Donna adopted Michigan as her home state in 1971 when she moved from a small town outside of Rochester, New York. She began penning novels in 1982 while working full time for an electronics firm in Grand Rapids.
She resigned from her job in 1984 following a contract offer for her first book. Since then, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan Publishing House, Guideposts, and Bigwater Publishing have published her novels. Her husband, Fred, a former American History teacher, shares her enthusiasm for history. Together, they visit historical sites, restored villages, museums, and lake ports, purchasing books and reference materials for use in Donna’s research.
Donna has written fifteen historical romances and one historical novel with a strong romantic thread for her Great Lakes Romances® series. Recently, she issued an updated version of Jenny of L’Anse Bay. You’ll find information on all of her books, and ways to connect with her at http://www.greatlakesromances.com/.
Donna’s Guest Post:
Today, to help you get in the Christmas spirit, I’m sharing with you the Christmas scene from my historical romance, Jenny of L’Anse Bay. Here’s a little about the story:
Jenny of L’Anse Bay, Special Edition in the series of Great Lakes Romances® is set in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan in 1867. Eager to escape the fiery disaster that leaves her home in ashes, Jennifer Crawford sets out on an adventure to an Ojibway Mission on L’Anse Bay. In the wilderness, her affections grow for a native people very different from herself—especially for the chief’s son, Hawk. Together, can they overcome the differences of their diverse cultures, and the harsh, deadly weather of the North Country? Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness, its historic Ojibway culture, and the harsh realities of the northern woods come to life in this historical retrospective on the life of a young Christian missionary. Readers interested in the ways of the Ojibway, the challenges of remote wilderness living, and a gentle love story that crosses cultural barriers will enjoy Jenny of L’Anse Bay.
You’ll find it HERE on Amazon.
Christmas Scene Excerpt from Jenny of L’Anse Bay.
Before the first light of dawn on Christmas morning, the delicious aroma of maple syrup wafted to Jennifer through the crack beneath her bedroom door. When she reached the kitchen, she found Angelique baking maple syrup pie, a French-Canadian recipe she had brought with her from Quebec.
Breakfast was a small feast, served later than usual. When they had finished eating, Jennifer helped wash dishes and put the kitchen in order. Then Angelique ushered her into the common room where Pierre sat smoking his pipe.
“It is time for gifts!” Angelique’s eyes twinkled. “Pierre, bring Jenny’s present, s’il vous plait. Jenny, close eyes until I say open.”
Jennifer obeyed. Pierre’s moccasined feet padded across the plank floor to the bedroom he shared with Angelique at the opposite end of the cabin. Moments later, his footsteps returned, slower now, and with a scuffing sound, until she heard the gentle thud of something being set on the floor.
“Now, Jenny, look.”
She blinked open her eyes, gasping with surprise. Before her stood a rocker, decoratively carved and glowing with the warmth of highly polished pine, obviously Pierre’s handiwork. Covering its back and seat were crazy-quilt cushions of Angelique’s design.
“Oh, my,” she breathed, stunned by the generosity of their gift. “It’s too much—”
“Ah, ah!” Angelique wagged her finger. “Jenny come home tired after school. Must have place to rest.” She pulled Jennifer over to the chair. “Sit.”
Jennifer dared not argue. She eased herself down onto the thickly-padded seat, leaned against the back, and gave a push with her foot. The wooden floor creaked softly as she rocked. “It’s perfect, absolutely perfect.” She rose to plant a kiss on Angelique’s cheek, and another on Pierre’s. “Thank you both so much. Now, it’s time for your gifts.” She hurried to her room to fetch the two tiny parcels which now seemed wholly inadequate.
“Merry Christmas, Angelique, Pierre.” She handed each a package.
Angelique opened her gift first. Her mouth formed an “o” as she held up the delicately tatted handkerchiefs, one at a time, and laid them out on the table to admire. “So ver’ pretty. Your mother make?”
“When I use, I remember this Christmas, and you, Jenny. Tomorrow, I write your mother. Thank her.” She squeezed Jennifer on the shoulders.
“Now, I open.” Pierre quickly unfolded the paper covering his gift. Fingering the thick woolen socks, he gazed up at Jennifer. “You make?”
“Yes. I hope they fit.”
He kicked off his moccasins and pulled them on. “Parfait. J’tmne beaucoup. Perfect. I like ver’ much.” He worked his moccasins on over them and walked about the common room to test them further, then disappeared into the kitchen. When he returned he was carrying the maple syrup pie. “Mmm. Le dessert. So good, he smell, I could eat all.”
