The Highland Treasures series takes place in the Highlands of Scotland on the ancient lands of Clan Munro during the 16th century. While engaging in genealogical research, I became intrigued by my Scots heritage, so I located the ancestral clan on a map. A few months later found me eagerly planning a trip to Scotland. During that first trip connections were made with members of Clan Munro and I visited Foulis Castle, the ancestral seat of the clan. The seeds of a Scottish historical romance took root in my imagination and a story entitled A Highland Pearl became a publication.

Duncan Munro, my Scots ancestor, left Scotland in the early 1800′s and journeyed to North Carolina. But long before Duncan, another ancestor left his homeland and made the trip across unknown seas to a far and distant land. His name was Donald O’Ceann, and he journeyed from Ireland to Scotland where he became the progenitor of the Highland Clan Munro.

Fearann-Domhnuill Fearann-Domhnuill

Legend says Donald O’Ceann arrived in Scotland as a mercenary soldier during the time of Malcolm II, King of Scots, in the 11th century to help expel the Danes from Scottish shores. He received the lands of East Dingwall in Ross-shire for his services. These lands later became a barony and were named Foulis, from Loch Foyle in Ireland. The chief of the clan was designated of Foulis, with his residence in the parish of Kiltearn near the mountain called, Ben Wyvis. Ferindonald is the anglicized name of the lands of Clan Munro on the north shore of Cromarty Firth in the Scottish Highlands. The Gaelic name is Fearann-Domhnuill and it means, The Land of Donald.

Crofts in Ferindonald Crofts in Ferindonald

The clan name, Munro, which in Gaelic is Rothach, Roich, or Mac an Rothaich, means Ro Man  or Man from Ro, and supports the traditional origin that the clan emigrated from the River Roe area in Ireland.

Hugh Munro, the first of the family authentically designated of Foulis, died in 1126 A.D. He seems to have been the grandson of Donald, the son of O’Ceann, progenitor of the Clan. Robert, reckoned the second baron of Foulis, was actively engaged in the wars of David I and Malcolm IV. Donald, heir to Robert, built the old tower of Foulis.

Entrance to Foulis Castle Entrance to Foulis Castle

A monument to the Battle of Clacknaharry is located on Munro clan land. The battle was fought between Clan MacIntosh and Clan Munro in 1341 A.D. John Munro, the tutor or guardian of Foulis, was treated with indignity as he passed through MacIntosh land with a herd of cattle. The MacIntosh demanded a toll of the plunder. The guardian offered a share, but MacIntosh demanded nothing less than half. Munro would not yield to the demands and went on his journey homeward. MacIntosh convened his forces to follow John Munro. A battle ensued in which John Munro was seriously injured and left for dead. The Lord Lovet of Clan Fraser carried Munro to his house and cured John’s wounds. One of Munro’s hands was permanently mutilated.

Monument to the Battle of Claknaharry

The Eagle Stone, an ancient Pictish stone with the carving of an eagle, is located in Ferindonald. It is said to commemorate a Munro battle.

Ancient Pictish Eagle Stone Ancient Pictish Eagle Stone


Another Pictish stone is located nearby and is thought to be a boundary stone.

Ancient Pictish Boundary Stone Ancient Pictish Boundary Stone

Knock Farrell is a village in Ferindonald where and ancient henge was located. The henge was made of wood and has disintegrated over time, but the remains date to a time before the druids. Remnants of the wooden henge can still be seen.

Site of Ancient Wooden Henge Site of Ancient Wooden Henge


Stone Cottage in Knockfarrell Stone Cottage in Knock Farrell, Scotland



Click to Purchase: A Highland Pearl



Excerpt from A Highland Pearl

Tavish pushed her toward the pallet. “The laird needs your help, Madam.”

She hesitated. “Angus is there with him.”

“His brother asked for you. You must help now.” Tavish grabbed her arm with his free hand and pulled her toward the stricken laird.

She resisted. “So many others need my help.” She counted only three other servants and the laird’s sister, Davina, caring for the wounded.

“Angus can help them.” Tavish tugged on her arm once more. She reluctantly followed. “The tanist said Laird Andrew asked specifically for you to come to his aid.”

“He asked for me?” Maidie pulled against the arm holding her. “He looks unconscious.”

“He’s only resting now. Angus gave him a potion to ease his pain.” Tavish jerked once more.

Maidie reluctantly let him pull her to the pallet that held Andrew Munro. Angus turned to her when they approached, his face covered with a scowl. The castle physician left quickly, making his way to another of the wounded men.

