‘Inspired by Classics’ Guest Post by Pepper Basham + Review & Giveaway: “Charming the Troublemaker”


Today I have a real TREAT for you guys! Author Pepper Basham has shared a guest post: “Inspired by Classics” all about how classic literature and story fit in with modern writing. I’m also sharing my review of her new release, Charming the Troublemaker, book 2 in her “Mitchell’s Crossroads” Appalachian rom-com series. And, there’s a #GIVEAWAY of an ebook copy of Charming the Troublemaker! So, read on for my little review and her AMAZING thoughts, then enter the giveaway at the end!

About the Book

Charming the TroublemakerWhen Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looked as good as it did on Rainey Mitchell. 

Rainey Mitchell does not need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptation wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne.

When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again?

Goodreads | Amazon


You all might recall my excitement for this book in the cover reveal and in a Behind the Scenes Interview with Pepper + Book Recommendations.

Since the very first book of this series, A Twist of Faith, I have been interested in Rainey’s story. Learning hers would be a “loose” retelling of North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell) AND that Rainey would be paired with Alex Murdock, an interesting if frustrating person in book 1, I was ecstatic!!! I mean, woohoo because I ❤ the book & miniseries, and anything Pepper writes is a #mustread, magical romance.

While the humor is laugh-out-loud and the family drama endearing, a most intriguing new-to-Pepper’s-books element is present in Charming the Troublemaker: SUSPENSE! A few surprises and moments of suspense add a good measure of intensity to this Appalachian rom-com full of love and heart.

The hero of this story has been dubbed #AdorkableAlex — and for good reason! His hilarity and flirty manner guards a humble heart that needs a little nudging to find an inner hero, and the people of Ransom, ESPECIALLY the Mitchells, are the ones to help him find that belonging. When he is determined to help or get involved in something, his whole heart jumps in, and it is just so endearing. And have I mentioned he likes Hallmark movies?! #swoon

Rainey Mitchell is the kind of friend you want to have… fiercely protective and discerning, yet adorably clueless about her own value. Her independence is a contrast with some of the baggage and insecurities she carries, and her journey toward a new confidence is wonderfully spurred on by her friendship with Alex. Her little girl, Sarah, is cute from start to finish! And when Sarah and Alex are together on the page, it’s just precious.

The swoony romance is “I NEED A FREEZER” level on multiple occasions! (Pepper has mad kissing book skills). Even through that, however, Alex is EVER the gentleman. And Rainey has a few surprises up her sleeve with her sassyness! Let’s just say it’s fun to see Rainey catch Alex off guard.

More than the romance and the dynamic of these two lead characters, a strong theme of security, honesty, and life direction found ONLY IN JESUS centers this story as it winds its way toward a happy-ending. The emotional moments connected to this faith thread were the most joyous parts of the story. Mama Mitchell was often a tool of wisdom and grace for this purpose, and I just wanted to hug her. And eat her cookin’.

There are so many little things to love about Charming the Troublemaker. Like the walkie talkies. And the kisses. And names of a sleek sports car and practical truck! (Marilyn and Indiana, respectively) 🙂 And all the little North and South parallels you “have to look hard” for that added to the story in just the right ways. And the Mitchell clan with all their hometown love. This is one family I will happily revisit in these pages and, hopefully, in stories to come for a long while.

Thank you to the author and publisher, Bling! Romance (LPC), for the complimentary review copy. This is my honest review.

From Pepper: Inspired by Classics

It is said that there are no NEW stories for authors to write, only the influence our imaginations lend to the stories that have already been created.

Pepper 3And for the most part, this is true. There are basic story tropes that get repeated over and over again, but each author adds their interpretation, their characters, their heart into explaining that trope through their own voices.

I was just talking to my agent, Julie Gwinn, last week about how my brain immediately goes to reinventing stories or creating sequels. I can’t help it. In college I wrote a sequel to Frankenstein! Not long after that, I was determined to write a sequel to the Toby McGuire Spiderman movie. I REALLY wanted to write a sequel to Jane Eyre at another point in time and have found various other books I wanted to reinvent in a different time period or put my spin on them.

As L.M. Montgomery uses (an old proverb) through her classic, Anne of Green Gables, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” So, I think that’s why we see these wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) remakes of the classics we all love so much.

