In 1874, Ivy Steele’s deafness is more than a handicap. It’s a disease. Surrounded by a family that doesn’t understand her, she’s learned to cope and find solace where she can. Then, the unexpected happens. Her aunt dies, and her uncle sends her away to rejoin her father’s family in Montana.Left to fend for herself, after the companion hired to escort her abandons her, sixteen-year-old Ivy faces continual hardship and danger. Several men see an unaccompanied Ivy as a flower ripe for the picking, and things only get worse when masked men hold up their stagecoach.
Barely scraping through, Ivy makes it to Montana with her nerves shaken and what little money she has in her boot. Expecting a peaceful if not affectionate welcome, Ivy finds herself in greater hardship than she’s ever known.
Surrounded by a stepfamily that hates her, and flung into a life where hearing is vital, Ivy finds solace in a handsome cowboy named Remy. But things with her new family are not what they seem. And Ivy is about to find out that the danger she faced on the journey west, has followed her to Montana…
Bethany Swafford dazzles with her stunning young adult debut, introducing a strong heroine, the hardships of frontier life, shocking twists, and a slow-burning romance that will leave you wanting more.
Third place winner of the 2018 Rosemary Award
Top Ten List
Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2018
Do your characters hijack your book? Is there anything you would change about the book?
When I write a novel the only constant throughout the process is characterization. The entire plot may shift, settings change, timelines fluctuate, but the thread of character remains the lodestar of the story.
Kieran was always callow and passionate.
Savannah was always withdrawn but compassionate, more cynical than Kieran but still hopeful for a gentler world.
Kyle was always a selfish prick with daddy issues and far too much entitlement. How these characters bounced off each other and their secondaries was always what shaped the book.
So yes, they hijacked the story, but I couldn’t have written it any other way. But there is a weakness in this, and that’s one thing I would have changed if I had to do it over.
When I was finished the book I wasn’t entirely satisfied with Sophie’s characterization. There’s an interesting character there but the characters who served as my POV couldn’t see her.
Kyle was too fixed on the image of Sophie he had in his head and never bothered to really learn who she was within herself. Savannah only saw a monster to fight, and never tried to get to know her and Kieran had very little to do with her. I felt the absence of her internality was ultimately a flaw in the story, and I think, if I could ever do it over again, I’d make her a POV character in her own right.
Character Interview with Willan, Terrill’s Father Terril is one of the main characters
[NOTE: Terrill’s father Willan, whom Terrill calls Da, is terminally ill and on the way to the ocean. When he reaches it, he will, as dying Vushla do, swim or wade in and let the water dissolve him. Various relatives, including Terrill, and a few friends or neighbors are escorting Willan on this final journey. The interview presumably takes place during a rest stop. Willan’s voice is weak and his speech halting.]
I’m not afraid, really. I’ve never heard of anyone struggling or crying out in pain.
I wish my children and Lilit didn’t have to grieve, and to reshape their lives. Terrill – he’s too young for this. . . . He always looked forward to that first trip to the sea, with the friends of his year. He had so many plans for it. I’m sorry he’s had to trade those plans for this.
[Terrill starts heading toward Willan as the other Vushla move back toward their cycles]
We’ll be going on now. And I should save my voice and my strength for talking to my son.
Character Interview with Terrill
[NOTE: Terrill is a Vushlu. He would have become an adult next year by taking a ritual first journey to the ocean with other Vushla his age. Instead, he attained adult status prematurely, accompanying his dying father to the ocean, where his father went into the water to be dissolved.
Interviewing Terrill is a tricky task. As the book begins, he is understandably morose. Later, when he is less so, he has good reasons not to reveal his activities and concerns. I’ve dealt with this dilemma by splitting his interview into two, and working within the limitations Terrill sets.
The first interview takes place at a rest stop during the funeral party’s return trip. Terrill speaks in a quiet monotone most of the time.]
[An older Vushlu approaches; the interview concludes]
[The second interview takes place around three months (or the equivalent) later. Terrill is now traveling in the peddler’s wagon, as is Honnu, another Vushlu about his age.]
loving the book
Morgan J Muir lives in Utah with her fantastic husband, three offspring, and as many cats (but she doesn’t carry them with kits in sacks, and has never been to St. Ives). She grew up riding horses and motorcycles and listening to her grandmother read poetry. She grew up reading any sci-fi/fantasy novel she could get her hands on and so was surprised the day she discovered that she also really enjoyed historical fiction.
Morgan always loved to write and draw and her parents always liked to say that they knew she’d write a book some day. Ever since she was small she told stories and drew pictures for her tales. When she got old enough, all of her spare time between classes was spent writing and she always had a notebook with her.
Her first novel was originally written after her first child was born, to help her pass the long, lonely hours as a new stay-at-home mom. As her kids got older and more came she was too busy to do much with her stories, until one year she was introduced to NaNoWriMo, which finally rekindled the spark that led her to finish what she’d started.
Morgan’s favorite authors are Brandon Sanderson, Kristen Britain and Marion Zimmer Bradley.