THE DRIVER’S WIFE AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

My new historical novel, The Driver’s Wife, is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com. Just click on this link. The pre-order is currently for e-books only. The paperback version will be available in May. The official release date for the novel is May 22. Just in time for your summer reading!

Driver's Wife eBook Cover Large

 

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A STORY OF REDEMPTION AND UNCONVENTIONAL LOVE

Here’s the cover to my upcoming historical novel, The Driver’s Wife, a story that spins off from the Jack Mallory Chronicles. If you’ve read any of my trilogy, you’ll be familiar with my character Ketch. He is the protagonist in The Driver’s Wife. Other characters from the trilogy are a part of this new story, too, including Jack Mallory and his wife, Maria.

I thought I’d also share the book jacket blurb so you know what the storyline is. Read that below the cover photo.

The book will be available early this summer, just in time for reading on the beach!

Driver's Wife eBook Cover Large

Leighlin Plantation offers Edward Ketch a new life, an opportunity to forsake his violent, troubled past and become a man worthy of respect and trust. But when a slave named Isabelle arrives, Ketch is drawn into a turbulent relationship that threatens the very peace he has struggled to attain.

Isabelle has her own desires for a fresh start, but scurrilous gossip about her past undermines those hopes. She struggles to be accepted by Leighlin’s other slaves and hopes marriage to a popular man will aid her cause. But her situation worsens when her husband becomes abusive. She discovers, however, one unlikely ally—Ketch, who is as much an outcast among Leighlin’s white population as she is among her people.

A stranger to love, Ketch cannot recognize the true feelings that draw him to Isabelle. To rescue her from the dangers of her marriage, he risks losing not only his position at Leighlin but the affections of the woman he strives to save.

Set against the backdrop of 17th century Carolina, The Driver’s Wife explores the lives and relationships, from Big House to slave settlement, of those who labored upon the wilderness plantations near Charles Town. Rice cultivation and the task system of slavery provide a much different landscape from the aristocratic Old South of cotton plantations and gang labor familiar to most modern-day readers. The Driver’s Wife is a tale of the transcendent power of love.

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COMING IN 2018

I’ll soon be unveiling the cover art for my next novel, The Driver’s Wife, to be released this year. The Driver’s Wife is a spin-off from my Jack Mallory trilogy. It’s a story that picks up shortly after the end of The Fortune. Some of the characters you enjoyed from the trilogy will be back, along with some new ones.

Stay tuned!!

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ALEXANDER HAMILTON’S HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

“Who needs surnames? They’re never our own anyway.”  — Patricia MacPherson, Barbados Bound, by Linda Collison.

Collison

Today I’m hosting a guest blog, written by author Linda Collison. Linda’s most recent historical novel, Rhode Island Rendezvous (the fourth in her Patricia MacPherson adventure series), includes an intriguing true-life character–the mother of Alexander Hamilton, Rachel. Read on to find out how Linda discovered Rachel, a woman who faced great social adversity, raising America’s famous Alexander virtually alone.

 

RiR cover

Fifteen years ago my husband Bob and I made landfall on Nevis, via ferry from Basseterre, St. Kitts.  At the time, I was writing what would soon be published as Star-Crossed (more recently republished as Barbados Boundfirst of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.) In exploring Nevis and the surrounding island of St. Christopher (St. Kitts), we experienced the somewhat sleepy, colorful atmosphere of the Present and uncovered traces of the island’s rich, tragic Past.  I was seeing firsthand places I had researched, deeply imagined; places that served as the setting to my historical novel-in-progress.  I walked along the very beach where my protagonist, Patricia, washed up, clinging to a wine cask, her ship having caught fire after hitting the reef.

Nevis

Island of Nevis – (Wikimedia)

It was along Charlestown’s picturesque waterfront where Bob and I discovered the Museum of Nevis History, the stone house where Alexander Hamilton was born in 1757 (or possibly 1755).

Nevis Museum

Museum of Nevis History

The museum is actually a replica of the house Alexander Hamilton’s mother inherited, the original building having been long ago destroyed by an earthquake.  The two-story Georgian-style house and the simple exhibits within stirred my imagination. Realizing the dates coincided with my novel-in-progress, I knew the boy Alexander would make an appearance in Patricia’s developing storyline.

The name Hamilton is familiar to Americans – if many have forgotten why.  This “founding father” was never President of the United States. He served as an aide-de-camp to General Washington, then commanded an infantry battalion at Yorktown. He was the primary author of the Federalist Papers, a collection of articles, essays and letters that helped ensure the ratification of the United States Constitution. Hamilton was the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, helping to secure the new nation’s economy. He championed the first national bank, founded the U.S. Coast Guard, and introduced a bill to establish West Point Military Academy.  Hamilton was also an early member of the New York Manumission Society which founded the African Free School and lobbied for a state law to abolish slavery in New York. If students of American history remember little else about Hamilton, they mostly remember he was killed by Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel (Weehawken, New Jersey; July 11, 1804).

