It’s been a while since we’ve talked about our two new friends from Out of the Ashes. You’ve met heroines, Sally Chandler and Claire Harper in the first two novels, but Out of the Ashes brings us two new heroines to fall in love with. I’m going to give you a peek at the heroines, the novel, and my inspiration boards.
*Photos on the inspiration boards were borrowed and not owned by myself.
Melissa Lowe is a timid sort of gal. Ralph often refers to her as a mouse. Melissa actually was first introduced to the readers in Where Can I Flee. Frank mentions her in one of his letters. I did this knowing that I would later bring her into the story. Here’s a closer look at the character:
Full Name: Melissa Kate Lowe
Family: A demanding mother and father, and two sisters who both outshine her.
Hobbies: Bird watching and sketching
Favorite drink: Tea
Quote: “Out of fear I call him Mr. Williams, and, out of resentment, he calls me nothing at all.”
Sneak peek into Melissa’s world:
“Come, child,” Mammy Rute whispered, settling her wide hips down on the bed beside her. Her thick, dark shoulders bumped Melissa’s.
Mammy Rute gave her an affectionate pat on the knee. “What happened wit’ dis one?”
Melissa laid her head on her mammy’s shoulder. “He proposed to his cousin instead of me. And I have no idea why. What did I do to send him to Jennie?” She sighed loudly, blowing the loose hair across her forehead.
“Ohhh, I’s knowed what happened,” Mammy Rute said with another pat on Melissa’s knee. “He learnt that he wasn’t right for you, and he left.”
Melissa frowned. “What if he was right for me, but I somehow pushed him away? Momma thinks I’m to blame.”
“Naw,” she said quickly with a shake of her head. “He couldna been the one if he done left. I been prayin’ all your life, child, for a good man to love you. You’ll know it when it’s him.”
Melissa’s brows scrunched in. Sometimes her mammy just didn’t make much sense. “But, how–” she started.
Mammy Rute cut her off with a wave of her hand. “Cause when he gets a glimpse of the girl I knowed all these years, he’s gonna love you. And when you run off and hide behind those walls you always puttin’ up, he’s gonna come after you. He’ll not stop till he tears down everything you hide behind. You’ll know he’s the one when he works at lovin’ you.”
Melissa couldn’t prevent the frown that pulled at her face. Mammy did paint a really nice picture, but men just didn’t react to her that way. They reacted to Sarah that way. Her flirty sister could get men to chase her anywhere. What hope did Melissa have when she lived in the shadow of her sisters? Everyone, especially her mother, expected her to either be beautiful like Charlotte-Ann or engaging like Sarah. No one was interested in the quiet, plain sister that couldn’t take her eyes off the windows. The sister that found more fellowship outside with the birds than she did in a parlor full of men.
“Smile, baby,” Mammy Rute said, wrapping her thick arm around Melissa’s shoulders. “Your mammy be prayin’.”
Melissa gave a half-hearted smile. She herself had prayed for a husband for the last five years, but God hadn’t seemed to be listening. If Mammy Rute said she’d been praying since Melissa was born, then God surely wasn’t listening anymore or else she’d been married by now. Maybe she should pray for a faith like Mammy’s because praying for a husband didn’t seem to be working any.
Melissa may be shy, but she’s also compassionate and loyal.
Rose Forrister is quite the opposite of Melissa in terms of personality, but she shares her misfortune in the romance department. Rose is much more outspoken, and, when we meet her, she’s quite bitter about being left behind to fend for herself. When a certain Yankee Colonel shows up on her doorstep, looking for food, she lets him know how it stands.
Full Name: Eva Rose Forrister
Family: Deceased mother, no siblings, one doting father.
Hobbies: She writes short stories
Favorite Food: Oranges
Quote: “Your offer of marriage was no more logical than it was sensible. What woman in her right mind would accept such an offer? I have greater plans for myself than to run off with the first stranger who wanders up to my door with a proposal.”
Sneak peek into Rose’s world:
She was sick to death of this war and sicker of the men that caused it. If she never saw another soldier, it’d be too soon. Pity, her once-welcoming “Forrister’s Table” sign hung high and proud over her front porch, and it attracted hungry souls like boys to mischief.
She reached the door at the same time it swung on its hinges and slapped the wall behind it. Rose looked from her abused door to the guilty party of blue, and she narrowed her chestnut eyes to mere slits. Jaws clenched tightly, she could do nothing more than growl low in her throat, her false greeting now swallowed up.
“We’ve come for a meal,” the tall man in the front of the group announced. “We’ll be sitting . . .” he scanned the capped heads behind him before spinning back around to her, “eight of us. Ma’am,” he added for good measure.
“I haven’t any tables,” she barked.
He blinked back his confusion and craned his neck to look past her. “Well, seems to me, you’ve plenty of empty tables.”
The very phrase, “empty tables” ushered the men in without an invitation, forcing Rose to scramble back. “Now you wait just a cotton-picking minute. I told you I didn’t have any available tables, and that’s what I meant.”
The man before her gave her a hard study. “You mean you don’t serve Union men?”
“I mean, I don’t serve any men.”
He chewed on the inside of his lip. “We were paid today. You might not find much in the pockets of a Butternut, so perhaps you should rethink your answer before chasing us off the property.”
She rolled her eyes and settled her hands on her hips. “Your money can’t go producing food where God hasn’t left it. I haven’t the food to feed myself, much less to sell to the likes of men who probably stole it from me to start with!”
His faded green eyes studied her, and his manner seemed to weigh her every word. The man before her was the oldest of the bunch, or at least that’s what the graying sepia hair peeking out from his kepi had to say for him. Upon closer study, she viewed the laugh lines around his mouth. The man must have smiled often at one time in his life. He hadn’t smiled since he had walked through her door, but neither had she donned an apron and served him the vittles he came looking for.
“Don’t go buying her tales, Pops, she’s got food a’plenty,” a giant of a man hollered from behind her.
Rose spun around in time to see a man with a chest-length beard honing in on her meager plate of scones. “Those are not for you!” she shouted, rushing to the table.
Too late. The bearded stranger was already at the table, hand out to snatch one from the plate.
Quick as lightening, Rose grasped the plate with both hands. “I said, hands off!” When the man continued grasping for the scones, she pulled the plate away.
He swiped his hands to-and-fro, a new determination to get a freshly-baked scone. The others pressed in closer.
Suddenly she saw every moment one of the armies had forced their way into her home and stolen what wasn’t offered in free will. The demands for food. The commandeering of her father’s restaurant for a Union hospital. Every helpless moment came flooding back, and now a plate of scones represented so much more than the last of her flour or the quiet celebration. It was her freedom. She’d not give in this time. She’d done enough of that.
Dread crept up her spine and demanded action. She let the scones fall away to the table, and swung the plate with both hands, cracking it over the man’s head.
Silence immediately followed the crash that echoed off the walls, the bearded man slumping onto the table.
Then all at once, life poured into the room …
Rose’s hurt leads her to lash out at times, but beneath her stony glare lies a passionate heart.
You can get to know both ladies in Out of the Ashes, book 3 of the Ancient Words Series. You’ll want to pick this series up from the beginning, though. You’ll find all three books on sale for .99 cents each.