Welcome to my review of Pepper Basham’s latest historical romance, The Heart of the Mountains. It reads as a standalone novel, but it’s a follow up to her My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream, and revisits familiar characters as Laurel’s brother is now the hero of this story.
Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?
To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.
Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.
Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?
The Heart of the Mountains is such a sweet romance! With a signature style, author Pepper Basham paints the Appalachians as an immersive setting for this post-WWI pairing of two souls from opposite cultures who share a kindness and heart for others.
Cora, with her fortitude and open heart, instantly takes to the mountains, though everything from the terrain to the people’s traditions is vastly different from her home of England. And Jeb McAdams, like any good hero, has a quiet strength to him that draws Cora toward friendship and unites them in helping a few needy and wayward souls of his community. Their romance is sweetly and thoughtfully told, as they share personal and intimate moments of connection while a bigger story with action and the most interesting characters plays out.
Pepper Basham’s style shines in The Heart of the Mountains, as a love for the Appalachians and the lore of the region’s history plays its part in the story. I was struck by the very heart-centered emotions Cora and Jeb experience, especially the mingling of hope and grief as joys, faith, and loss are all part of life. With some comical moments amidst the drama and a host of endearing cast (Granny Burcham! Isom! Caroline McAdams!), I greatly enjoyed revisiting the characters in this fictional world for another story of love and resilience.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.
Today’s topic is a FREEBIE! This concept has been sitting in my drafts for a while, and I’ve added to it along the way. I’m talking here about bespectacled book boyfriends! I know this is a superficial way to categorize a hero, but it’s just so darn fun to recognize glasses as a little everyday accessory that add a bit of intelligence to any face (I say this as I wear them myself 😉 ). So, welcome to my new fan club.
Today’s official topic is 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To. I could have placed quite a few books on this list, but I have chosen my top 10 want-to-read-soon books, all of which are on my shelves (physical or virtual!). Which of these books should I read first?!
Today’s topic is “Favorite Book Settings”. I could go SO MANY directions with this topic, because setting is a very important part of story to me. A well written, immersive setting is like an armchair adventure to a place (or time) the reader has never been. I’ve decided to keep my choices to the UK and Ireland, or the British Isles as those islands are collectively known.
A Tour of the British Isles in Fiction
Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano | Contemporary adventure and love story (with a chef!), and an exploration of the Isle of Skye. My Review
Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski | An estate in the idyllic Scottish Lowlands is the setting for this WWI mystery and romance. My Review
A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz | This heart-deep story begins on the Isle of Kerrera, an island in the Scottish Hebrides, during the 18th century. My Review
The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan | Historical romance that explores the architecture of the city — and of a relationship — in post-WWII London. My Review
The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews | Historical romance set on the coast and rambling moors of Devonshire, complete with a Dartmoor pony.My Review
Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham | A witty romance unfolds between an Appalachian single mom and an English actor, with a healthy dose of humor and a family mystery, too. My Review
The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay | A contemporary story of self-discovery sees the heroine, Lucy, travel to England and the Brontë’s ancestral town of Haworth — with plentiful literary references! My Review
A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White | A little suspense and beautiful music combine in this WWI-era romance set mostly in Wales. My Review
Star Rising by Janet Ferguson | This contemporary romance finds the characters in an unlikely pairing while on a tour of Ireland. Beautiful sights and comical mishaps combine with depth in this adventurous story.
As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber | This enthralling historical tale finds newlywed investigators trekking from England to Dublin to solve a mystery. My Review
Did you share a TTT post this week? What is your favorite setting? Have you read any of these books?
WOW, it has been a long time since I’ve featured a beginning line for First Line Fridays! It’s never too early in the year to talk about Christmas, though, OR the fun kind of romance Pepper Basham writes, like The Mistletoe Countess. I have been excited about this novel for a long time! I “met” Freddie and Grace in an earlier version and I’m anxious to spend more time with them, their grand estate, a mystery, Grace’s sleuth antics, and guaranteed kisses.
EPIGRAPH & FIRST LINE:
Every fairy tale needed an appropriate castle.
Gracelynn Ferguson gripped the Model T’s window frame and leaned forward, breath caught in a suppressed gasp.
Today’s topic is “My Ten Most Recent Reads”. I’m sharing 3 I’m reading now, plus the last 7 books I finished. I consider myself a slow-to-moderate reader, so my list stretches back to books I read in March.
