Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Importance of Setting

How important is setting to your story? Do you think much about setting? In some books it seems almost irrelevant. The story can take place anywhere—any small town, suburb or city will do since it doesn’t have much impact on the plot or characters.

But in my Ladies of Summerhill series (historical romance) I could only set the books in Newport, Rhode Island because the stories involve the richest people of the Gilded Age, Mrs. Astor’s ‘Four Hundred.’ That was the number who could comfortably fit in her New York ballroom. And she didn’t mean just size-wise. And Newport was where they flocked during July and August.

America’s Gilded Age began after the Civil War and extended into the early twentieth century. This was the era of rapid and enormous economic and population growth. The term “Gilded Age” was coined by Mark Twain and refers to the gilding of something with a superficial layer of gold. The phrase makes fun of the ostentatious display of wealth that characterized high society. These millionaires were industrialists, financiers and entrepreneurs whose names still ring with the sound of wealth—or former riches. Who hasn’t heard the names Rockefeller, Carnegie, Astor and Vanderbilt? These so-called “robber barons” were sometimes admired and sometimes reviled by the common folk. But they and their life style fascinated their generation and ours as well.

During most of the year a lot of the super rich resided in New York or other East coast cities. But for the short summer season they flocked to places like Bar Harbor, Maine or Saratoga Springs, New York or the Berkshires or Adirondacks.

But the seacoast town of Newport, Rhode Island claimed the title of premier resort during the Gilded Age because of its pleasant climate and glorious scenery. Along Bellevue Avenue and the Ocean Drive, the millionaires built hundred room palaces of limestone or marble, rambling Queen Anne’s, villas, castles, chateaux and chalets. Despite their huge size, they were all called cottages. And they took an army of servants to run them properly.

The most famous social leader of high society was Caroline Astor, wife of real estate heir, William Backhouse Astor, head of one of the richest families in America. With the help of Ward McAllister Caroline decided who was ‘in’ and who was ‘out’ of society. You needed more than a fortune to meet her rigid standards, but dozens of social climbing, nouveau riche wives tried their best to win her approval.

A few of the requirements for acceptance were wealth, pedigree, property, servants and a fashionable wardrobe made in Paris, preferably by Frederick Worth. The husbands provided the means for this extravagant life, but the women ran the show. Creative in their own right with unlimited funds, they spent an enormous amount on entertaining and amusing each other. They showed off their wealth without any restraint or sense of understatement.

The cost of maintaining a summer estate was high and it was common for a family to spend as much as $70,000 on one event. Imagine what it would cost in our dollars today! The ladies did their best to out do each other. For one evening’s entertainment, Tessie Oelrichs decorated her beautiful estate, Rosecliff, with swans and white flowers. She even had a fleet of white ships constructed to float off shore. Grace Wilson Vanderbilt brought in a popular Broadway show to play at a specially built theatre at Beaulieu. And Mamie Fish, with the assistance of Harry Lehr, loved to give parties which were unusual, to say the least. At one party, the guests of honor were dogs. At another party Mrs. Fish honored Prince del Drago who turned out to be a monkey in evening dress. The guests thought this was a wonderful joke, but the press and the public thought otherwise.

The heyday of Newport conspicuous consumption and outlandish entertainment lasted until after World War 1. Many of these grand mansions (oops, cottages) are now museums and tourist attractions.

So the society itself can become a great part of the setting. If the Gilded Age social climbers are the main characters it might be better to set your story in a place like Saratoga Springs with horse races etc. Different places attracted different classes and types of people. While the millionaires who vacationed in Bar Harbor, Maine enjoyed a more sedate life and less ostentation, they purposely chose to stay away from Newport. Make sure you pick the right location for the story you want to tell.

I’m giving away An Advance Readers Copy of Love by the Book, the last of the Ladies of Summerhill series. It’ll be released on July 12th.

Savor this sweeping love story set in a lavish seaside mansion in 1901 Rhode Island.
Melinda Hollister is a society lady, intent on finding a rich husband before her peers discover her quickly diminishing wealth. Nick Bryson is all business, focused on making a name for himself in his father’s steamship line. Despite the marriage of their siblings, they rarely gave each other a second glance—until a tragic accident results in Melinda and Nick being appointed as co-guardians of their three-year-old niece Nell.

In order to get better acquainted with Nell and one another, Melinda and Nick agree to spend the summer in their own private quarters of the Bryson family vacation home, Summerhill. As their love for Nell grows, so does their attraction to each other. And for the first time in their lives, they sense that God has a bigger plan in motion.

