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BLOG: Sticking out like a sore thumb

Dear Journal Readers,

This week, I've been having trouble with my webpage provider, so my site designer is posting this particular blog. I'd like to welcome Anna Belfrage back to Brook's Journal, and I know my readers will be delighted to see her newest in stories. She's a prolific and gifted author!

I will do my best to get my website issues resolved by next week. Read ON, everyone!

When Erin Barnes had the misfortune of falling three centuries backwards in time, there were a LOT of things to get used to. Like no underwear. No daily newspapers. No laptops, no internet, no hot showers. Worst of all, though, was to be transported to a time where the colour of her skin immediately had people making assumptions about her.

One of Erin’s grandparents was black. Being born in 1990, Erin grew up in a time where she was not openly discriminated against due to the colour of her skin. This doesn’t mean that she didn’t experience discrimination—but she had legal protection against such.

In 1718, she has no such protection. Okay, she has a very protective hubby, and it helps that Duncan Melville is an educated lawyer, but he can’t stop people from looking. Correction: STARING when they see a well-to-do white man escorting a woman of colour around and presenting her as his wife. His wife? Is the man insane?

Other white men would cock their heads and study Erin, concluding that aye, she was most comely, but to wed her seemed excessive. Unless, of course, she was extremely gifted in bed.

White women preferred not to look at her. Or interact with her. Erin Melville may be rich, she may be educated, but first and foremost she was coloured, and no one in their right mind would socialize with such a creature! Free people of colour could be tolerated—as long as they kept to themselves. But for a woman with skin the colour of burned caramel to actually entice a white man into marriage . . . She was a manipulative hussy, a slut who eagerly spread her legs and then appealed to Duncan’s decency when she ended up with child.

Many were the whispered comments about her legal status. Was she really free? Or was she an escaped slave? Whatever the case, everyone agreed that she had probably been born a slave.

The reason for all these assumptions was the fact that most people of colour in Pennsylvania at the time were slaves. By 1765, there were close to fifteen hundred people of colour in Philadelphia, of which less than a hundred were free. In the time frame of Times of Turmoil, the number of free coloured people would have been substantially less. I recall reading somewhere (and I’ve tried to find the exact reference again, but I have SO many articles regarding this, so I couldn’t quite pinpoint it) that in 1700, there were seven free people of colour in Philadelphia. Seven.

For the white colonists, people of colour were chattel. They bought them and set them to work. Sometimes, they rented them out to others who needed more labour. They fed them and clothed them, some even taught their slaves to read and write, but mostly there was a strict separation between the races—by 1710, “everyone” knew that black people were less than white people, borderline savages and needed to be treated with a firm hand. Not that all Quakers agreed with this. Several vociferous Quaker communities in Pennsylvania called for abolition as early as 1688, but the silent majority was not about to lose their cheap source of labour, not when busy colonising all this new land.

Female slaves—just as female indentures—were extremely vulnerable. Their masters could force themselves upon them, and the child born of a union with a slave would automatically become a slave. I’ve always wondered about that: how could a man, knowing full well the baby was his, condemn a child to lifelong servitude? It seems to have been a particular English trait, as many Spanish colonists tended to recognise their offspring as did most Frenchmen. But not the English: oh, no.

With that background, it was to be expected that when a white person saw a person of colour, they would automatically label said individual as “slave”. Hard to handle, for a woman born in 1990!

Erin has many other challenges to cope with as she adapts to her new time. Being a woman in 1718 is a far cry from the independent life she grew up with. In 1718, women are an extension of their husbands and have little recourse should said husband be abusive. They are not considered capable of handling their own affairs, have no say in the fate of their children. Many women work to help support their families, but it is generally work that can be done within the confines of their homes.

Duncan is wise enough to give Erin as much independence as he can. He has even ensured she has a substantial private income—in part to counteract the assumptions made due to the colour of her skin. Doesn’t really work . . . And as to that independence, he never allows Erin to walk about unescorted, because as a woman of colour she could easily be snatched away and sold as a slave, her protests that she is free and married ignored.

All in all, life in 1718 is a far cry from the life Erin left behind. Of course there are days when she wishes she was back in her own time. Of course there are moments when she hides away and cries. That’s when Duncan pulls her close, whispering over and over again just how much he loves her, promising to keep her safe. It helps, for a while. Until the next insult, the next disparaging comment.

Unfortunately for Erin, there is no going back to her own time. Unfortunately for all those people of colour who ended up as “property” in colonial America, they were just as stuck, subjected to daily humiliation.

I can save my Erin. With some quick tapping on my keyboard, I can have her and Duncan leave Pennsylvania behind and set forth to search for a better life elsewhere. Not necessarily an easy life—people will always gawk at Erin due to the colour of her skin—but at least free of the constant threat of enslavement.

There was no such escape for the thousands upon thousands who were abducted from their homes, transported over the seas and enslaved in the American Colonies. Most of them emerge as nameless shadows from the mists of the past, but it behoves all of us to remember that they did exist, their suffering a very dark blot on history.


All About the Book

It is 1718 and Duncan Melville and his time traveller wife, Erin, are concentrating on building a peaceful existence for themselves and their twin daughters. Difficult to do, when they are beleaguered by enemies.

Erin Melville is not about to stand to the side and watch as a child is abused—which is how she makes deadly enemies of Hyland Nelson and his family.

Then there’s that ghost from their past, Armand Joseph Chardon, a person they were certain was dead. Apparently not. Monsieur Chardon wants revenge and his sons are tasked with making Duncan—and his wife—pay.

Things aren’t helped by the arrival of Duncan’s cousin, fleeing her abusive husband. Or the reappearance of Nicholas Farrell in their lives, as much of a warped bully now as he was when he almost beat Duncan to death years ago. Plus, their safety is constantly threatened as Erin is a woman of colour in a time and place where that could mean ostracism, enslave mentor even death.

Will Duncan and Erin ever achieve their simple wish–to live and love free from fear of those who wish to destroy them?


All About the Author

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she

became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

More recently, Anna has been hard at work with her Castilian series. The firstbook, His Castilian Hawk, published in 2020, is set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, while the third, Her Castilian Heart, finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain! The fourth book, Their Castilian Orphan, is scheduled for early 2024.

Anna has recently released Times of Turmoil, the sequel to her 2021 release, The Whirlpools of Time. Here she returns to the world of time travel. Where The Whirlpools of Time had Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin navigating the complexities of the first Jacobean rebellion in Scotland, in Times of Turmoil our protagonists are in Colonial Pennsylvania, hoping for a peaceful existence. Not about to happen—not in one of Anna’s books!

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the Indie BRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards. Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website.

Connect with Anna


This title is available on#KindleUnlimited.

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Nov 07, 2023

Thanks so much for hosting Anna Belfrage today, Brook. What an insightful guest post! I hope you'll manage to get rid of the gremlins in your blog system...

Take care,

Cathie xo

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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