“Oh, no!” Angelique took it from him and set it on the table. “You sit by fire. I get knife. Cut you nice piece.” She had just started toward the kitchen when Hawk entered the cabin.
Pierre greeted him heartily. “Joyeaux Noel. You come in time for maple syrup pie.”
“Then I have come at a good time.” Hawk flung off his heavy wraps, his gray eyes searching the room for Jennifer. “I bring greetings to all of you in the name of the One who was born on this day.”
Noting that he had come empty-handed, Jennifer covered her disappointment with a cheerful smile. “Merry Christmas, Hawk. I have a little something for you in my room.”
Drawing the box from her drawer, she fingered the quill design she had labored over for so many hours, determined that it should be perfect for Hawk. Had Laura Simpson ever presented him with a handmade gift? If so it would have been flawless in every detail. Sighing, she turned and left the room, holding the little box behind her.
Hawk was warming himself at the fireplace, the angular planes of his face relaxed in an expression of satisfaction. Beside him was propped a pair of handsome new snowshoes.
“For you.” He gestured toward the wood-and-leather gear. A look of pride flashed through his smoky eyes.
The snowshoes were adorned with a black thunderbird set against a red background on the forepart, and black webbing on the mid- and rear-sections, complemented by yarn fringes. The craftsmanship was superb. Hastily setting the quill box on the table, she knelt to examine the wood frame of the snowshoes, tracing with her finger the curve where it bent toward the heel.
“Hawk, you could not have pleased me more!” She looked up at him, smiling. “I must try them at once!”
Pierre chuckled. “There is time after pie. Besides, do you forget your gift to Hawk?” He inclined his head toward the box on the table.
“Oh, of course!” Jennifer picked up the quill box and handed it to Hawk.
He turned it over and over in his hands, smoothing the wood, tracing the intricate design of the hawk on its cover. On the bottom, he located her initials, JMC.
He lifted his head, a spark of amber light reflecting in the depths of his eyes. “It is fine work, a place to keep one’s greatest earthly treasures. Here,” and he held the box against his chest, “in my heart, I hold those things that cannot be made with hands.”
Jennifer’s cheeks pulsed with warmth.
Angelique carried in a tray laden with the mouth-watering slices of pie, and Jennifer hurried to help her set them out while Hawk and Pierre stoked the fire.
As they gathered around the table, Jennifer envisioned her parents sitting down to Christmas dinner with their boarders about now. Would this holy day bless them as abundantly as it had her? She prayed it might be so.
Later, Jennifer dressed warmly and followed Hawk as he carried her snowshoes outside and laid them on the snow. He helped her into the buckskin thongs that secured the foot to the apparatus, then he slipped into his own snowshoes.
“Slide one foot past the other.” He demonstrated with grace. It looked simple enough.
Arms out to the side for balance, Jennifer gingerly placed her left foot forward, then attempted to bring her right foot toward the other, snagging the front snowshoe in the process. Without warning, she landed flat on her back in the snow.
Throwing back his head, Hawk let out a hearty laugh, his deep voice resounding through the snowy woods and startling a deer that had wandered into view.
Jennifer hauled herself to a sitting position. How ridiculous she must look, with the tips of her snowshoes sticking into three feet of snow. She began to chuckle, her hilarity building until the tears ran down her face.
At last, she regained her composure. “Hawk, help me up.” She extended a hand to him. “It’s cold down here, and I can’t afford to catch my death!”
Instantly he came to her capturing her small hand in his large buckskin mitt. His firm, yet tender touch took her breath away.
“Maybe you’d better show me again.” Her words barely broke a whisper.
Slowly, without taking his eyes off her, he circled in front of her. His tall figure moved fluidly in a circle in front of her, mesmerizing her until he came to a full stop. Her heart was pounding erratically, like the Indian drum of his village.
“The first lesson is always the hardest.” He spoke quietly, his eyes full of tenderness. Then he gently coached showed her how to lift her feet and set down the snowshoes so they wouldn’t trip her. Soon she walked beside him, hesitant, stumbling at times, but moving nonetheless. They crossed the clearing and neared the woods, all without a single mishap.
“You see, Jennifer.” Her name on his lips was a warm caress. “I can teach you how to glide across the snow, but it takes two hearts beating as one to learn the most important lesson of all. I think God’s greatest gift to me, next to the infant King whose birth we celebrate this day, is you.”
She drew a sharp breath, her knees nearly giving way. He loved her! Yet their two different worlds were poles apart. If what he said was true, was he God’s special gift to her?
Be sure to visit Tamera Kraft’s post at my blog today. http://www.greatlakesromances.com/blog/moravian-christmas.html
And find her story, A Christmas Promise on Amazon HERE