Raider's Heart [NOOK Book]

Overview

A silly little lamp has turned Dawsey Wilkes's life upside down.

 

Hooper and Duncan McRae grew up hearing their father’s tales of the little golden lamp that eluded his ability to possess. Hooper, always the daring brother, seizes a once-in-a lifetime chance to get a peek at the legendary lamp. But simple curiosity could open a Pandora’s box of trouble for the McRaes.

 

Whisked from her opulent home in the middle of the night, Dawsey...

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Raider's Heart

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Overview

A silly little lamp has turned Dawsey Wilkes's life upside down.

 

Hooper and Duncan McRae grew up hearing their father’s tales of the little golden lamp that eluded his ability to possess. Hooper, always the daring brother, seizes a once-in-a lifetime chance to get a peek at the legendary lamp. But simple curiosity could open a Pandora’s box of trouble for the McRaes.

 

Whisked from her opulent home in the middle of the night, Dawsey Wilkes wakes up deep in the Carolina swamps, the prisoner of a rowdy family who support the infamous Henry Berry Lowry, a vigilante intent on bringing justice to the poor.

 

Wooed by the competitive brothers and shunned by their sister Ellie, Dawsey remains intent on getting back home to her ailing father. But has it been God’s plan all along to unite these two very different families?

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Editorial Reviews

Christian Book - Kathy Warth

Lots of twists, surprises and downhome fun await the reader in this creative easy to read novel! With characters the reader can relate to makes this a true keeper novel to reread and savor again, and a truly unforgettable novel you won't want to miss! I look forward to reading the next in this series!
RT Book Reviews - Patsy Glans

Gruver launches the Backwoods Buccaneers series with a tale of adventure, family secrets and romance. The characters are well rounded and well meaning, but also know that when the truth comes to light, no one will be the same.
Legacy of a Writer - Katy McCurdy

The story plot was well thought out and unfolded amazingly. I don’t want to give away anything in the book, so I won’t delve into anything in this review. It’s one of those stories that’s full of surprises and you can’t explain too much about the book without giving it all away. And the ending was so sweet. It just made me sigh contently at the McRae’s life. It was certainly a perfect ending to an exciting book.
A light, fun read that will keep you entertained from cover to cover. It has twists and turns that will surprise you along the way. I enjoyed reading this book - my first by this author. I will certainly pick up another book of hers in the future!
Book Reviews R Us - Stephanie Rollins

This is an unconventional love story and drama. If you like historical novels, this is for you. Marcia Gruver brings history and the culture of south central North Carolina alive.
Fiction Addict - Elizabeth Olmedo

Marcia Gruver opens her new series, Backwoods Brides strong with Raider’s Heart. A tale of romance, adventure, and faith unfolds grasping the reader’s attention. Raider’s Heart is a story of forgiveness and letting God take control amidst tragedy. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and couldn’t put it down, consequently reading it in one sitting. The novel has one of those “feel-good” endings that while not the most realistic because it’s a bit too perfect; it is a nice break from real life. Sometimes one enjoys breaking away from reality for a few hours. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, clean romance.
Christian Book

Lots of twists, surprises and downhome fun await the reader in this creative easy to read novel! With characters the reader can relate to makes this a true keeper novel to reread and savor again, and a truly unforgettable novel you won't want to miss! I look forward to reading the next in this series!

— Kathy Warth

RT Book Reviews

Gruver launches the Backwoods Buccaneers series with a tale of adventure, family secrets and romance. The characters are well rounded and well meaning, but also know that when the truth comes to light, no one will be the same.

— Patsy Glans

Legacy of a Writer

The story plot was well thought out and unfolded amazingly. I don’t want to give away anything in the book, so I won’t delve into anything in this review. It’s one of those stories that’s full of surprises and you can’t explain too much about the book without giving it all away. And the ending was so sweet. It just made me sigh contently at the McRae’s life. It was certainly a perfect ending to an exciting book.

A light, fun read that will keep you entertained from cover to cover. It has twists and turns that will surprise you along the way. I enjoyed reading this book - my first by this author. I will certainly pick up another book of hers in the future!
— Katy McCurdy

Book Reviews R Us

This is an unconventional love story and drama. If you like historical novels, this is for you. Marcia Gruver brings history and the culture of south central North Carolina alive.