Yet old habits die hard – and Melinda and Nick each find it difficult to resist the pull of their former worlds.

When the unthinkable happens, they find themselves faced with seemingly impossible choices and a new understanding of God’s true love.


  1. Interesting blog, Cara--and I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much I have LOVED this series of books. So please enter me into the drawing for your ARC.

    And I believe that setting is almost like another character--I know that in my current WIP, the only reason some of my plot points can work is because of where the story is located. So yes, I think very carefully about my setting before I ever start the book.

    Heading to bed and praying for some sleep tonight during these horrible storms.


  2. Coffee pot is set.

    I invest a lot of thought and research in my settings.

    It's interesting to see how familiar your own writing world has become to you.


  3. Hey, I just saw Anita Mae's name on the list of Daphne finalist in inspirational romantic mystery/suspense.

    Congrats, dear girl!


  4. And what a great setting that is, Cara! I've been to Newport on a few occasions and visted the grand mansions. So incredible! What a perfect setting for novels set in the gilded age.

    carlagade [at]gmail [dot] come

  5. I'm curious to know if any other authors make scene settings relevant to the mood or tone of the scene, when it works with plot of course.

    For example, I was rereading a climax scene that originally took place in a dining room. It occurred to me it would be much more epic to have it take place at the tomb of their dead parents, and with a little rewriting to get them there, it worked brilliantly and the scene was much stronger for it. That was a happy accident for me, but I'm curious if anyone does this deliberately?

  6. Beautiful cover, Cara! And what a fascinating post--I didn't know any of that about the Gilded Age! How cool! How decadent!

  7. I love how you bring the Newport setting to life in your stories, Cara. I felt like I was there when I read Love on a Dime.

  8. I would love to go in the draw for this book. I bought the first book in the series and then also got it on the kindle so am giving my copy away to a friend.
    You know even in australia I have heard of Rockefeller,and Vanderbilt not sure of the other 2. The Vanderbilt's are mentioned in the song "we're a couple of swells" from the Easter Parade.
    For someone doing a challenge to read a book from every state in the USA setting is important!
    I have to say I didn't know the info you had mentioned but did know the wealthily vacationed in the summer.

  9. I love this setting, Cara, and the fashions! Downton Abbey has really increased interest in this time period. I look forward to reading the whole series soon.

    Congratulations to Anita Mae Draper and her final in the Daphne!!

    debraemarvin(at) yahooooo

  10. Like Patty, to me the setting is the backdrop for everything. If the setting isn't real, my characters thin.

    And Cara, you developed the setting for these books beautifully. I can't imagine a grandiose life like that, but you brought it to life for us. Let us 'see' inside.

    Amazing. And so wonderful!

  11. Anita Mae, I'm adding my congrats to Helen's!

    I love the Daphne. Love suspense! And the Daphne tends to have GREAT judges who really know their stuff.

    Hence the great contest ranking! Good job, chica!

  12. Deb, I loved the couple of Downton Abbey episodes I caught. Wonderful!

    Nancy, I think you've stumbled onto a strong fact. Sure, the setting adds a 'silent ambiance' to the scene, even if the author doesn't draw attention to it deliberately.

    That backdrop is like a photographers screen. It provides either a subtle or strong addition that creates balance or inspires emotion.

    Good job, kiddo!

  13. Good morning! Thanks for bringing the coffee, Helen! I'm more than ready for a cup.

    Patty, to me setting is sometimes another character. Newport is the sea and the drawing rooms and the veranda. But in the next book set in the Adirondacks on New York the setting is completely different--rural and woodsy with spectacular scenery. It has a completely different feel to it.

  14. I have to agree with the others who said their setting is like another character.

    I spend a lot of time choosing just the right place and developing the setting in my story. It brings the reader into the story, makes them a part of it all.

    Please enter me into the drawing. I'd love to read this story.


  15. For all that setting is in the background, it really does make an impact, doesn't it? I love the Newport RI settng for you books, Cara. the opulence just oozes out of the pages. LOL.

    I think setting is a problem in my wip. I'm Canadian and since nearly all books are set in the states somewhere I made my setting a no-name brand town in a no-name state and I think that really washes it out some. Just one of things I'm contemplating as I try to cut word count.

  16. Cara--I've only been to Newport once, but oh so memeorable! Beautiful "cottages" sitting right on the Atlantic, waves crashing all along the vast properties. That's definitely a setting that breathes life into the story and characters and dictates so much of both. I love how your books take me back to that time and remind me of my visit there.

