For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited … you! To give you a peek into the research I did for A Strike to the Heart, I decided to host a Sunday Dinner and talk all about my latest book. Did I answer all your questions? If not, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!

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 … I’ll introduce myself something interesting and include something readers would enjoy learning about me.

My name is Danielle Grandinetti and something interesting about me is that I’ve had the privilege of traveling to countries on four different continents. I love meeting people with different cultural backgrounds and treasure my time learning from the people I met.

My latest novel, A Strike to the Heart, releases from Iron Stream on April 12, which is this Tuesday! Here’s what it’s about:

She’s fiercely independent. He’s determined to protect her.

Wisconsin, 1933–When a routine mission becomes an ambush that kills his team, Craft Agency sniper Miles Wright determines to find the persons responsible and protect the woman he rescued. But the fierce independence that led Lily Moore to leave her family’s dairy business for the solitary life of a dog trainer and the isolation of her farm don’t make that easy. Neither does his unwanted attraction to her. Meanwhile, escalating incidents confirm that she’s far from safe.

Lily fears letting the surprisingly gentle retired marine into her life almost as much as she fears whoever is threatening her. As Wisconsin farmers edge toward another milk strike, one that will surely turn violent, it becomes clear that the plot against Lily may be part of a much larger conspiracy. When the search for her abductor leads close to home, she must decide whether to trust her family or the man who saved her life.

Why did I choose to set A Strike to the Heart in the middle of the Great Depression?

A Strike to the Heart began as a contemporary romantic suspense story, but something was lacking … then, in 2020, as Wisconsin dairy farmers were forced to dump their milk supply, I learned it wasn’t the first time that happened. In 1933, farmers coordinated three strikes to protest low milk prices. Moving my story to that point in history was the exact missing piece it needed.

What research was required to give authenticity to rural life during that time period? How did I go about that research?

One of my favorite resources was an old agricultural textbook I got from the library. It gave the history of the industry as well as the medical side for animals. I also read the original newspaper accounts of the strikes and the events leading up to them. The Wisconsin Historical Society was also a helpful resource, especially with the pictures they have on file.

Why make Lily a dog trainer?

Picture courtesy of Linda McGrath

I love dogs, so I knew I wanted to have at least one dog be a part of the story. When I learned that the first Obedience Trial was held in October of 1933 and organized by a woman, I knew I had to make Lily a dog trainer. Then, I chose the American Water Spaniel because, not only is it the state dog of Wisconsin, it’s origin is near where the fictional Eagle, Wisconsin would be located.

What research was required to form Miles’ sniper background?

I’m not a gun person, so this required more research, especially with the historical aspect. One book I found helpful was Stalkers and shooters: a history of snipers by Kevin Dockery. Learning that World War I was the transition from sharpshooter to sniper was one of the reasons Miles is a retired Marine.

What was my favorite part of researching for A Strike to the Heart?

I love learning new things, especially the history behind it. I can spend hours reading first-hand accounts, historical takes, and current analysis of a topic. A Strike to the Heart held several topics I found fascinating: from Lily’s dog training to dairy farm life to the strikes themselves to Miles’ sniper history. The hard part is deciding what to include!

What is one piece of research that I couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?

One piece of my research I found fascinating was the history of the dairy industry in the United States. Originally, milking a cow was considered women’s work (recall the phrase from the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” about maids a-milking?) and a source of income for married women. It was also women who worked out a breeding schedule so that the cows would dry up during the coldest months of winter so they wouldn’t need to go out in a blizzard to milk multiple times a day. (Read more about women and cows here)

The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. If you would like to purchase a copy of A Strike to the HeartA Strike to the Heart is available from several retailers and the e-book is slated to be a part of Kindle Unlimited. You can find all the links here.

A Strike to the Heart is a part of a series. The prequel to A Strike to the Heart is a novella called To Stand in the Breach. This story follows Lily’s brother and her best friend as they navigate the beginnings of the 1933 strikes. Find out more here.

The Christmas novella, As Silent as the Night, will release on September 13. This story follow’s Miles’ best friend Gio as he attempts to keep his neighbor’s granddaughter safe during the holiday season. It’s available for pre-order at an every-growing list of places. Find out more here.

You can also find me on various social media channels. Find the complete list on my contact page.

Since next Sunday is Easter, there won’t be a Sunday Dinner until April 24 when we’ll be joined by the president of the Great Lakes American Water Spaniel Club. See you then!