Pepper 1Their stories, characters, and/or dialogue is so timeless we, as storytellers, want to capture that spark in some way and make it our own. Of course, we’ll never write exactly like them, but the stories they tell have the unique ability to touch us in special ways – and who wouldn’t want to recreate that feeling?

In my Mitchell’s Crossroads series, I’ve taken some of the things I’ve loved from classics and tries to put a very ‘loose’ and modern spin on them. A Twist of Faith is a loose retelling of Pygmalion (My Fair Lady) and Charming the Troublemaker has aspects of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South in it. Can you find them? It’s clearer in A Twist of Faith than Charming the Troublemaker, but you can find them, and ‘you have to look hard’ (fangirl reference). Courtney: squeee! I ❤ N&S

For me, elements of classics I want to recreate stem in part from the way these stories make me feel when I read them, but also in the essentials that make them memorable.

I want to write engaging characters like Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle, John Thornton, and Margaret Hale.

I want to inspire smile from witty dialogue and maybe even sneak in a mystery here or there.

I want to portray a variety of romances – not just hate-to-love or opposites attract, but delve into the fun (almost magical) assortment of possibilities. They’ve ALL been written in some form before, and watching out the masters do it provides excellent inspiration.

From fairytales to adventures to romances to mysteries, the possibilities are limitless.

So, what classics would you enjoy seeing rewritten/modernized?

What do you think makes a classic…a classic???


Enter the rafflecopter giveaway.

Giveaway is for one (1) ebook copy of Charming the Troublemaker provided by Pepper Basham. Giveaway ends 11/18/2017 11:59pm CT. Void where prohibited.


24 thoughts on “‘Inspired by Classics’ Guest Post by Pepper Basham + Review & Giveaway: “Charming the Troublemaker”

    • HAHA!! Thanks, Trisha!! 🙂 Courtney didn’t put the scary Frankenstein one…because she wanted people to actually keep reading. LOL

    • Isn’t she adorable, too?!! I’ll leave the Frankenstein photo-sharing to Pepper….. I don’t think the internet is quite ready for those she sent me!!!!! 😉

  1. Oh my goodness, I caught that “you have to look hard” reference when reading Charming the Troublemaker and may have swooned a little. But still I didn’t catch on that this story was inspired by North and South. I love it even more now that I know.

    • HAHA!! YAY!!!!! I’m so glad it caused you to have a little bit more love for CTT. Again, it’s classic-inspired-lite, but it was definitely in my mind as I wrote the book. I do believe I have a little matchmaker story up next with a certain waitress 😉

    • YAY for catching it!!!! Yes, seeing its parallels with North and South is so fun! I’m glad you know it now 😉

  2. I think what makes a classic a classic is it’s ability to be remembered. And a book can be remembered for several reasons. Whether it’s the book’s ability to balance a great storyline, character development and themes or the message readers take away from it or, plainly, how it makes us feel. A classic is remembered, not just in one generation but several, because it’s impact on readers never stops.

    I must admit, I usually put classics on the backburner. I want to read the classics, but I’m usually picking up a contemporary read over them. I’ll get on it, not to worry, and I’ll be sure to put North & South on my TBR list, classics edition. And the one that inspired My Fair Lady (I didn’t know it was inspired by a book…but I should of). I do love the movie.

    • I think lots of times we don’t read classics because many times they really are harder for our contemporary minds to read. Thankfully, there are fabulous adaptations in film!! 🙂

    • Chanel, I completely agree. The memorable classic stories are very impactful. I know what you mean about them being set aside and even a little hard to read! Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, though, is an especially great classic. I enjoyed reading it, even if I did have to take my time with some of the phrasing. Knowing a little of the history behind the class differences helps, too. Oh, and the BBC miniseries is WONDERFUL! I recommend watching it before you read the book.

  3. Awesome post! Courtney, I love the enthusiasm in your review and all your insights! This sounds like a really good story, especially knowing there are hints of North & South in it! 😀 I have A Twist of Faith on my Kindle TBR, and I would love a chance to win this one too!!

    Also, retellings/re-imaginings are so much fun! I think it’s awesome Pepper is taking on some of the not-as-often retold stories. 🙂

    • Great recommendation, Amber! I haven’t read The Blue Castle (which I need to), but I do have a loose retelling idea for Anne of Green Gables

    • That’s a good idea!!!! I need to finish reading The Blue Castle ….. I started it once but didn’t make it too far before a different book caught my attention.

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