10 dollars

What serendipity, I thought: finding Hamilton, ready to play a small part in my historical fiction adventure.  But the more I learned about him, the more curious I became about Rachel, his mother.  The old (sexist) saying, “Behind every successful man is a woman,” came to mind more than once.  As I went through the museum, smelling the sea air and the damp volcanic rock that permeated the floors, the walls, every artifact, I wanted to know more about her forgotten life. I wanted to hear Rachel’s story.

Hamilton bill

Flash forward fifteen years to 2018. Hamilton – the acclaimed musical – is stirring up a fresh appreciation for America’s revolutionary history. This year Lin-Manuel Miranda’s re-imagined hip-hop musical will be performed in cities all across America.  The name Hamilton is trending on social media – and who hasn’t heard of Miranda, the New York-born playwright? Miranda credits Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, as his inspiration, and I too, found the book extremely valuable in my research of Rachel and the young Alexander. (Chernow, Alexander Hamilton. Penguin Books; 2004)

Without a doubt, Alexander Hamilton is a notable American; nearly every adult American knows his name and recognizes his face, even if they’re a little sketchy on the details of his life. Yet few have heard of Rachel, the woman who gave birth to and raised him. And like many women today, she assumed more than one last name during the course of her life.  Born Faucette, married Lavien, lived with and assumed the name Hamilton. Only the name Rachel remained unchanged.

I am continually struck by the power of a surname — and by our patrimonial custom of giving children their father’s surname. James Hamilton was absent for much of Alexander’s life, did very little to provide for his family and may not have even been Alexander’s biological father. Yet his family name – Hamilton – that’s the name that’s remembered.  The name of the woman who raised him has been largely forgotten.

Rachel was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis to an Englishwoman, Mary Uppington, and her French Huguenot husband, John Faucette. The Faucettes owned a small sugar plantation and at least seven slaves. They had seven children but only two – Anne and Rachel — survived.  Her parents separated at some point.  Anne married and when John Faucette died, the teenaged Rachel inherited all his property (Chernow; Alexander Hamilton).

Once Rachel had secured an inheritance, her mother wanted to find her a suitable match.  On St. Croix, they were introduced to Johann Michael Lavien, the lucky man who eventually won her hand. Lavien was a small-time planter with pretensions, no doubt glad for the modest inheritance Rachel brought to the marriage. One child, Peter, was born of the union, which was otherwise a disaster.

Lavien denounced his wife as a “whore” and had her thrown in the Christiansted jail for the crime of adultery.  Upon her release several months later, Rachel fled – first to St. Kitts, later to Nevis – leaving her first-born son Peter with his father. There she met James Hamilton, fourth son of a Scottish laird, who had connections but no money, no means, and no luck. He was a decent sort, serving as Rachel’s protector and common law husband, and giving Rachel’s out-of-wedlock sons his surname.

Fort

Christiansvaern, the Danish fort on St. Croix where Rachel was imprisoned for adultery. Courtesy of Wikicommons.

“James Hamilton had the manners of a gentleman but was a failed adventurer who had to continually be bailed out of bad business deals by his relatives,” Alexander Hamilton wrote.

After divorcing Rachel, Lavien remarried. Rachel returned to St. Croix with James, who had a business assignment in Christiansted. The couple planned to be legally married, having lived for many years on Nevis as man and wife by common law. But James and Rachel were denied a legal marriage; by Danish law Rachel could never marry again. After completing his business assignment, James Hamilton left St. Croix, never to return, leaving Rachel to raise James and Alexander the best she could.

Alexander had this to say in a letter he wrote to a relative, decades later: “You no doubt have understood that my father’s affairs at a very early day went to wreck, so as to have rendered his situation during the greatest part of his life far from eligible. This state of things occasioned a separation between him and me, when I was very young.”  (The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. Ed. Harold C. Syrett et al. 27 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-1987)

Rachel went into business on her own, running a store to provide for her sons James and Alexander. Among other qualities she instilled in Alexander were a love of books and a desire to learn.

Alexander ’s grandson, in his biography of Hamilton, described Rachel (whom he never knew personally),  as “a woman of superior intellect, elevated sentiment, and unusual grace of person and manner. To her he was indebted for his genius.” (Hamilton, Life of Alexander Hamilton. Vol 1, p. 42).


Watch for more about Rachel and her son Alexander in book 4 of Linda Collison’s series.

