Karen’s Books

What We Carry With Us

The inhabitants of New Hope, Nebraska, have done their best to put the Civil War with all its turmoil and devastation behind them. By 1878, the town is prospering. Three daily railroad stops. Groceries, feed and grain, hardware, and leather goods readily available. Bank, doctor’s office, café, and barber shop. Its own church and school, preacher and teacher. A civilized community with all the marks of progress. That’s what the hard-working members of the Merchants’ Association believe until the day New Hope’s telegraph agent – young Eddie Barts – disappears, and suddenly life in New Hope changes. Young widow Ruth Churchill, barber and owner of the town’s finest boarding house, has lived and loved in New Hope for over a decade. She calls it home and its citizens friends. Five years after the death of her beloved husband, Ruth has managed to find peace and a kind of happiness. But with the disappearance of Eddie Barts, Ruth will find her world and her life turned upside down. Despite all the trappings of civilization, something – someone –evil is hiding in New Hope. For years, unknown to anyone but one relentless searcher, a wicked man of violence and deception has been living behind a mask of respectability. Before his mask is ripped off, Ruth will experience suspicion, doubt, danger, and fear. Her own life will be at risk. Her own heart, too. Because along with terror and grief, comes love. They live side-by-side. When it’s all over, New Hope, Nebraska, will never be the same. And neither will Ruth.


Magnificent Farewell

Magnificent FarewellIn 1917 Meg Pritchard is a woman on the run. What better place to hide than a country at war? France, ravaged by the bombs and battles of World War I, is exactly where Meg plans to disappear. But while Meg may be running from, she’s also running to ~ to new friends and lovers, to redemption, and to life with purpose. To a new life altogether. Maybe there’s hope for Meg’s future, after all – if only she can make peace with her past.


Smiling At Heaven

Smiling At HeavenIn the fall of 1919, Thea Hansen’s world seems to spiral out of control. First, her dearly loved father dies suddenly from the influenza epidemic sweeping across the globe. Then her brother, Lloyd, returns from The Great War transformed into a brooding stranger. Could it get any worse?

Yes, indeed. With a brutal murder close to home and her brother as chief suspect, Thea’s wildly spinning world doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. She’s lived in bucolic Blessing, Kansas, all her life, after all, and hasn’t had much experience with out-of-control worlds.

Still, the bright and level-headed Thea knows a good thing when she sees it, and she sees it in the person of Augustus Davis. As her brother’s former commanding officer, Gus Davis knows Lloyd is no murderer and as a skilled attorney, he’s determined to prove it. Together, Thea and Gus will deal with unexpected malice and obsession, with assault and fear, with secrets and suspects, and in the end, ordinary little Blessing will hold a lot of shocks for Thea Hansen. Passions revealed. Lies uncovered. Murderers exposed. But what Thea is willing to do to keep her world balanced and her future settled may be the most surprising thing of all.

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Smiling at Heaven concludes where the first novel of Hasley’s Laramie Series began —in Blessing, Kansas. With 40 years between first book and last, the story of the Davis family and their extended lives comes to a satisfying conclusion.


Jubilee Rose

Jubilee RoseDr. John Merton, fifth Duke of Quill, has an unfortunate history with the opposite sex. Bad enough that his adored mother abandoned him as a little boy but when the love of his life jilts him for another man, his grace decides that the vocation of medicine will be quite enough, thank you. He has a passion for his work and it is a safe passion, one without the power to wound him. His life is reclusive and secure. And perhaps just a tiny bit boring.

Not that the good doctor knows his life is boring, not until he spies Lady Rose Carlisle in the middle of the street kneeling over an injured boy. Rose is one-of-a-kind, a woman who enjoys rescuing children and sneaking them up the back stairs of grand mansions. A fearless woman of humor and adventure who knows what she wants when she sees it. When she sees him, more to the point.

Dr. John Merton, fifth Duke of Quill has great fortune, a measure of fame, and titles to spare, but Rose – smart woman – knows it is the man’s heart that holds true treasure, and with the aid of three street urchins, a musical mermaid, and a French baroness Rose is determined to claim that treasure for her own.

Enter the Victorian world of The Penwarrens and plan to stay a while.


