About the Book
Book: The Red Ribbon
Author: Pepper Basham
Genre: Christian historical/suspense
Release Date: October, 2020
An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912
Book 8 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History
In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.
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I am enjoying reading this series and learning about historical crimes that made headlines. This story was especially fun to read because I loved the western feel of it. We get a glimpse of what it was like to live during 1912 in the Appalachian Mountains. The author does a great job of making readers feel as though they are right there in the middle of the story.
Ava is one feisty young woman who is determined to find out the truth when she sets her mind to something. She is hesitant to let her heart fall for anyone for fear she may turn out like her mama. Some say her mama was crazy in the head and Ava thinks she will have the same affliction. I liked how Ava had this quality of never giving up. Her lack of trust holds her back at times and she will need to learn to give her fears to God.
Jeremiah was probably my favorite character because he has such a good heart. He is trustworthy, hardworking and fair. He has had his eyes on Ava for awhile and knows he must let her know his true feelings. The kiss they share is sweet and gave me hope that we would see a relationship develop between them. The author does a great job of using Jeremiah to share his faith with Ava.
I can’t forget to mention a very special character who I adored. Ava’s grandma was the sweetest woman ever. She was always there to listen to Ava when she felt she would never be able to marry. Ava’s grandma reminds her to have faith in God and to trust Him with everything.
The story is an adventure into moon shining, deceit, greed and a lesson in faith. There is a mighty big storm brewing in the town as families start to turn on each other. It’s hard to keep the peace when there are men willing to do anything to protect their secrets. The courthouse scene is one I won’t soon forget. I didn’t know anything about The Courthouse Tragedy, but the author delivers history mixed with a bit of fiction to bring this historical event to the surface. I can’t imagine what it must have been like as the sound of gunfire started. I’m sure people were trying to find a place to hide as men took to violence in the middle of a trial. I read the Historical Note at the end of the book and found many interesting facts. No one knows who shot first and I like that the author kept true to the facts. In her notes she explains that pride did get in the way and perhaps forced someone to take action. I loved how she explains about the people involved in this tragedy and what happened to them.
I really enjoyed reading this book and appreciate how the author shares , “In a fallen world, broken things happen, but Christ came to mend the broken-hearted and raise up those who have fallen.” Even in the midst of tragedy like this story describes, God was there to heal the pain and give them hope for a better future as he restores their faith.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
About the Author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains where her family have lived for generations. She’s the mom of five kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at the award winning Writer’s Alley blog. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015, and the second in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuted in April 2016.
More from Pepper
Feuds, Moonshine, and Family Loyalties by Pepper Basham
My upcoming release for Barbour’s True Colors series is really close to my heart…and pretty close to my house.
The Red Ribbon, my first foray into a historical suspense novel, takes place in the county where I grew up. Carroll County, Virginia, is a county on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, not too far from Mt. Airy (Mayberry). Nestled in the foothills and mountains of the Blue Ridge, it is a part of the Appalachian Mountains, and with that comes similar histories as other backwoods Appalachian communities: feuds, moonshine, and family loyalties.
One thing I love most about my Appalachian upbringing is the intense closeness of family – and when I say ‘family’ I mean, of course, my mom, dad, and brother, but also my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents…the whole “gang”, as my granny used to say.
The closeness of family, and the protection of the family name, is a big deal in Appalachia. There’s a lot of pride in the way your ‘name’ is thought of throughout the community, so when someone insults your name, there’s a good chance the repercussions aren’t going to be pleasant. Especially back in the early 1900s, when The Red Ribbon takes place. In fact, insulting someone by “stealing a kiss” is one of the events that leads to The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre/Tragedy.
A long-time feud between the Allen family and the “Courthouse Clan” came to a head inside the Hillsville Courthouse in March 1912 and this event resulted in the largest shootout within a courthouse in Virginia history. The story followed with a nationwide manhunt and made national news until the sinking of the Titanic the following month.
Growing up in Carroll County, I knew a few things about this story. Rumors and whispers, really. Most folks didn’t talk about it because it still caused a stir among those who were descendants (because another thing about Appalachia is that families tend to stay on or around family land for generations). People still took “sides”. So, when I decided to write this book, I knew I was stepping into precarious territory. Not that anyone would start up a shootout nowadays because of a book, but because people still have some deep feelings about how their ancestors are portrayed in history, and since many of my family members still live in Carroll County, I wanted to tread carefully into the events of “The Allen Tragedy”.
What I discovered was a story that still held a whole lot of mystery even one hundred years later. Bullet holes still mark the courthouse steps from that fateful day, rumors still circulate about who was to blame, and no one knows who fired the first gunshot that began the tragic shooting.
I’m not a “scary” book writer or reader, but I love a good adventure, so this book takes the reader on an adventure into Appalachia to my neck of the woods, and follows the journey of Ava Burcham and Jeremiah Sutphin as they live among the illegal moonshiners, dirty cops, and mountain gunslingers of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
(To learn more about the true events of the Courthouse Tragedy, you can read about it here: https://roanoke.com/news/virginia/the-courthouse-tragedy-gunfight-in-hillsville-in-1912/article_45d0d7f3-6e1f-57c4-83be-fceb3d98dafd.html)
Have you ever read a book set in Appalachia? If so, what was the title and what did you learn about the Appalachian culture? Have you ever visited the Blue Ridge Mountains?
Let’s chat mountain people, mountain ways, and mountain books 😊
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To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.