The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner Collusion by Stuart Neville An Amish Love by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller & Kelly Long    
The Teaberry Strangler
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Laura Childs
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
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C.W. Gortner
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Stuart Neville
An Amish Love
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Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller & Kelly Long
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Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dear Reader,

I am very excited that my debut novel WENCH will be released by Amistad/HarperCollins on January 5, 2010. This book has been a labor of love, and I am looking forward to sharing this fascinating story of an enslaved woman who becomes, at an early age, the sexual paramour of her master.

I stumbled upon the following historical footnote while doing research a few years ago: In 1851, a lawyer named Elias P. Drake purchased a plot of land near Xenia, Ohio with the intent to establish a summer vacation resort where the country's elite could relax and enjoy the mineral springs in the area. At the time, it was believed that natural water could cure illnesses and bring about good health. What made this resort unusual, however, was that it became a popular vacation destination for southern slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses. Ultimately, these flagrantly open relationships offended the northern abolitionists who also frequented the resort. After four years, the resort closed.

This part of the story has been confirmed by historians. I took this forgotten historical note and sketched in a fictional account of what it would have been like to be an enslaved woman traveling to this free state each summer. Why wouldn't the women try to escape? What kinds of emotional attachments did they have with these men? Initially, I believed that it was entirely possible that they actually loved the men. Ultimately, I discovered that it was much more complicated than that.

WENCH is perfect for bookclubs. The provocative title alone will arouse a discussion of race, gender, and sexuality. Yet, ultimately, it will be the characters who stay with readers long after the discussion is over. I believe that readers will be unable to forget these complicated women who do whatever is necessary to survive.

I am available to meet with bookclubs in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area anytime. Also, if you would like to win a free book and an opportunity to have me visit your bookclub via Skype or telepone, e-mail and answer the following question correctly: Prior to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 which mandated that slaves entering free states were still legal property of their owners and must be returned to them, there was a federal law called the Fugitive Slave Act that also tried to enforce this measure. What year was that previous law enacted?

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