Thursday teaser: The Quisling Factor

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A look at the brand new book set in postwar Norway

By J.L. Oakley

Haugland’s eyes snapped open in the dark. Cocking his head toward the direction of the sound he had thought he heard, he listened long and hard. The house was utterly still and the room deep in inky shadows.  Next to him, Anna was sound sleep on her side, her cotton nightie brushing against his bare legs. All a normal and perfectly safe feeling, but the war years had trained him to sleep lightly and something had disturbed him. Carefully, he moved away from her and slipped out of bed.

From a chair, he removed a pullover and put it on over his boxer shorts. He stood still for a moment and listened again. It was frustrating to have to check and recheck. Before his beating, his hearing had been excellent as required for an agent in the field, but now, his left ear played tricks on him. Sometimes he could almost hear normally, it seemed, but often any input was wiped out by the slightest background noise, so it was practically useless.  His instincts weren’t. His sixth sense for survival was still in high gear and it told him that something was wrong.  Near the door, he quietly reached into a drawer and took out a flashlight and his Colt.38. He opened the door to the hallway and treaded lightly onto the strip of oriental carpeting that made a path around the U-shaped bannister built around the home’s wide stairs and landing to the upper floor. On all sides there were bedrooms where guests and his sister slept. At the end of the hall on the left was his mother’s. He opened the door nearest to their room and looked in on Lisel and Nils. Both were asleep and undisturbed. 

Downstairs, Haugland went silently from room to room without using the flashlight, creeping through the large stue or living space and into the kitchen and dining room. Nothing unusual. He returned to the hall that led out to the front door and worked his way back to the study by the garden. At the French doors, there was a faint light from a new moon caressing the glass panes.  Haugland listened. He heard nothing, but his eyes caught an irregularity with the doors and going over, he discovered that they had opened and shut, but not completely. Moving as softly as smoke, he gently opened the door and looked out.

The pine forest beyond the grounds was dark and impenetrable. There was no wind, no call of night animals. He cocked his head again, straining, then heard a sound to his right. Easing back the hammer on his gun, he went forward stealthily, then stopped. A cat emerged from a bush close to the house and came out to serenade him. It was Tomsin, his mother’s cat.

Disgusted, Haugland drew back and returned to the door to the study. At the patio’s edge, he turned the flashlight on and shined it on the flagstones. There in the light’s yellow pool, he found two partial prints. Looking closer, he saw that they had been made by wet boots, probably a man’s. He straightened up and pushing the doors into the room, looked for signs inside on the wood floor, but found none. They only appeared to be outside going in.  He knelt down and looked closer for any depressions in the Oriental rug in the center of the study, but he could only see his own feet in passing. Further investigation in the hallway revealed nothing more. It was as though a ghost had come and drifted into the house, dissipating through the roof. He went back and closed the door. He was positive that something had been moving in the house, probably outside his door upstairs, but whatever it was, it was gone. 

About The Quisling Factor

Treason. Espionage. Revenge. In the aftermath of WWII, ex-intelligence agent Tore Haugland tries to adjust to life in his newly freed country with the woman he loves. But he still has to testify against a Norwegian traitor—one of the monsters of the German occupation—whom he helped to capture.

When mysterious notes threaten Haugland and his family, he must choose between protecting them or bringing to justice the man who tortured him and destroyed the village that hid him. Challenged by injuries and recurring nightmares, he will have to rely on his former training and old Resistance friends to rescue his wife from the traitor who will do anything to keep Haugland from testifying.

J.L. Oakley

has established a reputation for writing outstanding historical fiction set in the mid-19th century to the Second World War.

In 2013, she received the Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award and the Chanticleer Grand Prize for Tree Soldier, a novel set in the Forest Service, a Depression-era program in the Pacific Northwest. In 2017, Janet won the Goethe Grand Prize for The Jøssing Affair, the 2018 Will Rogers Silver Medallion and two WILLA Silver Awards.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley.

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New book: The Quisling Factor

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The sequel to the award-winning The Jøssing Affair

By J.L. Oakley

Bestselling author and BestSelling Reads member J.L. Oakley has released the long-awaited sequel to her award-winning Second World War novel, The Jøssing Affair.

The first book told the story of the Norweigian jøssings, or patriots, who fought a resistance action against the occupying Nazi German forces during the Second World War. Aided by the “Shetland bus,” secret connections by civilian and partisan sailors across the North Sea, they risked their freedom and their lives, pursued by Nazis and Norwegian collaborators.

“When I first began my research for this sequel to The Jøssing Affair, I recalled the memoirs of several heroes in the Norwegian Resistance,” says author Janet Oakley. “They told of their dangers and grand adventures, but I was also struck by what they did after the war.

“In May 1945, ordinary Norwegian citizens wanted to get back to some of sort of normalcy. But first, they would have to relive the atrocities of the past five of occupation carried out by Germans and in some cases, their own countrymen. Beginning in the summer of 1945 war criminal trials began across the country. One of these quislings was Henry Oliver Rinnan.

“There are two historic stories going on in The Quisling Factor: the war crimes trial of Norwegian Henry Oliver Rinnan, a real-life monster who worked with the Gestapo out of Trondheim, Norway and the tragic story of Telavåg. Both real-life stories are what drives this sequel and its characters.”

About The Quisling Factor

Treason. Espionage. Revenge. In the aftermath of WWII, ex-intelligence agent Tore Haugland tries to adjust to life in his newly freed country with the woman he loves. But he still has to testify against a Norwegian traitor—one of the monsters of the German occupation—whom he helped to capture.
When mysterious notes threaten Haugland and his family, he must choose between protecting them or bringing to justice the man who tortured him and destroyed the village that hid him. Challenged by injuries and recurring nightmares, he will have to rely on his former training and old Resistance friends to rescue his wife from the traitor who will do anything to keep Haugland from testifying.

