The Return of the King’s Ranger – a look inside!

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1

Mohawk Valley, July 1785

Up and down, up and down, Nora Reid plunged the dash in the butter churn, trying hard to not think about how the motion followed the pattern of her life. The monotony of it. She looked at the book propped open on her lap. Robinson Crusoe. Twenty-eight years on a small island and his life read much more interesting than hers ever would.

With a sigh, she tapped the book closed and set it on the edge of the table.

It wasn’t as though she expected much out of her life—and she’d rather not be stranded on a tropical island. She loved her family, community, and everything about this valley, but she still dreamed of something more.

Voices mumbled at the back of the cabin. One distinctly masculine…but not Papa or even Daniel. Nora slowed the dash, curiosity overcoming the desire to finish churning the butter so she could visit her nieces today. The voices continued, but though she strained, she still couldn’t make out what was said.

Nora released the long pole of the dash and slipped out the door into the embrace of a warm summer afternoon. Circling around the cabin, she ran her fingertips over the weathered logs forming the walls. She shouldn’t be sneaking up on whoever was speaking, but most likely their conversation was casual and not one she’d be excluded from. All the same, her pulse sped as she neared the voices and the words became clearer. She usually didn’t spy on her sister, but that was definitely Rose’s voice. And what sounded like a suitor.

“Why will you not allow me to speak with your father?” His low tones were crisp with frustration.

“Because Levi already spoke with him not two weeks ago. That’s what I have been trying to tell you.”

“Levi Acker? Your pa gave him permission, didn’t he? And what about you? Did you say yes?”

“He’s not asked me yet, though I suspect he shall. Soon.” Rose released a long sigh. “I…did not expect this.”

Boots shuffled against the ground, but not in any particular direction. “It’s not been easy to find opportunity. How was I to know you would even consider me—that I would not appear a fool?”

“Sam, I could never think you a fool.”

Sam? Nora pulled back from the corner of the cabin. Of course, that’s who the voice belonged to. Samuel Cunningham had always silently admired her little sister. She could think of no one she would prefer for Rose, but Levi Acker would not take rejection very kindly after she’d led him this far.

Not that it was any of Nora’s concern. She really needed to get back to making butter.

She only made it one step.

“So where does that leave us?” Samuel asked.

“I need time,” came Rose’s sad reply. “I must be fair to Levi. If I shifted my affections so abruptly, they would think me fickle and childish. I have always been the baby, with four older siblings to put me in my place. I cannot rush this.”

“Can you give me any hope that this will resolve in my favor?”

“How about this?” Rose’s voice smiled and then elapsed into silence. Long drawn-out silence.

Nora stole a peek around the corner to see Rose’s arms draped around Samuel’s neck, her eyes closed as her lips moved slowly against his. Nora wanted to smile, but the corners of her mouth seemed paralyzed. Instead, a familiar ache grew within, a longing for something she’d never experienced, never enjoyed, in all her twenty and four years.

A quick withdrawal took her back to the butter churn, but it was hard to put any strength behind the plunge and turn of her movements with the dash. Poor Rose. Her pity roiled with a sprinkle of resentment. Two good men bidding for her love and her hand. Was it wrong to be a little jealous? Or even frightened at the prospects of soon being left in her parents’ home, becoming an old maid, never experiencing romance or motherhood?

“My own fault.” If she hadn’t been so choosy. As the fighting had ceased across New England and the rest of the colonies, men had come to the valley, or passed through. Several tried for her heart, but she’d not been practical back then. She’d wanted something special, something with a little fire in it. Something like her brother Daniel enjoyed with his wife. Or Joseph Garnet and Hannah Cunningham, their nearest neighbors. Even their pastor, an ex-British officer, and Rachel Garnet shared a sweeping romantic tale.

But waiting for romance was a fool’s game.

The door swung wide, and Nora brushed a hand over her moist cheeks before she glanced at Rose—almost six years her junior. Susannah, the sister between them, was married and enjoyed being the mother of a robust baby boy. Daniel had two beautiful girls.

“Are you feeling well?”

At Rose’s question, Nora forced a smile and a nod. “Of course.” She had no real reason to be unhappy. She’d made her choices, chosen her path, put romance before security and a family of her own. She’d gambled and lost.

“You are sure you’re not becoming ill?”

“I merely…” But she had no excuse, only the need to escape the confines of this cabin and its walls that seemed to close in around her more every day. “Could you finish the butter? It’s churned most of the way. I told Lydia I’d bring her more of Mama’s yeast start.” And return her book.

