Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Marrying the Major by Jo-Ann Roberts


Marrying the Major
by Jo-Ann Roberts
Historical Romance


The War Between the States has ended…but for Kit and Will their battle had just begun. 

    As the daughter of a prominent judge and well-bred mother whose roots could be traced back to before the War of Independence, Katherine Lambert had been the belle of Adams Mill. Her upbringing her schooling and her privileged world had revolved around the latest fashions, picnics, parties, and a host of beaus and friends. 

    She was expected to raise children; not her voice. 

    Until she defied her family and the Rebel cause by doing the unthinkable...falling in love with a Union cavalry officer. 


    The moment the very elegant very beautiful Katherine Lambert turned around to look at U.S. Major William Chandler was the moment she marched off with his heart. Though he always planned to carve out his own destiny, to marry and raise a family, he never expected love to find him in a small Southern town. 

Encountering opposition at every turn, he remains undaunted, determined to court and marry Kit and see who took serious objection. 


They'd hoped their love would mend and heal the wounds of a splintered family, but someone else had other ideas. 


Easter Sunday, 1865 

Adams Mill, North Carolina 


A loud buzzing, as if a beehive was under attack, vibrated against the clapboard church walls and reached its crescendo when it arrived at the front pew. Sitting between her mother and younger sister, Kit Lambert squeezed her eyes shut and sent up a fervent prayer trying to censor the one dreaded word drawing out gasps of indignation and cries laced with fear. 


Two weeks ago, Richmond, had fallen to the enemy…so too had Raleigh, less than thirty miles to the east. And on Good Friday, hours before they learned of Lincoln’s assassination, rumors of General Lee’s surrender had been confirmed by Major General Wheeler’s troops. When they’d streamed into town, the people turned out to greet them, putting aside their own burdens, offering smiles and whatever foodstuffs they could spare. Yet, with the federal troops only a breath away, Kit knew the revelry would be short-lived and any Confederate soldier within the town limits would be taken prisoner. As it was, their household had been awakened before dawn by a messenger informing her father Wheeler and his men were leaving and heading west. 

The war which had devastated much of the South for four years had never come close enough 

for Kit to worry about her family’s safety. 

Now, however, it appeared their small town was in the crosshairs, bracing itself as the Union army approached. 

“Yankees? Here in Adams Mill? But the war is over, Kit,” insisted her sister, Corrine, clutching at the pagoda sleeve on Kit’s Zouave jacket. 

“The war will never be over for me, Corrine Lambert!” hissed their mother, before Kit could form a response to her sister. Frances Lambert bristled in her seat, her mouth pinched, and her dark eyes snapping with unbridled hostility as she pinned her daughters in place. Not for the first time did Kit thank her lucky stars she inherited her father’s even-tempered disposition. “The South has given its lifeblood to this war of aggression those hateful Yankees waged on us. Fields have been stripped bare and our homes ravaged by fire and sword. Dozens of our brightest boys have perished or have been crippled. Our streams and lakes choked and stagnated by Yankee blood. They are bringing the battle to our doorstep and I, for one, will never give up!” 

“Mother!” gasped Kit, shocked at her outburst. And in the house of the Lord, no less. Her mother’s tongue, always a bit on the waspish side, had grown sharper during the war. But even for her, the rant was cruel. 

Hearing her mother’s bluster, Corrine continued her grip on Kit’s jacket. “Do you think they’re going to capture us and do…unspeakable things?” 

“No, no, dearest,” she soothed, sliding an arm around her shoulders and giving her a comforting hug. “Papa would never allow it. Besides, just last week he went to Raleigh with some other judges and met with General Sherman at the governor’s mansion to talk about surrender. Sherman assured him we would be safe.” 

Frances Lambert huffed again, her dark eyes losing none of their fervor. “We’ll be lucky to escape with the skin on our bones and the clothes on our backs if those sons of Lucifer have their way.” 

