November 15, 2012

Jesse Mason

What a hero! Jesse made me laugh, cry, laugh some more, want to kiss him, be proud, laugh some more, be sad, mourn, admire and respect him, and then laugh some more. Now please don't do this until you're re-reading the novel, but every chapter opens with a short prayer from Jesse. If you read them in order he'll tell you his entire story in about three-hundred words. Some of them are heartfelt, most are hilariously HIM, and others will twist your gut. That feature turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the story.

I thought long and hard about including this because I'll be treading on some very hallowed hero ground when I do, but Jesse Mason reminded me a lot of Michael Hosea. I've never mentioned another hero in the same breath with Michael Hosea before, so that should tell you something. Jesse is all the things we love about Michael, only funnier, with a slightly less, and I do mean slightly less, willful and frustrating wife.

About Jesse Mason's novel Spring for Susannah (released June 14, 2011):

Hundreds of miles from home, Susannah faces an uncertain future as a mail-order bride on the untamed Dakota prairie.

When her parents die suddenly, and no suitors call, Susannah resigns herself to the only option available: becoming a mail-order bride. Agreeing to marry her pastor's brother, Jesse, Susannah leaves the only home she's ever known for the untamed frontier of the Dakota Territory.

Her new husband is more loving and patient with her than she believes she deserves. Still, there is also a wildness to him that mirrors the wilderness surrounding them. And Susannah finds herself constantly on edge. But Jesse's confidence in her—and his faith in God's perfect plan—slowly begin to chip away at the wall she hides behind.

From Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond:

     His silhouette blocked the starlight. She turned her head and a sticky kiss landed below her ear. She tried to relax, but her arms wouldn't move from their defensive position on his shirtfront. His next kiss grazed her cheek.
     "You remembered my name."
     "This is not--"
     "I know." He whispered, "It's your time of the month."
     Was nothing private? Susannah twisted away, grateful the darkness hid her blush. "Men aren't supposed to know..."
     "Didn't Matt tell you we have four sisters?" The canteen gurgled. "Anyway, you need more courting time."
     She gulped in a breath. "Thank you."
     "You get a better view lying down." He rolled onto his back, pulled her beside him, and settled her head on his shoulder.
     "I've been thinking--" His voice came out muffled. "About marching through the woods in Virginia, near the Shenandoah. Rumor said Jeb Stuart hid there, that behind every rock itched a Reb wanting to take us out. Turns my guts to ice thinking of it. We'd try to be quiet, but someone'd swat a fly, step on a twig, cough. Those Rebs watched us sneak through their woods. I'd have given a month's rations to know where they were." His words came clearer. He must have turned toward her. "I know what it's like to be afraid, Susannah. We're on the same side, you and me."
     She tried to respond, but the words wouldn't come.
     "If someone hurt you, if you tell me, then I won't do the wrong thing, and we'll be easier with each other."
     "I'm fine."
     "I thought it might not be so difficult to talk out here in the dark." He paused for three long breaths. "Guess not."
     Susannah had been shy her whole life. Perhaps she wasn't cut out to be a wife. She had often thought she would have been better off alone. By herself, perhaps, she could open her Pandora's box of thoughts, sort through them, make peace with them. In front of this stranger who pried at her with a crowbar? Impossible.

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

 Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Gallant Score: Having read Karl Bacon's An Eye for Glory as well as having taken a full college course on the U.S. Civil War, I have a fuller appreciation of what Jesse and his historical counterparts endured during the war. But you should know that Jesse only earned two orange heads for his duty to his nation as a soldier. He earns one on their wagon ride to his home I won't spoil for you, and the other two for not storming the castle for his marital privileges.

Wounded Score: Cathy is going to tell you more about this in the FHF exclusive, but Jesse has scars from the war. Only they're in his head and that made them more tragic. The problems they cause between him and Susannah are one of the most touching and yet, sad, parts of the story for me. Sad because other than Susannah being compassionate and staying out of striking distance, there wasn't anything either of them could do to help him through those times.

Softie Score: He didn't earn all these with Susannah, though his gentle and tender way with her certainly start the orange heads stacking. There is a little girl and a few other neighbors that showcase Jesse's teddy-bear inside.

Stupid Strikes: None. I'm pretty sure this is what made me think of Michael Hosea, the fiction hero by which I judge all other heroes. Because in spite of Susannah's... challenges to his hopes and dreams, he only loses it with her one time. And I don't count the smacking the table and snapping when he's finally lost his cool for a second because any other man would have completely blown his stack long before then. Even so, I never found Jesse too good to be true or unbelievable. He's just, Jesse--calm, patient, loving, and funny. Really, really funny.

