Wednesday, February 28, 2024

I’m not your lover – #MMRomance #ScienceFiction #MFRWHooks

The H-Gene book cover

Welcome to this week’s MFRW Book Hooks blog hop. I’m continuing to mark Black History Month by featuring excerpts from my books that have Black characters.

The H-Gene is a dystopian near-future MM erotic romance. One of my heroes, Rafe, is a Black man from the ghettos of Los Angeles. Absorbed in the romance plot, I didn’t really think about it at the time, but Rafe’s back story is all too common in a society where justice is definitely not color blind.


When love is forbidden, the whole world’s a prison.

After a gay plague killed millions and sparked brutal riots, the Guardians locked up all H-positive men in remote quarantine camps – including Dylan Moore. H-negative guard Rafe Cowell blames the lust he feels watching prisoner 3218 on loneliness and isolation. When he finally meets the young queer, he discovers that Dylan is brilliant, brave, sexy as hell — and claims to be in love with Rafe.

The Hook

Hey! Rafe?” Dylan stroked his palm over the close-cut nap covering Rafe’s skull. “Are you all right?”

The guard raised his eyes. Anguish twisted his handsome features. “What the fuck have I done?” He shook his head. “I’m no better than you, you disgusting little fag.”

Alarm bells rang in Dylan’s mind. A bit of guilt, a little fear, that was useful. Too much would spoil things. He stroked Rafe’s arm gently and was encouraged when the man didn’t pull away. “Didn’t it feel good?”

Yeah. Too good.”

It felt good to me too. It was what I needed. Thank you. It’s been years since anyone made love to me.”

You mean fucked you?” The scorn in Rafe’s voice made Dylan smile secretly.

No, that’s not what I mean. My partner was killed by the Plague—seven years ago. I haven’t had another lover since. Not until you.”

I’m not your lover,” Rafe snorted. Still, he didn’t stop Dylan from touching him. “But I might be your executioner. Nobody cares if some perv dies. I should kill you right now, for polluting me. Contaminating me.”

Don’t be silly,” said Dylan. He pressed his lips briefly to Rafe’s cheek. The other man did not resist. “That’s all propaganda, dreamed up by the Guardians. Anyway, have you ever killed anyone?”

No,” said Rafe, his voice barely audible. He eased himself onto the bench next to Dylan. “Even though they said I did.”

Dylan wondered whether he could use this revelation to his advantage. “Who said?”

The judges. I told them I had nothing to do with the hit, but they didn’t believe me. They sent me here to this God-forsaken place to rot.”

All the guard’s pain, loneliness and frustration were naked in his voice. Dylan felt a pang of guilt. This guy deserved a better deal. He didn’t need another betrayal.

Dylan pushed the thoughts away. He mustn’t weaken now, when everything was going so well. “I know how you feel. I’m stuck here, too, you know. I’ve been here since I was seventeen. Robbed of my youth. My life. Unless there’s some change, I’ll still be here when I’m seventy.”

Rafe looked troubled. “Yeah, well, I’m sorry. But they had to do something…”

Something to satisfy the mob’s cries for blood?”

It was terrible.”

I know. I was there. I watched Miguel die and the city burn. Do you really believe that I’m responsible? Me and all the other poor souls incarcerated here?”

Rafe shook his head slowly, but Dylan had the feeling this wasn’t in answer to his question.

Anyway, you don’t need to worry. You’re not going to catch the Plague, not from me. And nobody is going to find out about us, trust me.” Dylan paused, wondering how much of the truth he should share. “I have another controller. I can arrange things so that we can be together again. Soon.”

I don’t want us to be together, damn it!” Rafe bolted up from the seat. He towered over Dylan, fists clenched as though he wanted to smash them into Dylan’s face.

The H-Gene teaser

Buy Links

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I hope you’ll visit the other authors participating in today’s Book Hooks!

Monday, February 26, 2024

Put on this earth to teach us how to be – #DogMemoir #GoldenRetriever #Giveaway

Happy Harry tour banner


"Nobody who loves dogs will be able to resist your book! A magnificent love story!"

- Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, international bestselling author of Dogs Never Lie About Love and When Elephants Weep.

In her dog memoir Happy Harry: A Magical Golden, psychotherapist Barbara Lampert, a lifelong dog lover, tells the story of her beloved Golden Retriever, Harry. Like her first dog memoir, Harry's story comes from her mostly uncensored daily journal and takes place in Malibu, California.

Harry was a genuinely free spirit - wild, and very wolf-like. Did all this contribute to his being exceptionally happy? Perhaps.

Harry was not only the happiest being Barbara's ever known, happy to the very core of him, but also the bravest. More than once in his life, Harry had to face true adversity, and each time, Barbara would look at him in wonder, not fully understanding how a being could be so brave and at the same time continue to be so happy.

Harry literally pranced through life, with a joyous attitude that made being around him like magic. Barbara fell in love with Harry. And as you immerse yourself in Harry's story, it's likely you will too! Happy Harry is unforgettable!


I call Harry my calendar dog. Exquisite face. That’s what drew me to him when he was nine weeks old. Sounds superficial, but I thought his face was extraordinary. And this sounds superficial too, but I’d hoped his face would stay as gorgeous when he grew up. Well, it has. But you know, no matter what he turned out to look like, I knew I would love him tremendously. What’s inside Harry is amazing!

Harry is the happiest dog I’ve ever known. Genuinely happy, from the core of him. Mostly with a ball game. Harry can’t wait for the moment when he can go out to play.

The first few years with Harry were insane. He was a maniac, wouldn’t listen. Particularly when he was out of the house on a walk or at the big field at the nearby school. We tried every kind of leash and harness. We enlisted a dog trainer. Nothing worked. But little by little, he’s getting better. Still pays scant attention when we’re out of the house, but at least I don’t have the feeling he would run away. Though he’s never off leash when we’re out. Never!

Those first years were so chaotic with him that I was resigning myself to the possibility he might be a sociopath, because he seemed to not care about rules, listening, or consequences. I needed to accept him as he was. But now, at six, Harry has become incredibly devoted and loyal. Our wild wolf has settled into his pack.

I’m at work right now and can’t wait to get home and see Harry. Give him lots of kisses, get his over-the top joyful greeting with a soft toy in his mouth. Seeing Harry brimming with enthusiasm makes me so happy! I love him so much!

Harry’s adapting… But more than that, he’s still so joyful. His abundance of happy energy is so wonderful to be around. He’s still putting stuffed toy rabbits and balls in his mouth, particularly when he’s really happy. Still comes to me with even more enthusiasm and his head held even higher than usual when I say, “Hey Harry.” I love saying that to him, and Harry seems to love hearing it. I only use the “Hey” with Harry. It’s special, just for him. Something I started saying to him a few years ago. To me, it’s a way of emphasizing how cool Harry is. Yes, Harry is really cool, in the true sense of the word. Unafraid, carefree. Still.

Dogs are such special beings. I swear a big reason they were put on this earth is to teach us how to be.

About the Author

Barbara Lampert author image

My passion is dogs! I’ve had dogs most of my life and hope to have at least one by my side always. Dog energy is the best!

I’m the author of two dog memoirs: Happy Harry: A Magical Golden and before that Charlie: A Love Story. Each about one of my Golden Retrievers. (I told you dogs are my passion!)

I’m a psychotherapist, licensed for over thirty years, specializing in relationships. .

I was a flight attendant for nine years. And taught sociology at several universities. I have two master’s degrees and a doctorate.

Gardening is another love – not as much as dogs, but right up there! I see my garden as a work of art and garden as much as possible in my free time. I love being in nature.

I live in Malibu, California with my husband David and, you guessed it, our two wonderful Golden Retrievers, Oliver and Henry.

Happy Harry book cover


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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Charity Sunday: For Girls (and Women) Who Code – #BlackHistoryMonth #InternationalWomensDay #CharitySunday

Charity Sunday Banner 2024

Welcome to the February Charity Sunday blog hop! As usual, I am featuring a worthy cause, giving you an excerpt to thank you for visiting, and asking for your comments. For each comment you leave, I will make a donation to my chosen charity.