For information about Linda Collison and her writing, including her excellent Young Adult books, visit her website: www.lindacollison.com

 

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THE INCOMPARABLE LIEUTENANT HICKS – Part 7

This is Part 7 of my ongoing series of excerpts from Borden Hicks’ personal account in Glimpses of the Nation’s Struggle. Borden Hicks was a humorous young officer in the 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. The 11th Michigan is the regiment chronicled in my upcoming novel, The Edge of Hell. The photos included in this article are my property, taken during my research trip.

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Just when I was wondering if I was following the correct route taken by the 11th Michigan, I came across this marker to confirm I was on the right path. The regiment was in Johnson’s Division of Palmer’s XIV Corps.

RESACA

Our next engagement was at Resaca, although we were under fire every day from the beginning of the campaign till the fall of Atlanta, some 120 days. It was our good fortune not to be actively engaged in this battle. Our position in line was such that we could see the fighting on our left as well as in our front.

It is related of the battle of Resaca that some time after the war two men were traveling on the cars, and occupied the same seat. These men had both been in the army, one a Confederate and the other a Union soldier. The conversation naturally drifted on their wonderful experiences while in the army, the Johnnie telling of being on the skirmish line at the battle of Resaca. He had finally got a dead bead on the Union soldier in the pit in his front, and was just ready to pull the trigger, when he heard a sweet plaintive voice coming from the Union pit, at first very soft and low, and gradually gaining strength and volume, until it came in triumphant tunes:

Jesus lover of my soul
Let me to Thy bosum fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high;
Hide me, oh my Savior hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Cover my defenceless head,
With the shadows of Thy Wings.

(Learn more about this famous hymn here.)

The Johnnie said that he lowered his gun, for he could not shoot a man who put his trust in a protecting Savior. As he finished his recital, the Union soldier grasped him by the hand and said that he was the Union soldier, and then related his experience, saying that he had been in the service over two years, and in a number of hotly contested battles, that when he was detailed for the skirmish line that morning, he was very weak and depressed, and could hardly support his body till he arrived in the skirmish pit, then his thoughts turned to his beloved Savior, and commenced to sing that comforting hymn, and as he finished the verse, his courage and strength came back to him, and he was again a veteran soldier.

Somewhere on this campaign, we took up a position in the woods, and built strong works. We were so close to the Confederates that we had to lay low during the days.

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Creek at Pickett’s Mill battlefield

This place went into history with us as the one position where more of the enemy were slaughtered than we could get any record of, for we spent our days in slaying every able-bodied Gray Back that showed his head, but alas the next morning when we opened our eyes, their place was filled by an army of nits, so we gave this place the uphoneous [sic] name of “Lousy Ditch,” and ever after if anyone said to us Lousy Ditch, we replied, “Nit.”

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Looking down the length of an old trench, located in the vicinity of the 11th Michigan’s position at Pickett’s Mill, possibly the Lousy Ditch itself,

One night while occupying this position with this suggestive name, I was placed in charge of the skirmish line. It was in heavy timber and of course very dark. In going from one post to another, I got outside of our line, and when I realized the fact, I was so badly frightened that my hair stood on end and has stood that way ever since, compelling me to have it cut pompadour.

KENNESAW MOUNTAIN

Near Kennesaw Mountain, where the Rebel General Pope was killed by a cannon shot aimed at his group of officers as he stood out on the mountain side, word came to us one morning that one division of the Fourteenth Army Corps would make a charge on the works of the enemy and try and break through their line of works. Our skirmishers were detailed and reported to Brigade Headquarters, and assigned their place in front, and then we stood and waited nearly all day long for the command to charge. The works in our front were not over four rods apart, and we knew that it meant death to the charging column. It was the most trying day that we experienced in our whole term of service. It is a well-known fact that when men are under intense excitement and danger, but from necessity inactive, that nature will assert her claims, so our line was depleted from time to time by men falling out and going to the rear, but always reporting back in a few moments. Fortunately for us, another division made the charge and were badly cut up and defeated, as is most always the case in charging fortified positions.

BATTLE OF PEACH TREE CREEK

General Hood had succeeded General Johnston in command of the Confederate Army and signalized that event by taking the offensive and trying to break through our lines. We were stationed on the right wing of our army, where we had a severe engagement in the morning. We were ordered from the right wing to the left to fill a gap that had been overlooked in the alignment of our army. The importance of this position was such that we were moved by the shortest line, which led us just in rear of our men of the Twenty-third Army Corps, who were resisting the massed columns of General Hood, who were trying to break our line. This gap in our line proved to be in a blackberry patch or field. It was doubly welcome to us, not only as food, but on account of their well-known medicinal qualities as an astringent.

Next time: the Battle of Atlanta.