Rose’s eyes widened. “She’s ruined hers again?”

Nora shrugged and hurried to the yeast crock. She should not have said anything. “Lydia is very busy with the girls.”

“I know, but sometimes I wonder what she was thinking to follow Daniel out here.”

Nora never wondered that. “She loves Daniel.” Enough to leave comforts, family, and a pampered life behind in South Carolina for a New York wilderness. Real love. Nora frowned at her little sister who, moments earlier, had been in a man’s embrace. How did she not understand love? Or was that the reason for Rose’s hesitation? Maybe she didn’t love Samuel or Levi.

“If I am late returning home, will you help Mama with supper?” Nora needed time to clear her head.

“If you take my evening milking.”

“Very well.” Nora preferred milking to cooking anyway. She collected Robinson Crusoe from the table and started to the door.

The sun greeted Nora along with a soft breeze. A beautiful day. Yet she didn’t feel it. She couldn’t push aside the melancholy that had dragged her steps for months. She’d hoped it was the long, cold winter, but spring had come and gone…and she felt worse.

Nora filled her lungs and quickened her pace. She’d go directly to her brother’s farm and then take her time with the return, maybe follow the river back. Oh, how she loved the Mohawk River, the rush of its current that almost had the strength to steal her disappointments away. Some days, she was tempted to follow the river far away from this valley where life never changed.

~*~

Ash. Everything was gone. The barn. The cabin. Charred remains overgrown with grass and weeds. Myles Cunningham tugged the leather patch from his right eye so he could see properly. It was not like anyone would come upon him here, and even if they did, they’d know him by association to his childhood home if nothing else. The question was what they would do to him if recognized. The Continental Army had ordered his death, but the war was over. The British had gone home.

If only he could.

But nothing remained. Not Pa—he’d been killed in battle against the rebels residing in this valley. From what he’d been told, Mama was dead, too, along with little Miriam. Who could say that hadn’t also been Hannah’s and Samuel’s fate?

Myles kicked what remained of the fireplace, sending stones toppling…just like the war had done to his life. Except he wasn’t a stone. He didn’t know how to roll away, or how to remain solid and unmarred after being hurled. Instead, he was left raw and bleeding inside.

Myles backed away from the heaps of charcoal. He should never have returned to the Mohawk Valley. This place had rejected his family and sealed their fates.

“Let’s go.” He tugged on the reins of the old, half-blind gelding he’d traded the last of his wages for. Ugliest thing on four legs with one blue eye and a white blaze covering over half its head, but the nag had spared him a long walk. Maybe he’d go north again. There was plenty of territory along the Great Lakes he hadn’t yet searched.

Unless his siblings were not to be found.

Myles trudged through the brush toward the river. The taste of ash clung to his throat, and his canteen hung empty from his saddle. He drank more now that he’d eaten the last of his meager supplies. Perhaps he’d pause his journey long enough to hunt. Or poach. He’d not risk himself or his pride by asking anyone in the valley for help, but taking a few eggs or some meat from a smokehouse could hardly be considered a sin. These people had taken everything from his family.

Not that he gave much thought to sin…or God.

The woods gave way to the rocky bank of the Mohawk River, the rushing water beyond. And a woman. Myles froze in the shadows and tugged his eye patch back into place. The woman appeared young, shoes in hand, hem of her gown pulled almost to her knees. The river lapped at her pale calves. One of the Reid girls. Her long chestnut waves hung loose over her shoulders. A vision…and a kick in the gut.

The Reids were a fine New England family and as true to the rebel cause as any. Probably only one of the reasons they had kept their distance from him in the past. Of course, Fannie, the eldest, had eyes only for Joseph Garnet, a mutual neighbor. She had never once looked his way.

Myles gritted his teeth, but it was harder than it should’ve been to turn away.

Buckethead, the ornery beast, yanked on the reins, dropping his head and giving a low nicker.

Myles hurried to step back as two dark brown eyes leveled at him.

The woman gasped and dropped her hem. Then snatched it back up again out of the water. “Who are you?”

Myles touched the front corner of his old cocked hat. “Apologies, ma’am.” He turned back into the woods.

“I did not expect anyone out here.”

He glanced back—couldn’t help himself. “Nor did I.”

She studied him for a long moment before looking down at her soaked hem hovering just above the surface of the water. “I should…” She took a step toward the shore.

“I’ll be on my way.”

