BACK COVER COPY:
Susanna Moore can’t get him out of her mind—the learned lieutenant who delivered the commission from Andrew Jackson making her father colonel of the Cherokee Regiment. But the next time she sees Lieutenant Sam Hicks, he’s leading a string of prisoners into a frontier fort, and he’s wearing the garb of a Cherokee scout rather than the suit of a white gentleman.
As both Susanna’s father and Sam’s commanding officer, Colonel Moore couldn’t have made his directive to stay away from his daughter clearer to Sam. He wants a better match for Susanna—like the stuffy doctor who escorted her to Creek Territory. Then a suspected spy forces Moore to rely on Sam for military intelligence and Susanna’s protection, making it impossible for either to guard their heart.
Today on the blog, I believe we may have a first. Rather than the plucky heroine, Susanna Moore, of Bent Tree Bride, Denise Weimer’s newest Southeastern frontier romance, I’ll be chatting with someone who witnessed most of her adventures in Creek Territory during the Red Stick War … her twelve-year-old brother, George Moore. Welcome, George. What brings you here today?
George: Well, the lady who wrote down our story told me your readers might want to hear about it. Susanna is always distracted with Sam these days. I’m sure readers wouldn’t be interested in how they fell in love, because who wants to know about that, but there is a lot of adventure in Bent Tree Bride. I’m the best person to interview. Sam’s too modest. He’d rather talk with you about all the books he’s read than how brave he was in battle. And how he saved Susanna’s life.
Well, George, I have a feeling you may be wrong about our readers wanting the details of Sam and Susanna’s romance, but for now, tell us how the novel starts. When did you first meet Sam Hicks? And do I understand correctly that he is the son of a Cherokee chief?
George: He is both Cherokee and white, but we didn’t know that at first. When he showed up at our house in the fall of 1813, all we knew was that he was a clerk for Indian Agent Colonel Meigs. He dressed and looked and spoke like a white man, all proper. He brought the commission that made my father a colonel of a new Cherokee Regiment that was being formed to join General Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee militia to go fight the Red Stick Creeks, the Creek Indians allied to the British.
You see, Father was chosen partly because my mother, Polly, is a Cherokee. Susanna’s mother was a white woman, but Sam didn’t know that either. He kept making eyes at Susanna at dinner, especially when Father gave his permission for Dr. Hawkins to court her and she almost choked on her food. I was just trying to get Father to let me sign up.
I take it Susanna did not care for Dr. Hawkins?
George: Dash it, no. He was a lot older and had a bunch of children from his first marriage. I helped us figure out a way to follow Father to Creek Territory after he got sick that fall. Mother is a great healer, and she agreed we might accompany her. But who should insist on escorting us but Dr. Hawkins? He said he wanted to volunteer his services, but I know he really wanted to be with Susanna. We went to Turkey Town, where my mother’s family lived, then to Fort Strother to find the army. We also found Sam Hicks. And boy, was Susanna in for a surprise.
Why was that?
George: Because Sam had signed up as a lieutenant in a Cherokee spy and scout company. He knew four languages and had been trained to fight by chiefs even though he’d never been in battle. He’d spent more time in his father’s library. His father had been a clerk for the army before him. Susanna got into a bit of a scrap with a militiaman, and Father assigned Sam to be our bodyguard. Susanna convinced him to teach us how to defend ourselves. We both wanted to show Father we could survive on the frontier so he wouldn’t send us home. Mostly, Susanna didn’t want to be forced to marry Dr. Hawkins.
How did that work for her?
George: Not so well. Sam didn’t want to teach her for some reason … I think after he realized her mother had been white, so Father wouldn’t let him court her. Father was scared of the Cherokees losing their land even though they were fighting with the Americans, so he wanted our plantation to go to Susanna and a white husband. But I could tell Sam and my sister really liked each other. He kept getting close to her, like on the range when he showed us tomahawk and knife throwing. Her face turned all red. I got between them like any good brother would. And once, I caught him holding her hand—even though he claimed it was only because she needed salve from doing too much hospital laundry. Then when she got sick, he had me take her some kind of poem. Yuck! Once she got better, she rode with him on the way back to Turkey Town. They were betwattled for sure, after that.
Did your story end once you left the fort for Turkey Town?
George: Not hardly. Someone was trying to kill our principal chief, and Sam and his men had to help guard him. Sam and the doctor were at odds all the time too. I wished they’d just fight it out. I know who woulda won. But eventually, Sam had to go off to fight a real battle. Then, Susanna got abducted when she walked right in on the man trying to kill our chief. And Sam had to leave the army to rescue her from deep in Red Stick Territory. But that’s where the lady who wrote our story down said I should stop talking, so’s folks want to read the book.
All right, then. We’ll stop there. Thank you, George, for joining us today. You sound like a wonderful brother.
George: I try to be. Folks don’t give me enough credit for what I can do. Did I tell you I can bark chip a squirrel out of a tree at sixty paces and not lose an ounce of meat?
No, but thank you for sharing that with us. I’m sure that’s just the sort of thing our readers are most interested in. They’ll look forward to getting to know more about you … and Susanna and Sam, of course … in Bent Tree Bride. And the author, Denise Weimer …
Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of almost a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses!
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Thank you, Denise, for sharing with us on OWG blog!!!
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