A Refuge at Highland Hall

Hi Friends,

I’m excited to share the beautiful new cover of A Refuge at Highland Hall with you! This final book in the Edwardian Brides Series releases October 20, but is available now for preorder at AmazonChristianbooks.com,  and other fine retailers.

Refuge at Highland Hall



What can you expect in this next story? Many of the same characters that you got to know in Book 1 and 2 return, but this time Penny Ramsey steps forward as the heroine. The hero is a wonderfully brave and daring Bristish pilot, Alex Goodwin, who grew up in India with Julia (Foster) Ramsey and Jon Foster.

You’ll be swept away to England and France in 1915 as Penny and Alex face the challenges and losses of World War One, yet also experience the hope and triumph that comes as they put their trust in God to carry them through. The Ramseys welcome a group of orphaned children to Highland and must send members of the family and staff off to war. You’ll be thrilled by action packed scenes when Alex chases German zeppelins across the sky over the Front Line in France. And you’ll be delighted by two pure and heartwarming romances: Penny and Alex, and Lydia Chambers and Marius Ritter, a lady’s maid and a prisoner of war. But most of all I hope you’ll be inspired by the characters’ examples of trusting God through whatever trials you might face.

Fans of “Downton Abbey” will find many of the same elements in this series: A wealthy, aristocratic family living on a large English country estate with romance, conflicts, and family drama; and loyal servants with troubles and heartaches of their own.

The Governess of Highland Hall was a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and The Daughter of Highland Hall is nominated for Inspy Award.

Why not catch up on the series while you wait for Book 3? Visit my website where you can read the first chapters and order your copies of The Governess of Highland Hall and The Daughter of Highland Hall.

The governess of Highland HallDaughter Highland Hall


Happy Reading!



Dinner Downton Abbey Style

Hi Friends,

Have you ever wished you’d been invited to dinner at Downton Abbey? Well, even if you’re not headed for England to dine with Lord and Lady Grantham … why not host your own dinner party – Downton Abbey style?

Downton Dinner Party

As part of my research for the Edwardian Brides Series I’ve read several books about the time period, including Charles MacPherson’s book, “The Butler Speaks: A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette, and the Art of Good Housekeeping.” Here are some tips from his book to help you plan your party.

Setting the Right Mood

The Edwardian era was all about excess. It was the fanciest period England had seen for several centuries, even more ornate than the Victorian era. So think big. The more elaborate you can make the table, the better. The British nobility at the time was very concerned with status, which dictated where people sat. Consider assigning your guests titles, and perhaps make name tags with names and titles. Ask them to dress for dinner, but remember the rules of etiquette: no hats for women after 5 p.m. Ladies always removed their gloves and lay them in their laps.

A Little Dinner Music

Music at an Edwardian-era dinner party would have been provided by a soloist, usually a piano player. So a CD of piano music by a single pianist would be appropriate for a Downton-style dinner. But music would have been only for the predinner reception in the drawing room. Turn off the music when it’s time for the meal.

Beautiful table settingMind the Linens

White linens are really what’s done among the aristocracy, MacPherson said. That goes for both the tablecloth and the napkins. Napkins would have been heavily starched and folded into an elaborate shape, so go online to find instructions for a fancy napkin fold, or borrow a book from the library.

Place the napkin on the bread and butter plate, not in the center of the place setting. Why? If an ill-mannered guest didn’t put his napkin in his lap, the butler would have nowhere to set the guest’s plate. And the butler would have been far too genteel to embarrass the guest by telling him to move the napkin.

Use Your Best China

Edwardians loved expensive hand-painted china and decorative transfer ware, which was new at the time. So patterned china would be most appropriate. Haul out Grandma’s dishes, borrow from a friend, or visit a thrift/secon-hand store.

Mary-Violet-Inspect-TableA Myriad of Glassware

MacPherson recommended using cut crystal, which was the style of the day. If you don’t own it, shop the secondhand stores, but don’t worry about finding a matching set. Mixing and matching is fine. After all, Queen Victoria brought it into style because she didn’t have enough matching pieces for everyone at big dinners.

Candles Galore

Use candles in abundance. Remember that electricity was still new in the early 20th Century, and many people were afraid of it, MacPherson said. Elegant dinners would have been eaten by candlelight, since electricity was thought to give off harmful vapors.

