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Archive for August, 2012

As he moved closer, her knees turned to jelly. Strong, hard-muscled arms embraced her, offering support. Her head spun. She lifted a hand to stop the motion and encountered wool, a double row of metal buttons and a rock-hard chest. The enticing aroma of sandalwood mixed with a musky, masculine scent, plus a tinge of wood smoke invaded her senses. Had she hit her head harder than she’d thought?

She gazed at his lightly tanned face. Firm lips tilted upward slightly at the corners surrounded by a thin chocolate-colored mustache curving into a neatly-trimmed beard covering only his chin. Thick, dark hair brushed his collar and curled from beneath a broad-brimmed black hat. Her pulse raced as she leaned against his long, solid frame. Night after night in her dreams she’d run her hands through those curls.

“How can you be here?” she murmured.

“Pardon me, ma’am?”

“I don’t understand.” She tried to wrench from his grasp, but he gathered her close, lifting her into his arms. “What are you doing?”

“Taking you back where you belong.”  He carried her to the tent entrance where Doc peered out.

“Will, what the devil is going on?”

“I assume you didn’t give Mrs. O’Connell permission to leave.”

“I did not.” He scowled. “I told you to rest.”

The dark-haired man carried her inside and laid her on the cot. She propped herself on an elbow to get a better view of the man Doc called Will. Broad shoulders tapered into a narrow waist accentuated by the cut of his gray frock coat trimmed in gold braid.

“Who the hell are you?” she asked.

“Pardon me, ma’am?”

His gaze chilled her blood. He looked exactly like the man in the antique photo she’d found between the pages of her grandmother’s Bible. If he were the man in the photo, where was she? Maybe the crash had killed her, and she was now in the afterlife. And like the man who called himself Doc, this man had also called her Mrs. O’Connell. Grandma Rose’s great-aunt. Something wasn’t right.

Unable to voice her fears, she stared open-mouthed at the man.

“Will,” Doc said. “I think Mrs. O’Connell’s having trouble with her memory.”

“Her memory?”

“The fall from the horse,” Doc explained, “seems to have affected her memory — even her speech. Her nose was bleeding a bit, and she has a fair-sized lump on the back of her head.”

Will frowned.

Erin’s mind reeled. This couldn’t be the same man she’d researched.

The men looked at her, waiting for a response.

“How many times do I have to tell you?” she said. “I was never on a horse.” She squeezed her eyes shut as the pain increased, then blinked furiously so she could focus.

Doc glanced at Will as if to confirm his diagnosis, then pressed a cool, damp towel against her forehead.

“Ma’am.” Will removed his hat. “I would advise you to stay put until Doc says you can go back to your tent.”

“I don’t have a tent,” she grated between clenched teeth.

The men exchanged glances.

“It’s worse than I thought,” Doc said.

“You say the fall affected her speech?” Will scowled.

“There’s no other way to explain it.”

“What’s wrong with the way I talk?” she asked.

“You’ve lost your lilting brogue, for one thing,” Will said, “unless that was an act.”

She stretched out on the cot, as her stomach lurched again. “Look. All I want to do is go home.”

“This is your home,” Will said, “since you signed on as camp laundress two weeks ago. Or have you forgotten that, too?”

“No, you don’t understand —”

“Are you having second thoughts, Mrs. O’Connell?”

“I told you, I’m not—” She froze in mid-sentence. They would never believe she wasn’t Erin O’Connell.

Despite the pain slicing through her head, she slowly sat up. “I need a mirror.”

Doc glanced at Will.

“A mirror!” she repeated. Her heart hammered in overdrive, and her head felt ready to explode. Doc rummaged among the contents on the table, producing a small, wood-framed hand mirror.

Blinking back the blinding pain, she stared at her reflection. Her own eyes stared back, wide and bright blue. The face was hers, yet it wasn’t. The cheeks were a bit rounder. Her skin was pale. No make-up. Red-gold hair tumbled over her shoulders.

Touching her neck, she noted the maroon-checked dress she wore was topped with a starched, white collar stained with blood. She fingered a small, ivory-stoned brooch at her throat.

In the photo, her Civil War relative had worn her hair parted in the center and pulled back off her face, but otherwise, she was looking at a live portrait of her great-great-great-aunt. Erin O’Connell – Federal spy.

Civil War time travel romance, Erin’s Rebel – finalist in the Ancient City Romance Authors 2010 Reader’s Choice Award, paranormal category.