A voice came from the darkness on the far side of the bed. “Thank you for coming Maidie Cameron Munro. As you can see for yourself, my brother needs your attention.”

Maidie’s hand went to the very first thing a Munro noticed— her kertch of Cameron colors. The large form of Gavin, tanist of the clan, rose from the shadows. Filth caked the russet hair tied away from his grimy face with a leather thong. A dirty linen léine hung in shreds from his shoulders and arms. The upper end of his great plaide, now stained with gore, wrapped around broad shoulders with a long dagger sheathed on a wide leather belt at his waist.

“I fought many wearing those same colors this verra day,” he said with heavy brows knit together in a dark, frightening scowl.

Maidie could only shake her head in response. Her stomach churned at the sight and sound of him. Then she looked down at the man lying on the pallet. His face held the green pallor of death she had seen before on the dying. His body, covered with a filthy plaide, trembled. Long black hair, fanned about powerful shoulders. She knelt beside the trembling form, and lifted the plaide. A hand went to her mouth when she uncovered the gaping wound across his abdomen.

A loud gasp escaped between Maidie’s fingers. “Ach! Saints in Heaven! Why didn’t Angus stitch this wound?” She pushed the plaide away from the open wound, leaving it to cover only the lower part of the chief’s torso.

His powerful dark-haired chest lay bare, rising and falling with labored breathing. Maidie noticed the large legs bulging with muscles from the constant training for battle and fighting required for survival. The same dark hair spanning his chest covered his legs and arms. She understood why the local people called this laird, An t-Seabhag Dubh Ferarann Dhòmhnaill, The Black Falcon of Ferindonald.




Posted in A Highland Pearl, Brenda B. Taylor, historical heartbeats, Inspirational Romance, Scottish historical romance | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACFW New Releases ~ January 2019

January 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston — Enjoy a year of beautiful seasons in this new story collection, as young Amish couples manage a community garden and harvest friendships and love along the way. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Courting Her Prodigal Heart by Mary Davis — Pregnant and alone, Dori Bontrager is sure her Amish kin won’t welcome her—or the child she’s carrying—into the community. And she’s determined that her return won’t be permanent. As soon as she finds work, she’ll leave again. But with her childhood friend Eli Hochstetler insisting she and her baby belong here, will Dori’s path lead back to the Englisher world…or into Eli’s arms? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Her Hope Discovered by Cynthia Herron — Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, Missouri, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Cozy Mystery:

Murderous Heart by Lynne Waite Chapman — Freelance writer, Lauren Halloren pens popular magazine articles extoling the comfort and security of small town America. And Evelynton, Indiana treasures its wholesome small town values. Ask anyone. Streets are safe to walk. People look out for one another. Marriage vows are treasured. Murders are solved. In this third volume of the Evelynton Murder series, Lauren, along with friends, Clair and Anita stumble over another body. The partially mummified remains turn out to be an Evelynton resident. But how, in this close knit community, could a woman be deceased for over six months without being missed? (Cozy Mystery from Winged Publications)

Historical Romance:

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham — Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Homeward Journey by Misty M. Beller — Finally free from her dead husband’s addicted lifestyle, Rachel Gray and her young son set out for a new life in the wilderness of the Canadian territories. She is reluctant to accept help from another man, but after a bear threatens her son’s life, she agrees to accompany two God-fearing brothers who are traveling to the same area. Slowly, she begins to trust the one named Seth. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to Seth—until a secret from his past proves he had more in common with her husband than she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Stepping into the Light by Candee Fick — With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in a marriage alliance between a disfigured recluse of the Gunn clan and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse — Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska. The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Devotion by Olivia Rae — Injured and unable to make his living by the sword, Sir Theo de Born needs to secure his keep by becoming an educated man. As he finds himself falling for his reluctant teacher, he learns of her plan to leave England before the winter sets in. How can he convince her to stay and fulfill her promise while protecting his heart? Denied her true love and sent away to a convent, Lady Rose de Payne has no choice but to accept to become Sir Theo’s teacher. However, she has a plan to escape the confines of her new prison and start fresh in a different country. As the chilly winds blow, her resolve begins to waver. Will she abandon Sir Theo to a miserable fate or will she give up her dreams to make his come true? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)


Posted in ACFW New Releases, Amish Romance, contemporary romance, Cozy Mystery, historical heartbeats, Historical Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Winter Solstice

Stonehenge, England

Today is a special day in the Northern Hemisphere, because it is the shortest day of the year—the winter solstice. The hours of daylight will gradually increase until we reach the summer solstice, or first day of summer in June which is the longest day of the year.

