Tag Archives: American frontier

Herbal Lore and Historical Romance The Bearwalker’s Daughter–Beth Trissel


The_Bearwalkers_Daughter_Cover3As many of my earlier posts feature herbs and the lore surrounding these age-old plants, I’m sharing several herbal related excerpts from my  historical fantasy romance novel The Bearwalker’s Daughter.

Set in 1784 among the clannish and superstitious Scots-Irish in the Allegheny Mountains, the story is similar to others of mine with a colonial frontier flavor and Native American characters, with the addition of an intriguing paranormal thread.

Remember, the herbs didn’t have to originate in America for the settlers to use them.  They brought seeds, cuttings, and rootstock with them from the Old World and learned about native plants from the Indians.

This first excerpt is from the old Scots-Irish woman, Neeley’s, point of view:

A brooding darkness hovered over the McNeal homestead. Of that, Neeley was certain. And she sensed from where it came. She needed all her wisdom now to prevail against it.

She’d limped stiffly through the home sprinkling a sweetly aromatic decoction of angelica root into every corner, the most powerful herb for warding off spells and enchantment. Then she’d hung a bough of rowan wood above the doorway to lend protection from evil. The leafless branch dripped with clusters of orange-red berries, pleasant to behold as she sat by the hearth.~

And later in the chapter: Her needle winking in the firelight, Neeley sewed the blue fringe on the cape collar and around the long hem. The fragrance of angelica, the most sacred of herbs, rose from the linen. She’d sprinkled a decoction of the holy root over the cloth to bring protection to the wearer. Jack would need all the defense he could get.

As for Karin, her innate goodness would aid her, but Neeley wasn’t taking any chances. An herbal bath of angelica mingled with the purifying power of agrimony, redolent of ripe apricots, awaited the girl. Jack too, if Neeley managed to coax him in.~

This excerpt is from the heroine, Karin’s, point of view:

Neeley rose stiffly from her chair and shuffled forward, her stooped figure a head shorter than Karin’s. “You’ll want my help, John McNeal. Fetch the woundwort, Karin. Sarah, steep some comfrey in hot water and bring fresh linens. Joseph, the poor fellow could do with a spot of brandy,” the tiny woman rapped out like a hammer driving nails. Old, she might be, and as wizened as a dried apple, but Neeley took charge in a medical emergency whether folks liked it or not.

Sarah dashed to the cupboard to take down the brown bowl. Karin flew beside her and grabbed the crock reeking of salve. Sarah snatched a towel and they spun toward the hearth as the men made their way past the gaping crowd. The stranger lifted his head and looked dazedly at both women. Karin met vivid green eyes in a sun-bronzed face stubbled with dark whiskers. A fiery sensation shot through her—and not just because he was devastatingly handsome.~

The two following excerpts are from the hero, Jack’s, point of view.

The matriarch called Neeley bustled into the room with a steaming basin of what Jack supposed, from the herbal scent wafting in the mist, was a medicinal wash.

“Thomas, see Sarah gets to bed and brew her a cup of betony. That’ll calm her,” Neeley directed.

“Come on, Sarah. You’ll do better with a rest and some tea.” Thomas helped his stepmother to her feet and guided the unsteady woman from the room and through the assembly clustered beyond the door.  Murmurs of sympathy accompanied her departure.

Then Neeley set the white porcelain bowl on the washstand and squinted down at Jack like a hen hunting for spilt grain. She gestured with bent fingers at the girl peering from behind John McNeal’s bulk. “Karin, come closer. You’re my hands, lass.”

Her eyes, too, Jack suspected.~

And later in that scene: Karin dabbed his shoulder dry, then dipped her small hand into the pungent crock. Pursing rose-tinged lips, she smeared the aromatic paste on his wound. “I’ll give the salve a while to work before I dig the ball out and stitch you up. Ever had woundwort, sir?”

“Dulls the pain right well,” Jack managed, hiding a grimace. Even her soft touch stung like the devil, but he wouldn’t push her away for anything.~

I interweave herbs and other plants through all of my stories, though some more than others.

***Striking cover by my daughter Elise~The Bearwalker’s Daughter is available for .99 in Amazon Kindle

Sweet Saturday Sample from Historical-Paranormal Romance The Bearwalker’s Daughter–Beth Trissel


Autumn, 1784, the Allegheny Mountains of Western Virginia, the McNeal homestead

Excerpt from Chapter Four

Laying a gnarled hand on Karin’s arm, Neeley said, “You haven’t got a mind of your own. Leastways, not one you’ll own up to.”