  17. Oh, Cara, I LOVE it!! Nothing like a glimpse of the Ocean State in the bright sunlight to cheer me up on this rainy RI morning :) There are many beautiful places in my state but this is by far the most breathtaking and one of the MANY reasons I love your books! :D Thank you so much for a chance to read your new one!!

    Hoping the sun is shining for you today :)


  18. Setting is so important! Not only to your story but the publisher you are targeting. Some romance lines focus on small towns and some on exciting urban areas so to me, a writer needs to know their setting as well as their characters.

    Congrats to Anita Mae!

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  19. thanks for sharing your thoughts

    love to be entered in drawing for your book thanks

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  20. Wow, what a lot of research! Very interesting.

    So far, I tend to be character driven and often forget about the setting until after I've written the scene. Stopping to think about it, my current WIP takes place in a suburb and a big city, but I don't mention where. This is definitely an area where I need more work!

    I just finished Love on Assignment and would love to win the sequel.

    teaching by writing at yahoo dot com

  21. Patty, I'm so glad you liked my series. It was fun to write and I hope to revisit Newport someday in another book.

    I'd like to write about the Gilded Age high society in New York City where they lived for most of the year. Some were from other places, but the majority lived in NYC. It'll be different--more formal probably. And unfortunately no ocean in their backyard.

  22. Cara, I'm going to confess right now before God and man that I envied your setting for the Ladies of Summerhill, not only because it was so refreshingly unique, but because the Gilded Age is such a fascinating era and place!! And you did a BEAUTIFUL job with it, my friend!!

    I SO agree that setting is important, not only with era and locale, but in the beginning of every scene in the book as well. I like to see the setting established in the first paragraph or so, if possible to give me a sense of where I am, what I see, what I smell, hear, feel, etc.

    In Ladies of Summerhill series, I would definitely say setting is like another character, and I felt the same way about Laura Frantz's The Frontiersman's Daughter and Lorna Seilstad's Making Waves -- two terrific books that like yours, held me spellbound in a beautifully depicted time and place.


  23. Carla, Newport is beautiful, isn't it?

    I didn't mention that Newport also has a Naval presence and a great colonial area where my grandfather came from. The houses were restored about 30 or 40 years ago by grant money and are considered some of the best examples of colonial architecture in America.

    Someone in the James family has lived in the same 'Jonathan James' house since my great grandfather bought it in 1850. It was about 100 yrs. old then.

  24. Cara,

    Your description of the setting reminded me of a place we used to vacation--Jekyll Island, Georgia. The mansions may not be as large as the ones you describe. I'm not sure about that.

    I'd love to win the book.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

  25. Congratulations to Anita Mae for finaling in the Daphne!

    Nancy, I so agree with your observation that scene locations should be carefully chosen. I used to set many of my scenes in the drawing room or dining room or the equivalent. Someplace without too much personality. Showing, not telling, extends even to the right setting.

  26. Cara, you made me want to visit RI AND read your series! The Gilded Age is fascinating. I don't know that I've ever read a book set in that era in their vacation homes.

    sallybradleywrites [AT] gmail DOT com

  27. Cara, I loved re-living my visit to Newport through your pictures! What an amazing place! Fun to hear more about life in the Gilded Age. You did a wonderful job bringing that era to life in your Ladies of Summerhill series!

    I can't imagine all that money, especially before income taxes. Many of these families shared their wealth through foundations and charities. Perhaps that came after income taxes. Makes me want to learn more!


  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Great post, Cara. Love the pictures!

    Setting is so important. The trick is to describe it without boring the reader - to be able to weave it into the fabric of the story - as you do so well!

    Hope everyone survived those awful storms yesterday. We are getting the tail end of the weird weather systems here today.

    Take care everyone,

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  30. The opulence of that area of RI is amazing, especially when you consider the time period. It's fun to think about putting people in settings/situations that either reflect or contrast inner conflict. You've made me stop to think about how I can better use setting in my current WIP.

    This series sounds wonderful. I would love to be entered in the giveaway!

  31. Before I go into a sort of rant here, I'll say that Astor is mentioned in my May release Deep Trouble. The heroine in that book has old family connections to John Jacob Astor.

    And I talk some about how the fur trade made millionaires and how St. Louis because a seat of enormous wealth because it was the gateway to the west and so much commerce passed through it.

    Now for my rant. :)

    It's such a strange era, isn't it? This guilded age?

