more complex than that right?
These were real people, right? Is that what we’re assuming…?
Well, thank goodness for writers like Angela Hunt of the Beauty series. Her story about Samson and Delilah painted them in such a human light, that I can believe that version rather than the one I heard about.
When I compared Angela Hunt’s version to Scripture, I find that Samson was kind of a “ladies man” and the bible say he fell in love with Delilah. This was not some woman he met in two seconds and then she betrayed him…
Then again, I was not there.
Here is a snippet of my review from Goodreads,
Delilah is harmed by her own stepbrother, abused in every way and on top of that her mom has been sold into slavery. Surviving only off her wit and the help of a friendly few, Delilah finally settles down in Gaza but now she wants revenge. Enter Samson. The strongman. Everyone has heard about his mighty strength, even though he doesn’t look so strong. He meets Delilah one day and falls in love with her, but what happens when the taste of revenge is stronger than the taste of true love?
My Reaction: From the very first page of this book I was enthralled. The author captured the atmosphere of ancient Philistia very well(read more of my Delilah Review)
Here is my question to bookworms and Christians.
Has there ever been a time when a author captured the essence of the past so well, their version was more believable? Is it wrong to do this? Does it encourage you to do your own research or did you view it as healthy entertainment?
*Interview can also be seen on my former publishing hub Examiner.com*
Julie Lessman has thankfully agreed to an email interview where she was very candid about her passion for writing sizzling but sweet books for the wide Christian audience. You will find that next to her love of words and books, she has a sense of humor and a sense of duty to write about love.
The Write Web: Okay. A Passion Most Pure had me turning the pages quickly. Which is odd for a book about 300+ pages taking place during WWI. But I think it was the love triangle and passionate scenes. How much research went into writing this book and how long did it take to complete the manuscript itself?
Julie Lessman: How long did it take me to complete the manuscript?? Ha! Would you believe almost 40 years? You see, I actually started APMP at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind. From the moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was a goner, and my “romance-writing career” began with a 150 single-spaced manuscript that became the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Hard to believe that almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him!
As far as research, I had to learn the language, dress, mores, etc. of a whole new world, so quite a bit of research was necessary … and quite a bit of juggling dates and plot points, too, in order to stay true to the WWI time period.
TWW: My favorite character, unbelievably so, was Collin. Faith was a close second. Which character was your favorite and which was hardest to write?
JL: Since there are seven books in the O’Connor family saga (including a prequel entitled A Light in the Window for the parents, Marcy and Patrick), I’d like to apply that question to the entire saga rather than just A Passion Most Pure if I may.
I do love ALL of my characters, but there are ones that are easier to write because I connect with them more. For instance, Faith is my spiritual self, so every single spiritual conversation or habit you see her do in the books are taken straight from how I live my life, right down to the anger at God on the ship in A Passion Most Pure. Faith felt like He had boxed her in and ruined her for the world because she had tasted His love and could never go back to living without Him. That’s exactly how I felt at times when I was a new Christian, so Faith comes by it honestly!
But as far as favorites, this is going to shock some people, I know, but Charity O’Connor is right up there. Charity—goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be—selfish, manipulative, lost… I suspect God looked at me back then—with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
The hardest character to write? Oh, goodness, that would have to be the hero of book 3, John Brady of A Passion Denied, Collin’s Godly buddy from the war. In book 3, Brady is a Billy Graham-type character, full of fire and faith for God, a spiritual rock and anchor for everyone he meets, so I had trouble relating to him because of my own checkered past as an agnostic wild child of the 70s.
TWW: The story would not be as juicy without Charity. The charming, extremely beautiful blond sister. This is the one Collin is courting, but Faith is in love with him and he finds Faith amazing and does not know why. I have not read Charity’s story, A Passion Redeemed, but what inspired you to write her story- or was the series planned in that way?