Read opening chapters and reviews at my website: http://susanmacatee.com/mybooks.html

Erin’s Rebel is available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Erins-Rebel-Susan-Macatee/dp/1601545207/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1307644938&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/erins-rebel-susan-macatee/1017203009?ean=2940043330673&itm=1&usri=erins%2brebel

The Wild Rose Press http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_135&products_id=3554

and All Romance Ebooks
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-erin039srebel-80339-141.html

The sequel to Erin’s Rebel, Thoroughly Modern Amanda, will be released 12/19/12 by The Wild Rose Press.

Believing anything is possible, magazine reporter Amanda Montgomery dreams about being a modern woman in a nineteenth century world, much like her exceptional step-mother.  But society expects well-off young ladies to focus on finding a suitable husband and raising a family.  And then Jack appears—with no past and unconventional ideas. Does he hold the key to another century as well as her heart, or is she destined to stay in her own time?

Construction worker Jack Lawton wants to preserve an old home that’s scheduled for demolition.  But when he sneaks inside for a final look, a loose beam falls on his head, and upon waking, he finds himself in the arms of a beautiful woman.  His only problem—he’s no longer in the twenty-first century.  Can he find his way back home? Does he really want to?

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My new work in progress features an Irish heroine, who escaped to America after being sent to Austrailia to work as an indentured servant. This new story is based on my award winning romance novel, Confederate Rose. The heroine of that story is also from Ireland and fought in the American Civil War as did many Irish on both sides of this conflict.

Both England and America experienced a large influx of Irish immigrants during the Victorian era. While some of this was due to the potato famine, a great deal of the problem began back in the mid-17th century, when Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland. Landowners who refused to give up Catholicism had their property confiscated and given to members of the English Army.

Between 1841 and 1851, Ireland’s population of 8 million had dwindled down to 6 million. An estimated half of these people left the country while the other million died.

One million emigrated to England and America, overwhelming both countries. America saw this surge of immigration between 1815 and 1845. The Irish had few technical skills, but were healthy and strong. They became a much needed source of cheap labor.

In England the Irish lived on the absolute fringes of Victorian society. They became unskilled day laborers and street peddlers.

Thomas Malthus, noted English economist explained the earlier famines and starvation in Ireland as God’s answer to overpopulation of those who refuse to show constraint.

“. . . emigrating to America was not a joyful event . . . They left in droves on ships that were crowded, with conditions so terrible, that they were referred to as Coffin Ships.” http://www.kinsella.org/history/histira.htm

English oppression had made their country unlivable for them. Their only hope was to escape. Poor immigrants were forced to settle in their port of arrival, having no means of moving on.

The offers of free land out west during this time period meant little to the Irish. The land back in Ireland had failed them, so they looked to other means of making a living in their new country.

For more info on Irish immigration, visit these sites: http://www.kinsella.org/history/histira.htm

http://www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/Irish-immigration-to-America.html

http://library.thinkquest.org/20619/Irish.html

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I’m at Slip Into Something Victorian today with my newest Civil War timeline post on the prelude to the 2nd battle of Manassas or Bull Run.

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“You there. Halt or I’ll shoot!”

Katie halted Morna and glanced at Alex. He raised his hands in the air. She followed his lead, scanning for the source of the voice.

A blast startled her. Alex cried out and fell from his gelding.

Katie gasped. She feared she was the next target. “Don’t shoot,” Katie yelled. She lifted her hands above her head. “I’m a Confederate soldier.”

She wanted to go to Alex, who lay writhing on the ground, but didn’t dare move. She hoped these people weren’t Federalists.

A young man with light brown hair rounded on her holding a shotgun. An older, gray-haired man raced from the house.

Was ist das!” the older man demanded in a guttural accent.

Having no idea what the man was saying, Katie pointed at Alex. “He’s been shot. I have to help him.”

The young man said something in what sounded like German to the older man, who shook his head.

“I’m very sorry,” he said, motioning to Katie. “Please, get down and see to your friend.”

She slid from her mare and knelt at Alex’s side. Fear chilled her to the bone, and she labored to draw a breath. “Are you hurt bad?”

He grimaced, clutching his thigh. “The son-of-a-bitch shot me.” Blood oozed from a blackened tear in his trousers.

She went to her saddlebags and found a neckerchief. She tied it around his wound.

She glanced up at the farmer. “He needs help.”

“Of course.” The man nodded. To the young man beside him, he said, “Dieter, get your brother. We have to carry him into the house.”