For more reading about the battle of Resaca: The Civil War Trust

For more reading about the battle of Pickett’s Mill: Pickett’s Mill Battlefield . This battlefield is one of my all-time favorites. The park service has tried to keep it as pristine as possible, not even allowing monuments.

For more reading about the battle of Kennesaw Mountain: National Park Service

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COMING IN 2018!

Just a quick teaser to let you know my fourth novel will be released in 2018. It will be entitled The Driver’s Wife.

The story is a spin-off from my Jack Mallory trilogy. Readers will revisit Leighlin Plantation and many of the characters introduced in my previous novels, along with some new ones.

Stay tuned for more details!

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THE INCOMPARABLE LIEUTENANT HICKS – Part 6

This is Part 6 of my ongoing series of excerpts from Borden Hicks’ personal account in Glimpses of the Nation’s Struggle. Borden Hicks was a humorous young officer in the 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. The 11th Michigan is the regiment chronicled in my upcoming novel, The Edge of Hell.

WINTER AT ROSSVILLE

The next move was to reorganize the army, for the spring campaign, provide the men with much needed clothing, and completely renew the motive power of the Army of the Cumberland, consisting of horses for the batteries, and mules for the transportation.

Our brigade was now made up of the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th Regulars and our lone Volunteers, the 11th Michigan. The brigade was made an outpost at Rossville, at Rossville Gap that played such an important part in the Battle of Chickamauga.

Rossville existed in location and name only, it being the home of a Mr. Ross, who had quite a palatial house, which was made use of for a hospital. Rossville lays to the south of Chattanooga about five or six miles.

Here we went into winter quarters and made ourselves as comfortable as possible. Our duty was outpost picketing, with a little drilling.

New Year’s day 1864 was one of the coldest days we experienced in the Southland. In February, I with four or five other line officers who had been promoted to captaincies went down to Chattanooga and were mustered in on our commissions as captains, I having been in command of my company since the Battle of Chickamauga.

RECRUITS FROM THE NORTH

Here we received a detachment of recruits, 150 to 175 in number, some twenty-five of these were assigned to my company, by their choice, one of that number being Dean John F. Downey of our State University. As they marched into camp and were drawn up in line, we gathered around to see what kind of soldiers they would make.

John, seeing one of Company E that he knew, called to him and asked which one of the officers was Captain Hicks? The man pointed me out to him. When John had sized me up, his face took on a disappointed look, for he had pictured to himself a good looking, tall, robust, fully developed man, one with the stern commanding look of a war god, whose every motion and aspect was of one dying for a fight, one who at least ought to be able to support a mustache. The contrast was too much for John, and he says what? that young, smooth-faced, green-looking boy Captain Hicks! Yes, the man says, and if you follow where Captain Hicks leads, you won’t be far from the front when there is a chance for a good fight.

I got even with John for his poor opinion of my military appearance by detailing him into the Regimental Pioneer Corps and arming him with an ax and spade. John made a good soldier, one who was always ready for duty and never dodged danger. He could cut more logs and make the dirt fly faster than any other man in the corps. He was discharged at the end of the war with the rank of high private in the rear rank.

I have always patted myself on the back for the brilliant success that John has made in mathematical lines, for I took great pains in coaching him on applied mathematics, explaining solid shot, the horsepower with which he would have to wield the ax when cutting logs for a breastwork to defend his captain, and the number of pound pressure that would be required to insert the spade in the dirt, and the force measured in horsepower that would be required to lift it to the breastworks, in order that it might be absolutely safe. This coaching in mathematical lines gave John an insight into and a desire to further pursue the study of mathematics, so that when he was discharged, he at once took up the study of that line and became Professor of Mathematics, and is now Dean of the Academic Department of our State University.

ATLANTA CAMPAIGN

On the 15th of March, 1864, we broke camp to join the army under the command of General Sherman on the Atlanta Campaign. Our first bivouac was at Graysville, Georgia, and in the morning when I was detailed in charge of the picket line, there was a foot of snow on the ground. Of course it was all gone before night.

BUZZARDS ROOST

Our first battle on this campaign was at Rocky Face or Buzzards Roost. When the attack was made on the Rocky Face, our position in line was such that it brought us in the gap where the railway and highway roads run. This proved to be a veritable hornets nest, and we were very glad that we were not required to knock the nest down. We held the attention of the enemy for two or three days till General Sherman, that prince of flankers, made a flank movement to our right, and getting possession of Snake Creek Gap, threatened the rear of General Johnston’s army, by cutting off his supplies, so they pulled out, leaving our way through Buzzard Roost unmolested, even by hornets.

Next time: the battles for Atlanta.

For additional reading about the Atlanta Campaign, I highly recommend Albert E. Castel’s Decision in the West: the Atlanta Campaign in 1864.

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