JL:When I wrote A Passion Most Pure, I never intended to continue on with a series, but by the end of the book, it just seemed a natural progression to continue on with Charity’s story. I’ll be honest, however, both my editor and agent were concerned about Charity’s like-ability as a heroine since she was the “vixen” in book 1. So much a vixen, in fact, that I actually had some readers write and ask me to “slap Charity for them” or wanted to see her “killed or maimed.” Frankly, I was fascinated by the challenge of redeeming her, which was a slow and painful process that begins in book 2, A Passion Redeemed, and continues on throughout the six-book family saga.
TWW: Out of all the books in the Daughters of Boston Series, which was fun to write? More difficult to write?
JL: The most fun book to write? Oh, without question that would be book 2 in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Redeemed, which is my VERY favorite of all three books of that series. In fact, I SO loved delving into Mitch and Charity’s story that I actually wrote this nearly 500-page doorstop in two months while working a part-time job.
The hardest book to write? Professionally, that would be the third book in the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied. It was difficult to write for a number of reasons. First of all, I hit the wall on that book because I was reading another author whose incredible talent made me feel like I wanted to puke on my keyboard whenever I read my own writing. And secondly, it was difficult because I was attempting not only to tell a very complicated and dark love story about the third daughter, but also weaving in second-tier stories about the parents and each of the other daughters.
TWW: Any new projects?
JL: Well, I’m very excited about a contemporary I just finished called Isle of Hope. I knew I wanted a locale on the Eastern Seaboard, and I’ve always loved Hilton Head and Savannah, so I prayed about it. Imagine my surprise when I checked a map and found a lovely place called Isle of Hope, Georgia, which is just 15 minutes away from Savannah and is actually a peninsula that becomes an island when the tide comes in. It’s perfect for my story because it’s a charming little community with a rich history. They filmed part of Forrest Gump there and other movies because it’s so pretty. And my story is all about the restoration of hope and relationships, so the title is—at least for me—truly inspired.
TWW: How much creative input do you have over book design?
JL: With my traditionally published books, my publisher does ask for both my input and my feedback, but ultimately the final say goes to them. For my award-winning indie-published book, A Light in the Window, however, I had total control since my artist hubby created both the cover and the video utilizing my daughter as the model. So you might say it was a family affair, and trust me, we had a blast!
TWW: Some authors say early morning is the best time of the day to write. Is this the same for you? Why?
JL: Yes, I’ve discovered that first thing in the morning is the most creative, fluid time for me to write, I guess because my brain is fresh. Also, I’ve discovered that I can spike my creativity by hopping on the treadmill for 30 minutes or so, which really starts the ideas/dialogue percolating in this old brain.
TWW: Any advice for Christians interested in writing romance?
1.) Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers, FHL (Faith, Hope & Love and RWA (Romance Writers of America), both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about your craft.
2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.
3.) Join a critique group (you can do that through ACFW).
4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press.
5.) Enter contests for invaluable feedback, growth, confidence, networking opportunities and to get your name out there.
6.) Frequent websites/blogs that deal with writing, such as The Seekers , a group blog that I belong to whose theme is “On the road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.”
7.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.
8.) Pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.
TWW: After reading A Passion Most Pure, I browsed around on your site and found you’ve written a guide Romance-ology 101. What can aspiring writers expect from such a book?
JL: Hey, Erica, thanks for checking out my website! Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets is a short and “sweet” romance-writer’s workbook that offers tips for ramping up the WOW factor with romance that is both sweet and swoon-worthy.
In a world all-too-often dominated by the likes of Fifty Shades of Gray, sweet and inspirational authors have to work a little harder to create that wonderful wholesome sizzle with merely the touch of a hand, a look, or a simple kiss. Romance-ology 101 is simply another tool to help do that, offering insight with such subjects as Getting inside the Hero’s Head with Internal Monologue, Maximizing Use of Beats in Dialogue, Utilizing Dual Point of View, Using All Five Senses for Heightened Effect, Cashing In on the Kid and Pet Factor, and much, much more.
TWW: Fun: First thing that pops into your mind when I say the word: GLOW
JL: HA! My Irish love story, A Light in the Window, because both my daughter and a candle are aglow on the cover!
Thank you Julie again for sharing your wonderful, enlightening and informational story with the world.