Dieter nodded, wide-eyed, and raced off.

“I must apologize for my son,” the older man said. “Federal soldiers came through here two days ago and threatened us, then made off with some of our animals.”

Katie’s fists clenched. “I know what bastards Yankees can be.”

The man’s face relaxed. While they waited for his sons, he introduced himself. “My name is Arnold Bauer. I own this farm.”

Katie nodded. “Private Sean O’Reilly of the 2nd Virginia. This is Mr. Alexander Hart. He’s a newspaperman from Richmond.”

“Please forgive Dieter,” Bauer pleaded, appealing to Alex. “He was too hasty. He’s afraid.”

Katie glanced at Alex, who nodded. His face paled by the minute. What if the wound was fatal? She took a deep breath, trying to calm her fear.

Confederate Rose is available from The Wild Rose Press http://www.thewildrosepress.com/confederate-rose-p-3672.html

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Confederate-Rose-Susan-Macatee/dp/1601545568/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1307799716&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/confederate-rose-susan-macatee/1018142717?ean=9781601545565&itm=1&usri=confederate%2brose

and All Romance Ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-confederaterose-362961-158.html

Read opening chapters at my website: http://susanmacatee.com/confederateroseone.html

Contest wins and reviews here: http://susanmacatee.com/Reviews.html

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My upcoming holiday release from the Wild Rose Press this November, The Christmas Ball is, in part, based on the real life story of a woman who disguised herself as a man and served in the Union army during the American Civil War. The story of real-life heroine, Sarah Rosetta Wakeman is told through letters she sent home to her family and they preserved, in the book, An Uncommon Soldier, by Lauren Cook Burgess. I read this fascinating book along with others I used in researching the subject of women soldiers in disguise during the war to come up with composite heroines for my romance adventures.

What’s unique about Sarah’s story is, like scores of other young women during the American Civil War, she disguised herself as a man and served in the Union Army as a private. And during the years she served, no one ever discovered her sex.

Many other women also enlisted in male disguise, since women at that time weren’t permitted to serve, but some were quickly discovered and either sent home or were arrested and sent to prison on false charges of prostitution. That was the only reason army officials could come up with for women to dress as men, although it would have been hard for them to ply their trade and not be found out. Others weren’t caught until they were hospitalized or killed in battle. While others served out their time and returned to civilian life without ever being found out.

Sarah was born on January 16,1843, the eldest in a fairly large farm family. She was used to hard work and in 1862, at the age of 19, with no prospects for marriage, she left home to seek outside work to help with the family finances that included a large debt owed by her father. Disguising herself as a man, she found work as a manual laborer on a coal barge for $20.00 for four trips up the Chenango Canal in New York state. On her first trip she encountered soldiers from the 153rd New York Regiment, who urged her to sign up. The enlistment bounty of $152.00 would have been more than a year’s wages, even if Sarah continued civilian work as a male, and so was a great enticement.

Sarah told the recruiters she was 21 and on August 30, 1862, signed up under the name of Lyons Wakeman. Her regiment was stationed in Washington, as one of many, to guard the Capital from the surrounding hostile territory.

In her frequent letters home, she asked her family not to be ashamed of her for the choices she’d made. She also sent money home on a regular basis, much more than she could have earned as a civilian. In February 1864, the regiment was transferred to the field to take part in the ill-fated Red River Campaign. By the end of the campaign, Sarah developed chronic diarrhea and ended up at a regimental hospital.

She died on June 19, 1864, never having been discovered.

Like Sarah, most of the women who disguised themselves as men to serve in the army were lower class, or immigrants, who had little education. Sarah is unique, however, in that she could read and write and, as a result, left her legacy of letters so we’d have the opportunity to see why a woman would choose to hide her identity to serve her country.

The heroine of my  Civil War Christmas novella, The Christmas Ball, shares part of Sarah’s real life story in that she falls for a surgeon she works under in a Union camp. But unlike the real Sarah’s unrequited love story, my heroine’s story turns out for the better. This is a romance, after all. The Christmas Ball was originally part of the Historical Christmas anthology, An American Rose Christmas put out by The Wild Rose Press in 2009. The stand alone ebook version of my story will be released November 7, 2012.

But if you haven’t yet read my award winning Civil War romance, Confederate Rose, the heroine of this novel, Katie Rose O’Reilly, is also a soldier disguised as a man, but she serves in the Confederate army.

