For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Denise Weimer. A North Georgia native, Denise has authored over a dozen traditionally published novels and a number of novellas—historical and contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and time slip. As a freelance editor and Acquisitions & Editorial Liaison for Wild Heart Books, she’s helped other authors reach their publishing dreams. A wife and mother of two daughters, Denise always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I also serve as Acquisitions & Editorial Liaison for Wild Heart Books, the publisher for my new Scouts of the Georgia Frontier Series, which was contracted before I came on staff. No, I don’t serve as my own editor. LOL. There’s another fabulous lady who helps with that.
But I totally love working with Misty Beller, who owns WHB, and the other staff members and editors … and all our amazing authors! It truly is a dream to get to work from home in my chosen field.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
A Counterfeit Betrothal
At the farthest Georgia outpost this side of hostile Creek Territory, Jared Lockridge serves his country as a scout to redeem his father’s botched heritage. If he can help secure the peace against Indians allied to the British, he can bring his betrothed to the home he’s building and open his cabinetry shop. Then he comes across a burning cabin and a traumatized woman just widowed by a fatal shot.
Freed from a cruel marriage, Esther Andrews agrees to winter at the Lockridge homestead to help Jared’s pregnant sister-in-law. Lame in one foot, Esther has always known she is secondhand goods, but the gentle carpenter-turned-scout draws her heart with as much skill as he creates furniture from wood. His family’s love offers hope even as violence erupts along the frontier—and Jared’s investigation into local incidents brings danger to their doorstep. Yet how could Esther ever hope a loyal man like Jared would choose her over a fine lady?
Why did you choose to write a story set at a far outpost in Georgia? Can you tell us more about the setting? Have you ever lived there or visited?
A Counterfeit Betrothal is set outside Fort Daniel, a War of 1812 fort that was discovered not far from where I grew up in Jackson County, Georgia. We don’t have a lot of historical sites in North or Middle Georgia that pre-date the Civil War, so the discovery of artifacts when the owners of the property were clearing for a garden that indicated the location of an early-1800s fort created a lot of interest. The land was originally in Jackson County, but it’s now in Gwinnett, where I worked for a time as a historical interpreter. For these reasons, when I learned about Fort Daniel and attended one of their living history events, I knew I wanted to set a story there!
What research was required to set a book at this location in the early 1800s? Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics?
I used a variety of sources when researching the history behind this novel and the occupations of my main characters. My main historical sources were very old books published about Jackson and Gwinnett counties. I also put “boots on the ground,” so to speak. As I mentioned, after I signed up for the Fort Daniel Foundation newsletter, I attended a living history at the site. There I was able to interview one of the leading historians on Fort Daniel and the surrounding area and era.
I was also able to purchase a copy of Secrets of the Forest by Mark Warren, an expert on primitive skills, foraging, and gathering. The information in that volume was imperative to my understanding of local plants and herbs, since my heroine is a healer. For my hero’s work as a carpenter, finding a resource was a bit more difficult. Finally, I found a book to order on Colonial woodworking that showed the tools and told what they were used for, though I only found one or two YouTube videos presenting woodworkers in action.
Did you include real-life people in your story?
There are a number of real-life people from Federal-era Jackson County in A Counterfeit Betrothal, such as merchants, soldiers, and politicians. They are mostly consigned to mentions or cameo appearances since it’s hard to get enough information to accurately depict historical individuals who weren’t well known.
Your hero is a woodworker and scout. What does a day in his life look like?
Jared Lockridge has dreams of one day owning his own cabinetry shop, but at the time of the story, he’s just finished helping his brother, Noble, and Noble’s wife Tabitha, establish their home site on the border of Cherokee Territory. During the story, they’re clearing for Jared’s cabin and crops, as he has hopes of soon welcoming a bride. It’s just not the bride he expects. But that’s another part of the story…
Anyway, like all the settlers in the area, Jared and Noble are required to serve rotating stints in the militia, at Fort Daniel and along the border, ensuring peace with the native peoples. The Cherokees choose to ally with the Americans in the War of 1812, but the Creeks fight with the British, and their raiding and war parties travel far up the frontier.
