Book Journeys – Historic Villages

Book Journeys

TruetoYou_mck.inddI finished reading Becky Wade’s newest novel, True to You, last week which features a historic village that the heroine owns, so I thought it would be cool to feature a few historic villages in the U.S. to celebrate keeping history alive 😊

I haven’t visited most of these, but I’d LOVE to, because you really do get a sense of stepping-back-in-time when you walk down a street surrounded by period buildings (AND have people dressed in period clothing reenacting daily jobs or activities).

Let’s start with the biggest – and one I’ve actually visited.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg....I revise my previous London is tied with the 'burg for my favorite place on Earth <3
Colonial Williamsburg – Pinterest

In the 1920s Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. combined forces to begin restoration of the largest British outpost in colonial America. The 18th century village provides over 300 acres of a historic world, complete with buildings, people, furnishings…and even animals. Step inside a place set to backdrop America’s journey toward revolution and experience what life looked like on the cusp of the creation of a great nation.

Connor Prairie Living History Museum

Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Dearborn, MI – Pinterest

If you’re more inclined to take a more ‘frontier’ adventure, you might enjoy a trip to Fishers, Indiana. 1836 Connor Prairietown is the restoration of a early 19th century rural town on the edge of the White River. Started in the 1930s by Eli Lilly, the museum began with the restoration of the William Connor House and then expanded to include an entire village for people to explore. Kid activities, reenactments, and even…oh oh, one of my favorite parts, a hot air balloon launch to celebrate man’s early advancements in flight. I think a little trip westward sounds like a great idea.

The Greenford Village

Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI A collection of nearly 100 historic buildings on a 200-acre (80-hectare) site in Dearborn, southeastern Michigan, U.S. It was established in 1933 by industrialist Henry Ford, who relocated or reconstructed buildings there from throughout the United States.
Dearborn, MI – Pinterest

People with lots of money and a little (or lot) of eccentricity do some interesting things sometimes. Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan is a plethora of historic wonder. Henry Ford created this 80-acre farm to honor people he admired, particularly from the early 1900s. In some cases, he recreated buildings, in other cases he restored or saved them. It includes the birthplaces, homes, or workshops of people like Thomas Edison, Noah Webster, or the Wright Brothers. It even includes the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. Henry Ford loved the innovative mind, and it shows in the fact that Greenfield has a running steam locomotive and opportunities to ride in a Model T (of course). There are interactive exhibits, a horse-and-buggy rides, a carousel, and all sorts of hands-on activities. Sounds AMAZING for those of us who LOVE history!


Believe it or not, there are a great many living history museums throughout the US, but these are a few of the best (and biggest).

Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.  So much fun taking a step back into our country's history.....some original artifacts were used as props!
Plimouth – Pinterest

Some honorable mentions would be Mount Vernon, Mystic Seaport, OK Corral, Plimouth Plantation (I REALLY WANT TO VISIT THIS ONE), Jamestown, and Stone Mountain Antebellum Plantation.

Have you ever visited a Living History Museum? What did you think? What era or place in history would you like to see recreated?

BWade-436You can order your own copy here

You can check out Becky’s beautiful website and other books, here.

(Check out my review of True to You here)

Swoony Saturdays – John Lawson

Welcome! Welcome!

Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Washington, oh, Washington.  Your natural beauty is breathtaking.:

Who? John Lawson

Where can we find this dreamboat? True to You by Becky Wade (released June 2017)

Personality summary: John Lawson…whew, such a strong name for a strong guy, yet beneath all those layers of man-muscle is a surprisingly sensitive and vulnerable guy. He thinks and feels deeply, and has a strong sense of doing what is right. There’s certainly a hint of broodiness about him, but once someone moves beyond the initial intimidation, they’ll find a good-hearted, loyal, and kind man with a subtle-yet-fabulous sense of humor. There’s a quiet confidence about him which draws the heroine toward him from day one. Oh yes, he’s a swoony hero, but more importantly, when his focus is trained on a goal, he’s all in…and he’s focused on Nora 😊 Whew…

I have one word for you! Indubitable. Continue reading “Swoony Saturdays – John Lawson”

Book Journeys – St. Louis

Named after the famed king of France, Louis IX, St. Louis is a glittering city on the Missouri River. Most notable for The Gateway Arch, it’s baseball team (Cardinals, in case you don’t know), and, in my opinion, its pizza!! Yum!