My husband and I had the opportunity to travel to England and visit the great stone circle of Stonehenge, and also to Ireland for a visit to the ancient passage tomb of Newgrange. Both sites are temples and calendars built in ancient times for pagan worship and ceremonies. They also mark the the winter solstice or rebirth of the sun.

 Newgrange, Ireland

(Hover your mouse over a photo for the caption.)

Today is also special because we will experience a Cold Moon and meteor shower. The following article explains all three phenomenon. The article was taken from WSLS Newschannel 10 of Roanoke, Virginia web site.

(CNN) – For six months now, the days have grown shorter and the nights have grown longer in the Northern Hemisphere — but that’s about to reverse itself.

Winter solstice, the shortest day of 2018, is Friday, December 21.

The solstice this year will be extra special because it will be followed the next day by a full moon known as the Cold Moon, and you might be able to see a meteor shower to boot.

First, CNN meteorologists Dave Hennen, Judson Jones and Brandon Miller help us understand the science behind the solstice.

Then we’ll take a closer look at that special moon. Finally, we’ll explore some traditions and celebrations around the world that could inspire a travel adventure:

The science behind a winter solstice

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its most southerly position, directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn. It marks the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.

When exactly does it occur?

The solstice usually takes place on December 21. The time that the solstice occurs and the day itself can shift because the solar year (the time it takes for the sun to reappear in the same spot as seen from Earth) doesn’t exactly match our calendar year.

If you want to be super-precise in your observations, the exact time of the 2018 winter solstice will be 22:23 Universal Time. That would be 5:23 p.m. ET (for parts of Canada, the United States and Latin America). The website EarthSky has a handy conversion website for your time zone. You might also try to the conversion chart at WorldTimeBuddy.

What causes the winter solstice to even happen?

Because the Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, we experience seasons here on Earth. As the Earth moves around the sun, each hemisphere experiences winter when it’s tilted away from the sun and summer when it’s tilted toward the sun.

Wait. Why is the Earth tilted?

Scientists are not entirely sure how this occurred, but they think that billions of years ago, as the solar system was taking shape, the Earth was subject to violent collisions that caused the axis to tilt.

What other seasonal transitions do we mark?

The equinoxes, both spring and fall, mark when the sun’s rays are directly over the equator, where we have equal length of day and night. The summer solstice is when the sun’s rays are farthest north over the Tropic of Cancer, giving us our longest day and summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

So what’s going on with this full moon?

Our last full moon of the year will come less than a day after the solstice. Again, for those of you who love precision, it will occur on Saturday, December 22, at 17:49 Universal Time (that’s 12:49 p.m. ET), EarthSky says.

However, when you’re looking out into a clear sky on Friday night, the moon will appear full to you — and could be so bright that people with pretty good eyesight could read by it.

Over many centuries, this moon has been called several names: Cold Moon, Cold Full Moon, Long Night Moon(by some Native American tribes) or the Moon Before Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar).

If you’re wondering how special this Cold Moon is so close to the solstice, it will be 2029 before it happens again. So it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event, but still, you don’t see this too often.

Now what about that meteor shower?

The annual Ursids meteor shower is expected to peak a day or two after the solstice. You might be able to see up to 10 “shooting stars” per hour depending on your location.

The website In the Sky has a great feature that helps you figure out where to watch and how many meteors you might see. For instance, people in South Florida might expect just three per hour while people in Juneau, Alaska, might expect seven per hour.

One caveat: That Cold Moon will be so bright that it could outshine some of the meteors as they streak in, making them harder to spot.

Winter solstice traditions and celebrations

It’s no surprise many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday — whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of the sun and longer days to come.

Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a casting off of old habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.

Many of the ancient symbols and ceremonies of the solstice live on today. Here are five extraordinary places to experience something magical during winter’s relentlessly long night:

UNITED KINGDOM: Cornwall and Stonehenge

Better known for pirates than the solstice, the town of Penzance on the southwest coast of England has revived a delightful array of Cornish solstice events leading up to December 21. The Montol Festival is a fun mix of pagan customs and more recent Christmas traditions that were once common throughout Cornwall.

Early in the week, join in caroling and other events. On the solstice, referred to here as Montol Eve, get your dancing card ready for the Guise, a community dance in which people dress in masks and other “topsy-turvy” disguises based on a 19th-century tradition of the rich dressing in rags while poorer citizens effected a “mock posh” look.

You can also don your finery for torchlit processions. The merrymaking only continues when the revelers disperse to pubs around town.

With some planning, it’s also possible to incorporate a trip to Stonehenge, the UK’s most famous site for solstice celebrations. On the winter solstice, visitors have the rare opportunity to enter the towering, mysterious stone circle for a sunrise ceremony run by local pagan and druid groups.