This month I am once again supporting Girls Who Code, an organization that works to increase female participation in STEM, especially in computer technology and with a special focus on underrepresented groups and people of color. I strongly believe in their core principles: bravery, sisterhood and activism. 

Girls Who Code logo

I’m a woman engineer myself. My path was easier than that of many young women; I came from a white, middle-class family with a strong commitment to education as well as a belief in female equality. I also had bold and creative female role models (though none of them was in tech). How much harder would it have been for me if I’d been born in a Black ghetto, or to a Syrian refugee family, or to a conservative, rural family struggling to survive through farming?

You can read more about Girls Who Code and their various activities on their website. (And I hope you will...) Meanwhile, I will donate two dollars to their work for every comment I receive on this post.

Last year I finished the third book in my trilogy featuring a female engineer, Gillian Smith, who joins a secret society involved in designing and building cutting edge erotic artifacts. So I have lots of excerpts showing smart women solving engineering problems! Here’s one from Book 2 of the series, The Journeyman’s Trial. Gillian and her lover Rafe have both been expelled from The Toymakers Guild, as punishment for a rash act that endangered the organization. Gillian has taken refuge in a cottage on the Cornish coast, where she tries to come to terms with her banishment.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to leave me a comment!

The Journeyman's Trial book cover

Excerpt (PG)

A sudden revelation stunned her. If Rafe did reject the Guild, then he was not, after all, the soul mate he had seemed.

As fellow journeymen, their paths aligned. They shared a common set of goals and values, dedicating both their erotic creativity and their technical abilities to the Guild’s mission. Members of Randerley’s wanton and uninhibited community, they belonged to an elite group of natural libertines, a handful of brave souls committed to answering the call of desire.

An outsider would never understand the bonds that linked the Guild members to one another. And despite several years of experience at Randerley, if Rafe were to turn his back on the Master and his perverse flock, he would become an outsider.

Intense grief swept through her, as though she’d already lost him. At the same time, she felt a new clarity and strength of purpose. She knew her own mind and heart and had made her own choice. Over Rafe’s decisions, she had no power. Only when she’d completed her banishment would she know the outcome.

Meanwhile, she could make herself useful. In response to Amelia’s suggestion, Gillian had brought her experimental Analytical Engine with her to Cornwall. This interlude of isolation was an ideal opportunity for her to address the difficulties that had previously frustrated her, with no competing tasks and no sensual distractions.

Exhausted by emotion and her hours of walking, she fell asleep by the fire. The next morning, however, crisp sunlight woke her. After dressing and stirring the embers on the hearth into a blaze, she breakfasted on hot tea, brown bread and curd. Then she pulled the complex mechanism from her luggage and set it on the table near the hourglass.

She worked until well past noon, refreshing her memory regarding the modes of failure she’d observed during her last efforts with the device. When the usual boy from the village arrived to deliver provisions, she realised she was ravenous, but she didn’t want to take the time to cook lunch. She grabbed an apple, a hunk of cheese and more bread, and returned to her contemplation of the recalcitrant machine.

It appeared to be consuming the instructions encoded on the perforated paper strip. The problem seemed to lie in translating them into actions. She’d built a small, highly simplified model of the punishment rack to use for testing, really just a set of levers and gears intended to represent one percussive instrument like a paddle and one reciprocating item like a dildo. These components did in fact move in response to her programme, but in an uncoordinated, erratic manner.

Had she made mistakes in implementing the engine? She’d followed Lady Lovelace’s notes faithfully, with the exception of one or two improvements that had seemed obvious. Could her minor enhancements be responsible for the poor performance? Anything was possible. Indeed, Lady Ada’s design might contain flaws; Ada Lovelace had never actually built an instance of her celebrated engine, having been more interested in the theory and its mathematical underpinnings. Going back to the notes, Gillian reviewed them step by step, searching for any omissions or for ambiguities she might have misinterpreted.

Around two, Gillian put the work aside and went out walking. The skies had cleared since the previous day and the views from the headlands were glorious. Despite her frustration with her development efforts, she found her spirits rising. She still had more than two weeks. She’d solve the puzzle eventually and return to Randerley triumphant, with the solution in hand.