Ivory candles are most authentic, since candles at the time would have been the color of the fat from which they were made. But white candles are a good choice, too.

Downton ServantsJoys of Servants

The dining scenes on Downton Abbey usually show the guests helping themselves from serving dishes offered by the servants. But during the Edwardian era kitchen staff usually put the food onto the guests’ plate, and the butler placed the loaded plates in front of the guests. What, you don’t have servants? Hire your kids to serve, or maybe find some neighborhood teenagers willing to do the job.

Servants at the time would have worn morning suits, probably made by the same tailor who made the lord’s clothing. The fancier the uniform, the higher the master’s status.

Upper-Class Attitude

“The most important thing is to have self-confidence,” McPherson said. Explain to your guests the history and reasoning behind your choices, from the fruit in the centerpiece to the folds in the napkins. “Don’t apologize and say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry this doesn’t match or that doesn’t match. Instead, project all the self-assurance that befits a host.” Would the Crawleys do it any other way?

What’s on the Menu?


  • Beef Tenderloin on Black Pepper Brioche with Bearnaise & Horseradish Cream
  • Lobster Rissoles with Mousseline Sauce
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Salmon Mousse Pinwheels
  • Bread Boxes with Welsh Rarebit

First Course

  • Grilled Quail and Truffle Salad on Toasted Brioche
  • Wild Mushroom Consomme (suitable for vegetarians)

Second Course

  • Lemon and Herb Crusted Sole with Celeriac Veloute, Pickled Cucumber and Celery Leaves
  • Root Vegetable Napoleon with Celeriac Veloute, Pickled Cucumber and Celery Leaves (vegetarian alternative)
  • Grilled Provimi Veal Tenderloin Medallion, Fava Bean Agnollotti with English Pea Foam, Spring Vegetable Bundle & Asiago Tulle with Sterling Premium Caviar
  • Roast Loin of Venison, Tart Greens (savoy cabbage and watercress), Black Currants and Spaetzle

Salad & Cheese Course

  • Fennel & Orange Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Golden Raisins and Endive, Orange Vinaigrette
  • A Selection of Artisinal Cheeses – Aged Comte, Humbolt Fog, Bayley Hazen Blue and Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise


  • Strawberry Charlotte Russe
  • Frozen Meyer Lemon “Caviar” Parfait (made with tapioca) with Fresh Berry Compote
  • Passion Fruit Shells Filled with a Selection of Mousses: Raspberry, Passion Fruit, White Chocolate & Ginger Mango

Doesn’t it all sounds delightful?  Polish the silver, starch the linens, send out the invitations, and enjoy the evening with your friends!

Step into Edwardian life in England when you read The Governess of Highland Hall and The Daughter of Highland Hall. Read the first chapters and order your copy here.

Daughter Highland HallThe Governess of Highland Hall


Thank you to The Detroit Free Press for sharing much of this wonderful information. You can read the full article here.

Thanks to The Catered Affair for their menu.



Gift of Grace by Sharlene MacLaren

Hi Friends,

Today I invited author Sharlene MacLaren to tell us about her new release, Gift of Grace, which is book 3 in the Tennessee Dreams Series. Sharlene is a talented author and good friend. I hope you’ll visit her website and find out more about her books.

9112886Here’s a brief description of the story:

 Grace Fontaine must bid farewell to her beloved Boston to care for her dying great aunt in the fair little town of Paris, Tennessee. There is nothing holding her in Boston anyway, especially since the death of her fiancé, Jess Quinn, some two years prior when the ship he’d been aboard went down and all reports came back – “No survivors”. Upon her arrival in Paris, Grace quickly meets and falls in love with one of Paris’s charming lawyers, Conrad Hall, who wastes no time in proposing marriage. With his promise to love, care for, and protect her, how can Grace possibly say no? Of course, she knows nothing of his devious plan to inherit her aunt’s abundant wealth – his sole reason for wanting to marry her. Mere weeks before the wedding, a most shocking set of circumstances arises, which could very well put a wrench in the wedding plans. Jess Quinn is very much alive and his arrival in Paris to reclaim his fiancée is proof positive.

Sharleen MacLarenThanks for sharing this good news with us, Sharlene! And thanks for writing stories that inspire and delight your readers!

Happy Reading,