Swoon Score: Any woman would be thanking God everyday if she were Jesse's wife. If she could stop laughing and, um, keep out of the hay long enough, hehe. He is honorable, loves God, is seriously flirty and romantic (as romantic as you can be in the middle of nowhere, a.k.a. Dakota territory), has a continent-sized sense of humor, and a laundry list of things to love about him. So why the missing orange head? Two reasons. I never got past Jesse's self-described "mule face" even though I don't think it was as bad as he made it out to be. Susannah certainly came to appreciate his appearance after a while. The second reason is quite honestly petty, but Jesse has hair in places I prefer a man to be smooth. But before you argue my shallowness or staunchly defend Jesse's appearance, neither of which I'm disputing, kindly remember this is my system and I do the scoring so yes, what I like and don't like does matter. I know some hero-girls are into hair, and prefer that complete brawny-look to the brawny package, so Jesse is a five for you all. =)

About Jesse Mason's author, Catherine Richmond:
Cathy was busy raising a family, working as an occupational therapist, and trying to remember where she hid the chocolate, when a song sparked a story within her. She was born in Washington, DC, grew up in northern Virgina, attended Western Michigan University, and moved around a lot for her husband's aviation career. These days you can find her at

The FHF exclusive directly from the author:
Jesse Mason received the Medal of Honor for the Battle of Gettysburg. Under heavy fire, he rallied the troops, reformed the line, and repulsed the charge of Little Round Top. He doesn't remember anything of this battle, except his brother dying, so he never told his family or friends about the medal. If he were around today, Jesse would be in a counseling program at the VA for PTSD.

The giveaways:
Faithful followers, you know the drill. Let me know you'd like to be entered in the drawing for a copy of Spring for Susannah. Those of you who already own and know this novel and would like to be entered in the drawing for the $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card, just give me the name of a character that isn't Jesse or Susannah. Yes, any of the animal's names count! Both drawings will close at midnight central time on November 29th. As always, if you're not a follower through blogger with your e-mail address in your profile, please be sure to leave me your e-mail address in a spamfighting format like guitarplayer (at) dakotasoddy dot com.

What do we think, hero-girls? Would you have ever considered becoming a mail-order bride like Susannah?


lisagodfrees said...

I could never have been a mail-order bride. That would be like getting set up on one of those internet sites and getting married without ever meeting the person. Scary, scary.

I liked the excerpt from the book, so sign me up for the drawing pleeease.

Nancy Kimball said...

Getting married without ever meeting the person reminds me of Noelle Marchand's Unlawfully Wedded Bride. Try getting married by proxy to someone you've never met!
We will put you in for the book, Lisa G.

Cathy Richmond said...

Lisa, It would be worse than those internet sites - at least those people have photos. Jesse's brother was Susannah's pastor, so she had some vague ideas what he was like, some of them wrong. Jesse had his brother's recommendation, but Susannah was too busy being proper to share anything personal in her letters - so he was going on no information. And neither could do a Google search on the other! Very scary!

Patty said...

As an almost middle age never married girl, being a mail order bride would be a bit to scarry for me to consider I think.
I read this book when it came out, but your review makes me want to go back and see if I still have it on my shelf and re-read it!
Abner Reece is another character mentioned in the book.


Nancy Kimball said...

Patty, I can see that. I think I'm probably going to be the odd one out and be like I actually think it would have been an exciting adventure. I'd like to think God would have protected me and sent me to a good man, or that he'd sent me to unconditionally love and pray a bad man into a good man.
And, LOL, this is going onto the keepershelf for me as well because I've already re-read it once (promptly after I finished it the first time) and am sure I will again.
We've got you in the drawing for the giftcard! Abner. Yeah, Abner would have made the whole proposition way less cool, hehe.

Anonymous said...

Blogger ate the original post, but Whitney, I'm on top of it my friend! This book is SO YOU it's not even funny. *HUGS* I put it this way so when I load the names for the drawings I won't miss yours because it's from me. - NK

Melissa Jagears said...

I think I shall read any book you put up! Enter me for the book please. And I do so hope one day, you'll find one of my hero's worthy enough to be up here, then I'll want to read my book again! :)

Sally Bradley said...

I'm in for the book. Thanks for what you do, Nancy. I'd seen this book a while back but wasn't hooked on it. You hooked me. :) sallybradleywrites [at] gmail(dot]com.

Mail order bride--I can't imagine. How common was it?

Sarah said...

I would love to win,Enter me!!
Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
I am a follower!!
Sarah Richmond

Nancy Kimball said...

