Book Spotlight: “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the story “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes.


About the Book (story collection), The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War

Love Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

About Terri’s story “Free to Love” in the story collection:  East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books 


About the Author:

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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Interview with Terri J. Haynes, author of “Free to Love” (story)

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Terri J. Haynes about her story “Free to Love.”

Enjoy the interview!


Interview with Terri J. Haynes about her story, “Free to Love” in the Underground Railroad Brides story collection:

Alexis: Why did you agree to write this story “Free to Love” for Barbour Books as part of their collection of stories titled, “The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War?”

Terri: This story was originally a part of a proposal but in a different time periods. That proposal was modified so that all the storied happened before the Civil War. Even though it wasn’t our original proposal, all the ladies in the collection had worked so hard on our stories.

Alexis: What is your story “Free to Love” about?

Terri: It is the story of Hiram and Winnie, two slaves in Maryland. Hiram has run from the south and Winnie’s church is a part of the Underground Railroad. Hiram ends up wounded near Winnie’s church and she helps nurse him back to health. But there is a storm brewing around them and it threatens their freedom and their lives.

Alexis: Who are the main characters in your story? Briefly describe the hero and heroine’s looks, personality, hopes, fears and outlook on life.

Terri: Winnie is a slave but she and her parents assist with the Underground Railroad. Winnie is strong, loyal and caring, but fears being on the run. Hiram has run from the south and his brave but gentle. He fears he will be captured before he can reach freedom.

Alexis: What is it about the hero that the heroine loves? Explain.

Terri: Winnie loves that Hiram is so gentle despite his size. She also loves that he enjoys growing things. She also loves his courage to run from his slave masters to freedom.

Alexis: What is the hero’s greatest skill and his most troublesome weakness?

Terri: Hiram’s greatest skill is his ability to make people feel at ease. His most troublesome weakness is that he is afraid of being caught and sent back to the south.

Alexis: What is it about the heroine that makes the hero want to protect her?

Terri: Winnie is one of the most caring, hardworking woman Hiram has ever met. She also is sacrificing for the people she loves. Winnie is also working toward her freedom, just in a very different way than Hiram and Hiram wants her freedom as much as he wants his own.

Alexis: How are your hero and heroine involved in the Underground Railroad?

Terri: Hiram is a runaway slave and Winnie is a conductress.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story? Why?

Terri: That love can bloom in the darkest of places. I feel that many stories about the Underground Railroad focus on the pain, tragedy and abuse, but not taking into account that there were families, couples and children who loved each other. In my research for this novella, I found instances of runaway slaves risking a return to their slaveholders to free their families. Working so they could purchase the freedom of their spouses and children. Slaves were not an unfeeling mass. They had families, dreams and love.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories like these that feature main characters of color, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Terri: I would. I would love to see more stories because I am a person of color. There is power in representation. Of course, I can connect with stories featuring other races, but I would love to read about my own. We have stories to tell that will further the Kingdom.

Alexis: What would you say is the greatest challenge in being an author of color writing stories about characters of color to be published by CBA?

Terri: The greatest challenge is that CBA, at the moment, publishes very few authors of color. It is heartbreaking to see it. It feels like there isn’t a place for me, even though I am a Christian and a consumer of Christian fiction. It’s hard to see a whole segment of literature devoid of people who look and write like me.

Alexis: Would you say that it’s easier for authors of color who write books about characters of color to become indie authors to get their stories out there? Why or why not?

Terri: This question has a hard answer. Yes, I think it is easier for authors of color to become indie authors. In the indie world, there is no “gatekeeper.” Authors of color are free to tell the stories they want how they want. Unfortunately, this has a downside. There is a lot of work in indie publishing, espically if you plan to succeed. You basically become a publishing house. I am thankful that we can indie publish, but I would like it to be one of my options, not my only option.

Alexis: What advice would you give the Marketing and Sales Department of traditional Christian publishing houses to help them reach readers of color and effectively sell books by authors of color whose stories feature characters of color?

Terri: Now I have to put on another hat I’ve worn in the past: bookseller. I used to work for a major bookstore so I understand that world. The truth is simple. All publishing houses need to do is publishing authors of color.