A sharp thump on the back of the pew reminded Kit that Aunt Eudora, her father’s sister, was sitting behind them. “Then it’s a good thing you buried those packets of money and your jewels in the turnip patch, Frances,” she intoned. “Of course, that Confederate paper money isn’t going to do you a bit of good, except maybe burning it to keep you warm come winter.” 

“Eudora Garland!” said Frances, tossing the words over her shoulder, “You may be my husband’s sister but I’ve long suspected you haven’t been entirely faithful to the cause. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to hear you’re a Yankee spy!”  

Her aunt’s outraged gasp was overshadowed by her father’s deep voice as he turned in his seat. “Your vitriol is uncalled for, Fannie,” chastised Davis Lambert. 

Seldom, if ever, had Kit heard her father censure her mother in private, let alone in public. Not for the first time did she wonder why her parents married. Had they been in love? Had her mother ever exhibited a pleasant demeanor? What had made her so spiteful and disagreeable? 

“Reverend Jennings!” 

Hushed and grim, the worshippers swiveled in the pews, training anxious eyes on Reverend Jennings as he stepped into the aisle to meet a courier waving a slip of paper. Silently, he read the dispatch. As if on cue, her father and the handful of men who remained in the congregation rose to gather around him. 

“Friends, it seems our worst fears have come to fruition.” He paused, and it appeared to Kit, the cleric was praying for guidance on how to deliver the news they all had suspected was imminent. “The missive is from Colonel John Mason of the 10th Ohio Calvary. It states the Union army is on the outskirts of town. While they intend to take Adams Mill, they want to assure the residents that our homes and businesses will be protected and saved from plundering. Also, as he is a church-going man, Colonel Mason and some of his officers are interested in joining us for morning services.” 

A collective cry of protests mingled with the scent of honeysuckle floating in from the opened church doors as a group of Yankee officers stood at the portal. 

Reverend Jennings held up his hand to quiet the protest. “May I remind you we are Christians first, Southerners second,” he declared, appearing as fierce as Kit had ever seen him. “The Book of Romans states to accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  

Subdued, the congregants quieted, and despite a look of severe disapproval from her mother, Kit couldn’t resist sneaking a peek at the men as they removed their black slouch hats. 

“Welcome to Our Lord’s house.” Accompanied by Kit’s father and the other men, Reverend Jennings made the introductions. 

“Colonel John Mason, 10th Ohio Calvary,” said the man obviously in charge of the group. “On behalf of the Union army, I thank you for your welcome.” He looked around unable to miss the expressions of fear and suspicion on the congregants’ faces. “I apologize for making your members feel uncomfortable, Reverend. It’s just that it’s been too long since my men and myself had the opportunity to worship in a real church.” 

“They look quite normal,” Corrie whispered, and following Kit’s example, assessed the men as they looked for seats, and Reverend Jennings returned to the pulpit. 

Turning back toward Corrie, Kit stifled a laugh. “Did you expect they’d have horns coming out of their heads? Like sons of Lucifer?” she remarked, using her mother’s own words. 

“Well, he doesn’t look anything like the devil,” Corrie commented, her blue eyes wide with interest. 

Kit shot her sister a glance before turning her gaze to settle on what had caught Corrie’s attention. 

He doesn’t indeed! 

Certain she was incapable of stringing two thoughts together, Kit blinked twice and stared at the officer. And not that she had much experience or anything to compare to, but if ever a man’s lips were fashioned for kissing a woman, his certainly were. 

Her gaze moved down across his broad shoulders and chest encased in a double-breasted blue frock coat adorned with gold buttons and a gold-fringed sash around his solid waist. His fingers, long and strong looking, clasped a black slouch hat with a gold crossed swords insignia on the crown and a gold and yellow cord around the base. And while he didn’t sport bushy facial hair as was the fashion for many men, it was clear he hadn’t been acquainted with a straight razor in a few days. His wavy brown hair, too, the ends tipped in gold and resting against his collar, appeared in need of a trim. 