    How did those men get so stunningly wealthy? What set of laws and government involvement and corporate twists and turns added up to that amazing wealth?

    I think there's an interesting non-fiction book to be written about that era, because I think something went ... well .... WRONG in our country right then. to make it so staggering wealth could be drawn out of the country by a few powerful men.

    I love that our country can let a regular person better himself. Or let a man who 'builds a better mousetrap' get rich.

    That Henry Ford can invent the assembly line and make himself a fortune.

    That Samuel Colt can get rich by inventing a handgun that fires multiple shots without reloading.

    The Thomas Edison can take electricity and figure it out and patent a thousand things and become wealthy.

    But this was different wasn't it? These robber barons? They weren't inventing things so much as owning things, amassing wealth in a way that cut other people out.

    I'm not really sure what I'm talking about, (shocker) but I've given some serious thought to whether this era is at the root of fundamental changes -- some kind of unholy alliance between corporations and government -- that weren't good for America and need to be fixed.

  32. Thank you Ruthy and Cara, encouraging to know that "accident" is me moving in the right direction in growing as a writer.

    I enjoy it so much when an author subtly weaves setting in, both the big (city, state, etc.) and small (room, building, nature). The big because I feel after some books I have seen those places, in that time. I began to think about my favorite scenes in books I love and in every one, I can recall the setting vividly. Which shows me how important it is!

  33. Hi, Keli! I can't wait for your debut book! That's so exiting!

    Camy, glad you like my cover. Of course I can't take any credit for it. I'm just very grateful to Thomas Nelson. You can never be sure if the cover even resembles the contents. I remember reading one book with a gorgeous ocean cover and no mention of the sea in the book! Maybe they were trying to sell it to people like me who'll buy anything with the picture of the sea or a lake on it.

  34. Thanks Cara for sharing such great advice. You describe such vivid pictures of time, place, smell, sights...I just love your ladies of summerhill series:)

    Would absolutely love to be entered for a chance to win your last book in the series!

    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  35. Hi Cara:

    It is going to be sad to see the Ladies of Summerhill end.

    Will you still use the Newport location in your next stories? I will often buy books simply because of their location. I believe you can increase the sales of your books by the selection of locations that have strong reader affinity. There is a whole genre of books that are set in the American southwest.


    P.S. I am going to wait for your book to come out on Kindle.

  36. I just watched a show on the history channel last night called, "How did the states get their shapes."

    Really interesting.

    It connects to this a bit, just because their was so much power brokering going on.

  37. a wonderful posting...thanks for the chance to read your latest novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  38. Great post. Certain settings speak of the characters. Love this.

  39. Jenny, I think it's great you're reading so many books about the states! There seem to be a lot set in Texas, but not so many in Rhode Island probably because it's so tiny.

    Debra, I love Downton Abbey and I can't wait for the second season. I wish there were books based on the series. The old Upstairs/Downstairs had books based on the TV series and I read them all about 20 yrs. old. Of course I was just a child at the time!!! I hear a few snickers.

  40. Mary ranting?

    What a switch!


    So do you think our power brokers are now an international global quorum?

    Every time they have one of those interesting meetings and I see CNBC covering it from OUTSIDE the meetings, I wonder.

    Who runs what?

  41. Kav, why not set your stories in Canada? I used to live in the summer about 5 miles south of the Canadian (Quebec)/Vermont border. I think Americans would love to read about another country. I'd love to read about Canada.

    Kirsten, to me when the setting is another character then the book is more interesting because I can visualize it.

    Janet, the Gilded Age was before the days of income tax!

  42. Amanda, I didn't remember you were from R.I. I live in Florida, but I sure wish I lived in R.I. in the summer and fall.

    Glynna, I remember when you took a trip through New England. It's so different from Arizona, but both areas are beautiful in different ways.

    Julie, I think it's easier to write about a place you've visited and enjoyed. I'm writing about the Adirondacks and I've done a lot of research. I hope I can visit this summer, but if I can't I'll rely on my memory. When we lived in Vermont we travelled through New York state and the Adirondacks, but we didn't stay. The mountains and the lakes are incredibly beautiful.

  43. Vince, my editor wanted me to leave Newport so I'm moving on to the Adirondacks for one book. The great camps were also big summer resorts for the Gilded Age millionaires, but the rustic, rural lifestyle drew a different type of person for the most part than Newport.
    I'd also like to switch from a summer setting to a fall and winter and write some books located in New York City.