The trip from Penzance to Stonehenge takes less than four hours by car, making it entirely feasible to spend the night of December 20 in Salisbury, the nearest town to Stonehenge, and rise before dawn for the ceremony among the stones.

Posted in historical heartbeats, International, Newgrange, Stonehenge, winter solstice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmastime in Old Scotland

Nativity by Scott 1872

Nativity by William Bell Scott, 1872


The canvas above was painted in 1872 by the Scottish artist, William Bell Scott. He gives the story a local Aryshire setting. The barn is an old one near Penkill where Scott was then living. Notice the shepherd playing bagpipes. I took a photo of the painting in the National Galleries of Scotland and lightened it to better see the detail. Click on the photo to enlarge.


Yuletide Traditions of Scotland

Elements of Yuletide traditions in Scotland are the same in other Celtic countries, but Scotland has those particular to the country. Many of the Scottish traditions are rooted in the customs of ancient Celtic culture and the Roman Catholic Church practices. During the reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries, Presbyterian Scots did not allow holidays at Christmas. Christmas Day was another work day as you can see in the Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit worked through Christmas Eve.

For Yuletide decorations, Scotland tended to hang evergreens, the holly particularly. A pretty modern Scottish Tree may be decorated with bows made from many different tartans. A strip of cloth is all that’s needed, from 1″ to 8″ widths and around 18″ to 4′ long. Select plain enameled baubles in different sizes to compliment to colors of the tartans, from black (yes they do work!) to rich greens, reds, deep gold, and blues. For the tree top, put a teddy bear with a tartan beret! But you could use a large tartan bow, or a simple star.

Next the music. The most traditional one is Hogmanay Party by Jimmy MacLeod and his band. Rousing and foot-tapping, you can sing , dance or just turn this one down for background music. A must for a Scottish Christmas party!

A good all-rounder with carols like Taladh Chriosta, Scottish songs and music such as New Year’s Day and Bottom of the Punch Bowl, well blended with some of the more popular carols such as God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen. Many of which you can hear a sample of at the Amazon.com music site.

Your reading may include, Silver Bough vol.3. Calendar of Scottish National Festivals – Halloween to Yule. This one has all the customs for you to follow, many of which are very old. A must for anyone who is of Scottish ancestry and wishes to live the seasons as their forefathers did!

Also, if you can find it, The Scottish Yule an American publication by Francis Thompson, who has written many other Scottish books.

You must have a Scottish Shortbread on your table. You can make it, or buy the real McCoy. Black Bun, and a Venison Stew would set the right feel at the table.



This cake in a crust is the traditional New Year cake in Scotland. Every housewife has her own variations. This one is from a family recipe book.

Preparation First make a 1lb weight of short crust pastry your usual method. Leave to chill.

Take a springform (if possible) cake tin, and line with baking parchment. Set aside.

Mix together

1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground ginger, 1/4 fresh grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper.

Weigh into large bowl 10oz plain flour and 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda, mix well. Add 4oz sugar, then the spices, and weigh in 1lb currants, 1lb raisins, 4oz broken or flaked almonds, 4oz mixed candied peel.

Mix altogether well.

Add two beaten eggs, 5 tablespoons buttermilk (or milk will do) & two or three tablespoons whisky. Mix to a stiff sticky dough.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and line the cake tin with this. Press the fruit mixture into the pastry shell so that it is filled densely. Roll out the rest of the pastry to form a lid, and put on top in the usual way, moistening the edges with water to make then stick.

Take a long skewer, and pierce several times, right through the cake till you feel the tip touch the tin bottom. Brush the lid with a mixture of egg and milk, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 Fahrenheit; 170 Centigrade for about three hours. Test with skewer, when it is done, the skewer will not have any cake mix sticking to it.



Read about a Christmas wedding in A Highland Pearl.


Click HERE to purchase



All heads turned toward the door when a hard knock rang out. Nellie rushed to answer the knock, and held the door open for Andrew to enter, then curtsied. Flora and Anne followed Nellie’s lead, curtsying to the laird.

“Leave us.” Andrew motioned with his hand toward the door.

The three women looked at Maidie. She nodded and they hurriedly left the chamber. She smiled at Andrew when he stood before her. He looked dashing in a great plaide of Munro colors—muted red with stripes of dark blue and gold—and a wide leather belt girded around his hips holding the plaide in place. The long end of the plaide passed under his right arm then over a cutaway blue wool jacket that reached his waist with a matching waistcoat, and bound together on the left shoulder with the large crystal brooch. A sporran made of black leather with a gold buckle hung from the belt. White wool stockings held up by black garters reached his knees with black brogans covering his feet. His ebony hair, tied in a queue at the back of his neck, sparkled with drops of water from a recent bath and washing. He looked every bit the chief of Clan Munro.