Stopping to catch her breath, she gazed out at the sea. It was unusually calm. Overhead, the lowering sun painted the streaked clouds in shades of pink and orange. She’d walked all the way to Porthcumo, almost five miles. To the south, she could just make out the rhythmic pulsing of Wolf Rock Lighthouse. The open vista and the distant horizon were a marked contrast to the rolling country around Randerley.

Gratitude swelled in her chest. Amelia had been generous in offering this simple, peaceful haven. Mrs. Featherstone, at least, seemed to want her to come back. Gillian was determined to earn her redemption in the Governing Director’s eyes.

By the time she’d returned to the cottage, it was pitch dark. Gillian made herself a simple supper, read for a while by the light of a candle, then lay down on the narrow iron-framed bed. All the doubts churning in her mind had subsided: her shame and regret at having endangered the Guild; her fear that they wouldn’t accept her back; the wistful longing for Rafe’s presence and the craving for his touch. She drifted into sleep, relaxed and at peace, and woke alert and energised. Today, perhaps, she’d unravel the riddle.

She did not in fact get the engine to function correctly that day, or the next. However, she forced herself to remain calm and focused. Persistence and discipline were the key to progress. She disassembled the engine, examined each of its many parts for imperfections, then put it back together, step by step. Each time she integrated a new component, she tested its function using sets of minimal instructions.

Her efforts did not lead to success, but they built her confidence in the physical construction of the engine. As far as she could tell, it had been implemented correctly. The crux of the issue must lie elsewhere.

As the days ticked by, she worked and waited for the moment when she could rejoin the fellowship of the Guild. The answer came to her on January 31st, which happened to be her twentieth birthday.

She’d expected to celebrate this milestone in the company of her fellow engineers at Randerley. Indeed, she’d imagined the Master might organize another erotically-charged gathering, sharing more of his magical winter wine. Still, she didn’t waste mental energy on what might have been.

She did allow herself a glass of Burgundy with her birthday supper of cold chicken and boiled potatoes. The single room where she’d spent nearly a month felt warm and cosy, lit by a merry fire and a pair of oil lanterns. She raised her glass – a simple tumbler, not a wine goblet – and smiled. Her voice was loud in her ears. “Happy Birthday, Gillian Smith! Here’s to another year of new adventures and new insights.”

Given her abstinence over the past weeks, the wine went straight to her head. Giggling, she refilled her tumbler. The Analytical Engine caught her eye, carefully put aside on the far corner of the table along with her tools and her notebook. “And here’s to you, you bloody stubborn machine,” she continued. “Sooner or later I’ll figure out how to make you obey me!”

Something shifted at the back of her mind, loosened perhaps by the alcohol. Maybe what she needed was commands. Her symbolic language for controlling the engine had specific representations for each possible instrument and each individual movement. Perhaps that was the wrong level of abstraction. If she could generalise the actions, that might permit smoother reactions...

She wasn’t about to try out her theory while she was tipsy. The next day, though, she began to sketch out a new grammar for her programmes. It took her until the third of February to create a paper-based sequence of instructions using her revised approach. Holding her breath, she watched the paper slide between the rollers that fed it to the engine. For a moment nothing happened. Then the miniature paddle began to swing, at a slow, even tempo, just as she’d intended.

By Boole and Babbage! That’s it!” Jumping to her feet, she danced a little jig around the table. “I’ve done it! The Master will be so pleased!”

Don’t forget to leave a comment! Every one helps make the dreams and ambitious of smart young women become reality.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

When did I let it get this bad? #Memoir #StepMother #Giveaway

Mamacadabra tour banner


Starting her third year of marriage, Carrie Monroe O’Keefe had already been on the roller coaster of extreme highs and lows of a newly blended family. Thinking she could do a better job of navigating marriage, stepmotherhood, working full time, and all of the things, she embarked on a year of “what if.”

Settling into her role as wife and mom, she tried to find ways to do things better, see things differently, and reframe her thinking to create a better home for her family and to feel more at home herself. With humor, unwavering honesty, vulnerability, and sarcasm, Carrie finds her way through the year and to her true self.