He started to turn when a yelp was swallowed up in a splash. Myles spun around as the woman failed to right herself and pull her now saturated skirts from the river. Droplets ornamented her face, screwed up with a look of pain.

“What happened?”

“I twisted my ankle on a rock.” She managed a faulty hobble toward dry land.

Myles held himself at bay. “What are you even doing out there?” Though now July, the river was still cold from the spring thaw.

“Never mind that. If you will not help me, then you might as well leave.”

A groan rumbled deep in his chest as he looped the gelding’s reins around the nearest tree branch. He jogged to the river’s edge. The Reid girl just younger than Fannie had been a little more intrepid than the others.

“Wouldn’t want you to get your boots wet.” She winced with her next step, but her dark eyes challenged him.

“Not my fault you were insane enough to go into the river.” He waded out to her. “Now what?”

She gripped his arm and looked up directly into his face, searching it as though that had been her intent all along. He’d forgotten she had also been the most curious of the Reid girls.

Myles fought not to look away from her silent interrogation. She wouldn’t recognize him. There was no way. He’d been but a lad when they’d taken him away to be a slave for the rebels and their cause. Nine years had done more than add to his height and the breath of his shoulders.

But what if she did see past all that?

“Come on.” Looping his arms around her, he swept her up. No more searching his soul. Myles trudged back to shore before he realized he didn’t know what to do with her. He should ride away and let her hobble home, but he couldn’t. Besides, she personally had done nothing against him or his family. Only her pa.

“You can set me down here,” she suggested.

Myles shook his head, returning to his horse.

“I assure you, I will be fine.” A pretty blush rose to her cheeks.

The gelding shifted as Myles boosted her into the saddle. “Where do you live?” Not that he needed directions, unless she was no longer in her father’s home. She was not much younger than him and likely married.

“You’ll take me home?”

“Unless your ankle has already mended.”

“No…no, it’s still sore.” Her lips curved in an upward direction, but not with a simple smile. This one held a degree of intrigue. “May I know your name?”

Myles cleared his throat from the sudden tightness. He’d already prepared a name from two men he had served with in case anyone should inquire. “Mathew Crawford.”

Her smile spread. “Thank you, Mr. Crawford. I’m Nora Reid. And I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Of course, she was. She didn’t know they’d already been well acquainted.

Cover Reveal!

So excited to reveal the cover of my next Barbour novella releasing with three other amazing authors spring 2020!

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A Tempered Heart (1861—Charlottesville, Virginia) By Angela K. Couch
Buried under a debt that is not his own, Thomas Flynn’s only focus is gaining his freedom. He has learned to keep his head low and not pay attention to the troubles of others, until a peculiar boy and his widowed mother show him how empty his life has become. After years of protecting her son from slights and neglect of the people closest them, Esther Mathews is not sure how to trust the local blacksmith with her child…or her heart.

Now available for preorder here!

Happy Independence Day!

To all my American friends, happy Independence Day. Though a Canadian, I have spend the last few years researching and submerging myself in your Revolutionary War and have come to appreciate the people who sacrificed so much for basic freedoms, who laid the bedrock for the government that many other countries have since adopted.

It has been a wonderful journey to place the character’s in my stories in the paths of real heroes like Francis Marion, Nicholas Herkimer, Colonel Gansevoort, and others. They have come to life and then risked death in battles like Oriskany and Yorktown to name the two most notable.

Don’t take your freedoms for granted. Continue the fight to keep them.

MovingMountains

The Scarlet Coat – Now Available!

Hello all, I am so excited to announce the release of my debut novel, The Scarlet Coat!

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Here is what’s being said:

“The Scarlet Coat by Angela K. Couch is captivating in the dilemmas it presents, in the characters it introduces, and in the romance it embraces. The history of the era becomes personal and dimensional, and there are moments so wrought with tension that it takes your breath away. Fans of Amber Lynn Perry and Laurie Alice Eakes will feel right at home here, and the issues Couch raises are just as timely today as they were then. A sweet romance with depth and insight into grace and prejudice and forgiveness.” ~ Reading is My Superpower Reviews (Full review here)

“He came to them in a time of death and so much hatred. She was fearful, and tired of the war. Enter the opportunity for love and change and you have the making of a bestseller…

Angela used historical information and details to give this book life. I felt as though I was in this small family, in this big war. I truly have a loss for words to describe how this book read for me. All I can say is that anyone can pick this book up, and they will fall in love with the book. They will want more. I want more.” ~ Bibliophile Reviews (Full review here)

“I absolutely fell in love with this story, getting to know the characters I called friends, the rich historical details, every heart-pounding scene, and even a touch of humor the author included…!”  ~ Trixi Oberembt on Colonial Quills blog.

