Someone came up with the appealing idea of connecting members of a fictional family tree with American history, written by different authors. The first bride came to the New World on the Mayflower. There are half a dozen stories in The Daughters of the Mayflower series so far, with more due out this year.
The Mayflower Bride
by Kimberley Woodhouse
1620 Atlantic Ocean
Book Description: Mary Elizabeth Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary Elizabeth survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?
My Thoughts: As a descendant of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, who came to the New World on the Mayflower, I’d already done quite a bit of studying about the Saints and Strangers, their plans, their difficult voyage, the loss of so many that first winter, and that first hopeful settlement at Plymouth. But I especially enjoyed getting such a great sense of just what that harrowing journey must have been like–all the storms and sickness in the Atlantic, and even after they were in view of land. The author carried us along with delightful fictitious characters who work through their own backgrounds and insecurities, even as they deal with the physical obstacles and discouragements on the trip. Well-known characters show up, such as Myles Standish and John Alden, Governor Carver and William Brewster, Samoset and Squanto, and even the story of how John Howland was rescued during a storm after being washed overboard. I enjoyed the Note to the Reader in the back, and I look forward to the rest of “The Daughters of the Mayflower” series.
The Pirate Bride
by Kathleen Y’Barbo
1725 New Orleans
Book Description: Pasts Collide in New Orleans when a Treasure Goes Missing: The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear.
My Thoughts: Not only was this a great story, I was hooked right away because of a family tree chart at the beginning, liking it to “The Mayflower Bride,” the first book in “The Daughters of the Mayflower” series. Set generations later, it’s also set on the sea with privateers, or is that pirates, an orphanage on an island, and in early New Orleans. The characters are refreshing and the story intriguing. This is my first book by Kathleen Y’Barro, but not my last. She crafts a compelling historical novel.
The Captured Bride
by Michelle Griep
1760 during the French and Indian War
Book Description: Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart. Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought. Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?
My Thoughts: Another engaging story from the “family tree” of characters descending from “The Daughters of the Mayflower” series. This one includes Mercy, the daughter of Black-Fox-Running and a captive English woman, as well as Elias, a Frenchman who was a traitor. Or was he a hero? At any rate, he was a disappointment to his grandfather. And Mercy struggled with who both her parents were. I especially enjoy the Historical Notes in the back, and how the author wove those into a fascinating story. I also appreciate the Bibliography at the end.
The Patriot Bride
by Kimberley Woodhouse
Book Description: Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country?
My Thoughts: Another satisfying story in “The Daughters of the Mayflower” series, complete with a fictional family tree in the front–with part of that Mayflower story retold as part of this episode, set during the Revolutionary War. Faith, the main character did indeed have spunk and spirit, as she dealt with the overwrought cad who insisted she was for him, while passing coded messages to an attractive gentleman, and seeing to her own household. Someone is rescued by a Founding Father in a dress, a bride is married in a very surprising outfit, and a baby is born on a very auspicious day. Dear Reader at the front of the book suggests nonfiction books as a background to the history behind the story, and at the end are the Declaration of Independence and a Note from the Author which includes recommended websites and tidbits about the real characters.
The Cumberland Bride
by Shannon McNear
1794 on the Wilderness Road
Book Review: In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naïve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?
My Thoughts: Another “descendant” of a fictional “Daughter of the Mayflower.” Another compelling story about the settling of a young nation, this time a family wanting safe travel across the Wilderness Road. Their scout has a fascinating connection with the Shawnee in the area, which leads to poignant twists to this love story. The book opens with the Lytton “family tree.” It closes with an Author’s Note about research that went into the story, a Historical Note (which led me to order a copy of the memoirs of a man who had been taken captive by Native Americans as a child), as well as Bibliography.
The Liberty Bride
Book Description: A trip home from England to Maryland in 1812 finds Emeline Baratt a captive on a British warship and forced to declare her allegiance between the British and Americans. Remaining somewhat politically neutral on a ship where her nursing skills are desperately needed is fairly easy—until she starts to have feelings for the first lieutenant who becomes her protector. However, when the captain sends her and Lieutenant Owen Masters on land to spy, she must choose between her love for him and her love for her country.
My Thoughts: “Proper ladies don’t spy,” but Emeline isn’t exactly a proper lady, but she was caught in a challenging chunk of American history aboard her father’s ship returning from England, which was captured by the British, with whom America was at war. Much of the story takes place on the ship, with other characters with varying loyalties. The book begins with the family tree, tying this story to the rest in “The Daughters of the Mayflower” series. At the back are a short Author’s Historical Note and a Bibliography, which I always enjoy.
The Alamo Bride
by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Book Description: Ellis Dumont finds a man in New Orleans Grey unconscious on Dumont property in 1836. As his fevers rage, the man mutters strange things about treasures and war. Either Claiborne Gentry has lost his mind or he’s a spy for the American president—or worse, for the Mexican enemy that threatens their very lives. With the men of her family away, Ellis must stand courageous and decide who she can trust. Will she put her selfish wants ahead of the future of the republic or travel with Clay to Mission San Jose to help end the war?
My Thoughts: This is Kathleen Y’Barro’s second book in the enjoyable “Daughters of the Mayflower” series. It begins with the fictional family tree, linking this story to the others, a letter to readers about background, and Psalm 91–which is also woven throughout the adventure. The reader soaks up Texas history and setting back in the 1830s while being caught up in an intriquing drama. The book ends with “Bent History: The Rest of the Story.”
The Golden Bride
by Kimberley Woodhouse
Gold Rush–San Francisco
Book Description: The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues when Olivia Brighton finds herself widowed and working her brother’s restaurant in San Francisco during the height of the rush for gold. Even though she receives at least twenty marriage proposals a day, she will never marry a gold miner. Her brother’s friend Joseph Sawyer has gotten caught up in local politics and the plight of Chinese in forced labor. The more Joseph gets pulled into investigating crime in the city, the less Olivia sees of the compassionate man. And just when she thinks she could love again, a fire threatens to steal all hope.
My Thoughts: I think of it as The Gold Rush Bride. San Francisco’s vulgarities and corruption during that era were an unpleasant surprise, but the Note from the Author in the back lays out the research she did for the book. This is a hopeful story about faith-filled characters working to make a difference in the midst of the degradation going on around them, and even finding love, making for a satisfying ending. This is the newest in The Daughters of the Mayflower series, and one of the main characters is challenged by the journals of her ancestors from that line.
The Express Bride
by Kimberly Woodhouse
Book Description: The Wilderness Is a Great Place to Hide
Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Jackie can’t decide if Elijah is friend or foe. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed?
My Thoughts: I’ve enjoyed the concept behind the books, which has been the fictional genealogy of women in pivotal times of American history who can trace their roots back to the Mayflower. This one is set during the days of the Pony Express, and a young woman who ends up managing one of the stations. Not only does the reader set in a fascinating time and place, but the characters weave intrigue and more than one mystery behind the scenes, which eventually come to a satisfying conclusion at the Pony Express station. I especially appreciated the Note from the Author at the end, explaining which details were fact, and links to a map of Pony Express stations and more, plus a list of books about the days of the Pony Express.
The Rebel Bride
by Shannon McNear
In the works!