Thanks, Melissa and you are in the drawing for the book. And me too! The world needs more great fiction heroes!!!

Nancy Kimball said...

You got it, and you're so welcome! I'd seen it too and the cover just made it look kind of literary to me (which is so not my scene) and then someone nominated Jesse and I went hunting the reviews on goodreads and Amazon and he made the list. Then he worked his way through the pile and I started the book and finished it in two days and went... WOW. Jesse Mason. WOW. And here he is. =)

I have no idea how common it was. Maybe Catherine can offer some insight. It's a pretty trademark part of that era I think but I confess I don't know much about it historically other than it happened and has made from some really, really good stories like this one.

Nancy Kimball said...

Will do, Sarah. We'll put you in for the book and welcome to FHF. =)

Cathy Richmond said...

You asked how common mail order brides were. Here's what I found out: When I was doing research for this story, I had the opportunity to hear historian Glenda Riley speak. She said the most common motivation wasn't financial - it was the lack of men! Due to the Civil War, Gold Rush, and "go west, young man", eastern states had a high ratio of eligible women. Some women made personal connections the way Susannah did, but others responded to ads in Hearts and Hands publications. Sometimes organized groups of women left for the west - like the Mercer brides - who remembers the old TV show "Here Come the Brides"?

Erynn said...

Aaaaaaaah!!!! You had me at Michael Hosea. Again, I didn't read the excerpt, because I KNOW I'm going to be reading this one. All the better if I WIN it. ;) Cannot wait.

Nancy Kimball said...

See, I would have been in good company then. I would have totally led a wagon train to where the men are! I know I could do it. I almost never die or have my people die when I'm playing Oregon Trail on the computer. =)

NANCY K will give a VERY SPECIAL PRIZE to whoever writes the BEST mail order bride solicitation/personal ad. Telegrams and newspaper ads, etc. probably charged by the word so let's make sure they are... 32 words or less!
I know I've got some writers here, now let's see it!

Nancy Kimball said...

Erynn, Jesse's cut from similar cloth, believe me, but very much his own man. You're in the drawing for the book my friend!

Stacey said...

Okay, when you compare him to Michael Hosea, you know your are going to get a lot of women's attention. ;) I want this book! It sounds great!

I personally could be a mail order bride, but then I have always been adventurous and a little reckless. If I lived in the 1800's I could totally see myself thinking about that option. :)

Great review!!

Nancy Kimball said...

Like I said... I know I was treading on very hallowed hero ground, but Jesse's character (not like, character in the literary craft term, but character as in the man he is internally) honestly did remind me of Michael. Jesse is patient, strong, devoted to the Lord, protective, generous, wise, and possesses so many of those sometimes nebulous hero traits that you can't really put your finger on, you just know you have an exceptional hero. An FHF hero. You do want this book. Trust me and we've got you in the drawing for it.

Me too! So far in our group of mail order brides Stacey it's me and you. =)

Samantha Kuiper said...

I most definitely would have considered being a mail order bride in the 1800s. It just sounds so adventurous and if you got the right guy... romantic! ;)


Nancy Kimball said...

I know, right? I understand and respect the hero girls who would have been adverse to mail-order bride, but I really think I wouldn't have been. We'll put you in for the book, Samantha.

Cathy Richmond said...

Nancy, thank you so much for putting Jesse Mason in Michael Hosea's category! What an honor!
FHF is where the adventurous women hang out!

Marissa said...

I've always wanted to read this book, and when you said the words Michael Hosea, it just went to the top of my to-buy(or win) list!!! Loved the excerpt!!

If I had no other choice to be a mail-order bride, I don't think I would've done it. All the mail-order bride stories that I've read turned out really well, but I'm sure in the past, some haven't turned out well...


Nancy Kimball said...

Michael Hosea is his own category, LOL, but truly, Jesse came the closest for me of even being able to orbit Michael's star. And lest it appear I have an unhealthy idol-type worship for Michael Hosea, I want to be really, really clear about something.

Nancy K gets deep and wordy ALERT, LOL
What made Michael the hero he is is that in every breath, in every moment, at the core of who he is, was to live a life of integrity and righteousness and love like Jesus, even when to do so nearly destroyed him emotionally, financially, in every situation he faced, he turned to God for strength, for the answers, for help, for wisdom, and then lived it out in the face of every challenge that came against him.

I think the lesson of Michael Hosea, Jesse Mason, Levi Grant, and all fiction heroes we hold dear is the more like Jesus they are in word, deed and thought, the more we love them. Levi Grant was a redeemed hero, like the apostle Paul, so it doesn't matter what your backstory is. The more we live like Jesus, the more we earn the right to be heard by those whose lives we touch and become heroes to those around us. Jesus is the ultimate hero, so it makes sense the more our real heroes, and our fiction heroes resemble Him, even when it's at the end, the closer we cling. For me as a writer, my goal is to create those heroes and steward their stories well. For me as a believer and follower of Christ, my goal is to live like them.