If you want to learn more about what happens in the Daughters of Boston series and Julie’s other books, check them out on Julie Lessman’s website.
Nancy Herriman’s writing can be described as lovely, on time, and true. Her characters’ personalities and their flaws is what makes “The Irish Healer” such a wonderful read.
It is the 1830s and Rachel Dunne is leaving her home in Ireland to be an assistant to a physician in London. Back at home though, she was accused of murder and the town was set to gossip. At least in London working for the elusive, handsome Physician James Edmunds, Rachel may have a chance to start afresh and perhaps leave healing alone all together.
James Edmunds no longer trusts God with his medical practice or his family anymore. After his wife passed away, he had his sister in law take care of his daughter Amelia- to keep at bay his own mistakes from the past, yet when he meets Rachel Dunne, his new assistant, he wants her around more and more and he wonders if God may be giving him another chance.
What makes this story grand and pleasing, is that both characters are at odds with God. They have both placed their trust in Him at some point before but when things went sour, they lost their faith. So not only does Mr. Edmunds push against the grain of God’s will, Rachel does too as she refuses to help anyone sick for fear she may kill them, yet God keep placing her where she needs to be-
Especially when James Edmunds own daughter falls ill and it may be up to Rachel to push past her hurt pride to help. She endures the stereotypes and dreadful words from those who hate her simply because she is Irish but she does meet a few nice folk along the way who help put her faith back in place.
*Book was received from Worthy Publishing for my unbiased review.
With so many good things going for this book it is hard to pinpint what exactly made “Antebellum” so good: The writing? The superb storytelling? The overiding theme? Or is it the uniqueness?
Whatever you decide after reading the book and/or review, just know that R. Kayeen Thomas is an author to look out for. And with that being said, let’s explore the story and the many symbols tied into the message of what happens when we forget the stock from which we came from.
SPOLIER ALERT….THE STORY
Moses Jenkins. A.K.A. Da N****(“N” word) has the goal of becoming the most famous, richest rapper out there. He has the life any man would want: The glam, the money and the many, many chics who throw themselves at him and he gives each and every one of them the time they want. Meanwhile, Moses finds himself caught between two decisions: Be what the world wants him to be, or who he is called to be. One choice will lead him down a road of fame and possible brutal death while the other will reform and mold him into the man he was meant to be.
Mr. Rose, a white man and CEO of Cosmo Records brings to Moses’ attention a rival group who put out a dis record about Da N**** and he wants him to make a record to come out just as early dissing the group as well. SaTia, Da N****’s manager and friend since middle school advises that this is ghetto mess and can go bad real fast. Well, long story short Moses lived up to his stage name, put a out a dis record, his best friend got shot and his other best friend got mad that Moses did not want to retaliate and in essence Moses/Da N**** ended up getting shot by his own friend based on betrayal.
Moses finds himself back in slavery in the antebellum south and things get interesting from there, but without giving so much plot instead of commentary, let’s just say Moses went through such a horrific ordeal that I caution readers who easily lose their stomach. At some point he is beaten badly. He is starved then fed the worst slop ever created, and even worse…he is demoted from human to lesser than the family dog in a matter of time. He is now in a place where the “N” word has a very pure meaning and the only people who can help him is a healer named Sarah and Roka.
What happens when a rapper loses his ability to talk? Sarah helps Moses get his health together and spoke some wisdom to him saying: “Kinda world you come from where a man has dat much power in ‘is words, but ‘is spirit ain’t real…”(239). Where is our soul in our music? Are we slaves to what someone wants us to be? Could it be that we think the record won’t sell unless we sell out? Moses figured quickly that the “N” word, whether it ends with “a” or “er” is all wrong.
Moses loses his ability to speak after a while because of the trauma and his vocal chords being very useless, perhaps from the tortuous screams he has made. However, Sarah is determined to shine him up like gold and put his pirpose back in his soul. It ws prophesied he will come and save them and now he can’t speak. Once he find the will, he will speak again and they will be ready…
Fast forwarding again, there is a part in the story where Moses(now living up to his real name), stands up to the slave owner Bradley- who is by far the wickedest man in any story(but c’mon, they were that bad in real life too)- and he recites a rhyme “Ringing dem bells!” The slaves gather behind him, fearless they have “fallen behind my rhyme as if God synchronized us”(285) and the slave owner is so afraid he can’t shoot him. I had goosebumps fill my arms when I read the scene and could see it as if I were watching a HBO special premeiere.