“’Tis bad luck to see your bride before the wedding,” Maidie managed to say while watching him walk closer.

“I don’t believe in luck.” Andrew’s eyes searched hers and then moved down the length of her body and up to her face again. They seemed to take in every detail. “You’re beautiful, Maidie. The most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time.” He held her arms and put his nose close to her neck. “Aye, you smell of roses. The odor I crave now.” He raised his eyes to pierce hers. “I have no’ said this to any mon or lass in a long while, but I apologize for my rude behavior of last eve.”

She smiled with love for him filling her heart to brimming over. “You’re forgiven, M’Laird. And you’re verra dashing this day.”

With a broad smile, he stepped back, took a small green silk bag from the sporran, and placed it in Maidie’s hand. She considered the small heavy bag.

“Open your gift.” He kissed the tip of her nose as she opened the bag and pulled out a shining gold necklace. Holding the beautiful ornament up to the light, she observed it carefully. “What say you of your wedding gift?” Andrew’s handsome face glowed as the corners of his mouth lifted.

He took the necklace from her hand before she could answer, walked around, moved the train of her dress, then fastened the heavy gold chain around her neck. On the chain lay a large teardrop-shaped pearl. Maidie felt the pearl. She had never seen anything so beautiful. Andrew planted a kiss on the back of her neck, sending chills down her spine, then walked back to face her.

“’Tis beautiful, M’Laird. Where did you find it?” she asked while watching him and fingering the smooth pearl.

“Someday, I’ll tell you, a ghràidh, but not now. ‘Tis Christmastime and our wedding day. We have guests waiting, only a few, but those who count the most—our friends and family. My heart overflows with love for you, and I am in a hurry to make you mine.”

He moved closer, wrapping his arms around her waist. Her lips longed for his kiss, but instead of a kiss, he spoke. She felt his hot breath fan across her face and inhaled the freshness of his scent. “I’ve searched all my life for you, Maidie.” He looked into her eyes with shards or light flashing through his. “I have indeed found the pearl. MaighstirTam read the story to me from the abbey’s Bible. He said Jesus considers each of His own a pearl of high value, but I consider you, Maidie Munro, the pearl of great price.”

Click HERE to purchase.





*Taken from the Christmas Archives of Countess Maria Hubert von Staufer



Posted in A Highland Pearl, historical heartbeats, Inspirational Romance, Scottish historical romance, Yuletide Traditions | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Thanks


The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims who left their homes in England searching for religious freedom. They lived in a feudal society where the king and lords determined their faith and controlled their lives. They sought freedom to live and worship according to the dictates of their own hearts.


Over half of their group died the first winter in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sickness and death affected every family, but some survived with the help of friendly Native Americans. After the next fall harvest, the survivors celebrated a time of thanksgiving. Although grieving for the lost ones, they rejoiced with Indian friends in the New World, in their new life.

“Give thanks in all things,” the Lord says. Sometimes this is difficult while going through a storm of life, but being thankful in all circumstances will bring you closer to God.

The follow excerpt is from the novel, Through The Storm by Brenda B Taylor. The novel continues The Wades Of Crawford County saga, following Leann and Ralph through the years of making a life together and raising young children. As with all married couples, they struggled through the storms of life, but drew closer to the Lord and to each other.

Through The StormClick HERE to buy

“And Sunday we’re going to church,” Ralph told his family. “We’re going to praise the Lord for making us well. I want you kids to get your Sunday clothes ready, and take a good bath Saturday.”

Katy smiled. She loved to dress up and helped Leann wash and press the family’s Sunday garments. Ralph and the boys polished the Sunday shoes and boots. The boys frowned. They didn’t like to bathe, but their mother insisted on a good bath each week with a hair washing, and sometimes in between if they got too dirty.

Bathing took a good deal of time on Saturday night, because Leann insisted each member of the family have fresh water in the tub. She filled a number three washtub with water, then heated water on the stove and added it to the washtub to make a warm bath. She put the tub in a corner of the kitchen and hung blankets around it for privacy. The children bathed first. Since there was not much privacy in the kitchen of their little cabin, Ralph and Leann took their baths after the children went to sleep.

“Do you want us to wash our neck and behind our ears, Papa?” Jesse asked.
Ralph and Leann looked at each other and smiled, trying not to laugh at their son. He was attempting to get ahead of the command Leann gave the children when they bathed. Sometimes those spots were missed.