From Chapter: This House is Not a Home (Currently)

It’s a bright Saturday morning and I’m looking around my kitchen wondering when, exactly, I let it get THIS bad. The dishwasher has been run, but nobody has bothered to unload it, resulting in piles of dirty dishes in and around the sink. There are empty cereal boxes lined up, I assume, so I can cut out the Box Tops for Education labels…because I’m the only one who can what…use scissors? Break down the boxes for recycling? Throw away the empty bag inside the boxes that once held cereal?

Speaking of recycling, there’s a bag of recycling on a stool waiting to be taken out on our “next trip” out of the house. It’s been there for three days and we have, in fact, left the house several times in those three days.

The clincher, though, is the kitchen table. Our puppy has a best friend that lives next door. He comes over to our back deck door and barks for Sullivan to come out to play. They wrestle, run around, investigate, bark at each other, bark at passersby, lay down to rest, and then start over. When they’re out and I’m working or writing, I bring my laptop up to the kitchen table so I can check on the dogs from time to time.

At this very moment, I’m sitting at my kitchen table and surrounding my laptop are:

One little girl’s black shoe.

One little girl’s gold shoe.

One little girl’s pink slipper.

The Nancy Drew book we’re currently reading.

Large bag of colored pencils.

Pair of my husband’s dirty socks.

Empty napkin holder on its side.

The art project brought home by my littlest little girl.

Pad of paper with my work notes scribbled on it.

Three place mats (one was a casualty of yesterday’s juice fiasco).

One black marker.

Work documents of my husband’s.

A partially completed drawing.

My kitchen table isn’t even big! How, or perhaps a better question is WHY, is there so much sh*t sitting on it?!! And does anybody else find it a teensy bit disconcerting that there are two shoes, a slipper, and dirty socks on the table at which we EAT OUR MEALS? Anyone???

About the Author

Author image

Carrie Monroe O’Keefe started blogging about her life by sharing stories of marriage, stepmotherhood, and how to navigate it all on in 2012. People said they loved reading the posts, so she kept writing. In addition to blogging, she released her middle-grade fiction book, The Whole Truth, in 2019.

Carrie lives outside of Minneapolis with her husband, two daughters, and dog Finlay.

Instagram: @monroeokeefe 

Mamacadabra book cover

The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

It’s not safe here after dark – #ParanormalRomance #BlackHistoryMonth #MRFWHooks

The Eyes of Bast banner

Welcome to this week’s MFRW Book Hooks blog hop!

Last week I took a break for Valentine’s Day, but today I’m returning to my February theme of Black History Month, featuring excerpts from my books that feature Black characters.

I should say that when I write a story, I don’t usually plan the race of my characters ahead of time. Sometimes the question is embedded in the premise, as was the case with Fin d’Espoir two weeks ago. Often, though, I just get a feeling about a character’s background and ethnicity.

In The Eyes of Bast, which I am featuring today, both the heroine and the hero are Black. They could have been something else. On the other hand, Shaina’s Caribbean heritage is important to the plot. And I suppose that it makes sense that a black cat shifter would be a Black male in human form.

Anyway, here’s today’s Hook. Enjoy!


Trust your heart. Follow your dreams.

When instinct tells Shaina to visit the feral cat trap she’s set in Central Park, she listens to that inner voice. The sleek black cat she finds has a terrible secret. Tom is an unwilling shape shifter, cursed by a sorceress who craved a human plaything. Shaina vows to defeat the vicious but seductive witch and save the man she believes is her soul mate—though it might mean losing him forever. 


MFRW Book Hooks banner

The Hook

Go check the old elm.

I swear, the voice was clear as crystal in my mind. Lack of sleep, I told myself. Or stress. The cage is still in my apartment. There wont be anything there. But the urge to go back just wouldn’t let go.

Trust your instincts. With a sigh, I turned and headed for the park, pulling my mace out of my purse as I walked.