“Neeley—”

“It’s the God honest truth, lass, and high time these hardheaded McNeals gave you a bit more rein. They’ve kept you on a tight lead far too long, and in the dark.”

“What are you on about now?”

That pensive look returned to Neeley’s pale blue gaze. “You’ll see. And I shan’t be surprised if Mister McCray has a hand in showing you the way.”

Not if Karin had any say in the matter. She could only think the mounting years had addled Neeley’s good sense. As to her own fleeting reason, she simply must recover it.

Draping her wine-colored cloak around her shoulders, she accompanied the irksome woman into the main room. As Neeley said, most of the folks who’d spent the night had gone home to their chores. A handful of men sat on chairs and stools near hearth, their easy conversation punctuated by low laughter.

In search of one in particular, Karin swept her eyes over the relaxed group. She noted Kyle Brewster, an ardent admirer, and settled on the man she had no intention of offering more than a civil exchange—Jack McCray. He sipped coffee from a mug and glanced around as she walked in.

Oh my.  His intent gaze locked on hers and scorched her like a strong wind.

Her stomach lurched and it suddenly seemed she stood too near the hearth. If only he wouldn’t look at her as though he saw her bare-naked soul. She couldn’t drag her captive stare away.

Jack appeared far more handsome than a man recovering from injury ought to, or any man for that matter. She admired the white shirt tucked into fawn britches that fitted his muscled thighs and long legs. His riding boots were Joseph’s second best pair, polished to a high gloss, and added an elegant touch.

In the space of a night, he’d transformed from rugged frontiersman to country gentleman. The snowy linen set off his browned skin and loose chestnut hair. Lighter streaks shone among the darker hues she hadn’t noticed in the night and she liked the way his hair fell around his broad shoulders. She liked him, all of him, far too well, she realized with a shooting quiver through her midriff.

She was in a great deal of trouble.~

The_Bearwalkers_Daughter_Cover3The Bearwalker’s Daughter is a historical romance novel interwoven with an intriguing paranormal thread, set among the clannish Scots in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies. The story is similar to others of mine with a colonial frontier flavor (Red Bird’s Song, Through the FireThe Lady and the Warrior) and also features Native American characters. My passion for the past, and some of the accounts I’ve come across while researching my early American ancestors and the Shawnee Indians, is at the heart of the inspiration behind this novel.

***The Bearwalker’s Daughter is available at Amazon kindle for .99.

***For more authors participating in Sweet Saturday Samples Click HERE.

Sweet Saturday Sample from The Bearwalker’s Daughter


Autumn, 1784, the Allegheny Mountains of Western Virginia

Music? Jack McCray wondered if he was so bone-tired he’d fallen asleep in the saddle. The last time a fiddler had regaled him was back during the war when that drunken musician cheered their weary camp in return for draughts of rum.

Shaking his head to be sure he was awake, he listened intently. The spritely strains enlivened the gloom in the murky woods and lifted his spirits. He patted the slick neck of his long-suffering mount. “Almost there, Peki.”

Neither he nor his horse had eaten for hours, but he hoped their sorry state was about to improve. The perceptive animal seemed to sense his lightened mood and hastened its pace between glistening trunks silvered in the full moon rising above the mostly bare trees.

There! Up ahead, light shone from a dwelling like a beacon. A little closer and Jack glimpsed the stone-flanked cabin, more of a house given its size, standing in the clearing. The dark shape of fenced in fields and outbuildings surrounded the prosperous homestead. This must be the place; it met the description given him and was in approximately the right location. After his seemingly endless trek through these harsh ridges, he’d finally reached his destination. And the home resounded with gaiety. Seems he’d come in time for a celebration.

Hers, he wondered, with no idea what she’d be like. Forbidding, if she took after her black-hearted father.

But what good fortune to arrive now. Festivity meant abundant food, drink flowing like water, and perhaps being reunited with his family. A mix of anticipation and uneasiness fluttered in Jack’s chest at the thought of meeting kinfolk he hadn’t seen since boyhood. And the quest that brought him here. How in God’s name was he to snatch—

Pain seared his shoulder as a blast erupted in the night. What the devil? Clutching his upper arm, he scanned woods faintly illuminated in the ghostly light. An inky figure darted away. By God, if he could get in a shot!~

“I thought The Bearwalker’s Daughter was an outstanding book.The story was refreshingly unique. The paranormal aspects were mild enough that they didn’t take over the story, but enhanced it. The characters never strayed from the post-revolutionary war mannerisms, speech, and attitude. However, it’s not enough to tell you what I thought. The important thing is how this book made me feel.

