Today Freedom’s Path, book 3 in the “Deebourne Inn” series from The Wild Rose Press, releases. The novella is set in 1855 Vermont and involves themes of being true to oneself and standing up for what you believe in.
Sidonie Demers is descended from slaves and works to help escaping slaves moved along The Underground Railroad while working as a maid at the Deerbourne Inn. Her method of providing covert information about the safest direction is to hang quilts on the inn’s clothesline whose patterns have specific meanings to those people fleeing north to the safety of Canada. I read a wonderful book titled Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad that provided the essential background and the basis for the rhyme that laid out the path the escaping slaves followed.
To learn about the political climate of the time, I read The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom, a Comprehensive History (first published in 1898). Included in the non-fiction work are first-hand accounts of people who were part of the movement. Everything had to be accomplished in secrecy because the second Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made aiding escaping slaves a federal crime.
Enter Colin Crawford, an Army corporal who has been sent undercover to the town of Willow Springs to ferret out abolitionist activities. I loved writing this character because he starts out the story already conflicted about the American involvement in moving Indians off their lands. Even though he was raised in a state that disallowed slavery in its state constitution, he is forced to uphold the statutes of the federal act.
I hope readers enjoy this historical romance between individuals with firmly held but opposing beliefs.
As he waited for Kevyn’s footsteps to fade, Colin finished his tart. His mind whirled with a topic that he worried might be too forward. After a swallow of coffee, he angled his head and met her gaze. “I saw how you broke that man’s hold. Smart move.”
Eyes wide, she gasped, rested a hand on the table edge, and crouched next to the end. “Oh, please don’t tell Missus Deerbourne that I stomped on a guest’s foot.” Her dark brows drew together. “I’m not sure she’d view my action in the same way you do.”
Her response rankled. Wasn’t the innkeeper concerned for the safety of her workers? He wished he could offer comfort by covering her hand with his. “Can you not carry a small knife in a pocket to protect yourself?”
A laugh escaped as she shook her head then gripped the band of her hat and pulled it lower on her forehead. “Not an appropriate accessory for someone in my position.”
Colin disliked the idea of her being vulnerable to a man’s mauling. “The foot stomp can take a man by surprise, but often not for long enough to effect an escape. Might I demonstrate another move that guarantees a longer distraction?” He sorted through the various moves involved in his ranger tactical training for the one most effective to someone her size. Leverage was what was needed to counter a larger foe.
“I am eager to learn.” She set the tray on the table. “What do I have to do?”
Bracing both hands on the table, he pushed himself to a stand and took a couple steps away from the bench. “Walk toward me like you’re about to grab my arms.”
A blush rose in her cheeks, and she averted her gaze. “Oh, I couldn’t, Mister Crawford.”
Her modesty produced a chuckle. “Miss Demers, don’t worry. You won’t hurt me. Remember, you’re learning a new skill.”
After a nod, she stepped forward with her arms outstretched and fingers spread wide. “Like this?”
“Keep walking.” He balanced his weight on the balls of his feet. When she came within reach, he grabbed the thumb of her left hand and bent it backward.
“Ow.” She contorted her body, back arching in the opposite direction.
He knew her movements were instinctual, with her body acting on reflex to reduce the pressure. “See how you moved to get away from the pain.” He released his hold with reluctance, because he’d enjoyed the slide of her soft palm in his.
Review Copies Available
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