Continue reading “Book Journeys – St. Louis”

Swoony Saturdays – Tyler Hawk

Today we welcome Mikal Dawn to share her swoony hero, Tyler Hawk with us from her debut novel, Count Me In. If you are up for an adventure (the kind where you don’t leave your couch….) then pick up a copy of this book TODAY!


Who? Tyler Richmond Hawk

Where can we find this dreamboat? Count Me In by Mikal Dawn (released May, 2017)

Personality summary: Tyler is just…fun! He was a tight end in the NFL (playing for my favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks, which puts his hero-scale off the charts in my books!) and now owns his own extreme outdoor adventure company. He’s a risk-taker through and through, pushing through a past that tried to keep him locked away in fear. His big heart wants others to experience the thrill of pushing past fear, including his new accountant, Allegra Spencer—a more fear-filled woman he’s never met. Tyler likes to push her out of her comfort zone, perhaps pushing a few of her buttons along the way….and maybe a push into his arms? Continue reading “Swoony Saturdays – Tyler Hawk”

Book Journeys – The Biltmore – Gardens

Biltmore Gardens

On this day, 119 years ago, George and Edith Vanderbilt married in a service in France. After their four-month long honeymoon, George brought his bride (called by many of the Appalachian natives ‘a princess’) back home to his estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

The story behind Edith Vanderbilt's arrival to Biltmore Estate in #Asheville, NC, and her grand legacy amongst the workers and families of #Biltmore.
Edith Vanderbilt – PinterestPinterestPinterest

I can’t even imagine what Edith’s first thoughts were as she rounded the corner of the gated entry and saw the grand chateau with similar hues as the surrounding mountains. Both George and Edith were not only readers, but also the outdoorsy sort. Their personal photos, many taken by Edith, show them in various places around the estate and in the gardens. Continue reading “Book Journeys – The Biltmore – Gardens”

Great Scott!!! True to You by Becky Wade

TruetoYou_mck.inddIsn’t this cover amazing? And a wonderful representation for the quality of story you’ll find within the pages.

I must choose to read authors like Becky Wade only to torture myself as a writer…in a dreamy (maybe envious) kind of way.

True to You is a sweet story, and by using the word ‘sweet’ I don’t mean to simplify the elegance, beauty, or intricate complexity of this novel.

I mean ‘sweet’ in the way in which the best combination of high-quality ingredients creates a delectable dessert.

That kind of sweet.

Becky took a strong plot, two meaningful characters, a unique setting, and purposeful secondary characters to concoct a classy combination of romance and grace.

Continue reading “Great Scott!!! True to You by Becky Wade”

Swoony Saturdays – Graham Cooper II

Welcome! Welcome!

Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Graham Cooper II

Today I am THRILLED to have Laurie Tomlinson here! She is going to share her hero from her new release with you. What do you find swoony about Cooper?


Who? Graham Cooper II (Goes by Cooper)

Where can we find this dreamboat? With No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson (May 2017)

Personality summary: Cooper has a very hard, colorful past he feels the need to atone for and self-medicates in various ways, the healthiest of which is cooking. Over the last few years, he’s thankfully learned the importance of humility and gratitude. He will fight hard for what and especially who he believes in. A talented salesperson, Cooper knows how to lay on the charm, but with the people who matter most to him, he is fiercely loyal and values authenticity. Continue reading “Swoony Saturdays – Graham Cooper II”

Book Journeys – A Biltmore Love Story

A Biltmore Love Story

It’s sad to say that most of the best love stories are not widely known. We hear a great deal about people to split up, but real-life romances are not as celebrated.

TRUE LOVEThey happen. In all time periods, classes, places, and people-groups, true love has a way of making ordinary life rather extraordinary.