Nancy Kimball said...

Picking an excerpt was difficult. I got some valuable input from the hero girls in the last post that helped, and will help going forward but everytime I reread it here in the post it makes me smile. Marissa, I'm sure there were. Maybe that's the next book someone needs to write. The mail-order bride story gone shockingly wrong. I saw a movie similar to that I really enjoyed but can't remember what the name of it was.

Kim F said...

It definitely took a lot of courage to be a mail order bride - I doubt I would have had the courage at those young ages. I guess many of these girls felt there was nothing for them where they lived and/or they really wanted some adventure and the east was too restricting for women!

babykf629 at gmail dot com

Nancy Kimball said...

I agree it took guts. What Catherine pointed out in her research makes sense too. There was a man shortage so if you wanted to be married and weren't the Betty Crocker Super Model on the block, you answered a Hearts and Hands ad. I totally would have done it. We'll get you in the drawing for the novel Kim F. Thank you.

Wendy Newcomb said...

Please enter me in the drawing for the book, I've been wanting this for a while & would love to win it. Thank you for hosting this giveaway.


Deanna Mundy said...

If circumstances put me in a position to find a husband through the mail order system, then I believe I would probably have done so. I would have to pray and seek guidance but I am sure that I would have found someone. When I met my husband, we dated a total of 6 months when we said our wedding vows and we have been married for 23 years.

Nancy Kimball said...

You got it, Wendy. Thanks for dropping by!

Nancy Kimball said...

That is awesome!!! You're a new name to me Deanna, welcome to FHF.

spangldlady said...

Please enter me in the drawing for the book, I've been wanting this for a while & would love to win it. I don't think I would have been a mail-order bride but that would have been 53+ years ago and I can't remember back that far! :D Thank you for hosting this giveaway.Blessings!! Darlene

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed reading this whole page. Jesse sounds good to me. being patient and kind would definitely be good qualities in a husband you didn't even know. God blessed her in that. It would be really hard for me to commit to a man I had never been around to see what kind of person he was. (I'm sure some got horrible husbands). It would be considering what circumstances put you on this Bride-order path. Much faith and prayer would be needed. It helped that Jesse was her pastor's brother as to knowing some about him.(tho brothers can be entirely different too! ) It would have been really hard for mr as I am not very adventurous. I would like to win this book. This is my first time at this site, but I will be coming back. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Nancy Kimball said...

Darlene, you are in and welcome to FHF. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Maxie, welcome back! You might not have remembered us from Brett's post but I remember all the hero-girls who stop by.
If I could read any faster (and still write!) we'd have more than two features a month and it wouldn't be so long between posts.

I'm so glad to "see" you and you and Susannah could have totally related because she is not adventurous at all and really, really, painfully shy so being a mail-order bride, much less a bride at all, was very hard for her. I'll get you in the drawing for sure and best wishes. =)

Anonymous said...

( Mail-order Bride ads!)
I am a Christian woman who is looking to make a home for a loving, kind-hearted man. I'm medium size, kind, good cook , good housekeeper, hardworking, and not bad to look at. M A

Anonymous said...

I would love to win this book. We already have it in the Church Library but I haven't read it yet.
I'm not sure if I would want to be a mail order bride. For one thing I'm too old and set in my ways.

KayM said...

Your wonderful review is tempting me to read this book, so please enter me in the drawing.

I'm not sure I could have been a mail-order bride at a young age. Perhaps, if I was older and not hung up on romantic notions, I might have been able to offer myself in that way.


Cathy Richmond said...

Thinking about mail order brides in the 19th century makes me so thankful for all the options we have today. Women can chose to stay single without suffering the "spinster" label. Women can live on their own - widows were allow to, but single women were expected to live with their parents until they married. Women had to have an escort - not just anyone, but an appropriate male relative - to go just about anywhere. Many colleges didn't accept women or restricted women to a few courses. Few jobs were open to women and they paid too little to survive. And any hint of impropriety resulted in being shunned by the community. Hooray for having more choices in the 21st century!

Megan Parsons said...

I wouldn't want to be a mail or bride because of the horror stories I have heard about it and how they are treated. I will just keep thanking God he gave me the great husband I have. makeighleekyleigh at

Veronica Sternberg said...

I don't think I would have been brave enough to be a mail-order bride!

Nancy Kimball said...