“Yes, Jesse,” Ralph said. “Be sure to wash behind your ears, and your neck. Dirt sticks in those places when it jumps out on little boys.”

“Dirt don’t jump out on boys, Papa.” Jesse reached up to feel behind an ear.

“I don’t know about all boys, but it sure jumps out on you two.” Ralph winked at Leann.

“You’re fooling me, Papa.” Jesse went to Ralph, searching his eyes for any sign of jesting.

“I’m not fooling, am I Leann?” Ralph stared back at his little son.

“No you aren’t, and we’ll start the baths early to make sure those spots get clean.” Leann knew Jesse and Jim didn’t like to come indoors early to bathe.

“Heck!” Jim said.

“Heck!” Jesse echoed.

Ralph laughed at the boys. Leann went around the table and stood beside him, examining his hair. She smoothed a strand on the back of his head. It went well below his collar.

“Looks like haircuts are overdue. I haven’t paid close attention with everyone being sick.”
Ralph’s smile faded quickly. He disliked sitting still for a haircut more than the boys. “Oh no.”

“Oh no,” the two boys said in unison.

Katy laughed now. Leann rested her hands on Ralph’s shoulders and giggled at the expressions on Jim’s and Jesse’s faces.

“It’s real tough for us men to sit still for haircuts and then be made to take baths,” Ralph told Leann, glancing around at her.

“I can only imagine.” She gave his hair a small pull. He reached up and caught her hand.

“I’m buying us a Sunday dinner at Mrs. McCall’s boarding house,” Ralph said. “We need to celebrate getting over the mumps, and Mama needs a rest after taking care of us.”

“Thank you.” Leann gave him a hug.

The children clamored over each other, trying to hug him. “Thank you, Papa,” they said in unison.

Ralph patted each one on the head and smiled at his children. They were his joy, and a stranger asking Katy questions concerned him greatly. After ten years of having her in his home, she was like his own daughter. For the first few years she lived with them, Leann and he expected her father to return, and guarded their hearts. When Ray didn’t come back, they began to believe she might stay permanently.

“Okay family, time to get on with our work. I’m going to get as much tobacco in the barn before dark as I can. Jim, you and Jesse come and help me. Katy can help Mama.” Ralph rose from the table and put his work hat on.

Leann and Katy began setting the kitchen in order. Leann hummed a hymn from the music he and his pa played earlier. Ralph knew she was pleased they planned to attend church on Sunday after a long absence. He missed the services too.

Posted in American Historical Romance, Brenda B. Taylor, historical heartbeats, Inspirational Romance, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACFW November New Releases

November 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Christmas in Jingle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin — In the small town of Jingle Junction, Holly Winters owns the local coffee shop, Jolly Java. It’s here that she meets Patrick Cooper and promptly throws coffee everywhere. Not only does Patrick not like coffee, he also despises Christmas! It’s up to Holly to show Patrick that Christmas is worth giving a second chance, just as Patrick himself deserves a second chance when he is accused of robbing a local convenience store. In a town full of Christmas spirit, lively debates over the best superhero and riding in a sleigh pulled by actual reindeer is just a normal day. Will Holly be able to prove to Patrick that Christmas is more than a holiday that has to be endured? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick — Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding. Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile. What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter — When his secret crush joins a dating website, Jack takes a leap of faith and soon becomes Daisy’s online suitor. But when they begin growing closer in real life also, Jack finds himself with an unexpected dilemma. Is Daisy falling for the real Jack or for the online version of himself? And how is she going to respond when she finds out they’re one and the same? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker — Baxter Reid returns to his hometown of Romance, eager to see his childhood crush. Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t forgotten all the ways he used to tease her back then. He’s got his work cut out for him if he’s going to get a second chance. Savannah Miller avoids Baxter and the embarrassing childhood memories he evokes…until he apologizes and suggests a truce. Now what is she supposed to do? Only time will tell whether the spirit of Christmas in Romance is enough to transform a grudging relationship into true love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

I Still Do by Melanie D. Snitker — What’s worse than running into your ex-husband? Becoming snowbound with him and an avalanche of memories you can’t escape. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

A Southern Season by Eva Marie Everson, Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda Yezak — Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing. (Women’s Fiction from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Second Chances by Carol Ashby — A widowed father, still grieving the loss of his wife and child, and a devoted mother, who leaves behind everything she’s ever known to rescue her daughter from the ex-husband who would hurt her, are first drawn together by their love for her little girl, but God has much more for them than either could have imagined. (Historical, Cerrillo Press)