As we’ve toured the Biltmore the past few weeks in Book Journeys, we’ve had opportunity to see the beautiful creation George Vanderbilt envisioned when he first entered the mountains years before his grand estate was finished, but of all the beautiful things the estate housed…the relationship between George and his wife, Edith, was probably the most memorable for me.

George Vanderbilt surprised his love, Edith, in 1898 when he brought her to his romantic castle in Asheville after their wedding. Here is Edith's engagement photo.:
Edith’s Engagement Photo – Pinterest

George was considered a confirmed bachelor and Edith an ‘old’ maid at the time the two of them began an attachment. Having been among the same circles for years, it wasn’t until one of George’s friends encouraged the two of them to spend time together as they traveled aboard ship to France, that a romance began to bloom.


George’s more introverted and bookish personality bloomed in Edith’s vibrant and social wake. There was a genuine excitement about their marriage to each other, and despite the immaculate wealth of the Vanderbilts, they both chose a fairly simple wedding.

George W. Vanderbilt canceled his booking aboard Titanic the day before her scheduled departure. Supposedly, his mother convinced him that maiden voyages were too troublesome.:
George W. Vanderbilt – Pinterest

The Philadelphia Record reported this of the wedding: It was a union of quiet contentment…There probably never was so unostentatious a Vanderbilt wedding since the family made its millions. It is true that the church was full of costumes and the company was very fine, but there was an altogether marked quietness of tone and an absence of display.


After a four month honeymoon abroad, they returned home…man and wife, with great fanfare from the townspeople, tenants, and servants from Biltmore. The tenants lined the road as George and Edith rode forward and in the quiet of their first evening in their magnificent home, fireworks lit the night sky.

The classic story of a father's love: George #Vanderbilt and Cornelia Vanderbilt. #Biltmore:
George with his daughter Cornelia – Pinterest

They both had an abiding love for learning and bringing education to others. With their quick minds and compassion, they opened schools of various kinds for the mountain people of Appalachia and took a surprising interest in the meekest and poorest of those people within their influence.


Biltmore’s New Star “A new star has appeared at famous Biltmore, and the charming mistress of this most gorgeous home is smiling upon her first born, a tiny girl called Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt...”:
Edith with her daughter Cornelia – Pinterest 


Edith Vanderbilt’s reputation was one of sophistication, grace, and the unique ability to relate to people of all different social classes and rank, which would become one of her most memorable features to the servants and townspeople of Biltmore. George was a visionary with a generous heart.

Biltmore truly became a ‘home’ for them, especially when their only child, Cornelia, was born.

George and Edith Vanderbilt at Bucksprings Lodge:
George and Edith Vanderbilt at Bucksprings Lodge – Pinterest

Though their marriage ended too soon with George’s untimely death only sixteen years after they married, their legacy of compassion, ingenuity, and helping-others-help-themselves continued on in Edith’s life. She pursued her and George’s dream by selling a large portion of land to the United States Forest Service to create Pisgah National Forest. Her legacy, and Biltmore’s, continued and still goes on today…but the ‘story’ of their romance is worth telling.


I hope to do that some day 😊

Swoony Saturdays – Samuel Miller

Welcome! Welcome!

Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Samuel Miller

picture of the hero in my WW1 novel, The Thornbearer, Sam Miller. Kind, generous, and faithful, he's faced with the issue of whether to forgive his mother for abandoning him as a child:

 Who? Samuel Miller (Sam)

Where can we find this dreamboat? The Thorn Bearer by Pepper Basham (released May, 2015) debut. Add to Goodreads HERE.

Personality summary: Loyalty is a key component to Sam’s personality. He’s a defender of the right and is a faithful friend and confidante. One deterrent to Sam’s overall jovial and kind demeanor is the bitterness he harbors against those who’ve deeply wounded him, but once he realizes how grace demands forgiveness, his heart opens wide with an even deeper love and gratitude than he had before. The sweetest romances are born of friendship, so when Sam’s affections turn to his best friend, Ashleigh, there is no way she can withstand the appeal of such steadfast, fun, and tender emotion.

The Thorn Bearer - NovelWhat makes us swoon?

