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Saturday, June 28, 2014
Romancing Colonial America!
Drama, adventure, intrigue! The American Revolution has long called to me. Part of my draw to this era stems from research into my early American and British ancestors who fought on both sides of that sweeping conflict. One direct forebear five generations removed, Sam Houston, uncle of the famous Sam, fought in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, NC, and kept a diary used by historians today. Another tie to the past is my grandfather, seven greats back, Sir George Augustus Elliott, a British general and Governor of Gibraltar during the American Revolution. He was awarded the title Lord Heathfield, Baron of Gibraltar, in honor of his bravery in its defense during the attack by the Spanish and French. While Sir George was giving his all for king and country, his grandson was fighting under George Washington as a commissary officer. There must have been quite a rift in that family.
The first book to come out of this rich well of inspiration was award-winning historical romance novel Enemy of the King, published in 2009 by The Wild Rose Press. I didn't stop there. A sequel featuring the fascinating antagonist in Enemy of the King, British dragoon Captain Jacob Vaughan, tugged at my mind. I even had a plot and title, Traitor’s Legacy. Try as I might, though, I couldn't settle on the right location to set the story, so left it to simmer.
In late spring, 2012, North Carolinian, Ann See, a huge fan of Enemy of the King and fellow colonial American enthusiast, contacted me about writing a sequel set in the oft overlooked, but historically significant town of Halifax, NC. As Enemy of the King takes place in North and South Carolina, and I have strong ties to the Carolinas, this suggestion was appealing.
At Ann’s invitation, husband Dennis and I made a trip to Historic Halifax, and were given a royal tour of this carefully preserved glimpse into our nation’s dynamic past. The quaint town is like a mini colonial Williamsburg. Most impressive among Halifax’s claims to fame, in the spring of 1776, North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress met there, and on April 12, unanimously adopted a document later called the ‘Halifax Resolves,’ the first official action by a colony proclaiming their independence from England. This made Halifax a nest of rebels and thorn in the side of the British––what I needed for my plot.
(Image of Beth and the guide touring a home in Historic Halifax)
Some people ask, ‘Why write historical romance?’ I reply, ‘Why not?’ Folks fell in love back then too, and romance adds that thrill of excitement. The attraction between British Captain Vaughan and Patriot Claire Monroe most certainly leaps off the pages in Traitor’s Legacy.They were one of my all-time favorite couples to write.
Much of the story takes place in and around Historic Halifax in what is now the town of Littleton. Person’s Ordinary, featured in the novel, was an important stage-coach stop and is the oldest landmark in Halifax County. Located in Littleton, Person’s Ordinary is the oldest preserved structure of its kind in the East, and once served as a tavern owned by Thomas Person. The Ordinary was occupied by the British in May 1781 when they made their way through Halifax en route to Virginia. The British Legion, also known as Tarleton’s Legion, headed by the infamous Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, were on horseback and out in front of the rest of the army under command of General Lord Cornwallis. Tarleton underestimated the harassment inflicted by the local militia, whose stubborn resistance resulted in a prolonged stay by the British and reprisals against the town. In fact, there was so much looting that when Lord Cornwallis arrived, he had to court-martial and execute one sergeant and a dragoon. Apparently, his lordship didn’t want to leave a trail of animosity everywhere his army went. (Image of Person’s Ordinary)
Thornton Hall, the plantation home featured in Traitor’s Legacy, is drawn from a run down but once outstanding old house located a mile or two from Person’s Ordinary. The original home was also built by Thomas Person. He wouldn't recognize it now. Dusk was falling when Dennis and I, guided by Ann, drove to the overgrown site to see the derelict house. I knew at once I’d found the perfect home for the novel. Ann supplied me with descriptions of the old house in its glory days and I resurrected it, like restoring the Titanic, with some poetic license, of course. I’d love to move into Thornton Hall. The gardens are also lovely. I hope you enjoy your tour.
Mystery, intrigue, spies, a coded letter, and stirring romance fill the pages of Traitor’s Legacy. Bringing history to life.
Story Description: 1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.
Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.
Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?
“I thoroughly enjoyed Enemy of the King…the characters are memorable, the setting beautifully described…the action riveting and the romance tender. For anyone who loves a well-crafted historical romance.” ~Reviewed by Poinsettia for Long and Short Reviews
“Beth Trissel is a skilled storyteller and scene builder. She immediately plunges the reader into action and excitement with a vivid sense of time and place.” ~For Enemy of the King by Award-winning Romance Author Kris Kennedy
Traitor’s Legacy is coming out August 13th, 2014 by the Wild Rose Press. The third book in the Traitor’s Legacy Series is in the works. Romancing Colonial America, a growing event evolving around the book signing, will take place on Oct. 11th in Historic Halifax.
Experience the best of colonial America during this special event packed with activities, demonstrations, tours, music, dance, a book signing, and more on Saturday, October 11th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Historic Halifax State Historic Site.Romancing Colonial America will highlight the eighteenth century from pirate days through the revolution!
A book signing and reception will be held at the Royal White Hart Masonic Lodge, No. 2 (130 Saint David Street, Halifax, NC) 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pre-order your copy of Traitor’s Legacy, available for $15 each, call (252) 583-7191 to reserve copies, and make checks payable to Historical Halifax Restoration Association, Inc. Pre-orders can be picked up on the day of the event.
Enjoy colonial period musical performances and dances at various times throughout the historic site. Folk musicians, flutists, singers, and costumed dancers will provide eighteenth century entertainment in various locations on site. Also, throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., colonial era living-history demonstrations performed by costumed re-enactors will take place along with tours of the site’s historic buildings which date from circa 1760 through the 1830s. Stop by the Historic Halifax State Historic Site Visitor Center to pick up a complete schedule of activities and an event map.
For more information about Romancing Colonial America and any related activities, please call Historic Halifax at (252) 583-7191 or visitwww.halifax.nchistoricsites.org. Historic Halifax is within the Division of Sate Historic Sites in the NC Department of Cultural Resources and is located at 25 Saint David Street, Halifax, NC 27839