There were many days where people from all races came into the bookstore where I was working and ask specifically for books by authors of color. Christian authors of color. The demand is there. The problem is the books aren’t. Put the books out there and they will sell.

When we start taking about how to reach readers of color, there is the suggestion that readers of color are somewhere buried way under a rock and never set foot into a bookstore or library. Like there is some different process on how to reach us than readers of other races. I have been told several times that publishers don’t know how to market to readers of color and this statement makes it seem like readers of color are foreign and “other.”

There isn’t a different way. Christian readers of color find new reads the same way everyone else does. We browse bookstores. We get book recommendations from our friends. We read book reviews. Readers of color have been purchasing CBA books for years. If we found those books, have a little faith that we’ll find books featuring characters of color. Have more than a little faith, because we want to see ourselves in books and on covers.

Alexis: If you were not an author, what would you be?

Terri: Unhappy. I love to write and can’t imagine my life without it.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Terri! Do you have closing comments?

Terri: Thank you for interviewing me. I hope that this interview will broaden the conversation about authors of color in Christian fiction.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book (story collection), The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War

Love Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

About Terri’s story “Free to Love” in the story collection:  East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books 


About the Author:

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Book Review: The Bashful Bride

Happy Friday, reader friends!

Are you ready for the weekend?

Today, we’re featuring my review of Vanessa Riley’s new novel, The Bashful Bride.

It’s the perfect weekend read!


My Review of The Bashful Bride:

This book was amazingly well written, and completely captivating from start to finish. Vanessa Riley, the author, has really outdone herself with this one. I’m not a big fan of historical romance but Vanessa’s stories are delightful and make me want to read more books by her brilliant mind!

Reading this book was a theatrical experience on paper. It’s like the author takes you by the imagination from page one and transports you back in time to the Regency era then invites you to a front row seat as you watch this beautiful story unfold.

The characters were likable, their background was believable and the dialogue was beautiful. I loved the idea of love at first sight and enjoyed seeing how the heroine’s celebrity crush became her real-life love interest via a meet-cute that threw them together in the most unique and intriguing way.

The author is not afraid to make her characters real and heroic in every sense—the hero is a famous, handsome actor with the passionate platform of an abolitionist. Arthur Bex is his name and he’s not afraid to speak out a time in history where most kept silent. He’s passionate about freedom and he’s not afraid to express his views even when his push for equality threatens to overhaul the status quo.

The heroine, a shy heiress by the name of Ester Croome, is heroic in terms of honesty and loyalty because she refuses to marry anyone who her heart does not love in a society where sometimes women married for money, status or other practical reasons. She may be shy but when it comes to marriage, she knows what she wants and who she wants—handsome actor Arthur Bex. But beyond good looks, Ester wants a man of character and integrity, and Arthur seems to fit the bill.

But love at first sight only becomes the forever kind of love that lasts when it’s tested and tried to be true. The author doesn’t shy away from testing the love between Arthur and Ester. She throws her main characters into quite the plight as the story progresses! Riley knows how to build tension and leave the readers wanting more at the end of each scene. I kept turning the pages until I finished this story in one sitting!

Even if you’re not a fan of historical romance, read this book by Vanessa Riley. It will captivate your heart!

*I (Alexis A. Goring) received a complimentary copy of this book (The Bashful Bride) from the author for me to read. My opinions in this book review are my own.


About the Book:

A friend’s newspaper advertisement for a groom nets the most famous actor in London, Arthur Bex. Shy heiress Ester Croome proposes to elope with the handsome man, who she’s secretly loved for two years, in order to escape an impending engagement arranged by her overbearing family.

Trying to outlive the shadow of his villainous uncle, Bex needs to marry quickly—to a woman of good character. And smart, beautiful Ester fits the bill. But a harrowing trip to Gretna Green and dangerous abolition rallies prove to be a more treacherous stage than either imagined. Infatuation and a mutual love for Shakespeare might not be enough to bind a couple looking to outrun the chains and secrets of family and the past.

Buy The Bashful Bride on Amazon


About the Author:

Vanessa Riley writes Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. 

Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins. 

Vanessa juggles mothering a teen, cooking for her military-man husband, and speaking at women’s and STEM events. She’s known for her sweeping romances and humorous delivery of poignant truths. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.


Connect with Vanessa:

Website – http://www.vanessariley.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/VanessaRiley/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/RegencyMaid
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/vanessarileyauthor/

Sign up for her newsletter to get access to free stories, giveaways, and more at: 
http://www.vanessariley.com

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Book Spotlight: The Bashful Bride

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on The Bashful Bride. 

This book is a Regency-era, fiction story written by  Vanessa Riley.


About the Book:

A friend’s newspaper advertisement for a groom nets the most famous actor in London, Arthur Bex. Shy heiress Ester Croome proposes to elope with the handsome man, who she’s secretly loved for two years, in order to escape an impending engagement arranged by her overbearing family.

Trying to outlive the shadow of his villainous uncle, Bex needs to marry quickly—to a woman of good character. And smart, beautiful Ester fits the bill. But a harrowing trip to Gretna Green and dangerous abolition rallies prove to be a more treacherous stage than either imagined. Infatuation and a mutual love for Shakespeare might not be enough to bind a couple looking to outrun the chains and secrets of family and the past.

Buy The Bashful Bride on Amazon


About the Author:

Vanessa Riley writes Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. 

Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins. 

Vanessa juggles mothering a teen, cooking for her military-man husband, and speaking at women’s and STEM events. She’s known for her sweeping romances and humorous delivery of poignant truths. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.


Connect with Vanessa:

Website – http://www.vanessariley.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/VanessaRiley/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/RegencyMaid
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/vanessarileyauthor/

Sign up for her newsletter to get access to free stories, giveaways, and more at: 
http://www.vanessariley.com

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Book Spotlight – Oney: My Escape from Slavery

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

I’m excited to bring you a new book spotlight. This one is Oney: My Escape From Slavery by Diana Rubino and Piper Huguley. I’m sure you remember Ms. Huguley, since she’s been spot lighted before. Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: “It is 1793 – a decade after General George Washington led America to victory in its fight for independence from Britain.

With freedom secured, the general has been persuaded to accept a second term as president of the new nation. But in his heart he wants to go back to being a farmer. And being a farmer means he has slaves. Leading a nation is a demanding and often lonely business and Lady Washington is unable to persuade her husband to give up his public ‘duty’.

At least she has help. Oney Judge is her ‘personal servant’ – and soon-to-be confidante. Oney is a ‘quadroon’ – three parts white and one part black. So, unlike the white people who so recently gained their independence from the Mother Country, Oney is not free. She is Lady Washington’s inherited property, though the word ‘slave’ is never spoken. Oney works in “the big house” at Mount Vernon, sewing dresses and serving tea. Lady Washington treats her as well as her own grandchildren. But though she is often mistaken as a Washington relative by visitors, Oney remains in bondage.

In the spring of 1796, Lady Washington tells Oney that she will make her granddaughter Eliza a nice wedding gift. Oney soon discovers this does not mean sewing a negligee or a quilt for a gift. No, it means that she will be the gift.

This is the day that Oney decides to escape – to put her forced bondage behind her and make her bid for freedom. On May 21, 1796, Oney walks straight past the Washingtons and out the front door. Although they make several attempts to capture her, she lives the rest of her life in freedom.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

Diana Rubino specializes in historical romance, sometimes with a touch of the paranormal, her favorite areas being Medieval and Renaissance England and all American history. A longtime member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society, and the Aaron Burr Association, she recently completed a romantic thriller about Alexander Hamilton and biographical novels about Eliza Jumel Burr and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s wife Sophia.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Piper G Huguley, named 2015 Debut Author of the Year by Romance Slam Jam and Breakout Author of the Year by AAMBC, is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist. and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20th century featuring African American characters, published by Samhain Publishing. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015 and received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine.

Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. On release, the prequel novella to the “Home to Milford College” series, The Lawyer’s Luck, reached #1 Amazon Bestseller status on the African American Christian Fiction charts. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.
Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.
She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

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