My 10 Most Recent Reads
Let It Be Me by Becky Wade | Contemporary romance meets a little family drama. I’m LOVING the depth to these characters!
Is It Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh | I’m currently enjoying the audio version of Cody and Lou’s second-chance-romance story set in idyllic Nantucket. It makes me want to plan a trip!
Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham | This charming, bookish love story connects generations of heroines in the present and WWI era with a little mystery spanning Appalachian and English settings. My Review
Dearest Josephine by Caroline George | This smart epistolary YA novel has a completely unique storytelling approach, making one of the characters a part of the story itself. My Review
The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch | Regency-era romance with a found family + a little marriage of convenience trope, this one wraps up a great series yet reads as a standalone. My Review
Love at First by Kate Clayborn | This general market romance will give you ALL THE FEELS with its beloved-and-quirky characters, a bespectacled hero, and an enemies-to-lovers trope. My Review on Goodreads
Before Time Runs Out by Amy Matayo | If you like time travel-meets-Dickensian London stories with a little adventure and romance, this story is for you! My Review
Did you share a TTT post this week? Have you read any of these books?
Today’s feature is HOPE BETWEEN THE PAGES by Pepper Basham, a new novel in a historical split-time series by multiple authors set at American landmarks. The setting of Biltmore and Asheville lets author Pepper Basham’s love of the Blue Ridge and Biltmore to shine through (any of her social media followers KNOW she’s a frequent visitor in all seasons!).
Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.
Stories held power and everyone told one, whether the characters within the story knew it or not.
Hope Between the Pages, chapter one
Hope Between the Pages is a beautiful story of love, longing, identity, and story– both fictional stories and the story of a legacy one life can leave. A split time format means this novel has TWO romances with two intelligent and wonderfully complementary couples. Basham’s portrayal of how fiction informs and influences real life is an integral part of this story of hope.
The characters and their journeys are at the center of the brilliance of this novel. As Clara searches for the history and truth of her grandmother Sadie’s life, she learns of a heroic man named Oliver and, eventually, finds a sweet hero of her own in the shy-but-absolutely-charming Max. Threaded through it all are themes of bravery and courage and the truths found in story. Treasured letters found by Clara, and shared through the historic POV of Sadie, add to the whimsy of the story, and the deepening romance between Sadie and Oliver — two unlikely friends who recognize kindred spirits and identity reach beyond social or familial definitions.
Now to talk about the heroes of the story <3. Oliver is SO KIND and good! I love how he really sees Sadie’s beauty and recognizes her sweet spirit. Their romance is fairytale-esque at times and bittersweetly realistic at others. MAX is the perfect friend to Clara, understanding her heart quickly and encouraging her in tiny ways. He’s a contemporary hero with an old soul, complete with bow ties, suspenders, gardening AND kitchen skills, and the best banter with Clara!
Hope Between the Pages had me crying and laughing in the span of pages. It was emotionally resonating for me, as I relate to Clara in several ways (especially in her close relationship with her parents!). Lovers of books, family history, or Appalachian and charming English settings will enjoy this latest whimsical and deeply emotional story from author Pepper Basham.
P.S. I hope Clara’s cousin, Robbie, gets his own happily-ever-after someday!
Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.
More quotes I love:
“…it’s okay for your dreams to be different than what you thought they were going to be.” He winked. “That’s called growing up.” -Robbie
Don’t you realize, we’re two halves of the same whole. We understand one another at the heart level. No amount of money or prestige can deny such kinship as this.
…she’d come to England to save her bookshop, not engage in awkward dialogue with a clearly reticent Englishman.
No fairy tale in all the world painted love as beautifully as this. No novel touched my heart with such an odd combination of visceral weightiness and sheer joy. Only in the pages of Scripture had I found anything so beautiful, showcasing what it meant to be so loved for exactly who I was.
Today’s topic is a Valentine’s Day Freebie! With all the talk of romance lately on the web, I’ve decided to feature 10 romances with “heart” in the title. Some of these I have read and LOVED, and some are still on my TBR. (titles linked to Goodreads)
I’m happy to be sharing a review today of a book by one of my very favorite authors: The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham. It is part of an ongoing “True Colors” series by publisher Barbour Books, featuring a different author for each standalone novel centered on a true story of American crime blended with a romance.
An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912
Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned.
The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.
Endearing characters (with a wonderfully sweet romance) are witness to real-life historical events The Red Ribbon, a brisk-paced, suspenseful look at history and culture in early 1900s Appalachia. Author Pepper Basham is her element with this enthralling tale, crafting a sweet interpretation of her signature romance skillfully blended with the drama of the year and customs of the mountain folk.
Basham has established herself with previous stories of historical romance with a dramatic flair and sweet contemporary romcoms. With The Red Ribbon, she proves her mettle in another facet of the genre, with a bit of romantic suspense! Basham carefully threads a story centered on her fictional couple but filled with real-life figures. Her patient research and heritage of story combines with her characters to paint a tale that’s both compelling and a beacon for belonging, yet still leaving the right amount of questions as to the truths and instigators of the real events.
One of my favorite things about this story is seeing the Ava through the Jeremiah’s eyes. Her feistiness and ever-capable personality are the perfect compliment to his quiet and steady ways. He recognizes this, and champions her heart for storytelling in the sweetest ways. She, in turn, realizes the blessing and place of “home” he wants to provide in her life. Beginning-of-chapter quotes from “family members” of both hero and heroine are another aspect that makes me smile and adds a hint of humor and wisdom to the story.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.
I’m thrilled to be sharing an excerpt today of The Thorn Keeper, my personal favorite of the series, as well as an opportunity through JustRead to enter a giveaway for the whole “Penned in Time” series. I’ve linked my reviews just below the covers of the whole series, so be sure and check out my thoughts, too!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: The Thorn Keeper Series: Penned in Time #2 Author: Pepper D. Basham Publisher: Vinspire Publishing Release Date: February 28, 2016 Genre: Historical Romance
With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope
Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.
David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pump fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.
When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.
From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and history, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
Pepper loves getting to know readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You may also learn more about her on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com
“I’m truly fine,” he whispered to her. “Give me some gauze, and I shall see to the wound myself. You should help Michael.”
She answered by taking his sleeve in both fists and ripping the bloody cloth up his arm. With rebel brow still raised, she looked up at him. “Is it your desire to pass out on the floor as you take care of your patients?”
He scoffed. “Of course not.”
She glanced at the ceiling as if weighing his answer. “Good.” She focused her attention on his sleeve. As she peeled it back and wiped away the blood, the size and depth of the gash surprised him. It was at least two inches long and had barely missed the main vein in his forearm. “Then you must wish to develop an infection to such a degree we’d need to amputate your arm?”
She reached for a bandage by the sink. Her intention shone as clear as the needling look in her eyes.
“I’m capable of taking care of myself, Nurse Dougall. I’ve been doing it for quite some time before you entered my life.” He attempted to pull his arm free, but she pinched down tight enough to produce a wince.
“Pressure limits the blood flow.” A twinkle lit her gaze. “At least, a certain doctor in my acquaintance told me as much.”
His lips twitched against his will. “You’re incorrigible.”
“And you’re stubborn.” She leaned in and narrowed her eyes. “Not to mention struggling with a hint of pride.”
His smile broke free. He preferred her feisty wit over her distance any day. “Aware of that are you?
She poured peroxide over his wound, and he stifled another wince. “Personally, I am painfully aware of pride.” With gentle and confident movements, she began bandaging his arm, her fingers soft and swift. “It can cause some disastrous side effects, I’m told.”
Her touch, her subtle confession, reignited the deep longing within him he’d felt earlier. Its vibrancy spread through him with a more potent and pleasurable sting than the peroxide on his wound. Attraction? Yes, but something else, an emotion with a great deal more substance. Dangerous. Powerful. And something he wasn’t ready to embrace. Not with a wager hanging over his head that could possibly separate them forever.
Her raised brow nudged his reluctant admission. “Guilty.”
“I hear an excellent remedy for pride is good care, hot food, and a long nap.”
He tried to still the warmth branching out through his chest, to no avail. He internally repeated the words he’d so adamantly declared to his sister. Attraction was one thing but acting on it was another. “Is that so?”
She nodded and pinned the bandage in place. “Wise doctors heed such thoughtful advice.”
He looked down at her hand resting on his arm and another swell of tenderness and kinship gripped his chest. Their eyes met, tightening the growing bond, securing it against his will.
(1) winner will receive all three Penned in Time novels in print or ebook format plus a stained glass dragonfly!
Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 14, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on April 21, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.