The sky was still light enough for me to see shapes and shadows, even under the trees. As I’d expected, the area beneath the elm was empty, the grass trampled from my previous visit. Of course, no cats revealed themselves. If there were ferals around, they’d be hiding in the underbrush, wary of my scent and the sounds I made, despite my attempts to move quietly.

Tom wasnt afraid of me. The thought made me ache. He’d been such a gorgeous, affectionate cat. I hoped he was okay.

Hello.” The voice was male, low and throaty. I jumped and whirled around.

A man stood behind me, a fairly young man with sleek, dark skin and a wide, shy smile. Although his body appeared to be fit and muscular, he held himself in an awkward manner, as if he had some subtle handicap. His arms hung at his sides, his hands clenching and unclenching as though he didn’t quite know what to do with them.

I gripped my mace more tightly. He didn’t appear at all threatening, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Um—what are you doing here?”

Nothing, nothing…” He shrugged and scratched the curly black locks that covered his head. “I heard your voice. I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

Had I spoken aloud? I returned his smile, still uncertain whether I should trust him. “I’m fine. Just taking a walk.”

It’s not safe here after dark, you know.”

His earnest tone made me chuckle. I held up the can of mace. “I can take care of myself.”

Worry furrowed his high forehead. “That won’t help against some of the things that come out at night.”

A chill shot through me. I shook it away. “I was just headed home anyway.”

Good. You should be careful.” His smile returned, melting my last vestiges of suspicion. He pronounced his English with a precision that made me wonder if he spoke something else as his native language. It wasn’t exactly an accent, but I could tell he wasn’t a native New Yorker.

What about you?”

Oh, I know my way around here,” he answered. He ran his fingers through his curls and arched his back a bit, as though stretching. Despite that odd awkwardness, he was lithe and graceful. A brief pang of desire shot through me. “And I have excellent night vision. Exceptionally sharp hearing too.”

I couldn’t figure out why, but something about him felt familiar. “Have we met before?” I asked then cringed, realizing it sounded like a pick-up line. “I mean…um… I don’t mean…” Hot blood climbed into my cheeks, though the shadows were probably too dense for him to detect my discomfort.

His bold laugh rang out in the growing darkness. “Maybe we have met,” he said. “I live in the neighborhood. Do you?”

Pretty close,” I answered, alarm bells sounding in my head. No matter how handsome and charming he was, I wasn’t about to give him my address.

Well, then, you never know. You said you were heading home. May I walk with you?”

Um… Actually…”

He took my arm without waiting for my permission.

His touch stopped me cold. It drove out rational thought. As if someone had turned on a faucet, hormones poured into my blood. My nipples tensed and my lower lips grew plump and slick. Fire tipped the fingers resting on my bare forearm. I gasped, staring up in wonder at his strong, even features, overcome by his imminent maleness.

I wanted to stretch out in the grass and pull him down on top of me. I was dying to feel his weight on my chest, his hardness probing between my thighs. Skin on skin was what I craved, with an urgency I’d never experienced in my all my twenty-eight years.

The Eyes of Bast book cover

Find all the buy links at:

Be sure to visit the other authors participating in today’s Book Hooks!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Join us for Charity Saturday, 25 February 2024! #CharitySundaySignup #Altruism #Marketing

crayon heart

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Since 2017, I’ve been devoting the last Sunday in each month to a post which features some worthy cause. Often, other bloggers join me in this effort, turning the event into a blog hop. This month’s Charity Sunday blog hop will take place this coming Sunday, the 28th of January.

Charity Sunday is a meme designed to give authors and bloggers a chance to give back to the world—as well as, hopefully, to attract new readers.

How does it work? Each participant selects a favorite charity. Before
the date, you should prepare a blog post that: 1) talks about the charity and why you support it; 2) provides a link to the charity; 3) includes an excerpt from one of your books; 4) includes the code to show links to other participating blogs.

It’s fun if you can make the excerpt relate somehow to your chosen charity, but this isn’t required.

For every comment left on your post, you commit to giving some amount to the relevant charity. The specific charity and the amount to donate are up to you. You can set an upper limit to your donation if you want.

