Louis Lestarjette, a Frenchman, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1772 without purpose or plans. He encounters a society on the brink of revolution and is forced to make decisions that include finding meaning and direction in his carefree life. Who can he trust in his endeavors to prosper? Will he be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence? When decisive events confront him, will he stay or leave? Running from God and commitment is a constant option.
Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of a prominent British citizen, believes God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with making difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, her role in the political battle is challenged. Can she trust her heart in volatile situations?
Set in pre-revolution Charles Town, Hold Me Close takes the reader into the lives of immigrants, ordinary citizens, and prominent historical figures at a time in which decisions are made that will change the world.
Charles Town, colony of South Carolina, 1772
Families are discretely separated by factions standing for independence from England's governing rule, and those standing as British subjects in the loyal colony across the ocean.
Elizabeth Elliott enters to visit her dear friend, Jeannette Wilson, just as Louis has arrived. Meeting his aunt and uncle for the first time, bravery to come to a new land and a new people, new adventure lies ahead.
As Louis meets other men and their opinions, he says he is to remain neutral; after all, he only plans to remain while his business comes to fruition. But what about his life? Can he remain neutral to those around him, and to God? Pulled in different directions, he will need to decide his present as well as his future.
Elizabeth lives in a divided household ~ her father's opinions and stance, and her own. She is thankful for Louis' aunt's friendship and open communication that is not welcome at home with her leanings.
The author has expansively written of the turmoil within and without as those wish to leave behind the country that had ruled them, and the hearts of those remaining true to the realm of the king. Louis and Elizabeth are featured with their thoughts and longings explored as they discover their faith journeys most important forming who they are.
Marguerite Martin Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Recently, she received a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband and Cleo, her cat, in Abilene, Texas.
Surround Me, Revolutionary Faith Series, Book 2, releases in September 2016.
Guest Post from the Author:
I’m very happy to be a part of Celebrate Lit! Thank you for the opportunity to present my book Hold Me Close and to share a little about my journey. It has been a journey of faith, a very exciting one for me. Hold Me Close is Book One in the Revolutionary Faith series. The book’s journey is my journey.
Six years ago I finally put on paper some of the stories forming and rambling in my imagination. My grown children left me some time to let God lead me into a writing career, well part-time. My husband and I decided I could work part-time and write part-time. During this period I wrote six novels. The next part of the trek took me to American Christion Fiction Writers (ACFW). I joined and have been an active student for six years. I attended three conferences and loved every minute, even the harsh criticism and “helpful” words of encouragement. Also, I became a contributing member of several critique groups within the organization. Needless to say, Hold Me Close went through many changes before it was published. My growth in faith expanded as much as my book. I thank all who had a role in the needed transformation.
I went back to work full-time after a three year sabbatical and pondered over the future of my novels. Where did God want the books to find a home? Or did they remain my little hobby? The journey was not over for Hold Me Close. The book was published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan in December 2015.
Quickly, I landed far outside my comfort zone in a world of social media and personal appearances. Even though I am a teacher and stand in front of 120 students every day, there is something intimidating about audiences of professionals and my peers. Rotary Clubs, Book Clubs, Writers’ Guilds, Church Groups! What a journey….and it hasn’t stopped.
My tagline is “Entertain. Educate. Encourage.” I entertain through fiction. I educate through the historical genre. I encourage through faith journeys of my characters. It’s exciting and I hope you will enjoy the journey as much as I have.
To celebrate her tour, Marguerite is giving away a fun themed prize basket!
Click here to enter: Hold Me Close Celebration Giveaway
Enjoy this excerpt from Hold Me Close ~ Chapter 1
Charles Town, South Carolina
Louis Lestarjette stepped off the ramp onto dry land after weeks on the Sainte Claire. A line of carriages awaited weary travelers on the other side of the dusty boulevard. But none for Louis. With his luggage stored for the day at the dock, he set out with an address in hand. As he headed down Bay Street to Church Street, he felt like his legs still thought they were on a rolling ship's deck. Five weeks and four thousand miles later, he wanted to believe success lurked around the corner.
Turning on Tradd Street, he breathed in the humid air of Charles Town. He walked for several blocks at a brisk pace, looking to his left and right. Finally, he spotted Wilson's Mercantile. Welcome or unwelcome, he finally reached his destination. Nothing he had seen was familiar or even remotely similar to Paris. Even the tree-lined streets with mansions hiding private gardens paled in comparison to his home.
The bell on the door gave away his entrance, but he quickly hid under the brim of his hat—not yet ready to reveal his identity. The spices on the aisle to his right offered a ruse. The heavy scent of cinnamon and nutmeg reminded him of the cargo on the ship that had brought him to this remote town.
How could a city of twelve thousand people help the family business? Louis shook his head as the reality faced him again. He was a twenty-six-year old Frenchman who didn't even have a place to stay. Right now he did not care, for distance from his older brother couldn't have come soon enough.
