Somebody's Darling: A Novel
Jessie Gibbs is a young musician living in present-day Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Frustrated by her single state and stalled performing career, she seeks adventure and romance as camp cook for a Civil War re-enactors’ group. One moonlit night in the woods near her unit’s encampment, she meets a man whose motley uniform suggests that he’s a fellow re-enactor. Lemuel Sanders is handsome and soft-spoken, with a charming, old-fashioned courtesy. He’s clearly attracted to her. There is just one drawback: He’s a ghost.
Lem tells Jessie that he was killed in the 1862 battle of Stones River and hastily buried with six other soldiers in an unmarked grave. He has a mission: to enlist a living person to find his family in the Smoky Mountains and let them know that he died and where he is buried. He is unaware that 145 years have passed, but learning that doesn’t diminish his resolve to make the gravesite known and obtain a proper burial for himself and the other soldiers interred with him, so that all those families may know peace at last.
Though terrified at first, Jessie is drawn to help him and they fall in love. She is torn: wanting to find his people so that he can go to his eternal rest, but knowing that by doing so she will lose him forever. However, not finding them will be disastrous, because she fears that Lem will never abandon his quest, and she will never be free of her passion for him to seek a real-world lover.
Somebody’s Darling is a love story that crosses time periods: present day, and Civil War era – and unites worlds: the ordinary, and the spiritual/supernatural. Although it is the first book of a trilogy that combines Civil War history with contemporary issues and elements of the spiritual/supernatural, it is crafted to be a satisfying stand-alone novel. The other two books in the series, Soldier's Joy and Bright Canaan, are currently in production. Click here to read the opening of Somebody's Darling.
Invented Lives: A Novel
Invented Lives shows how the intimacy of women’s friendships, often so powerfully sustaining, can turn toxic when the friendship ends.
Shattered by a failed romance and a lost job, Regina – Reggie – Stallworth, 27, has come home to the Berkshires to heal and discover a new direction for her life. She meets Clarissa Dawson, an impressive, thirty-something Englishwoman who works in an animal shelter and helps Reggie find her canine soulmate in the gentle, fearful Rufus. The two women become inseparable friends, bound by their shared love of dogs.
Clarissa is beautiful and bold, and has great talents for communicating with animals and for creating knitted artworks. She also boasts of many other assets and abilities which Reggie gradually comes to learn are invented, but dismisses as harmless deceptions intended to bolster a deep insecurity behind her friend’s dazzling façade.
But Reggie has no idea of the shocking secret the other woman is concealing until by chance she discovers it. When she confronts her friend, Clarissa uses their former closeness to strike Reggie where it will hurt most: claiming an affair with Aidan, Reggie's new love, and kidnapping Reggie's beloved dog.
INVENTED LIVES treats difficult themes: depression and mental illness, substance abuse, and animal cruelty, but its ultimate message is one of hope and the restorative power of love and community.