An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912

Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

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.

My Thoughts:

I’ve yet to meet a Pepper Basham book I don’t like. Here’s why:

1. Pepper writes kissing books. It’s just a fact that you can count on and who doesn’t need something they can count on in the year of our Lord 2020? A swoon-worthy situation (or several) are practically guaranteed by the end of the book. It’s how book boyfriends come about and Pepper writes some of the best. Jeremiah gave me ALL of the heart eyes! I loved him and I think you will, too.

2. There’s usually a good dose of wisdom. At least one character is going to be spouting off profound words that I’ll either quote or highlight. In this book, I especially loved that each chapter begins with a great quote from one of the characters. Some are deep, some are funny, and the best ones are both.

3. The development is fantastic. Pepper doesn’t leave anything half-baked, whether it be tension or character growth. I tell people that her books aren’t a movie–they’re the whole series. She doesn’t scale back in storytelling and it makes for such a rich experience for the reader. There was a lot of story to juggle in The Red Ribbon, but Basham managed to weave it together well without sacrificing plot points or pace.

4. CHARACTERS. I’m a character girl through and through. Pepper is gifted at creating characters that stay with you long after the book is finished. Ava is stubborn and not nearly as cautious as she should be, but I couldn’t help but root for her. And the whole community feels so real and alive–even Jeremiah’s wonderful dog.

5. She dabbles in a little bit of everything. Historical, contemporary, and with The Red Ribbon, she’s wading into suspense. Basically, if you’re a romance person, Pepper‘s written something for you. And she never loses her voice; you know what to expect from a Basham book no matter what. It’s going to be an emotional ride, but the ending is always worth the journey.

*BONUS: y’all, Pepper‘s writing showcases Appalachian dialect and spirit like nobody else. Sometimes authors try and it feels fake or forced, like a cheesy accent gone horribly wrong. Pepper‘s writing makes me feel like I’m right at home, among my people in the hills of these precious mountains. That may not mean much to you, but I assure you it’s important.

Fans of historical romances with a dash of suspense will truly love The Red Ribbon. (Fun fact: the suspense is based on a true story!) Get your hands on this one, friends. It’s available now.

A HUGE thank you to Pepper Basham and Barbour Books for a complimentary copy of this book. As always, this gush session of literary opinions belongs completely to me.

Purchase: Amazon | Christianbook | Barnes & Noble | Baker Book House

Book Boyfriend:

Jeremiah Sutphin. My, my, my. Is there anything more attractive than a loyal man who is steady and certain of what he wants? Hardworking and patient with Ava, Jeremiah certainly takes the Book Boyfriend trophy. He’s about as perfect as a (fake) guy can get, so it’s nearly impossible not to love him.

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