I felt as though I were traversing an ice-cold rapid river on the back of a horse named Peki. My heart pounded at the sight of a huge grizzly bear in my path. I smelled the smoke of the campfire as my frozen fingers thawed. I could go on and on.” ~ Amazon Review by Sandra Dailey

***For more authors participating in Sweet Saturday Samples click HERE!

Herbal Lore and The Bearwalker’s Daughter


The_Bearwalkers_Daughter_Cover3As my earlier posts feature herbs and the lore surrounding these age-old plants, I’m sharing several herbal related excerpts from my recent release, historical fantasy romance novel The Bearwalker’s Daughter.

Set among the clannish and superstitious Scots-Irish in the Allegheny Mountains, the story is similar to others of mine with a colonial frontier flavor and also features Native American characters, with the addition of an intriguing paranormal thread.

Remember, the herbs didn’t have to originate in America for the settlers to use them.  They brought seeds, cuttings, and rootstock with them from the Old World and learned about native plants from the Indians.

This first excerpt is from the old Scots-Irish woman, Neeley’s, point of view:

A brooding darkness hovered over the McNeal homestead. Of that, Neeley was certain. And she sensed from where it came. She needed all her wisdom now to prevail against it. She’d limped stiffly through the home sprinkling a sweetly aromatic decoction of angelica root into every corner, the most powerful herb for warding off spells and enchantment. Then she’d hung a bough of rowan wood above the doorway to lend protection from evil. The leafless branch dripped with clusters of orange-red berries, pleasant to behold as she sat by the hearth.~

And later in the chapter: Her needle winking in the firelight, Neeley sewed the blue fringe on the cape collar and around the long hem. The fragrance of angelica, the most sacred of herbs, rose from the linen. She’d sprinkled a decoction of the holy root over the cloth to bring protection to the wearer. Jack would need all the defense he could get.

As for Karin, her innate goodness would aid her, but Neeley wasn’t taking any chances. An herbal bath of angelica mingled with the purifying power of agrimony, redolent of ripe apricots, awaited the girl. Jack too, if Neeley managed to coax him in.~

This excerpt is from the heroine, Karin’s, point of view:

Neeley rose stiffly from her chair and shuffled forward, her stooped figure a head shorter than Karin’s. “You’ll want my help, John McNeal. Fetch the woundwort, Karin. Sarah, steep some comfrey in hot water and bring fresh linens. Joseph, the poor fellow could do with a spot of brandy,” the tiny woman rapped out like a hammer driving nails. Old, she might be, and as wizened as a dried apple, but Neeley took charge in a medical emergency whether folks liked it or not.

Sarah dashed to the cupboard to take down the brown bowl. Karin flew beside her and grabbed the crock reeking of salve. Sarah snatched a towel and they spun toward the hearth as the men made their way past the gaping crowd. The stranger lifted his head and looked dazedly at both women. Karin met vivid green eyes in a sun-bronzed face stubbled with dark whiskers. A fiery sensation shot through her—and not just because he was devastatingly handsome.~

The two following excerpts are from the hero, Jack’s, point of view.

The matriarch called Neeley bustled into the room with a steaming basin of what Jack supposed, from the herbal scent wafting in the mist, was a medicinal wash.

“Thomas, see Sarah gets to bed and brew her a cup of betony. That’ll calm her,” Neeley directed.

“Come on, Sarah. You’ll do better with a rest and some tea.” Thomas helped his stepmother to her feet and guided the unsteady woman from the room and through the assembly clustered beyond the door.  Murmurs of sympathy accompanied her departure.

Then Neeley set the white porcelain bowl on the washstand and squinted down at Jack like a hen hunting for spilt grain. She gestured with bent fingers at the girl peering from behind John McNeal’s bulk. “Karin, come closer. You’re my hands, lass.”

Her eyes, too, Jack suspected.~

And later in that scene: Karin dabbed his shoulder dry, then dipped her small hand into the pungent crock. Pursing rose-tinged lips, she smeared the aromatic paste on his wound. “I’ll give the salve a while to work before I dig the ball out and stitch you up. Ever had woundwort, sir?”

“Dulls the pain right well,” Jack managed, hiding a grimace. Even her soft touch stung like the devil, but he wouldn’t push her away for anything.~

I interweave herbs and other plants through all of my stories, though some more than others.

***Striking cover by my daughter Elise~