When the bell tinkled again, Louis raised his head and watched as a customer exited. Genteel eyes then met his, and a trim lady with a hint of gray in her hair walked toward him. Her purposeful steps and steady gaze held him in place. Somehow she knew. The realization sent shivers down his spine. He was no longer alone in Charles Town.
“Louis? Louis Lestarjette.” She embraced and kissed him before he confirmed her suspicions.
“Tante Jeannette, I hope.” Louis laughed at the awkward greeting.
His aunt touched his face with her fingertips and then clasped his wrists and stepped back with a bright smile. Her animation reminded him of his mother.
“I would have recognized you anywhere. You look just like my father with your big light-blue eyes and dark wavy hair.”
“It's nice to see you. Did you receive my letter?”
He doubted it, since he'd left so quickly. “No, not a recent one. I'm happily surprised though.”
She led him to a bench situated by the door. “Why are you here?”
How much should I tell her? I can't tell her I just want to make a huge profit and leave this place soon.
“I left rather quickly. I'm sure you'll receive my letter soon.” Trying to relax, he fought a battle with his legs' wanting to keep moving.
Tante Jeannette's tilted head and hands, making circular motions, spurred him on to release some pieces of his sudden appearance. “Recent correspondences between Oncle Henry and André spoke of a joint venture. We would like to offer shipments of French merchandise to your store and purchase items from the colonies. We see this business enterprise as a way for everyone to profit.” And, Louis hoped, a way to gain my independence from a suffocating existence.
“I'm sure Henry will be very excited. He's talked about it for over a year now, and finally something might happen. Do tell me you plan to stay here in Charles Town for a while?”
“Yes, that's what I had planned. Do you know of a suitable boarding house?”
“Louis, I wouldn't think of it. You must stay with us. The house is too big for your uncle and me. You're welcome to stay as long as you like.” She shifted to the edge of the bench and clapped her hands. “I'll have everything prepared for you.”
“Thank you, Tante Jeannette. I'm relieved.” Truthfully, the fewer people he had to live with day to day would be better.
“We'll talk more at the noon meal. There's so much to discuss.” She stood up, took his hands, and pulled him up into a warm hug.
The bell sounded behind him, and his aunt released him. Someone caused her to jump the few steps to the door. He turned and saw the object of her joy.
“Elizabeth, I'm so glad you came in. I want you to meet my nephew, Louis Lestarjette. He just arrived from France. Louis, this is Elizabeth Elliot.”
“Mademoiselle Elliot, I'm pleased to meet you.”
“Mr. Lestarjette.” Her deep, blue-gray eyes peered from under her cap where curly light-brown hair escaped. “It's a pleasure to meet you. Jeannette has spoken of you often. I didn't know you were coming to visit.”
“I'm afraid I gave no warning.”
His aunt giggled and waved her hand as if to shoo a fly away. “It doesn't matter. I'll send word to have a room and food prepared. I want you to go meet your uncle in the storeroom while I help Elizabeth.”
Louis watched the young woman in her blue dress with a bright-yellow sash amble away with his aunt. Their heads bent in whispers. A moment later, Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder, a smile curling her lips. What did my aunt just tell her?
Careful, Louis. Women are off limits—even friends of Tante Jeannette. Everything must remain casual, no commitments.
Elizabeth severed her gaze from the charming Frenchman. No way would she be taken in by a French accent and a fashionable suit of clothing on a handsome foreigner.
“Well, what do you think?” Jeannette cocked her head.
“Think about what?”
“Louis, silly.” Jeannette steered Elizabeth to the counter away from any other customers.
“Charming.” Was that word safe enough? “His English is almost perfect with just the right amount of je ne sais pas quoi. Perhaps, intrigue?”
“Peut-être. He's definitely a mystery to me,” Jeannette said. “I have no idea of why he's here. I'm excited about having him, though. I believe there's more to his sudden arrival than he's saying.”
Elizabeth's gaze circled the store, making sure the one in question wasn't privy to their conversation. She leaned closer to her friend. “Could it be a romance that soured, a business deal gone wrong, or is he running from something?”
Jeanette replaced her smile with a frown. “Or maybe he simply wants a change or an adventure?”
Elizabeth felt guilty for playfully accusing Louis of unfounded crimes.
“Let's see what you have on your list today. Figuring out Louis will take more time than I have right now.”
Marguerite Martin Grey, Hold Me Close WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan, © 2015. Used by permission.
***Thank you to Celebrate Lit for inviting me to review Hold Me Close on the current blog tour and to WestBow Press for sending me a copy for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
June 20: Proverbial Reads
June 21: Lane Hill House
June 23: A Northern Belle
June 23: Cassandra M’s Place
June 24: History, Mystery, and Faith
June 25: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner
June 26: His Grace is Sufficient
June 27: Big Reader Site
June 27: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
June 28: Splashes of Joy
June 29: Pause for Tales
June 30: Red Headed Book Lady
June 30: Bows and Basketballs
July 1: Just the Write Escape
July 2: Jeanette's Thoughts