Listening to Abby

Listening to AbbyFortunately for William Penwarren, renowned explorer and botanist, Abby Waterston and her two cousins are traveling with him from Africa to England because when the usually stalwart young man collapses from fever, Abby is there to take charge and save his life. Thus begins an adventure that includes a stern duke and an abandoned marquis, false pretenses and serious misunderstandings, an unwelcome proposal, a runaway boy, and the adoring attentions of one mind-reading dog named Jack. In some respects, William and Abby are different as night and day but both are explorers in their own way and eager to see the world. William is quiet and intense, Abby anything but. Two parts that fit together perfectly, those two — once they realize that the journey is more important than the final destination. Enter the Victorian world of The Penwarrens and plan to stay a while.

Read an excerpt from Listening to Abby.


Claire, After All

Claire, After AllClaire Penwarren is a force to be reckoned with. Commissioned by her widowed father, she descends on the green Sussex hills with three assignments. Ready Loden Hall for her father’s arrival as the new earl. Find the perfect husband for her gorgeous half-sister. Acquire a tutor for her rapscallion twin brothers. At twenty-eight Claire—now Lady Claire—has had years of experience running an orderly household in India and cannot imagine England will be any different. Older. Wiser. That’s Claire. But England refuses to cooperate with Claire’s well laid plans. How did beautiful Loden Hall become such a ruin and how will she make it right in time? Why is her usually cooperative sister so resistant to Claire’s recommendation for a husband? Why are her brothers so unhappy that stowing away on a merchant ship holds more appeal than her loving care at home? Really, if it weren’t for the unexpectedly practical advice of her neighbor the Marquis of Symonton, she would feel quite alone. For Claire, focused on the tangled knots of her own family, Symonton is the perfect ally. Who better to offer guidance than a man savvy enough to maneuver his way through society for six and thirty years without being trapped into matrimony? And how fortunate that the man is entertained by her family’s exploits! But even with Symonton, Claire manages to get it wrong. It’s not her family he’s interested in and amusement is not what he feels. The man has other plans entirely. Maturity and experience are all well and good, but Claire will learn that neither is as valuable as love.

Claire, After All is the first of 3 light-hearted Victorian romances in ‘The Penwarrens,’ a series set in England in the 19th century. Leave today’s troubles behind for a little while and laugh and love with the Penwarrens.

Read an excerpt from Claire, After All.


The Dangerous Thaw of Etta Capstone

thedangerousthawofetta“Revenge is very good eaten cold”

For most people food serves a purpose and the purpose isn’t complicated. You eat it. But for Etta Capstone it’s not that simple. An excellent cook and the owner of a successful restaurant on the Texas frontier, she’s had years to perfect other uses for food besides the obvious. Food as shield. As wall. As love letter. As peace offering. Food as life—well, half a life, anyway.

Etta’s not like other women. She’s been frozen in the past, frozen heart and soul for a long time, captive to memories of unbearable violence. Until suddenly, with the sighting of the man she holds responsible for her painful history, Etta begins to consider the possibility of a more satisfying future. She knows that with a good cooking fire and the steady heat of a patient man’s love, a lot of things are possible—even change, even happiness—and to her way of thinking, all that stands in the way of a bright future is one wicked man, one necessary execution, and lessons in good penmanship. So as a woman used to creating dishes from diverse and rare ingredients, Etta concocts a deadly recipe using just those elements. She knows better than most that life offers few guarantees, and if all it takes to free her from the past is one wicked man, one necessary execution, and lessons in good penmanship, she’ll take the risk and make the effort, no matter who gets burned. Because after years of keeping the fires of love and the warmth of hope at a distance, Etta Capstone is finally ready to thaw.

Read an excerpt from The Dangerous Thaw of Etta Capstone.


Gold Mountain

When Dinah Hudson leaves China in 1901, she hopes to leave behind dark memories of violence and sudden death as well. Visiting her married sister in California will be just what she needs to help her forget her experiences during China’s murderous Boxer Uprising. Explore the exhilarating delights of San Francisco. Encounter a city so forceful, so dazzling that it takes her breath away. Above all, live for the moment. During the Boxer Uprising Dinah almost lost her life so living for the moment is a sweet luxury she is not willing to forego.

But Dinah’s life in California takes an unexpected turn when renowned social reformer Donaldina Cameron enlists her aid in rescuing young Chinese girls smuggled into the city for slavery and prostitution. For practical, progressive Dinah, the venture soon becomes a passionate calling. Following Miss Cameron’s fearless lead, Dinah finds herself breaking into opium dens and storming brothels. Every calling comes with a price, however, and for Dinah Hudson that price may prove very high indeed.

