Times of Turmoil: Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour.
It is 1718 and Duncan Melville and his time traveller wife, Erin, are concentrating on building a peaceful existence for themselves and their twin daughters. Difficult to do, when they are beleaguered by enemies.
Erin Melville is not about to stand to the side and watch as a child is abused—which is how she makes deadly enemies of Hyland Nelson and his family.
Then there’s that ghost from their past, Armand Joseph Chardon, a person they were certain was dead. Apparently not. Monsieur Chardon wants revenge and his sons are tasked with making Duncan—and his wife—pay.
Things aren’t helped by the arrival of Duncan’s cousin, fleeing her abusive husband. Or the reappearance of Nicholas Farrell in their lives, as much of a warped bully now as he was when he almost beat Duncan to death years ago. Plus, their safety is constantly threatened as Erin is a woman of colour in a time and place where that could mean ostracism, enslavement or even death.
Will Duncan and Erin ever achieve their simple wish – to live and love free from fear of those who wish to destroy them?
Excerpt – Times of Turmoil
It was common knowledge that the Quakers—or Friends, as they called themselves—had arrived in Pennsylvania with an ingrained mistrust for the British legal system. Too many years of persecution, too many accusations of being in breach of the Conventicle Act, had left them with a desire to build their own legislation. Accordingly—or so Lloyd said, being a pragmatic soul no matter his faith—the original penal code had been somewhat lax. Some years later, the colony had swung the other way, implementing punishments that were particularly brutal—at least for some crimes, like sodomy.
“Now I believe we have found an adequate balance,” Lloyd had confided with some smugness. After all, he’d been a major contributor to the recent reforms. But some things hadn’t changed: the Friends preferred to settle their disputes in venues that were more reminiscent of their meetinghouses than a courtroom, which was why today’s proceedings were held in a simply furnished room adjoining Lloyd’s office. Uncluttered and full of light, the bare room was evidently to Erin’s liking, as were the chairs, unadorned but well-made. Duncan was not in the mood to inspect furnishings or interiors. Truth be told, he didn’t believe Erin was either: she was merely distracting herself from the coming proceedings.
Lloyd entered, followed by a group of silent men, the jurors. Some were landowners; some ran businesses in Chester itself. All of them looked serious, inclining their heads politely at Erin—albeit some chose not to look directly at her—and greeting Duncan with more familiarity.
Last came Caleb Nelson, strutting into the room accompanied by his lawyer, John Edwards. Lloyd and Duncan shared a look: Edwards was a recent transplant from England and was prone to wordy comparisons between the glories of England and the woeful state of affairs in this sad corner of the world, Pennsylvania.
Today, Edwards oozed confidence. Where Caleb had opted for a brightly embroidered waistcoat under an ill-fitting coat and boots rather than shoes, John Edwards sported expensive black. Black coat adorned with silver buttons, a black waistcoat, neat black breeches, black stockings and polished silver-buckled shoes. Cuffs frothed with pristine lace, a blindingly white collar contrasting starkly with the darkness of his coat. He bowed to the assembled jurors, totally ignoring Duncan and Erin. Duncan bristled. Erin’s hand clasped his forearm, urging him to sit back.
“Well, this won’t take long, will it?” Edwards said, and Caleb grinned.
“No? How so?” Lloyd asked.
“Nonsense!” Edwards said. “Unsubstantiated accusations! Everyone knows it was that man who shot our dear Hyland Nelson.” He pointed at Hans, for the day in his best coat.
“Ah. And thou wert there, wert thou?” Lloyd asked.
“Me?” Edwards snorted. “Of course not, but Caleb—Mr Nelson—says that—”
“Ah. So Caleb Nelson admits to being there.”
Edwards gave Lloyd an irritated look. “What of it?”
“Trespassing, John Edwards. A most serious offense. Who knows what dastardly deeds he and his father were planning?” Lloyd nodded repeatedly.
“Dastardly deeds?” Edwards squeaked. “It was Hyland Nelson who was murdered!”
“Hmm,” Lloyd said. “Murder requires premeditation. Surely, thou knowest that, educated man that thou art.”
Edwards puffed up. “Of course.”
“So if Hyland Nelson died in stables he had no reason to be in, one could argue it was as a consequence of his actions: breaking and entering.”
“How dare you! My father and I—”
“Were trespassing,” Lloyd cut him off. “Or art thou saying Duncan Melville invited you?”
“Melville wasn’t home,” Caleb Nelson said.
“No. Which likely means thou were not invited. So in fact, thou wert trespassing, likely to do Duncan Melville damage. As I hear it, thou wert planning theft, Nelson.”
Caleb Nelson spluttered, but Edwards frowned, gesturing that he hold his tongue.
“We can but speculate for their presence at the Melville home,” he began, at which Duncan shot to his feet.
“Speculate? They were there to steal back my latest indenture.”
“Our indenture! You tricked us out of him!” Caleb roared.
“Duncan Melville bought him off thee,” Lloyd said, waving for Duncan to sit down. “At a fair price. And we all know why he did, do we not?” He fixed Edwards with a narrow, wintry gaze. “I assume thou dost know why we interceded on behalf of the lad, John Edwards?”
“I do,” the lawyer muttered.
“So,” Lloyd continued, “I think we can ascertain that Nelson, father and son, were at Papegoja Plantation to steal.” He turned to glare at Celeb. “Am I not correct?”
“He belongs with us,” Caleb said, and beside him Edwards shook his head.
“Not anymore.” Lloyd turned to Edwards. “Tell me, John Edwards, if this were England, how would a thief be punished?”
Edwards paled. “Err . . .”
“He would hang, would he not?” Lloyd said.
“Well, it depends,” Edwards began. “For stealing a horse, likely, but—”
“Hang?” Caleb interrupted. “Me? It was him, the German, who shot my father, he should hang!”
“Tut-tut: For defending his master’s property against thieves? I think not. Besides, both Hans Muller and Erin Melville give a different account of events,” Lloyd said. He turned to the jurors. “Erin Melville will not testify, of course, but we have here her written statement.”
Duncan suppressed a yelp when Erin pinched him. Bright green eyes met his.
“I want to testify,” she said in an undertone.
“But you will not.” He’d have preferred it if she hadn’t been here at all, but Erin had been adamant: she had a right to be present. And he couldn’t quite tell her that he didn’t want her exposed, that he didn’t like men looking at her with a speculating gleam in their eyes, wondering if there was some truth in the lies spread by Nelson about Erin once having been a slave.
“All lies, lies, I say!” Caleb Nelson said once Lloyd had finished reading Erin’s account out loud. He swivelled to glare at Erin. “She knows it was the German who shot my father; she’s just lying to protect her man.” He sniffed. “What else can one expect of a coloured h—”
“Careful,” Lloyd said. “Tread with care, Nelson.”
“Her word should not count,” Caleb blustered. “Not against me, a white man.”
“How fortunate, then, that our first witness is white,” Lloyd said.
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Universal link: https://myBook.to/ToTABG
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CJ7FYQVL
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Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
More recently, Anna has been hard at work with her Castilian series. The first book, His Castilian Hawk, published in 2020, is set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, while the third, Her Castilian Heart, finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain! The fourth book, Their Castilian Orphan, is scheduled for early 2024.
Anna has recently released Times of Turmoil, the sequel to her 2021 release, The Whirlpools of Time. Here she returns to the world of time travel. Where The Whirlpools of Time had Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin navigating the complexities of the first Jacobean rebellion in Scotland, in Times of Turmoil our protagonists are in Colonial Pennsylvania, hoping for a peaceful existence. Not about to happen—not in one of Anna’s books!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com