A bump to her shoulder accompanied by a sharp look from her mother momentarily tugged her gaze back to his face—his extremely handsome face—just in time to catch the wink he sent her way. 

Startled by his boldness, her heart jolted and her pulse pounded in her ears. She fussed with the frayed taffeta ties of her straw spoon bonnet, hoping to dispel a quiver surging through her veins. Yet she couldn’t ignore the heat traveling from her toes up to her cheeks. Especially when Aunt Eudora nudged her with the hymnal just before the organist squeezed out the notes of the opening hymn, From Every Stormy Wind. 

Flustered, her composure deteriorated further when the man’s deep baritone voice flowed 

over her like a cooling breeze coming off the pond on a hot July afternoon, and Corrie 

smothered a giggle when Mrs. Merriweather hit several sour notes on the organ. 

As she knew he would, Reverend Jennings focused on the glorious meaning of Easter and hope for eternal joy. The rector kept the sermon short, seemingly understanding many of his congregants were uncomfortable in the presence of men, who less than ten days ago, could have imprisoned them for treason. 

“In conclusion, I’d like to have our visitors meet with me, Judge Lambert, Dr. Hanson, and Jess Newell in the vestry. I bid you all a joyous Easter.” 

After a final blessing, Mrs. Merriweather again set her foot to the organ pedals. Voices, lifting in praise to the familiar refrain of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”, spilled out into the warm spring morning. 

Movement in the pew behind her caught her attention but her mother’s glare prohibited even a sly glance. Instead, she focused on her father and Reverend Jennings. When the soldier stopped at their pew, turned, and offered her a dazzling smile right before joining the men, her mouth curved into an unconscious smile. 

Merciful heavens, she smiled back at the Yankee! 

She was saved from further thoughts when her mother leveled a sharp glower at her and Corrie. Purposely waiting until Frances was at the entrance doors chatting with the reverend’s wife, Kit exited the pew, but not before giving the soldier a sidelong glance as he stepped onto the platform next to her father. Goodness, he looked as fine from the back as he did from the front. 

“Kit, let’s go,” Corrie urged threading her arm through Kit’s. “Mother’s already in a fine snit and it’s my guess her mood’s not going to improve the longer we dawdle, especially since you’ve been ogling that Yankee.” 

“I was not ogling him, Corrine Davita Lambert,” she pointed out with a calmness that belied the mayhem the Yankee’s smile created in her. “I was just bidding Papa goodbye.” 

“Of course, you were, Katherine Adelaide Lambert,” Corrie laughed then tugged her outside into the honeysuckle-scented morning. And when Kit turned, giving one last glimpse inside the church, the Yankee was gone. 

Author Bio:

Born and raised in western Massachusetts, Jo-Ann Roberts was fascinated by America’s Old West  and always felt she was destined to travel on a wagon train following the Oregon Trail. With her love of history and reading, she began reading historical romance during high school and college. Victoria Holt, Jude Deveraux, and Roseanne Bittner were among her favorites. Influenced by her father, she fell in love with John Wayne, James Garner, and her all-time favorite, James Stewart and grew up watching Wagon Train, Bonanza and Rawhide. 

A firm believer in HEA with a healthy dose of realism, Jo-Ann strives to give her readers a sweet historical romance while imparting carefully researched historical facts, personalities, and experiences relative to the time period. Her romances take her readers back to a simpler time to escape the stress of modern life by living in a small town where families and friends help one another find love and happiness. 

When she isn’t creating believable plots and relatable heroes and heroines, Jo-Ann enjoys spending time with her husband, children and grandson. She also enjoys baking, quilting and eating way too much chocolate.  

After 38 years in public education in Connecticut and Maryland, she’s now calls North Carolina home. She is the 2018 Winner (Historical Category) of NEORWA’s Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. Her debut romance, Lessie-Brides of New Hope Book One, is a 2020 RONE Award Nominee. 

Come Home to Love Facebook Group: 

Lessie Brides of New Hope Book One 

Posey Brides of New Hope Book Two 

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