His ready humor lightens moods

He’s a rescuer

Lifesavers…of the yellow variety

Heart of GOLD

He has a tender protectiveness for those he loves


lifesavers, the old fashioned candy - when they had the white pineapple flavored ones!!  Mmmm!!!!  Green, yellow, and then orange were my least favorite.  So, I guess that means I really only liked the cherry and pineapple!:

Sam is always ready to give a helping hand

Boyish Charm

He sets you at ease/calms

When he realizes he’s in the wrong, he seeks forgiveness


Kissing level of such swooniness: Sam is a solid 4 kisser, but when he thinks he’s lost the woman of his dreams, those kisses bump up into the 5 range.

Basic hero type: Sam has a whole lot of Knightley in him but a little of Captain Wentworth too. A faithful friend and devoted lover, resentment could deter him from making the wisest choices, but good sense, honest friends, and a steadfast Savior, soften his hardened head and awaken his reluctant heart.

How can I meet this swoony mister? thethornbearer-500x750-1

Ashley Dougall has a terminal disease and forgiveness is the only cure.

Ashley Dougall’s father stole her innocence, her selfish fiancé stole her heart, and unforgiveness is slowly stealing her life.  Drawn by the desire to help others, she tries to escape haunting memories and enlists her services as a nurse in war-torn Europe.  Along with her childhood friend and fiance’s best friend, Samuel Miller, the fragile threads holding Ashley’s life in place one-by-one begin to snap. From the deck of the ill-fated Lusitania to the smoke-filled trenches of WWI, Ashley must choose between forgiveness of the past, life in the present, and a Savior who is willing to help her face them both.

You can find The Thorn Bearer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads as well.

Kissing Levels & Hero Types

Book Journeys- The Biltmore’s Library!

Okay, so we’re back on our tour of the Biltmore – America’s largest privately owned home. This beautiful French-inspired estate is nestled in the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, NC and is one of my FAVORITE places to visit.

You can visit my previous Biltmore posts here and here, but today we’re going to spend an entire post touring my FAVORITE room in the house – the Library!

Book Journeys - Biltmore Library.png

18579073_10213024010255642_1258846513_nRight now, The Biltmore has a wonderful exhibit where some of George Vanderbilt’s books from his library are on display along with costumes from movie-adaptations of those novels. Peter Pan, Jane Eyre, books by one of George’s favorites, Thomas Hardy, and loads of other authors/novels. Needless to say, I was particularly interested in which novel and movie adaptation would hold the coveted spot in the library.

(keep reading to find out 😉)

George Vanderbilt loved literature and even brought some of his favorite authors to stay on his estate – Thomas Hardy visited and Edith Wharton was a fairly frequent guest. The two-level library houses over 22,000 books. He began acquiring books at the age of 11 and even when visitors would tour the family’s mansion in New York, many marveled at the amazing collection George displayed.

18516239_10213024007175565_1087126671_nBecause he cared so much about his guests, he’d often find out what they’re reading-interests were and have their books on display, ready for the picking on the ornate book rack, when they arrived. One of my favorite parts of the library, which also shows George’s consideration for his guests’ access to books, is a ‘secret’ passage behind the mantle that leads directly to the bedrooms of the second floor. I use this little passage in my work-in-progress.

18575616_10213024005495523_1635596850_oA little about this beautiful library: The ceiling kind of pulls your attention as soon as you enter the room from Tapestry Room. Covered in an Italian painting known as The Chariot of Aurora, the vibrant colors accent the deep reds and glossy woods George chose for the library’s furnishings. George purchased the painting, which hung in Pisani Palace in Venice, and had it shipped in 13 sections to be reconstructed for his library.

One feature of the library, which is particularly interesting (besides the BOOKS, of course), is an ivory chess set owned by Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile on St. Helena.

18518507_10213024008215591_829387885_nSo…which novel and movie adaptation did they have on display in the library for the Designed for Drama exhibit?

None other than the costumes for the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (for those of you who need more clarification, I have one name: Colin Firth). Oh my, those costumes look so very nice in that gorgeous library.

If you could pick a favorite classic to have George set on the book rack for you to read, which novel would you request?