Because not everyone shares her zeal for freeing enslaved girls, especially not the men who profit from human trafficking. Men that hide behind position and power. Faceless men that live in the shadows. Ruthless men that allow nothing and no one to get in their way. Truth is that every man in Dinah’s glittering but treacherous San Francisco world is suspect. Dangerous. Even deadly. For her own well-being a determined woman must learn that when her heart gets in the way of her good sense she should ignore deceptive emotions and stay focused on the cause. For Dinah Hudson, it’s either that—or die trying.

Read an excerpt from Gold Mountain.


Circled Heart

Circled HeartJohanna Swan is a survivor. She escaped death twice—as a child in China during the Boxer Uprising of 1900 and twelve years later as a young woman aboard the ocean liner Titanic. An educated suffragist and social worker, Johanna is too petite and inelegant to show to advantage in the era of the graceful Gibson Girl. Not that she cares about her inadequate fashion sense or lack of style. She’s an heiress, after all, with ambitious plans to help the poor and immigrant women of Chicago using the progressive services of the Anchorage, one of many Crittenton homes that were established throughout the United States in the late nineteenth century to offer assistance to abused and destitute women—precursors of present-day women’s shelters.

Johanna manages her life the same way she runs a business. Invest sensibly and ensure a sensible return. Never be obligated. Keep emotion out of decision making. Reduce risk. Maintain secure profits. Keep firm control of your assets. But the emotional turmoil in her family and the growing confusion in her own heart when it comes to charismatic, sentimental and—she fears—deceitful Drew Gallagher are interfering with Johanna’s orderly existence. For all her logical decision making, it will be the shifting emotions of desire and despair that finally force Johanna to realize that love is more complex and life far less predictable than any business venture.

Read an excerpt from Circled Heart.


Where Home Is

Where the Home Is The year is 1910. Katherine Davis, M.D. is an intelligent, self-assured, and attractive woman whose confidence perfectly reflects the confidence of a new century overflowing with scientific, medical, and technological breakthroughs. Without a moment’s hesitation, young Dr. Davis accepts the professional invitation of a lifetime when she travels to Chicago’s Hull-House to work with the celebrated social reformer, Jane Addams. Katherine is an excellent doctor eager to make a difference in the world and the people around her, and Chicago’s crowded tenements with their burgeoning immigrant population offer just that opportunity.

Everything Katherine believes about right and wrong, about good and evil she learned from her parents and the secure childhood they gave her. But times have changed, and Katherine can no longer rely on the values of the past. She has outgrown that past and the home of her childhood seems outdated and old-fashioned compared to the progressive society around her. She’s an independent woman, who must make her own way and follow her own ideals.

When Katherine meets the dazzling Douglas Gallagher, a man as confident and as fearless as she, a successful man who has left his own past behind, an uncompromising-even ruthless-man, she is asked to choose between her past and her future. And the choice is so much more complicated than she expected! Because for Katherine, deciding where-and who-home really is will change her forever. And for good.

Read an excerpt from Where Home Is.


Waiting for Hope

Waiting for Hope In 1905, Hope Birdwell is a spirited young woman of strong will and uncompromising dreams. Exchanging her routine life as the domestic servant of a wealthy family for the demanding self-reliance of a Wyoming homesteader is the first step in her plan for success. Hope is finally on her way to the home and the future she has always desired, and she will not allow any distractions into her life-or her heart.

What Hope doesn’t realize is that her dream of a bright and independent future will be threatened by secrets from her past, a past darkened by the shadows of prostitution and violence. In order to make a new home and claim a new love, Hope must confront everything she is trying to escape. When she is forced to risk everything for the place and the people she has grown to love, Hope will discover the danger-and the power-and the freedom of truth.

Read an excerpt from Waiting for Hope.


Lily’s Sister

Lily's SisterLouisa Caldecott, a progressive woman and independent business owner in 1880 Kansas, is principled, strong-willed, passionate, and generous to a fault. Satisfied with her comfortable life, Lou is content to live in her sister Lily’s shadow. Until she meets John Rock Davis, Civil War veteran and man with a past. Until her cherished hometown is rocked by violence and fear and her friends and neighbors begin to act like strangers. Until she is forced to take a stand that threatens to destroy her safety, her happiness, and everything she holds dear. Then all hell—but heaven, too—breaks loose, and self-sufficient Lou finally understands the cost of courage and the power of love.

Read an excerpt from Lily’s Sister.

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