— Stephanie Rollins

Fiction Addict

Marcia Gruver opens her new series, Backwoods Brides strong with Raider’s Heart. A tale of romance, adventure, and faith unfolds grasping the reader’s attention. Raider’s Heart is a story of forgiveness and letting God take control amidst tragedy. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and couldn’t put it down, consequently reading it in one sitting. The novel has one of those “feel-good” endings that while not the most realistic because it’s a bit too perfect; it is a nice break from real life. Sometimes one enjoys breaking away from reality for a few hours. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, clean romance.

— Elizabeth Olmedo

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607422631
  • Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Series: Backwoods Brides, #1
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 242,960
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Marcia Gruver’s southern roots lend touches of humor and threads of faith to her writing. Look for both in her Texas Fortunes and Backwoods Brides series. When she’s not perched behind a keyboard, you’ll find her clutching a game system controller or riding shotgun on long drives in the Texas Hill Country. Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband Lee have five children. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with a dozen grandchildren and one great-granddaughter—so far.

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Read an Excerpt

Raider's Heart

Backwoods Brides


By Marcia Gruver

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Marcia Gruver
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-264-8


CHAPTER 1

Fayetteville, North Carolina, December 1871

Dawsey gasped and ducked behind the broad trunk of a live oak, her lovely mood snuffed like a hearth doused with dishwater.

Aunt Lavinia had charged onto the columned porch and stood peering down the tree-lined street, shading her eyes with both hands. "It's no good, child," she shrilled. "I've seen you."

So much for pride in a timely escape.

Dawsey hid her bundle behind her back and searched her mind for a fitting Psalm.

"Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him."

Whispering a prayer for strength, she stepped out onto the path. "Morning, Aunt Livvy."

Scowling, her old aunt scurried to meet her. "Dawsey Elizabeth Wilkes! Were you hiding from me?"

No sense denying. It would be a lie. Dawsey swallowed hard and fessed up. "Forgive me, dear. Not hiding from you, really, more from what you're about to say."

"Then I'll have it over and done. Did you keep your appointment with the dressmaker?"

Dawsey hung her head. "Not exactly."

Aunt Livvy caught her chin and raised it. "Kindly explain."

"I reached the door this time, Auntie. Touched the knob before a basket on display in the general store caught my eye." She pulled the package from behind her, attempting a winsome smile. "Sweet potatoes. For the Christmas meal. Once I saw them, I forgot everything else. Father adores them sugared, and you know how he loves my holiday bread."

Aunt Livvy groaned and sought the heavens. "What is this fixation with the kitchen? Winney's a perfectly capable cook, dear."

"Yes, but I—"

"Young lady, I've tried to be patient, but sweet potato bread is hardly more important than your coming-out party."

This time Dawsey groaned. Inwardly, of course. "I respect your opinion, Auntie, but in this case, I can't agree." She softened her tone. "Father seems to love my special dishes, and I'm eager to offer him every comfort."

Aunt Livvy drew a breath, her lips moving as she counted on the exhale. She made it to number five before frowning and stamping her foot. "Your stubbornness in this matter is outright indecent. Your refusal to cooperate has positioned this family soundly beyond the pale. This is Fayetteville, North Carolina, Dawsey! General Sherman burned our buildings to the ground, but not our spirits. You must conform or be blacklisted." She tilted her head. "Don't you wish to marry well?"

Dawsey took her arm and started for the house. She dared not voice the thoughts swirling in her head. The truth was, after surviving the ravages of war, few citizens of the Old South concerned themselves with coming-out parties. Marrying well seemed the last thing on their minds, especially Dawsey's. Only the elders held fast to fading traditions. Sadly, no matter how stubbornly they clung, the old ways bore the stench of death and begged a decent burial.

Sadder still, stubbornness oozed from every pore of her well-meaning aunt. Lavinia believed Dawsey's standing as the only daughter of a wealthy planter would suffer crisis should she stay her meddling hand.

Despite Aunt Livvy's zeal, more pressing matters consumed Dawsey's heart. Her father's depression had worsened, if such a thing was possible. Curiously, her aunt seemed too busy to notice her only brother losing his mind.

When they reached the front porch, Dawsey found the courage to answer. "To be honest, Auntie, marriage hasn't entered my mind. I'd be perfectly happy to stay in this house forever, cooking for Father and tending his needs. Is he in his room?"

As always, when Dawsey mentioned him, her aunt grew flustered. She sputtered and waved behind her. "In the den, I think."

"Is he alert today?"

Aunt Livvy promptly changed the subject. "Take those silly tubers to the root cellar or they won't be edible by Christmas. Then freshen up and meet me right here." She poked Dawsey's shoulder with her finger. "Don't keep me waiting. I only hope the seamstress will work us in after you've missed two appointments in a row."