You can read the opening of this story at my website http://susanmacatee.com/confederateroseone.html and also read the blurb and an excerpt of  The Christmas Ball. http://susanmacatee.com/mycivilwarnovellas.html

For more information on Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, read An Uncommon Soldier, by Lauren Cook Burgess, Oxford University Press, ISBN-0-19-512043-6

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Kyle paced the floor of his apartment. Unable to sleep for the past few days, he’d called in sick. How much longer could he go on like this?

He’d searched online and found a book on self-hypnosis. If Dr. Wyler expected him to go another week like this, he’d just take matters into his own hands. After studying the book, he decided to try a few exercises. Maybe he could put himself under and learn what it was that had set off the dreams and visions.

Kyle lay on his bed and breathed deeply. Following the book’s instructions, he put himself into a deep state of meditation. He concentrated on Josie and tried to bring himself back to the Civil War camp.

Everything came into focus. Josie gazed down at him, her cheeks wet with tears. The warmth of her hands clasping his made his breath quicken. Pain radiated from his thigh.

Grasping it, he grimaced. “What happened?”

Josie gazed at him and bit her lip. “I’ll stay with you, Kyle. I won’t allow you to go through this alone.” She clasped his hand.

“Go through what?” Kyle’s pulse raced. Something was terribly wrong here.

“I’ll help you through it and afterward…I’ll never leave you. I promise.”

“What? Tell me what’s going on?” Kyle demanded.

Two men carried a plank. They laid it across two cots. One took his arms, the other his legs.

Kyle screamed as searing pain ripped through him. Josie’s horrified face was the only thing he glimpsed through a haze of raw agony. He had to reach her.

“Josie, please—”

His plea was cut off as the men lifted him toward the back of the tent behind a curtain.

Kyle’s heartbeat raced as he tried to make sense of what was happening. A man with a dark beard approached.

“It will be all right, Corporal. We’ve got chloroform.”

“No! This is a mistake!” Kyle tried to peer through the drawn curtain. “Josie! Where is she?”

“Calm down, Corporal. It will be so much easier on you if you just relax.”

“No, no, you can’t…” A cloth descended over his face. Kyle tried to push off the noxious fumes, but darkness descended.

Kyle gasped and sat up. That had been too real! Those men were about to amputate his leg. Was that what Dr. Wyler had been talking about?

But so many soldiers lost arms and legs during the Civil War. It had to be something more.

Kyle sank back against his pillow, certain he didn’t want to visit that horrifying scene again.

Dreaming Josie available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Josie-ebook/dp/B008FZSPLS/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341001818&sr=1-7

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dreaming-josie-susan-macatee/1112136131?ean=2940044700420

And Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177360

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In my new work-in-progress, an American historical set in the late 19th century, one of the minor characters, the maiden aunt of the hero, believes she has visions and dreams of things to come.

Although the Victorian era was a time of scientific discovery and technological advances, the Victorians seemed to be obsessed by the supernatural. Many people believed in ghosts, fairies, physic phenomena and telepathy. They also thought it possible to communicate with the dead. The Ouija board was popular and table knocking and automatic writing were thought to be the deceased means of speaking with the living.

Occult and spiritual religions also abounded. The ability to foresee the future through dreams and visions were also common beliefs during this period.

Popular authors of the day such as Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker fueled these beliefs with their stories depicting ghosts and dark occult creatures. But the authors themselves were affected by these beliefs. Dickens believed he could heal the sick by entering them in a deep hypnotic state. However, Dickens was a very rational man as well as a skeptic.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, believed in fairies and telepathy.

Death was a big part of the average Victorian’s life. They observed many rituals and mementos of lost loved ones were popular, such as the photos of the dead and hair jewelry containing a lock from a lost loved one. The idea of proving life went on after the physical body was gone led to a spiritualism movement. Mediums, thought to have the ability to communicate with the dead, became popular and as a result, fraud was easy to perpetrate on people desperate to speak to their lost relatives.

The Fox sisters were famous mediums and made a lot of money by convincing people table “rappings” were spirits trying to communicate with the living. But Margaret Fox confessed in 1888 that it had all been a hoax.

Perhaps the Victorian belief in the supernatural was their way of coping with all the scientific discoveries and technological advances inundating their world.

For more on Victorian spiritualism and beliefs, visit these sites:

http://www.infobarrel.com/The_Haunted_Victorians

http://www.rjlees.co.uk/victorians_and_supernatural.htm

http://test.nbol-19.org/view_doc.php?index=139

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