  44. Very interesting information about setting. In some stories it does make a big difference, doesn't it? I don't think about the exact town or state too much in my stories as they are set input present time, but I guess it would make a bigger difference if I were to write a historical.
    Can't wait to read your upcoming book. Thanks for the giveaway.
    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  45. "So do you think our power brokers are now an international global quorum?"


    Not much has changed, I'm a true believer in wag the dog.

    In Imperial Ancient Rome, the real power sat with the praetorian cohort, the emperor's personal guard. There was never a successful or thwarted transfer of power without their direct involvement. I'm sure that John Wilkes Boothe, Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray and Nathuram Godse are all have members of the praetorian cohort somewhere in those family trees!

  46. Well, I look at huge oil companies...and I wonder how much oil our government buys. To run their fleets of cars and tanks and planes...and how much influence peddling goes on to be the one who gets that contract.

    so when huge corporations get filthy rich, I wonder how much TAX money they're getting to support them. I think government buys from almost all industries. So who donates to what candidate and what to they get in return for their contributions.

    and how does my pathetic little effort to turn lights off when I leave a room and not leave my refrigerator door open to long or run my shower too much does that have to do with the shortages and prices when the government is buying fuel by the tankerload.
    And building skyscrapers and jets and guns
    And equipping whole buildings with phone lines and internet wires and computers and toilet paper.

    You know?
    The consumption levels of government skew everything.

  47. Also I think Rockefeller and Astor and

    Nicholas Fish was a revolutionary war soldier who was friends with Alexander Hamilton
    his son Hamilton Fish was governor of New York
    Hamilton's son Stuyvescent (Mamie's husband) ran a railroad
    These guys weren't really INVENTING anything, they were just power brokers.

    I honestly think all this guilded age wealth is connected to the railroads. And who got to own the lines was probably decided by the government. so they picked winners and losers and that boiled down to who donated more generously to their campaigns.

    And nothing much has changed.

  48. Uhhhh...this isn't off your topic is it, Cara???


    I'll shut up now.

  49. YES!!! I can't wait to read this book! I love the series!

    I just finished Love on Assignment. Did you see my review?

    I also love the book covers! What amazing graphic art!

    I'd LOVE a chance to win your advanced copy! Please include me.


  50. With all the wealth and glitz surrounding Cara's stories, her heroine and hero are always those noble characters who know there is more, know life isn't about wealth but is about faith and love and honor.

    So, Cara brings her characters to life beautifully and sets them in this glorious, gilded age.

  51. Very interesting discussion on setting. My setting for my current WIP and its two sequels is central Louisiana. A place I've been, but don't really know much about. It had to be Louisiana, and I chose central because I didn't want to be anywhere near New Orleans. N.O. has such a rich history, I knew I'd never get it right.

    Mary~ You sound a little conspiracy theory-ish ;), but you're not far off.

    Do some research on the Federal Reserve, which was created during the Gilded Age, by some of the very men we're discussing. You'll be surprised, I was. On my blog, I recently reviewed a book called "Lies the Government Told You." It spends an entire chapter on the Fed.

    Some would say the Fed is exactly "some kind of unholy alliance between corporations and government." The writer of the book calls it a cartel. He's well-known and a pretty mainstream guy. I promise, he's not a nut, and neither am I.

    At least not that kind of nut ;)

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

  52. Hmm. One of the comments was deleted, but I don't know why or which one. I hope I didn't do something.

    Now to comment on Mary's 'rant.' Actually, government wasn't really involved in amassing these enormous fortunes. It was the attitude of laissez faire. I don't think there were any or many government regulations. This was during the time when labor unions were just beginning.

    Some of the robber barons manipulated stock and were a part of all kinds of shady deals. Ex. is Jay Gould. Some like Cornelius Vanderbilt made their fortunes in railroads. Others in steel, mining, manufacturing etc. They usually didn't pay their employees much and demanded long hours.

    Some fortunes were made during the Civil War through war contracts. Remember--no income tax.

    It was a great time for the rich, not so great for most people and most of our ancestors.

  53. Linnette, I couldn't find your review, but I appreciate you writing it!

    Mary, a lot of the rich during the Gilded Age were spoiled snobs. But when I develop characters I assume some were good and struggled to be Christian in a materialistic and consumerist society. Sounds a little like our world, doesn't it? (Of course we're not so rich.) They have to struggle with money. They don't have a choice. It's there and it effects their way of life. So there's some built in conflict.

    Some of the people were great philanthropists. One of the Philadelphia Drexels became a nun! Not everyone was alike or responded the same way to too much money.