If you’d like to participate in the next Charity Sunday
on February 25th, just sign up using the Linky List below. Please be sure that the link you enter will lead directly to your Charity Sunday post, not just to the home page of your blog.

You can get my brand new 2024 Charity Sunday banner here:

For an example
post, check out this link from my last Charity Sunday:

Monday, February 19, 2024

An unsung heroine... #HistoricalFiction #WomensRights #Giveaway @CharBellDietz

The Spinster, the Rebel and the Governor tour banner


Move over Susan B. Anthony. There’s an unsung woman asking for the vote 224 years before you, and murderous rebels and bigoted gentlemen can’t prevent spinster Lady Margaret Brent from wielding her power to defend Maryland settlers from plunder and obliteration.

Lady Margaret Brent, compelled to right wrongs, risks her life by illegally educating English women, placing her family at risk. She fights to have a voice, yet her father and brothers exclude her from discussions. Worried the kings’ men may know of her illegal activities, she flees to the New World where she can enjoy religious tolerance and own land, believing she will be allowed a voice. Once in Maryland, she presents cases in provincial court where she’s hired as the first American woman attorney, but there she uncovers perilous actions, prompting her to build a fort to shield those within from being murdered. Can Margaret Brent’s integrity and ingenuity protect Maryland from being destroyed?


The Wells girl covered her eyes with both hands. Margaret, ignoring the buzzing of flies and the damp heat of the morning sun, worked to untangle the girl’s words in her mind.

If the river doesn’t take me, then I shall have my baby alone and will have to live with Master Cole, and I shall never see my dearTom again.” With that, she burst into tears.

You do not look like you are about to have a baby. Why do you say your time is up?”

Master Cole brought me here four years ago. He said after I had worked for him for four years, I wouldn’t owe him a tad more, and now he says I can’t leave, and so I might as well marry him. Lady Brent. I worked hard from early morning until after dark every day, and my time is up. Even the devil would say this isn’t right.” She sniffed and looked away.

Margaret set her jaw. “Heaven help us if other masters here in Maryland treat their servants in this manner.”

There’s nothing I can do.” She bit her lip. “I thought maybe the next time you talked with Governor Calvert you might say something on my behalf, and I pray my request is not one of cheekiness.”

Mary.” Margaret called sharply across to the soap making group. “Would you please come here?”

When Mary finished saying something, she trotted over to the garden. “Hello, Carrie. Are you not feeling well—your face seems flushed?”

So, you are acquainted with Carrie Wells?” Margaret studied her sister, slipped the basket from Carrie, and moved it into Mary’s hands. “She brought these for us and herbs to scent your soap.”

Sometimes on Sundays after church Carrie walks with me in the woods and shows me barks, roots, and herbs that heal.” She glanced at the basket. “Why, these are lovely.” She glanced at the young woman, then put her hand on Carrie’s arm. “Are you still having trouble with Jacob Cole?”

Jacob Cole is about to have troubles with her. Has Giles returned from Kent for Assembly today? Will both our brothers be at the meeting?” Margaret’s frogs roiled inside her.

How dare these men take advantage of their servants?

I saw him and Fulke along with some other men heading to Lewger’s home earlier.”

Come, Carrie Wells. We shall also attend Assembly.”

But—Margaret,” Mary grabbed her arm. “Certainly, women would not be allowed—”

Margaret shrugged Mary away, snatched Carrie Wells by her hand, and stomped off down the path.

Sister,” Mary called after her, “you must take off that filthy apron. You’re covered in soil.”

Margaret jerked it untied and slung it. “There is a difference between God’s soil and men’s dirt. Carrie Wells and I are about to sort this very thing out with all those fine gentlemen of Assembly.”

About the Author

Author image

Charlene Bell Dietz lives in the central mountains of New Mexico. She taught kindergarten through high school, served as a school administrator, and an adjunct instructor for the College of Santa Fe. After retirement she traveled the United States providing instruction for school staff and administrators. Her writing includes published articles, children’s stories, short stories, and mystery and historical novels

Email: chardietzpen @


Twitter @CharBellDietz



The Spinster, the Rebel and the Governor book cover

The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly chosen winner.


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