“This is a thoroughly engaging read, especially for historical fiction/romance lovers, and the last quarter of the book, in particular, kept my eyes riveted to the pages.” ~ Fiction Aficionado (Full review here)

For an interview with me on writing The Scarlet Coat, click here. 🙂

Pinterest Board for The Scarlet Coat here!

Thank you!

The Scarlet Coat     (Hearts at War – Book 1)

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A Woman Compelled by Christian Charity
Surrounded by the musket fire of the American Revolution, Rachel Garnet prays for her family to be safe.  When the British invade the Mohawk Valley, and her father and brother don’t return from the battle, she goes in pursuit of them. She finds her brother alive but her father has been killed at the hand of the enemy. Amidst the death, how can she ignore a cry for help…? Rachel reluctantly takes in a badly wounded British officer. But how long can her sense of Christian duty repress her hatred for his scarlet coat?

A Man Lost to the Devastation of War
Passages of Scripture and fleeting images of society are all Andrew Wyndham recalls after he awakens to the log walls of his gentle prison. Even his name eludes him. Rachel Garnet insists he is a captain in the British army. He mourns the loss of his memory, but how can he hope to remember war when his “enemy” is capturing his heart?

A Scarlet Uniform Holds the Power to Unite or Divide
Andrew’s injuries are severe, his memory slow to return, and the secret of his existence too perilous to ignore. As Rachel nurses him back to health, his hidden scarlet coat threatens to expose the deeds of her merciful heart, and Andrew is forced to face a harrowing decision—Stay hidden and risk losing the woman he loves or turn himself in and risk losing his life.

Available at:       Barnes & Noble           Indigo/Chapters         Amazon

Pre-conference mix and mingle [ACFW]

So with ACFW writing conference approaching I am participating in an online get-to-know-you game. Here is the link if you are interested. 🙂

Name: Angela K. Couch

Location: Alberta, Canada

What you write/tagline/trademark: Historical romance, “Making history and fiction fall in love.”

Place in the book world: I have four short stories published in anthologies, one novella released, and my first novel is being released by Pelican Book Group in Jan 2017! I also have four more novels contracted.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: I’m good for hugs. 🙂 .

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? Not a coffee drinker, but I love hot chocolate!

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Finances (if I wasn’t writing I would totally be a financial planner!), WWII, American revolution, gardening, training horses, homeschooling.

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, 5-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter, and my 17 month-old baby. 😦

Conference goals we can pray for? I have one book I’m pitching this year, and really hoping to make some good connections in the industry… but most importantly with an agent.

Anything we can celebrate with you?  Really excited about the four book series I have with White Rose/ Pelican Book Group! Book one releases in January!

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One or two ways we can help you build your platform? It’d be great to connect on Facebook and Twitter. 🙂

What’s in a name?

As a writer of Colonial fiction, one of funnest things to do is choose names for characters. More and more I see the huge influence the Puritans had on what became common names in the American colonies. They also had a lot of names that didn’t rise in popularity as some of the Bible names did, but still hold a lot of meaning…and sometimes a chuckle (like ‘Search-the-Scriptures’, ‘Joy-in-sorrow’ or ‘Sorry-for-Sin’)

Here are a few of my favorites:

For girls: (Besides the usual Bible names)
Berenice
Charis
Charity
Chastity
Comfort
Constance
Chloe
Clemence
Damaris…

Pop over to Colonial Quills for the rest of this blog, including an excerpt from The Scarlet Coat!

Battle of Oriskany-where Hearts at War begins

At our last tea party I had the pleasure of unveiling the cover of my Revolutionary War novel. The Scarlet Coat will be the first book of my Hearts at War series that Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing will release. Today, I want to take you to where it all begins, a horrific battle that plays a role in each book in the series.

In August of 1777, one year and one month after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the British decided to use the Mohawk Valley as a spike into the heart of New England. Barry St. Leger was promoted to Brigadier General for the campaign and took with him eight hundred British, German, Loyalist, and Canadian troops, and almost one thousand allied Iroquois.

One of their first stops was Fort Stanwix (for a time renamed Fort Schuyler by the Continental forces, and near present day Rome, New York).

                                                         Areal view of Fort Stanwix

The British laid siege, but the Fort’s commander, Colonel Peter Gansevoort, with his almost eight hundred men, refused to surrender…

To read more come on over to Colonial Quills!