Historical Mystery:

Murder of Convenience by Linda Shenton Matchett — May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. (Historical Mystery, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Lena Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, and Marilyn Turk — Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of our nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 at Great Lakes Lighthouses bring hope to the lonely lighthouse keepers and love to weary hearts. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Musket in My Hands by Sandra Merville Hart — Two sisters have no choice but to disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864–just in time for things to go very badly for the Southerners at the Battle of Franklin. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Uncharted Journey by Keely Brooke Keith — Young widow Eva Vestal assumes loneliness is God’s permanent plan for her life. She keeps busy by raising her son and co-managing the Inn at Falls Creek with her elderly father, but her heart yearns for more. Solomon “Solo” Cotter has spent his life working with horses, but he secretly wants to write a book of the children’s stories his grandfather told him as a boy. He barters with Eva’s father for a 40-night stay at the inn, a needed respite from work to get his stories on paper. Once Eva discovers the barter, she believes Solo is taking advantage of her father’s failing memory. But when tragedy strikes and Solo works hard to save the inn, Eva sees his true nature. As her heart stirs with feelings for Solo, she wrestles with the guilt of loving someone new. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer — Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook. Maimed in a childhood accident at Christmas, she believes she is beyond love’s reach—until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s home with a busted leg and a bullet-creased scalp. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, he is at the mercy of a country doctor whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his heart and open his eyes to the impossible. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin — After Nina Fischer is accused of murdering her uncle and adopted father, she must unlock deadly family secrets in order to clear her name and learn to trust love again. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

North by Starlight by Diane and David Munson — Attorney Madison Stone hurries to help her client Jordan Star defeat a mysterious relative who claims a share in his inheritance, and during the Christmas season Maddie learns to leave past regrets behind her, embrace the warmhearted people of Starlight, and dig deep to find her true heart. (Romantic Suspense from Micah House Media)

Her Deadly Reunion by Beth Ann Ziarnik — What will it cost an estranged daughter when she meets her birth father at his home and discovers it’s a dangerous place to mix past and present? (Romantic Suspense from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse — When the new Lady of Ravenwood inherits her family’s secret gift of dreamwalking, she discovers a dark history. Women in her family have been wielding the gift to preserve her family’s legacy—through assassinations. She’s determined to find the true reason behind the gift, convinced there must be a more noble purpose. But she’s torn about upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people. What will she do when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations–but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house? One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and likely death. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen? (High Fantasy from Bethany House [Baker])


Stratagem by Robin Caroll — Psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux creates mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s for their executive retreat, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. (Suspense from Barbour Publishing)


Posted in ACFW New Releases, Christian, contemporary romance, Historical, historical heartbeats, Historical Romance, Mystery, Romantic Suspense, speculative, Thriller/Suspense, Women's Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Highland Emerald ~ Spotlight and Giveaway

A Highland Emerald, third book in the award-winning Highland Treasures series, is now available at most book vendors in digital and in print formats.

I’m giving away signed copies (US) or digital copies (International) to two commenters on this post.


Following are what some readers say about the book. Now is the time to begin your Christmas shopping and secure a copy for the book lovers on your Christmas list.

I didn’t believe I would enjoy reading a Scottish historical romance until I finished this novel! The author’s descriptions and host of lively characters certainly changed my mind. Brenda Taylor has done a great job here.

Keeping with the sequel, A Highland Emerald is written beautifully. I felt I was there with Aine and William, experiencing what they were going through. I love Ms. Taylor’s style of writing. It’s so true to life in the time that it was written. I look forward to more novels by Ms. Taylor.

Book Trailer:

Universal Buy Link


A Highland Emerald is the third book in the award-winning Highland Treasures series. It tells the story of Aine MacLean and William Munro, and is the prequel to A Highland Pearl.

Aine MacLean is forced into an arranged marriage with Sir William, Chief of Clan Munro, yet her heart belongs to a handsome young warrior in her father’s guard. She must leave Durant Castle, the home of her birth on the Isle of Mull, and travel across Scotland in a perilous journey to her husband’s home on Cromarty Firth. William agrees to a year and day of handfasting, giving Aine an opportunity to accept him and his clan. He promises her the protection of Clan Munro, however, Aine experiences kidnapping, pirates, and almost loses her life in the River Moriston. She doubts the sincerity of William’s promises and decides to return to Durant Castle when the handfasting ends. William determines to win Aine’s heart. Will the brave knight triumph in his fight for the bonnie lass?


Isle of Mull
Scotland, 1486

My father sat in his usual chair in front of the crackling fire, staring at the flame with dim eyes and a fur robe wrapped around his broad shoulders, the deerhound curled at his feet.