As she spoke, the gangly boy who tended the grounds ambled up the walkway behind them. Barely out of knee pants, the lad made a vague impression of grimy overalls, tattered coat, tousled red hair, and a willful cowlick.

Aunt Livvy wiggled her fingers in his direction. "Yes, you're late. Don't waste my time apologizing. Get out back and weed the roses. We'll address your habitual tardiness when it's time to settle up."

Without a word or a missed step, the poor boy—Tiller, if Dawsey remembered his name correctly—lowered his head and crossed the lawn in a sulk.

When he disappeared, Aunt Livvy spun on her heels and entered the foyer still muttering under her breath.

Dawsey followed her inside. Dawdling at the coatrack, she waited until her aunt reached the top landing then placed her bundle on the hall table and crossed to her father's den. Sweet potatoes and dressmakers could wait.

Dreading what awaited her on the other side, Dawsey held her breath and pushed open the door. She strained to see her father in the dimly lit room, but the horrid smell reached her first. A mixed odor of stale cigars, musty wool, spoiled food, and unwashed body assailed her nostrils. Suppressing a retch, she briefly wished to step outside and slam the door against the foul smell and her heartrending pain.

Father coughed, the sound a damp rattle, and concern propelled her inside.

"What's this I hear? Are you ill?"

He jerked as if he'd been dozing then lifted shaggy brows, his gaze bleary. He grunted but didn't speak.

Dawsey felt his brow. Clammy, but blessedly cool.

Smoke saturated the oppressive air, providing an excuse for her watery eyes. The real reasons for her tears—dried egg on his tattered sweater, three days' growth of whiskers, and his vacant stare—she'd never allow him to know.

She lifted the pitcher and poured a shallow bowl of water. Dipping a rag, she wiped the sleep from his eyes and a spot of drool from his bristled chin. He didn't shrink from the cold cloth.

Squatting, she sought his face. "Are you hungry? It's nearly noon."

Eyes straight ahead, he responded with a cough.

"If you keep that up, I'll have to call the doctor."

This earned her a twitch in his cheek.

Laying aside the cloth, Dawsey sat next to her father, wondering how much deeper he could sink before losing his way back, how much further he could slip before she lost him forever.

The dark paneling and deep mahogany furnishings, meant to create a rich, impressive space, thrust the dismal room into shadow. A swirling beam of sunlight, the only bright spot in the room, pierced the gloom like a beacon of hope. Dawsey gazed at it, grateful for any hope she was offered.

She closed her eyes and leaned against his chair, longing for something she'd never known. Whatever force pulled her father into darkness by degrees had been tugging him away her whole life. There were stories about the brilliant man Colonel Gerrard Wilkes had once been, and Dawsey loved to hear them. She'd caught glimpses of that man in her early years but had never known him whole.

The door behind her opened with a flourish, drawing a rush of cold air from under the sash. Her aunt hovered on the threshold as if she couldn't bear to step inside. "I might've known."

Dawsey hustled to her feet. "I was just coming."

"Don't tell lies, dear. I know you forgot." She held up the package. "About these potatoes as well."

"I'm sorry, Auntie."

Aunt Livvy glanced at her brother and a grimace twisted her face. "I'll have Levi draw him a bath. Finish up here and meet me out front by the carriage."

"Yes, ma'am."

The door closed as briskly as it had opened.

Approaching the window, Dawsey shook her head and pushed down the familiar wave of sadness. She raised the sash higher, reached for the peculiar golden lamp on the sill, and came face-to-freckled-face with the boy, Tiller, kneeling in the flowerbed. Their eyes locked briefly before Dawsey snatched the lamp inside and lowered the pane.

She knew her efforts were wasted. The next time she entered the

den, the window would be open, the lamp outside on the ledge. The pointless ritual had gone on for years.

Crossing the room, she placed the gaudy bauble in its proper place on the glass-topped table, resisting the urge to rub it and summon the genie.

It would take a grander wish than a genie could grant to help her understand what was happening to her father ... and a God-sized miracle to save him. Fortunately, Dawsey believed in God-sized miracles.

Casting a hopeful peek over her shoulder, she slipped into the hall and closed the door.

CHAPTER 2

Robeson County, North Carolina, December 4, 1871

Hooper McRae watched his hero's back until the low-lying mist and dense tangle at the edge of Bear Swamp swallowed him in silence. He wouldn't see Henry Berry again until Henry Berry summoned him and only on Henry's terms.

There wasn't another man Hooper respected more, not even his own father. Silas McRae gave his utmost in the fight for justice and was a notable man in his own right, but not equal to the likes of Henry Berry Lowry.

But then, who was?

Hooper turned his horse and headed through the quagmire to rejoin his brother Duncan and their weary band. Ears attuned to every sound, he picked his way along the same route he'd come.

The men of Robeson County took their first toddling steps in three inches of mud and knew every inch of the swamp by heart. Those unfamiliar with the area soon found themselves in trouble trying to navigate the marshy lowlands.

Many lost their lives in the maze of identical cypress. The mirrored trunks, jutting from the shallow pools that stretched for miles, tricked the mind and stifled a man's sense of direction. With no distinct markers, befuddled men rode in circles for days, never arriving where they were bound.

Outliers claimed Scuffletown hovered atop the water like a straddle-legged spider, its flooded roads and waterlogged houses floating free.

To Hooper and others like him, it was home, and he couldn't wait to get there.

He came to the clearing and found his men where he'd left them. Slump-shouldered and dozing, they seemed ready to topple from their horses, his bleary-eyed brother the worst offender.

Disgusted, Hooper shook his head. "Snap to, you sorry lot! I could've been Sheriff McMillan slipping up to cart you off to jail."

Duncan yawned and pushed back his soaking wet hair. "We've been riding all night in the rain. I'd welcome a cell in Lumberton with a dry cot to stretch out on."

Hooper snorted. "They'd stretch out your neck for you is all."

The memory of Henry Berry's proud back strolling fearlessly out of sight clashed with the sight of Duncan slouched in the saddle, a hollow-eyed, bedraggled mess. A sniveling ninny with no stomach for righteous vengeance, his brother suffered in comparison with Henry.

For that matter, their sister Ellie was a braver soul than Duncan. The little spitfire had more gumption asleep than Duncan did wide awake.

As if he'd read Hooper's mind, Duncan looked up and squared his shoulders. "What did Henry say?"

Hooper glanced away. "He said to hold our ground tonight. Go home and guard the folks. He sent word to the militia to stay out of Scuffletown business or suffer the consequences."

"And after tonight?"

The exhausted band of men crowded close to hear the answer. "Henry promised to send word."

Wyatt, second in command to Hooper, whooped as loudly as he dared with the dogs on their heels. "That means we sleep in our own beds tonight?"

Wyatt's brother Nathan grinned. "And belly up to our mama's table?"

The rough-and-tumble brothers beamed so foolishly, Hooper might've smiled, too, if he remembered how. He nodded at the other two boys instead. "Jason and Richard will bunk at your house tonight. Until we get the all clear, it's not safe for them in Moss Neck."

Wyatt raised his brows. "Suppose Henry can't hold 'em off? Will we have to leave again?"

Hooper took up his reins. "We do whatever Henry says."

Duncan made a sound in his throat. "You will. I'm tired of lying out in this godforsaken swamp. I'm bound for Scuffletown, and once I cross the Lumber River, that's it for me. If I make it home in one piece this time, I won't be leaving again"—he squinted at Hooper—"no matter what Henry says."

A sour taste in his mouth, Hooper spat. "Suit yourself. If I were you, I'd steer clear of turkey blinds and watch the brush for the flash of arms."

"They're not looking for us, Hooper."

Richard, the youngest of their group, pulled a folded paper, tattered and well creased, from his breast pocket. "Sure they are, Duncan. It says so right here."

The boy's cousin, Jason, groaned and shook his head. "You're still carrying that around?"

Interested, Hooper nodded at Rich. "What have you there?"

"Old news," Jason grumbled. "Not worth your time, Hoop. It's an article the Wilmington Star ran a year ago."

"What does it say?"

Jason's face reddened. "It's nothing. The way Rich makes over it you'd think his own name graced the headline. He's read it so often the words have all run together."

Ignoring Jason, Hooper lifted his chin. "Read it to me."

Richard grinned. "Yes, sir." Clearing his throat, he pulled the paper close to his face and read in a halting voice:

"October 15, 1870—If we were the ... c–citizens, we should feel pretty well ... satisfied that there is no law there and would favor Lynch law, ex–ter–extermination, tomahawking, anything else that would prove ... effective in putting to death Henry Berry Lowry and his band of outlaws."


Wyatt tilted his head. "Didn't you hear, Duncan? They're gathering hunting parties to capture or kill us for the reward. The Conservative legislature in Robeson County offered two thousand dollars for the delivery, dead or alive, of Henry Berry, and one thousand dollars each for his men."

Nathan gave a hearty laugh. "Henry answered by offering one thousand dollars for the county commissioner's head. Ain't that a hoot?"

Duncan scowled. "If you think a nickel of that reward is pinned on our heads, you're fooling yourselves. They're after Henry's real gang, men like Steve and Tom Lowry, Boss Strong, and George Applewhite."

Jason squinted. "There ain't no truth to that, is there Hoop?"

Cutting Hooper off, Duncan raised his voice. "You may wish it to be different, but no one even knows we're helping the resistance. Half the time, Henry forgets who we are." He swiveled to Hooper. "You're lucky he didn't step out of that thicket back there and slit your throat."

Hooper whirled his horse to cut in front of Duncan. "Thunderation, man! What's your problem?"

Duncan met his charge with blazing eyes. "Hunger's my problem. Exhaustion, too. Living in swamps and doing without is my problem. Looting houses and bushwhacking men in their beds, and for what? To aid Henry and his men?" He tucked his chin and his tone softened. "Now that you mention it, my problem might be Henry Lowry himself." His anguished eyes sought Hooper. "What are we doing this for, brother?"

"How can you ask? You know why."

"Do I? All this stealing and killing ain't done the just cause a lick of good."

"You've killed no one, Duncan," Hooper said. "None of us gathered here have taken a life. We steal food and goods to distribute to Scuffle-town's poor. But know this ... if called upon to take a life in defense of my family, I wouldn't hesitate no more than Henry did."

Stillness settled over the men.

Duncan's eyes on him never flinched. "You didn't need to tell me, Hooper. There's bloodlust in your eyes."

"Is passion wrong, brother? You don't find our people worth fighting for?"

"Our people, yes. I'm not convinced they're the source of your passion ... or your first concern."

Hooper tightened his grip on the reins, the sting of the leather a welcome distraction from his rage. "Tell me my first concern, since you know me so well."

"I fear you're using Henry's uprising as an outlet for your anger. An excuse to strike at the wind."

"What does that mean?"

"It means stealing from the Macks' fine houses helps you forget we're half-breeds scratching a living off the bank of the Lumber. It means burying your fist in a pasty- white Confederate helps you forget we'll never be counted as equals while there's a drop of Indian blood in our veins—even if our name is McRae."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Raider's Heart by Marcia Gruver. Copyright © 2011 Marcia Gruver. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Backwoods Have My Heart

    If you're like me there are probably a few author's who you turn to if you want a guaranteed romantic read, a few you go to for that suspense laden drama and a few you turn to just for an escape. Marcia Gruver is one of the author's whose books I turn to when I want to read a book that has an out of the ordinary setting. Don't get me wrong her stories have romance, some suspense and they are definitely great escapes from everyday life but the thing that grabs me the most about Ms. Gruver is her knack for picking an incredible setting for each of her stories. Yes she has set her books in late 19th century which has been done before but I've never encountered bandits, gamblers and oil all in one little town before!

    This latest series is set in the South, not in the cotton fields, on a plantation or a bustling city like Charleston but rather the backwoods and swamps of North Carolina! When you read a lot (and I mean a lot) of historical fiction like me, sure the characters are usually always interesting but the the settings are just kind of...well...blah. I never thought that a place called Scuffletown and the folks who reside there could have captured me so fully. Life on the swamps may be simple but it is far from easy!

    The McRae family and the entire Scuffletown gang are about as closely knit as any group of folks you'll ever meet in a story. I loved the Robin Hood like feel that this story had. It was so cool to see the old legend kind of brought to life in this book but with a new, unique twist! Although that wasn't the whole of the story, it was what I liked the most about Raider's Heart.

    To me this wasn't really about romance, although there was a bit of a love triangle, it was more about family and forgiveness. I loved to see Dawsey Wilkes evolve from a somewhat spoiled"city" girl to accepting the McRae family. I also enjoyed seeing Ellie aka Dilsey, stubborn as she was, soften up a bit. To date, Raider's Heart is definitely my favorite book by Marcia. I can't wait to see what happens next in the swamps of the Carolina's in Bandit's Hope due out this Fall!

    *I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This Book Stretched Me.

    More like a 4.5 rating. Like others, I have mixed feelings about this book. Maybe because I learned some things about myself that I'm not sure I like. What is a happy ever after ending? We can't go back and undo the things of our past. We can't. We can be forgiven, but what we did in the past may have consequences. Are some consequences more acceptable than others? Is this book a page turner? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to others? Yes I would. Why? Because it will stretch you and make you think. And that is novel writing at it's best.

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