Today I’m welcoming Michelle Griep, author of The Captive Heart. She’ll be talking the background of her book along with an excerpt. So, take it away, Michelle!
Wild Carolina and a Wilder Hero
Guest post by Michelle Griep
I love England. Everything about it. The people. The land. The rich and lustrous history. England is the suave older gentleman to America’s geeky adolescence. That’s why I usually write stories set in England during the early 1800’s.
But another love of mine is rough-around-the-edges heroes, and Colonial America had plenty of those. So I thought why not combine the two? And voila, The Captive Heart was born. I kept my love of England stoked by making my heroine British, yet I created a hero who’s half-Cherokee and used to running wild. Win, win.
To research the era, the land, and the Cherokee people, I traveled to South Carolina last fall—during a hurricane. I don’t recommend hiking in hurricane force winds, but I was determined. Thankfully, the area I needed to scope out was in the upcountry where it was mostly just heavy rain.
The Carolina forests are jaw-dropping gorgeous. The terrain has changed over the centuries, namely by the increase in trees and less large wild life. But if you’re ever in the area, it’s worth taking a hike around.
Here’s an excerpt from The Captive Heart, when heroine Eleanor is first taken to her new home out in the woods . . .
Eleanor bit her lip. They’d already eaten dinner. No foliage blocked them from continuing. So why did Mr. Heath swing Grace around and set her on the ground? Was this some kind of traveler’s shelter to duck in for an evening?
She laid her hand atop his, using his strength to ease her rattled bones to the earth. “Why are we stopping here?”
He cut her a glance, half his face hidden in the growing dusk. “This is home.”
Peering one way, then another, she looked for the house. Was it beyond, in a trail through the woods? Impossible to say, for greens and blacks choked out the view. The only buildings she saw were the two in front of her. One was larger, but not by much. Both were made of crude logs, stacked atop each other. Pine needles and moss littered the roofs. On one, stairs led to a porch—maybe—so much stacked wood made it hard to tell. Perhaps it thickened the wall for some reason? The other was clearly a byre, straw and hay strewn on the ground in front of a shut door. Surely these structures must be the steward’s quarters, and Mr. Heath would lead her and little Grace to his home.
But his long legs loped up the stairs and disappeared between the stacks of wood. Grace pulled herself up behind him, one chubby leg at a time.
Eleanor stood, gaping. Alone. In the middle of a wilderness. Even the last of day’s light fled, and darkness crept toward her on silent feet. She wrapped her arms around herself, squeezing, trying desperately to remember that God was in control, that this was His creation every bit as much as an English dell or holly hedgerow.
ABOUT THE BOOK ~ THE CAPTIVE HEART
The wild American wilderness is no place for an elegant English governess.
On the run from a cruel British aristocratic employer, Eleanor Morgan escapes to America, the land of the free, for the opportunity to serve an upstanding Charles Town family. But freedom is hard to come by as an indentured servant, and downright impossible when she’s forced to agree to an even harsher contract—marriage to a man she’s never met.
Backwoodsman Samuel Heath doesn’t care what others think of him—but his young daughter’s upbringing matters very much. The life of a trapper in the Carolina backcountry is no life for a small girl, but neither is abandoning his child to another family. He decides it’s time to marry again, but that proves to be an impossible task. Who wants to wed a murderer?
Both Samuel and Eleanor are survivors, facing down the threat of war, betrayal, and divided loyalties that could cost them everything, but this time they must face their biggest challenge ever . . . Love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: THE CAPTIVE HEART, BRENTWOOD’S WARD, A HEART DECEIVED, UNDERCURRENT and GALLIMORE, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery OUT OF THE FRYING PAN. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or www.writerofftheleash.blogspot.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.