“Where are you going, Aine?” he asked with his back turned toward the stone, spiral staircase where I stood. “Come, sit with me for awhile.”

I pushed the arisaid from my shoulders, letting it drop to the floor, then stepped over the wrap. Making my way to the stool where my mother’s embroidery frame stood, I took a seat and watched the flame.

Without turning his head, my father, Lachlan Og MacLean, eighth chief and fourth Laird of Durant Castle, asked, “Where are you going?”

“How did you ken ’twas I?” He never ceased to amaze me with his uncanny knowledge of events around him although his eyes, so dimmed by injury, saw very little.

“I heard the rustle of your skirts.” He extended his hand for me, so I rose and hugged his neck. He smiled, embracing my arms. “And I ken your scent, lass. ‘Tis so like your mither’s. You use the same scented soap as she.”

“Aye, but from so far away and with the smell of burning wood and dog in your nostril’s?”

“Your odor is a different pleasantry among the usual burning wood and dog. It stands out in my memory as does the pleasant odor of your mither.” He smiled broadly, showing still straight, white teeth beneath a greying beard. I could almost feel his penetrating gaze upon me as in the days before his sight was taken in battle. He asked, “Where are you going this dreary night?”

“Here, Da. To sit beside you and talk of the feast on the morrow.”

“Don’t try to deceive me, lass. I heard the sound of your arisaid dropping to the floor. You are planning a tryst, I feel certain.” His dimmed gaze pierced through to the depths of my soul. “I could see the turn of your head toward him each time he spoke at the evening meal.” A line formed between his brows and a shadow darkened his face. “You are to marry the Munro.”

“I dinna love William Munro.” My voice began to rise, and I struggled to control the cry climbing from the depths of my heart. “I wanna marry him, Da. You promised I could wed for love, not convenience.” The cry emerged from my lips. I buried my head on his shoulder and sobbed.

“Come here, lass.” Da rose, grabbed my hand and pulled me to face him, wrapping his powerful arms around my shoulders. He stroked my hair and planted a kiss atop my head. Disturbed, the great dog stood.

My heart ached to please Da, I loved him so. His tender embrace brought back memories of my childhood when he comforted me after a fall or some aggravation caused by my three older brothers. We stood for a long while.

He pushed me away, looking into my eyes and planting a kiss on my forehead. “I only want the best for you, sweeting. Your my heart, you ken. I dinna wish to leave this world without you being in the care of a good mon. The Munro is a good mon.” He hesitated then added, “With wealth and title.”

I looked into his faded blue eyes that once shone with the brilliance of the azure sky on a sunny day. He could only see the outline of my face while standing close, now. “If you truly desire the best for me, you’ll let me marry the love of my heart, not some bloat because of his title. Titles mean naught to me, Da.” Tears streamed from my eyes, wetting my cheeks. I pulled away from his grasp, swiping at the wetness with a smock sleeve.

“The Munro is a good mon and a fierce warrior. ’Tis nae better for a husband. He’ll be here on the morrow. We’ll have a feast to celebrate your marriage.”

“He’s old. I’m only eighteen summers. I shan’t attend.” Sometimes the stubbornness of my nature overtook good sense. I knew not to speak to my father in such a manner. He also possessed an immovable streak, and his word overruled my desires.

“He’s no’ old, Aine. A few years your senior, but no’ old by any means. When he’s my age, then he’ll be old.” I continued to sniff, wetting the front of his léine. All right, Aine. If that’s the way this game is to be played. You’ll be watched until after the celebration and the Munro departs.” The words spewed from Da’s mouth. A sinister, dark shadow cloaked his face. Muscles twitched in his jaws and his hands clenched in tight fists. I stepped back.

He abruptly turned and made his way up the stone steps to the upper story bed chambers, feeling the wall for security. When his foot struck the arisaid I dropped on the stair, he reached down, seized the garment and flung it with a vehemence I rarely witnessed from him, and continued up the staircase. The large dog followed at his heels. Not knowing what to do, I grabbed the arisaid, wrapped it closely around my shoulders, pulled the hood over my head, then ran toward the door of the great hall. Ellic waited in the garden. I wanted to be near him, feel his embrace, and listen to the sweet words he would whisper in my ear.


Buy Links:

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Author Brenda B. Taylor

Author Bio:

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

Author Contact Information:

Historical Heartbeats
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Amazon Author’s Page
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Posted in A Highland Emerald, Book Spotlight, Giveaway, historical heartbeats, Inspirational Romance, Scottish historical romance | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment