Susanna is a lady of principles who values family above all. Johann seems to represent all she despises . . . but appearances can be deceiving.
In 1875, Susanna Hanby is headed off to college in Westerville, Ohio, when she discovers her sister Rachel and Rachel’s children have disappeared. Susanna suspects that Rachel’s alcoholic husband knows more than he’s saying and she vows to uncover the truth.
Johann Giere is heir to a successful German-American brewery in Columbus, but longs for a career in journalism in New York City. When Johann signs on as the supplier for a new saloon in Westerville, his and Susanna’s paths cross and sparks fly. A fiery temperance crusader, Susanna despises Johann’s profession, but she cannot deny the attraction.
When Susanna learns that Rachel’s children have been indentured to orphanages in the city, she despairs that her family will be fractured forever. But Johann makes Susanna an offer she can’t refuse—pitting her passion and her principles against one another.
If she can find a way for her head and her heart to be in harmony, a future lovelier than daylight awaits her.
Lovelier than Daylight is a story of love and faith based on the Westerville Whiskey War of 1875, a dramatic real historical event featured in the 2011 documentary Prohibition by Ken Burns.
“[S]howcases a fascinating episode of American history, interweaving romance, suspense, and historical detail with unusual depth and realism.” —Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning and The Colonel’s Lady
About the Author
Rosslyn Elliott is the recipient of two Carol awards, which are selected by a panel of esteemed peers and denote excellence in Christian fiction. Sheattended Yale University andearned a Ph.D. in literaturefrom Emory University. Rosslynlives with her husband and daughter in the land of pecan pies and magnolia trees,where sheteaches horseback riding lessons andworks inchildren's ministry.
Read an Excerpt
Lovelier than daylighta novel
By Rosslyn Elliott
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Rosslyn Elliott
All right reserved.
Chapter OneOhio, 1875
Tall grass and wildflowers blocked her view and stranded her in the middle of the meadow. Susanna's arms prickled as if someone watched her—but surely no one else was out here in the country on this June morning already hot and breathless.
Scores of fleabane daisies studded the wall of grass like flat yellow eyes, unblinking. The heavy air pressed from all sides, its stillness broken only by the hum of a wasp that circled above her head.
Her sister needed her. She must get to the farmhouse as soon as she could. She gripped the handle of her heavy valise with both hands and pushed through the grass, peering for marks of passage to keep her on the overgrown path. Her back grew warm under her bustled polonaise and corset, and her petticoat dampened beneath her skirt. She wanted to lift her curls away from her neck and fan herself, but she trudged on. At least her straw hat kept the sun out of her eyes.
This summer refused to relent, with its constant liquid heat, harsh as the burn of whiskey on the tongue. Susanna had tasted a sip of whiskey once, at her father's request. He wanted her to know its flavor so curiosity could never tempt her, even though she promised him drink held no allure for her. Whiskey had done more than enough harm already.
She would not think of that. She was here to bring companionship and merriment to her sister and her children before she headed off to college in Westerville.
In her valise she had a surprise that would entertain them for hours—layers and layers of thin paper in seven colors. With it she would show her nieces and nephews how to make something wondrous, exact replicas of the flowers in her botany book. She could not wait to see the joy of creation ease their cares, at least for the few days she was with them. A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. The children would crowd around and ask with bright eyes what was in her valise—they knew there would always be a surprise. She only wished she could give them more.
A brick chimney poked above the grass, which finally opened to a clearing. Her sister's house squatted ahead with its familiar, peeling white planks. Rusted farm tools lay by its walls, and the fields beyond bore only a sparse cover of wilting corn. But any neglect was not Rachel's fault. With a lazy husband and six little ones to feed, Rachel could not go out in the fields and do everything herself.
Susanna hurried forward, her shoulders aching from the pull of the valise.
Why hadn't the children come out to greet her? Clara or Wesley should be out doing their chores, even if the little ones stayed inside.
She stopped. Something had happened to the flowerbeds. The blooms lay crushed and browned along the foundation of the house. Her throat knotted—Rachel must be so sad. The only color and luxury at the home had come from the flowers she had so patiently watered and weeded. All dead now.
She set her luggage at the bottom of the stoop, climbed up, and knocked. No answer. She laid a tentative hand on the knob and pushed the door open a crack. "Rachel?" Her call sank into eerie silence. Her stomach hollowed and she gripped the knob tighter. She eased the door open. The small parlor with its threadbare furniture was empty.
A few steps took her into the dim hallway and back to the bedroom. No one was there. The sheets were rumpled, the quilt hung on the floor, and the baby's cradle was empty. Something was wrong—her breathing quickened.
No, she must not panic. Perhaps her nieces and nephews were upstairs, caring for Rachel there. In her most recent letter, she'd mentioned having a mild fever. If she were still feverish, Clara and Wesley would be caring for her, as their father would be of little help.
The motionless, musty heat of the house gave her a queasy feeling, but she climbed the narrow stairs in the hall anyway. There were two bedrooms upstairs, one for the two older boys and one for the three girls.
"Clara?" she said into the stillness. Both bedroom doors were open, and an unpleasant odor seeped out. A cold flutter started in her chest. She pulled her handkerchief from her skirt pocket and steeled herself to step up to the doorway. It was too quiet. Clutching the handkerchief to her nose, she edged forward.
The room was in shambles, and vacant. The odor came from a few soiled diapers strewn across the floor with flies creeping over them. An old quilt lay in a heap on the bed, as if the children had been playing with it. This was not like Rachel at all. Difficult as her circumstances might be, she had always kept her home clean and orderly. Susanna tried to swallow but her mouth was paper dry.
The boys' room was deserted, and the bedclothes in equal disarray. A drawer had been pulled out of the shabby dresser and lay upended on the floor.
She hurried down the stairs, her heels thumping on the wood. She must return to town and ask if anyone knew the whereabouts of Rachel Leeds, George Leeds, or their children. She would not lose her head, she would stay calm. But she gripped the banister with white knuckles.
She should leave a note for them, in case someone returned while she was gone. A simple desk stood against the parlor wall. She rummaged through its first drawer. There was only a scrap of paper, but it would do. But no ink—perhaps there was a pencil. She opened the second drawer to find it empty.
"What are you doing here?"
The breath froze in her lungs and she whirled around.
George stood inside the door, rank with the stench of stale liquor. He wore no tie, and his shirt and vest were stained and wrinkled. His oily mustache ran down into his beard, which was unhealthy and sparse. It was hard to believe he had ever been a handsome, hardworking farmer who had courted and won her merry sister. But Rachel was not merry anymore, thanks to him.
"Where are Rachel and the children?" Her voice was taut as a frayed rope.
Her vision narrowed to his slack, tilted face. Had Rachel left him? Where would she go, with all her children?
He blinked at her. "She left. Went off with some other man."
"That's not true. She was ill—she wrote to me."
"Maybe she had brain fever, maybe that was her excuse." His mouth twisted in a bitter grimace. "Guess she wasn't too sick to ride the train."
Rachel. Susanna's heart contracted. "Where are the children?"
"She gave 'em to the county."
"The county?" She could only repeat it, dazed.
"To the orphan home."
"But why would she do that?"
"Maybe she didn't want 'em in the way of her and her new man. And I sure as heck can't manage 'em. They're motherless now."
"But they're not fatherless. You let your children go to an orphanage?" She felt her hands shaking and hid them behind her skirt.
"She didn't ask me. She left a note. But now it's done, I'm not going to fight it. And don't get smart with me, Susanna Hanby. You Hanby women let your looks puff you up, think you're more important than you are. I could pick you up in one hand, just like your sister. Well, you see how she turned out—nothing but a loose woman."
He was full of lies. Rachel had never been vain, even though she was pretty. Her nails bit into her palms. She'd like to dig them into his uncaring face instead. "What orphanage?"
"I dunno. In Columbus. What, do you think I could take care of all of them, plus a baby? That needs a woman."
"No, just a sober, decent man!" She flung herself past him and out the door, stumbling down the front steps. All six children, gone. And what could she do if Rachel had signed them over as wards of the county and George did not want them?
She seized her valise and hurried away. It could not be true. Rachel would not do such an awful thing. Perhaps he himself had given the children away to the county.
But George would have no reason to lie.
Unless he had harmed Rachel.
No, she must not think of that or she would not make it back to the railway station. Her sister would write to her and all would be made clear.
She could not bear the whiskey-sodden inhumanity of George. Anger glowed like a pillar of fire to lead her—she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and let it blaze. She would find the children. They must not be separated and given to strange families, perhaps unloved and subjected to callous treatment.
She had told Rachel about George, and so had her parents. If only Rachel had listened and refused to marry a man who drank, none of this would have happened. Of course, when they met, George didn't drink day and night. He was just a happy-go-lucky, merry farmer who stopped into the saloon at week's end. But they had warned Rachel, nonetheless, about what the future might hold, and she had not listened.
Susanna could not think ill of her sister, not after all she had suffered. Certainly not now, when she didn't even know where Rachel had gone.
She sloughed off the trembles from her arms and legs and kept walking. Should she go back to Milford Centre and tell her parents so they could get the children back?
How they would do it, she did not know. Their last savings had gone for the tuition money she needed to go to college in Westerville—money now folded in a tight bundle of bills in her handbag. Her parents were growing old and barely eked out a living from their small plot of land, one cow, and chickens. They would not be able to give any further help—they had already given her all they had. She was a Hanby, and they were sending her to Otterbein, where all Hanbys attended college.
No, she could not go back—she must go on with her journey as planned. Westerville was only a little way farther down the railroad. Her Uncle Will and Aunt Ann had more worldly means than her parents, didn't they? Perhaps they could even rally the Hanby cousins to help, though they were spread far and wide now across the country and even on foreign missions.
She staggered in a pit of dried mud and yanked at her valise to keep her balance. George Leeds had been a good man, once, before the whiskey had ruined him. The whiskey! She would like to put all the barrels and bottles in a pile and burn them.
The heat made her dizzier. I will not faint. I will not. Her bodice was soaked and moisture ran from her hairline down her face, as if her whole body wept the tears she could not afford to shed.
Uncle Will would never let his great nieces and nephews be lost. If he had a spare dime to his name, he would use it on their behalf.
Light glinted from a tin roof ahead. She was almost to the station.
Her nieces were so little, Della and Annabeth. And baby Jesse would not remember his mother or his family at all if they gave him away.
Where was her sister? She dropped her bag with a thump in the dusty track and pressed the heels of her hands hard to her eyes.
Nothing could be done until she made it back to civilization, which she must do on her own. She hoisted the bag and went on, fixing her gaze on the pitched roof of the tiny railroad station. She would not fail Rachel or the children.
Chapter Two"The New Yorker Staats-Zeitung is looking for a good newsman." Mr. Reinhardt flourished a folded newspaper in Johann's direction and gave him a keen look over the top of his wire spectacles.
Johann pretended nonchalance and cranked the great iron wheel of the printing press. The tray slid forward, hesitated, and slid back, imprinting its rows of German letters on first one sheet, then its reverse side. The machine's regular clack echoed off the walls of the large room.
"You hear me, Johann?" Mr. Reinhardt raised his voice. The noise of the press was no match for his ripe baritone, heavy with the Bavarian accent of his native land.
"Yes, sir." Johann did not look up but continued to run the press. A redheaded boy stood beside the cylinder, peeling each sheet and taking it to the drying rack.
"And you are not interested?"
"For what position?"
Johann's head snapped up and he met the older man's knowing gaze.
The editor opened the paper and pointed at the back inside page, as if Johann could read it from five feet away. "Ja. They want someone with experience, it says right here. Someone who has written a number of crime articles for a German paper."
New York, where presses could take ten sheets at once and print eight thousand sheets an hour. Where men skulked through oyster cellars and opium dens by gaslight, and stories lay so numerous and thick a reporter could wade knee-deep through them every time he walked out of his brownstone. The Mecca of every newspaperman's dreams.
Johann brushed it away. "I can't do that, Mr. Reinhardt." He concentrated on the hypnotic swing of the press tray below him.
Some explanations were best swallowed. He kept silent.
Mr. Reinhardt looked down at the paper through his spectacles and read aloud, "'Candidates must present a clipping of one self-authored crime article of national significance, a story to rouse the interest of even the most jaded city dweller.'"
"That's quite a challenge." Johann's interest flared. "Especially for us yokels out in Columbus." He did love a good contest.
Mr. Reinhardt chuckled. "I think you should go get a story to win you the position. Take it as a challenge. You can always turn it down." He folded the paper up again. "I've seen your face when we talk about New York. Admit it, you want to go."
Johann turned the wheel a few more times. "Very well, I'll find a story." He could write something worthy of the prize, if he put his mind to it. The alluring gaslight and shadow of the metropolis stuck in his imagination. Even bustling Columbus was like a small village by comparison.
The door from the street smacked open and another of the printer's boys ran in. "Danke, Herr Giere," the blond boy said to Johann. "Sorry I was so long at lunch." He rushed over and took the wheel as Johann stepped back to give him room.
"You're welcome. I don't mind taking over for a while. You know I like the press." Johann turned to Mr. Reinhardt. "I must be going, sir, my father's waiting." He grabbed his hat from the peg and headed for the door.
"Show them what we are made of in the West, Johann!" The subdued roar of Reinhardt's voice chased him out into the open air.
* * *
"Front Street," the driver called out, pulling at the reins of his team of horses. The mighty omnibus rumbled to a stop—twenty passengers crowded in the seats, looking surly in the blistering summer heat.
Johann stepped down to the rutted road and nimbly evaded the swish of a passing carriage. A hundred more paces brought him to the brewery yard, which was lined with wagons yoked to huge horses. His father had invested in the new Norman imports. The dappled grays with round, muscled shoulders and haunches were more than capable of pulling the heavy lager wagons. Still, Father often wished aloud for the cream-colored German draft horses of his youth.
Johann walked past them, raising his hand to Heinrich, their brewmeister, who stood beside the first team.
The red-cheeked man waved back with his one arm. "Guten Abend." Confederate bullets had left Heinrich with an empty left sleeve. But like the other men from German Village who had returned missing arms or even legs, Heinrich worked twice as hard to make up for it. And Johann's father would never dismiss a workman who had sacrificed his own body for the Union. Not after what the Giere family had lost in the War.
Johann headed for the thick smell of hops that rolled out the barn-like doors.
"Johann." His father stood in the door frame, his blond head ashy with middle age. He pointed upward so his brown linen coat stretched over his muscular shoulders. "You see the new sign?" Up on a ladder, one of the brewery men had whitewashed out the words "Giere Brothers." On the new white surface, he was painting in the letters "Giere and Son."
"You like it?" his father asked, smiling, but with a hint of melancholy. He walked over to Johann, his hat held to his chest. "It can't stay forever the old way. It is ten years now—we must go on. Fritz would want it."
Johann hoped the sharp stab of guilt didn't show on his face. "It's good. It's what Uncle Fritz would've wanted." He patted his father's shoulder and searched in vain for words, the glamour of New York searing his conscience.
His father cleared his throat. "A customer needs our assistance." He gestured back beyond Johann.
Johann pivoted. Over in the corner by the loading dock, the third team of Norman horses stood at their wagon with several barrels already on board. The floor workers were loading another barrel as a tall, thin man watched.
"Let me introduce you to him." His father took Johann's elbow with affection and swept him across to the visitor.
"Mr. Henry Corbin, this is my son, Johann, who will be glad to assist you."
Excerpted from Lovelier than daylight by Rosslyn Elliott Copyright © 2012 by Rosslyn Elliott. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What a lovely book! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Susanna and Johann and the struggles they went through. I have become aware that this is the third book in a series, however, I was able to follow the story without any problems at all. Lovelier Than Daylight can definitely stand alone. The book begins with Susanna's shocking discovery that her sister has disappeared and her six nieces and nephews have been placed in orphanages. Susanna's drunk brother-in-law claims that Rachel, his wife, has deserted the family and run off with another man. Susanna and Johann's paths cross when Johann accompanies a shipment of lager from his family's brewery to Westerville, where Susanna is living with her Aunt and Uncle. These two are drawn to each other, however, Susanna has very strong views regarding alcohol and has trouble seeing past Johann's family business. We follow the story of Susanna and Johann's quest to retrieve the children and unearth the truth behind the disappearance of Susanna's sister. And what a story it is, with many twists and turns. The author has done a wonderful job of creating characters that are complex and situations that are not easily resolved. The topics of prejudice, drunkenness, and malicious anger are covered, as well as lessons learned about forgiveness and love toward others. I received this book for free from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Incredible Ending to a Great Series I loved the first two books in the serie and was excited to read the conclusion, Lovelier Than Daylight. Rosslyn wrapped up this series while still bringing readers a new story. I was particularly impressed with how historical details are woven throughout the story. Rather than taking over the story, they provide a great backdrop for emotional, personal stories. I can only imagine how intense Rosslyn's research process must be! I loved Susanna's character. She has an incredible sense of justice and moral character. But as the circumstances in her life change, she is forced to evaluate what she believes and how that influences her decisions. And while the ending surprised me in some ways, I was still satisfied. I was blown away by this beautifully-written story. At times, the book almost seemed poetic. I can't wait to see what Rosslyn writes next. In the meantime, I highly recommend Lovelier Than Daylight and the rest of The Saddler's Legacy series! [5 stars] I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Lovelier Than Daylight In book three of The Saddler's Legacy series Susanna Hanby stops in to visit her sister. But her sister Rachel and Rachel's children are are are no where to be found. Rachel's drunkard husband said that Rachel had be unfaithful to him and that she gave her children to an orphanage. Susanna did not believe her sister would do such things. Rachel was a good mother and loved her children even during the harshest of times. Susanna was on a quest to first find the children and then to find their mother. She may even have to put off her life long dream of going to college in order to care for the children. She is living with her grandparents and hopes they will be able to help her in finding and caring for the children. Johann Giere is the heir to his family's brewery but he would much rather be a newspaper journalist. One day he meets Susanna and her grandfather on the train and when Susanna found out his family owned a brewery she was ready to take his head off. She felt it was because of people like him that turned her brother-in-law to drink and therefore causing her sister to be missing and the children being thrown into an orphanage. Nothing would sway her opinion differently! The author brings The Saddler's Legacy ahead to the third generation of Handby's. She creates Susanna as a headstrong woman moving into a new era fighting for the civil rights of women and children. There is a mystery to solve and a quest to conquer. Susanna's dragon to kill in this case is alcohol in any fashion. She blames it for all her families problems. The author came up with a lot of trickery that goes on in the characters attempt to get custody of the children. She puts her heroine in perilous situations while searching for the sister. But of course there must be a hero to come to her rescue or shall we say for Susanna's sensibility, her sidekick. I highly recommend this book. Disclosure: I won a copy of this book in a giveaway on Lena Nelson Dooley's website. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my honest opinion.
Great Read! I quite enjoyed this book. It takes a interesting time in American history and adds a romance story and even some mystery into the fold. What I liked: This book had a lot of depth and a few different angles to the plot that made it very interesting. Susanna was quite likeable. She did not always think before she spoke but as the book goes along she starts to realize she needs to let God help her to stop and think. I think almost anyone could relate to her. Johann was also quite likeable. He was dealing with what he wanted to do with his life. He could continue to work for his father or he could become a full time journalist. Again he had to stop and let God help him find his way. Ann and Will where also in this book. This is the third book in the series and Ann and Will where the main characters in the first book. They are Susanna’s aunt and uncle and I liked how they fit in the story line. What I did not like: There really was not much I did not like. Susanna was a little annoying at first but I could understand why she acted the way she did. Overall this was a great book and I really enjoyed it. It dealt with how drinking can affect a family as well as how Christians can over step at times and how in the end God is supreme even when it seems hopeless. The author did a wonderful job tying it all together. This is the last book in a series of three. I have not read the two books before it but this book can easily be read as a stand alone. Also even though I have not read the other two books I thought the way she wrapped up the book at the end closed the whole series well. I would like to go back at some point and read the first two books to learn more about those characters. If you’re a Historical Fiction fan you will like this book. The information about the time period was very well researched and crafted into a wonderful story. Check it out!
Rosslyn Elliott in her new book, “Lovelier than Daylight” Book Three in The Saddler’s Legacy published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the life of Susanna Hamby in 1875 Ohio. From the back cover: Susanna is a lady of principles who values family above all. Johann seems to represent all she despises . . . but appearances can be deceiving. In 1875, Susanna Hanby is headed off to college in Westerville, Ohio, when she discovers her sister Rachel and Rachel’s children have disappeared. Susanna suspects that Rachel’s alcoholic husband knows more than he’s saying and she vows to uncover the truth. Johann Giere is heir to a successful German-American brewery in Columbus, but longs for a career in journalism in New York City. When Johann signs on as the supplier for a new saloon in Westerville, his and Susanna’s paths cross and sparks fly. A fiery temperance crusader, Susanna despises Johann’s profession, but she cannot deny the attraction. When Susanna learns that Rachel’s children have been indentured to orphanages in the city, she despairs that her family will be fractured forever. But Johann makes Susanna an offer she can’t refuse—pitting her passion and her principles against one another. If she can find a way for her head and her heart to be in harmony, a future lovelier than daylight awaits her. Lovelier than Daylight is a story of love and faith based on the Westerville Whiskey War of 1875, a dramatic real historical event featured in the 2011 documentary Prohibition by Ken Burns. In “Lovelier than Daylight” Rosslyn Elliott not only gives us a great romance but a real piece of history. While her work is fiction this book is based on the lives of a real Johann and Susanna who went through much of the events depicted in the story. This story has such great themes such as the use and abuse of alcohol and intolerance to the point of violence. I like history and any story that focuses on some historical event, in this case the Westerville Whiskey War of 1875, is a winner in my book. On top of all of that “Lovelier than Daylight” has the most creative romances between Johann and Susanna as one sells alcohol and the other is a temperance crusader. This is a wonderful read and I guarantee you will be delighted. I am sorry that this series is ending however I look forward to more great stories from Rosslyn Elliott Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”