Between setting up the homestead and scout duty, Jared only finds limited opportunities to use his grandfather’s woodworking tools in their shed. He makes furniture for his family and to sell at the trading post at the Hog Mountain settlement outside the fort.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
There will be three more releases in my Georgia Scouts Series with Wild Heart Books. The next will occur in November. It’s a re-release of my novella Across Three Autumns which was originally part of Barbour’s Backcountry Brides Collection. It fit perfectly with the theme of my new series, although it is told from the heroine’s point of view only.
A Courageous Betrothal (novella) – Book Two of the Georgia Scouts Series
On the frontier, strength is beauty and courage is life.
Wily enough to unravel the intrigues of Loyalists and courageous enough to earn the title of “War Woman” from the Indians as the American Revolution ignites, Jenny White takes pride in her strength and skill as a frontierswoman. But she’s long ago given up on love. What man wouldn’t choose her lovely younger sister over a red-haired giantess like herself?
Then Caylan McIntosh, Scottish scout for Colonel Elijah Clarke, comes to rally the Wilkes County men for the Georgia militia, and the satisfaction of helping protect her family from the dangers of the backcountry suddenly isn’t enough. Caylan is the first man who admires Jenny’s assets, but will his affection survive long absences, battle, and smallpox? And will Jenny’s, when she learns the secret he hides after he returns to lead her and her sisters on a dangerous exodus from the “the Hornet’s Nest”?
The next full-length release will occur in January:
A Cherished Betrothal – Book Three of the Georgia Scouts Series
Alexander Morris bears the childhood scars of the Long Canes massacre that killed his brother and father. His dark past forces him into the lonely life of Georgia Ranger, and eventually, to join the bordering South Carolina Rangers that revolt against the Crown. When he’s posted to the fort erected to defend the community once decimated by the massacre, duty demands he court the loyalty of his sworn enemies, the fierce Cherokee warriors.
Elspeth Lawrence never forgot the boy who sacrificed himself for her at Long Canes—any more than she forgot the younger sister taken captive. She’s learned to not only forgive but help minister to the Cherokees at her father’s mission. Alex Morris’s arrival at nearby Fort Charlotte stirs Elsie’s memories and her emotions. He doesn’t even remember her…or the long-ago attack. But the bitterness that simmers just beneath his stoic exterior—as well as her courtship by a local landowner—challenge their undeniable bond.
When Alex uncovers a long-held secret and a plot to sabotage patriot talks with the Cherokees, he must choose between his desire for revenge and his love for the girl he saved long ago.
The final installment is set in Savannah during the Stamp Act Riots of 1765 and releases next summer.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I’m going to be at the Fort Daniel Living History Faire on Saturday, October 21, so if you’re in Georgia, come see me at the place where A Counterfeit Betrothal is set! If not, follow me on Facebook or sign up for my newsletter for information about online events and upcoming releases.
There is truly a book in this series for everyone (and of course, I hope you’ll love all of them!).
Book 1 is a heart-warming tale of love and healing on the frontier’s home front and really shows how hard early settlers had to struggle just to survive. There’s even a hair-raising panther attack.
Book 2 (November 2023), my novella, features a strong heroine based on the exploits of an actual Revolutionary War spy and patriot and a heart-throb of a Scottish scout.
Book 3 (January 2024) follows more Scottish settlers who survived an actual massacre by the Cherokees on the border of South Carolina and Georgia. As the Revolutionary War erupts, the heroine finally gets to see the hero who saved her so long ago, but now they’re swept up in the fierce battle for the Carolina backcountry.
Book 4 (June 2024) takes a dramatic turn to the parlors, ballrooms, and forts of 1760s Savannah during the intrigue and early revolt of the Stamp Act riots, as the sworn duties of a king’s ranger conflicts with his admiration for the leader of the newly formed Daughters of Liberty.
Once you finish the Georgia Scouts, travel with me to the end of the Civil War and the sinking of the Sultana steamboat in When Hope Sank, a novel of Barbour’s Disastrous Days Series (May 2024). The love story of a wounded Union surgeon and the young woman who nurses him back to health is set on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River in a hotbed of spies, saboteurs, and bushwhackers.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Denise, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of A Counterfeit Betrothal, where might they be able to do so?
Find A Counterfeit Betrothal on Amazon.
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
Monthly e-mail list: http://eepurl.com/dFfSfn
Over Sunday Dinner next week historical romance author Ann Elizabeth Fryer will be joining us. See you then!