  54. I really loved your post--so interesting! A historically accurate setting in a book can really help you to learn about people and places that you might have never thought to study. I have a hard time picking up a history book and diving in, but if I'm reading someone's life story or even a fictional story in a real-life setting, history has life breathed into it. I love it! Even though I'm well past school age, I think it's good to keep learning and stimulating our minds. Today I learned several things from your post about Newport and the Guilded Age...thanks! I read Love on a Dime not too long ago and really enjoyed it! I would love to be entered in the drawing for your new book. It sounds great! Stacey

  55. Great post, Cara (and loved the pictures too!). ~ I was wondering if someone would mention Jekyll Island, Georgia (waving at Cathy Shouse--who did!) since there are many similarities. The mansions at Jekyll weren't quite as large, and were known as "cottages" for the millionaires who spent vacations there. Some of the cottages still stand, and it's a wonderful place to visit (okay, I'll admit: Jekyll Island is my family's VERY favorite place to go, and we vacation there every summer!). ~ Thanks again for sharing this post. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

  56. Such a beautiful backdrop to your wonderful stories, Cara!

    Loved learning about the Gilded Age and those who lived the posh life in that era. Truly amazing!

  57. Daphne finalist! Congrats, Anita Mae!!!

  58. Cara I have found alot in Texas but the other ones with lots are Montana, colorado, Ohio and now Arizona is starting to mount up!
    I have now read 5 Australian books and 3 of the 5 are in Queenland.
    I have read a book from 21 states so far.

  59. Wow, I can't imagine anyone living in such big, beautiful houses! Those are simply gorgeous, though I don't think I'd want to clean one of them!

    Please enter me for the giveaway.

    crazi.swans at gmail dot com

  60. Cara, I am so glad you chose Newport for your books....and I loved the books!!! Please count me in for the draw of your third book in this series! Thanks!!!

  61. Faye, those lucky ladies had a staff to take care of their homes! I do envy that.

    Jenny, I think Americans like to read stories set in the west and southwest. Cowboys are really popular.

    Jekyll Island sounds like a very interesting place. I'll have to check it out.

  62. Cara, here it is:

    Wow! What a great historical by Cara Lynn James!

    This book was worth every day of every year she put into it! Thank you, Cara Lynn, for the gift of Charlotte and Daniel's story.

    I loved both hero and heroine. Cara portrayed them and the era so well. The conflict was so realistic. I love how she presented Charlotte's growth as a Christian. I love Daniel's vulnerability and faith. (If only we were all more like him in our Christian walk. While it opens us up to many vulnerabilities, God truly is our rock and defender. Daniel brings remembrances to my heart and mind of years gone by in my own life.) The story also made me think of what Jesus said...while we are to be cunning as serpents, we are to be gentle as doves. As a couple, Charlotte and Daniel bring these two characteristics together in perfect unity, balancing each other as a couple should.

    It's refreshing to see couples who aren't constantly at each other's throats only to wind up together at the very the end. I enjoyed watching their relationship bud, blossom and grow - even with Charlotte's angst throughout. I like that, though she was an interloper, she was her genuine self during the day to day things of life. It was those things that won Daniel's heart to begin with and I'm glad Charlotte could be herself to a great extent...that she wasn't so wrapped up in guilt and angst throughout the story that she was constantly on edge. I also like that while Daniel was affected by the failures of his first wife and marriage, he allowed it to grow him in his Christian walk rather than embitter him. And that's truly what made him the wonderful man he was and allowed him to see Charlotte for the gift she was. Beautiful!

    Did I say I LOVED it? :D

  63. Cara I noticed that I to like the west. Its interesting from years back when the west was the prairie like in Janette Oke's books, and a few going on the wagon trains but recently its more the west. Oh Oklahoma is doing well too.
    Until this year I wouldn't noticed where the books were set as much but am enjoying the challange even if I now have about 7 or 8 books to read set in Texas.
    I have a couple more Aussie books to read also thankfully we get extra credit for international books.

  64. Would to love to read this book it looks great

  65. I just loved this history lesson, Cara!! So interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  66. Oh,yes, settings are all important in shaping the characters and the story. And the more authentic, the better because readers want to learn.

    I have now added your name to my list of must read books and look forward to being introduced to a new world.

    Thanks for the post.

  67. Thank you Cara, I'm only a reader, so I get to enjoy the wonderful settings that you writers research so hard to write into your books.
    And would love to win a copy of your book

  68. Great history lesson Cara! I love history :)

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com