I actually like this! I was thinking from the men for a wife but this is pretty cool! If you are M.A. please reply again with an email addy or a way for me to find you if you win.

Nancy Kimball said...

We'll get you in the drawing and that's a pretty honest assessment. I respect it. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

KayM, you got it. Welcome to FHF. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

That is great info, Cathy. Thanks for sticking with us and continuing to share the framework of your research for Spring for Susannah.

Nancy Kimball said...

Megan, that's a good plan! Welcome to FHF and we've got you in the drawing for the book.

Nancy Kimball said...

Hey Veronica, neither was Susannah! =) We've got you in the drawing for her and Jesse's novel.

Lane Hill House said...

I would like to be entered for the drawing, please :-) Kathleen

Nancy Kimball said...

You got it, Kathleen. Welcome to FHF.

Dawn Crandall said...

I just borrowed this book from the library based on this blog post... But do put me in the drawing! I pass all my books along to my circle of friends!!!!

Crandallberries at gmail dot com

Nancy Kimball said...

You will love it. =) And you're in the drawing for the book.

Cathy Richmond said...

Wow, so exciting to hear Spring for Susannah is in so many libraries! My mom is a librarian, so I really feel like I made it with a book on the library shelves!
My husband and I had been dating for 4 years by the time we got married. And even after 32 years of marriage, we still have surprises (he likes tomatoes, so of course he should like tomato soup, right?). Being a mail-order bride, everything would be a surprise. Susannah didn't even know if her husband smoked or not - I work in a hospital and that would be a deal-breaker for me. What do you think? Are you still being surprised in your marriage?

Nancy Kimball said...

That's so awesome Cathy! Congrats to you and your hubby. =)

Spring for Susannah is 3.99 in paperback right now from so do some Christmas shopping for yourself. The giveaway copy is on its way to my house right now for one of you. =)

We have one follower in the drawing for the giftcard with Abner and one follower who tried the mail order bride ad so when I find them, they get a very cool prize if no one does.

Jan said...

Nancy, you seem to find the best books out there. I don't think I could have been a mail order bride. I would have to love someone before I married them. I follow your blog. Thanks for the give-a-way.

Nancy Kimball said...

That is such a compliment to my work here, Jan, you have no idea how much that made me smile! You're in the drawing for the novel and good to see you back.

Cathy Richmond said...

And thanks so much, Nancy, for celebrating Jesse as a Fiction Hero!

Cathy Richmond said...

Uh-oh, Nancy. The hero of my work-in-progress just blew the proposal - earning every Stupid Strike you can give him! He's got a lot of ground to make up with this heroine before I can write The End!

Thanks again for featuring Jesse on Fiction Hero Features!

Robin Stevens said...

I always love a good hero... even though I would never have done the mail-order bride thing, thus missing out on Jesse.

Nancy Kimball said...

Oh, Cathy is this a NaNo WIP???
We'd love a deeper sneak peak!
You're so welcome and actually the book got delivered today where it will spend four days before shipping off to our winner.

Nancy Kimball said...

Robin, welcome! If you can report with your e-mail addy we'll get you in the drawing for the book. You can still experience Jesse as a reader and trust me, you want to. =)

Jes said...

Back in those days I may have considered becoming a mail-order bride depending on the circumstances. It sounds like in Susannah's case she didn't feel there were any other options. I laughed out loud at your explanation of your Swoon score. :)

jswaks at gmail dot com

Jes said...

Mail-order bride ad:

Bachelor of 30 seeking a single Christian woman of childbearing age in good health to be my helpmeet. Said woman must be amiable, intelligent, hardworking and willing to take care of pigs!

jswaks at gmail dot com

Nancy Kimball said...

I'm pretty transparent in my scoring. ;-)

Nancy Kimball said...

Look at you sliding in under the wire, hehe. Okay, I'm off to go sort all your names and have give us the winners!

Nancy Kimball said...


Print copy of Jesse's book Spring for Susannah is Wendy Newcomb

$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card (winners choice) is Patty

Winner of the "very special prize" for her mail-order bride ad is Jes.
Jes wins her choice of:

10 page critique from me whose racked up enough awards now that should be worth more today than the first time I gave this away on my blog, LOL

$10 Amazon or B&N gift card (in case it's not, or in case Jes isn't a writer =)

Thank you all so much for sharing your yay or nay on mail-order bride, dishing about Jesse, and playing heroes with me. Pick up your own copy of Spring for Susannah and delve in to Jesse's story.

Special thanks to Cathy Richmond for writing us a GREAT hero and I'll keep my nose to the ground about the new one who blew the proposal. ;-)