In the end, Moses would not even respond to his nickname, Mo’ or Da Nigga. They both died in the antebellum. You must call him Moses now. He has been broken down, kicked, punched, sliced, and fed slop, worked the fields, and had love taken from him and still he remained standing…
The Symbols, The Allusion in Antebellum
As this is a book presented by Zane for Strebor Books, on first look we think smut fiction and erotica, but you will not find that here. In fact, the sensuality and the nudity and rape scenes in this book push the story where it needs to go and you get the feeling that the idea is about more than fame and sex. In the midst of the people and their actions, I caught several symbols.
For example, Mr. Rose represents modern society. He is white, owns a record company and is comfortable keeping Moses as Da N****. At one point he reminds him that he “owns him and he must do what he says” if people want Da N*****…you give them that.
Bradley and the other slave owner Talbert, represents the Antebellum South. They are no different from Mr. Rose in that they want Moses to remain enslaved.
At one point, Moses had a dream( a wet dream) where three brown skinned girls were nude and wanted to cater to him, but when he saw a white female, he felt she represented innocence. She was simply different. Once she had sex with him, she wanted him to call himself a n*****and to do as she said. Moses had to make a decision…give in to the overwheming passion he felt or stop and regain his own manhood and dignity.
The white girl shouldn’t be viewed as simply a female in this dream. She is a symbol of the illusion that states, “Just do as we say and debase yourself, disrespect yourself and we’ll give you money. She is no different from his ex best friends, Mr. Rose, or Talbert and Bradley. She just looked good.
The story was also an allusion to Moses in the bible. Moses freed the slaves with the power of his words while Moses of the bible freed the slaves in Egypt with the power of God with him.
Moses eventually got so broken down, scared witless and nearly lost his mind that he did lose his mind. His “rabbit mind” as the old folks used to say.
But he got the right one back.
The book ended as if there will be next installment and I am glad to announce that “the Seven Days” will be out in 2013.
There once was a beautiful woman named Yeres, who was comfortable in the confines of her castle. Men came from all over the country, nearly the world to lay with her because the saying went: “She elicited unknown pleasures from men without producing a child thus protecting him from the wrath of his wife and his wallet. Yeres took a fellow to bed each night. Each night a different man whether of the religious cloth, a governor, prince or king, sometimes even paupers.
She began to tire of these fruitless nights.
She wanted a child.
She would think about how her mother prayed to this unseen God and would pray to his faceless face and Yeres would laugh inside. “There is none but us mother,” she’ll say after her mother’s prayers.
But one day, after a gentle prodding from some feeling deep inside, Yeres went into the Night Temple and offered a prayer to the top of the dome. She could not dig to find tears. She was a hard woman.
The next night, Yeres went into the Night Temple and offered a prayer and a few more moments of worship. She did this for three successive nights. Nothing. She did not feel warm inside, instead, she felt even more alone than before.
She went to the witches, the soothsayers, the astrologers to give her some guidance and direction and they all told her the same thing: “Your womb is closed.”
One night, while everyone was asleep in the village, Yeres thought: “I don’t want to pray for a child if my womb is closed. This God has saw fit for me to remain in my boudoir. Pleasing men.”
She instead prayed for her long lost sister, whom she hadn’t seen in years. She prayed for her dying king, and she prayed that the rains would bring forth a good harvest this time.
After a few days, the townspeople noticed a gray storm appearing overhead and a great burst of cool, rain melted upon the earth. It is said that the king’s spirits rose great that day and a stranger- a woman who looked like Yeres came into town, with a small child in her arms.
Yeres met the woman and it was confirmed they were sisters. The child was sweet and warm. A little girl with a smile like sunshine. Yeres sister had not long to live but commissioned Yeres to care for her little girl once she left the Earth.