Posing as a widow, Eliza Danton flees an abusive marriage determined to live a solitary life on the Minnesota frontier. When she finds herself homeless, her livelihood threatened and her safety compromised, she must rely on a man who stirs a forbidden longing and jars her well-laid plans. As her world shrinks with lies and deception, the only way out is the truth, but the truth may strike a deadly price.
Haunted by a tragic past Will Heaton vows never to love again. But a chance encounter with a mysterious widow awakens painful memories and a yearning he can’t ignore. When she’s harassed by the same man he believes killed his wife, he grabs at a chance to resolve past mistakes and possibly find love and redemption in the process. As Eliza and Will struggle to trust again, the past returns with a renewed vengeance, testing them in unimaginable ways.
Elizabeth Douglas couldn’t think of a better incentive than a husband who wanted her dead. Thus inspired, she packed a bag, changed her name and now gripped the handrail of the Northstar as it shimmied up the Ohio. Despite the warm air, she shivered. Abe would look for her as certain as the glistening blades of the paddlewheel churned the muddied water. When a man loses his greatest possession he himself becomes possessed.
‘If you ever leave me, I’ll kill you,’ he’d promised.
She didn’t intend to die, at least not yet.
Startled to hear someone call her new name, she spun toward the voice. She brushed a hand over the black silk crepe of her widow weeds, loathing the dress and the deception.
Against a backdrop of Pittsburgh’s receding factories Reverend Vernon Deeds minced around the thinning crowd on the ship’s deck. One arm clutched a chubby baby to his chest the other hand tugged a small lad behind him. Flushed, Vernon dropped the boy’s hand and pulled a crisply folded handkerchief from his coat pocket. He mopped his beaded brow. “Who would have thought June could be so muggy?”
Pre American Civil War/Frontier period
Heat Rating: One
Review Rating: 4.5 stars
REVIEWED BY TARA
This one had me hooked from the very first sentence/paragraph:
“Elizabeth Douglas couldn’t think of a better incentive that a husband who wanted her dead. Thus inspired, she’d packed a bag, changed her name, and now gripped the handrail of the Northstar as it shimmied up the Ohio. Despite the warm air, she shivered. Abe would look for her as certain as the glistening blades of the paddlewheel churned the muddied water. When a man loses his greatest possession, he himself becomes possessed.”
As you can see the narrative is told with the perfect amount of description, telling ‘n showing, information, and poetism. This does not read like a first-time author.
The heroine is spunky and strong. She fends off attackers, helps others in need, opens a printing press despite the men of the town and vandals hindering her at every step. She has to lie to protect herself, but feels guilty about it. She has a strong conscience. Even when love is just within her grasp, she turns it away, rather than dishonor the rules she’s been taught to live by. After all, she’s still technically married.
The book throws an incredible amount of harshness at this woman, but it fit with the times back then. Women didn’t have it easy. People didn’t have the healthcare they have now. So it’s not implausible, the things that occur. She arrives in the town to find her cousin is dead, but this leads to her just standing taller, stronger.
“Why is it always men against women? Is there some secret society where all men get together and plan how to keep women in “their place”–that is to say the place men decide is proper for them?”
LOVED this heroine. Loved the hero too. He’s a perfect blend of alpha and nice guy. He wants to protect the woman, but at the same time, respects her enough to let her protect herself. Only when absolutely necessary, does he swoop in.
My only quibble: For such a smart woman, Eliza is a bit dumb in one aspect. I mean, after a horrid man tells her “your husband is on his way,” she thinks she may be safe? Did she really think going to her cousin’s and merely changing her last name to another similar one would be enough? I mean, really, her cousin’s? Like her husband wouldn’t think of that?
Something else I want to mention that I loved: the history about the German immigrants. This really appealed to me and showed me the author did her homework. My grandfather was a German immigrant to Minnesota, so this had a great deal of truth and appeal to me though it was a small part of the town life.
GUEST BLOG BY JOYCE PROELL
**Joyce will be awarding a $10 Amazon or BN.com gift card to a randomly drawn commentator during the tour. **
Hello! Thank you so much for inviting me today. Rather than the usual light and fun comments of an author blog, I’ve been asked to tackle a more serious topic. The question is: How are things different for a woman in an abusive relationship today compared to the time period in the book, Eliza, which takes place in 1859.
Eliza is a story of a young woman who flees an abusive husband and sets up a new life for herself in the Minnesota frontier. It’s an uplifting story of hope, resilience and a second chance at love. For Eliza, trapped in a violent marriage, there were few options beyond stay or run.
In Colonial times the legal status of a woman differed little from that of a servant or a child. Women were socially and economically dependent on their husbands and corporeal punishment was acceptable and often sanctioned by law. In 1767, the ‘rule of thumb’ became British law. This act allowed a man to chastise his wife using a stick no thicker than his pinky or his thumb. This seemed a poor attempt to regulate the ill treatment of women.
Laws protecting women took longer to catch on in the United States. Early in the country’s formation, all states upheld the right to deprive a woman of her liberty and endorsed physical forms of chastisement. Society and the government preferred domestic disputes to be settled privately—behind closed doors. In 1871, Alabama and Massachusetts became the first states to declare wife beating illegal. Other states followed suit, even allowing cruelty to be used as grounds for divorce. However, definitions on cruelty varied widely among states. Thus ‘ordinary’ cruelty, (a weird legal concept) might not predispose for divorce. Only in the early 1900’s did the presence of domestic abuse become public fodder because of its relationship with the temperance and suffrage movements.
When Eliza fled her husband, there were no resources, beyond the emotional and financial support of her immediate family. Not all families had the economic means to help a loved one. Society viewed divorce as unacceptable and state laws made it difficult to obtain. Such was Eliza’s case. She didn’t believe the law could help her.
Sad to say, there are still countries were services to domestic violence victims are scarce to non-existent. In 2000, the United States passed the Violence Against Women Act. It’s a comprehensive mandate geared to helping victims. If Eliza lived today, she would exist in a society where physical violence is intolerable and punishable by law. Divorce is available and affordable. A variety of services, from transitional housing, access to well-trained criminal justice services, social services, counseling, and the support of law enforcement would have been within her reach.
It’s rather timely that I should be writing about domestic violence as January is Stalker Awareness month. Let us be aware and thankful of all the resources available for victims of violence. Thank you for hosting me today. Take care and happy reading.
I laughed when my husband suggested I write a book. Me? What did I know about writing? Yet the notion held possibility, so I hatched a plan. A year later, I sent off my first completed manuscript and promptly received a score of polite rejections. Bruised but undaunted, I forged ahead, new plan in hand. Later, armed with the knowledge acquired from writing classes, seminars and the help of fellow writers, I finished my second story. Eliza is that story.
A little more info…I grew up in Minnesota. In college, I studied psychology and earned a master’s degree in Social Work. After living in Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland and Reno, my husband and I make our home only miles from where I grew up.I worked in the field of mental health as a psychiatric social worker, administrator and later settled into private practice. Retired at a reasonably young age, I write full time.I’m an avid reader, a foodie and cook, a crossword puzzle fanatic and a daily walker.