J.L. Oakley

has established a reputation for writing outstanding historical fiction set in the mid-19th century to the Second World War.

In 2013, she received the Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award and the Chanticleer Grand Prize for Tree Soldier, a novel set in the Forest Service, a Depression-era program in the Pacific Northwest. In 2017, Janet won the Goethe Grand Prize for The Jøssing Affair, the 2018 Will Rogers Silver Medallion and two WILLA Silver Awards.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley.

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A tree soldier in the Pacific Northwest

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A historical Thursday teaser from the novel

By J.L. Oakley

Camp Glacier

A couple of hours later, Hardesty was standing along the edge of the camp parade ground with the rest of his young squad mates. They all looked like they wanted to bolt.  He followed their line of sight. Behind the camp craggy, white mountains painted amber by the afternoon sun leered over trees most likely bigger than anything they’d ever seen. They had startled him too when he first came out. 

“Holy cow. Do you see them trees?” Costello dropped his duffle next to Hardesty with a thud.

“I see them,” Spinelli said on the other side of him. “Wonder which place is ours?”

Hardesty wondered too. The long wooden buildings lined up in neat rows looked no different from the last camp he had been in. Even the smoke brought the smell of roasted ham out of a building that suggested the cook house. It made his stomach growl.

A military type officer showed up with a clipboard and ordered the group to gather around. “Welcome to Camp Kulshan, F-23, one of the oldest Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the state of Washington. We make campgrounds, roads, bridges and fight fires. Three departments run it here: the Army, Department of Agriculture and Department of Labor. During your time here you’ll not only be sending money home to your folks, but will have the opportunity to finish high school and learn a trade. There’ll be more about that later. For now…”

Spinelli turned to Hardesty.  “That true about the girl and the bear?” he whispered.

“Where’d you hear that?” Hardesty was surprised news traveled so fast. 

“At the store. I didn’t know there were bears there. Only bear I seen was at the Bronx Zoo.”

“I think you’re safe,” Hardesty said. 

“…shots. You’ll line up at the infirmary and get your paperwork put away. Dinner is being held for you in mess.”

Spinelli slapped his arm. “I’m doomed.”

Hardesty followed the group into the barracks and once given the parameters of his new world, tossed his duffel on the nearest lower bunk. Identical to the last one he had been in, the barracks had double-decker bunks lining the fir plank walls on both sides, twenty-five to a side. The fir floors were worn and creaky. In the middle, trunks had been dragged in and left in a jumbled stack. He spied the worn army-drab one that was his.

My whole life’s in it. That’s all I have left.

“Hey,” Spinelli said. He held in his hand the mimeographed camp paper, The Mountain Call: An Avalanche of Events. “Mind if I go up?”

Photo by Devin Lyster on Unsplash

“Nope. The place is all yours.” Hardesty smiled. He liked Mario Spinelli the minute they met at the train station in Seattle. He acted tough, but he had seen the kid’s eyes when they left the train two hours later and headed east into the rugged Cascade Mountains. He was scared. The whole lot of them, their false bravado trying to cover the fact that they were about to meet their match: the forests of the Pacific Northwest.  For some reason, at the camp orientation, the kids started following him around.

Hardesty just wasn’t sure he wanted to be nursemaid. All he wanted to do was mind his own business and keep his head low.

Spinelli spread out his bedding and slapped his pillow before climbing down. “Do you remember where we take a leak?”

“Bath house. Out the front door to the left. How’s your arm?”

“Not a twinge,” he answered, even though he moved his shoulder like it had been struck with a bat.

Lights were out at 9:45. Taps called not long after. Soon the camp descended into snores and stirrings.  Except for a family of raccoons ambling forth in the direction of the mess hall’s garbage cans, no one was out. While the camp slept, the woods leaned over the buildings and grounds, jagged black guardians poking into the starry night sky. For once there was no hint of rain.

A faint light appeared at one of the barracks doors as a figure stepped out onto the small porch and slipped down the stairs. When he was sure of the direction he wanted to go, the flashlight went out. A few yards and he was in the forest.

It was chilly under the boughs of cedar and hemlock, a musky scent of lichen and moss caught in the damp air. At an old stump, some ten feet across, Hardesty found a spot on the other side, where he threw down his jacket on a log. When he became accustomed to the space around him, he turned the flashlight back on.

He didn’t like breaking curfew, but he had a hard time sleeping. Too much crowding in after a long day. Thirty hours ago he had been in Oregon. Now he was as far away as he could get without leaving a region he had grown to love. He hoped that he could start fresh again.

He took a brass medallion about the size of a silver dollar out of his pocket. He rubbed the hard, stamped surface between his fingers and read the words like Braille:

••LOYALTY•CHARACTER•SERVICE••

Honor Award

C.C.C.

The words rose in an arch over two wooden barracks set in the woods. Smoke from a chimney curled up to touch the middle “R” in the word “CHARACTER” overhead.

Hardesty knew the words by heart just like he knew the way the scars lay on the palms of his hands.

He had been proud when he was given it, but truth be told, some days he didn’t feel like he deserved it.

And why he ran away again.

Tree Soldier

One mistake can ruin a life. One mistake can transform it.

A government forestry camp set deep in the mountainous forests of the Pacific Northwest might not seem the likely place to find redemption, but in 1935, Park Hardesty hopes for just that.

Blaming himself for the fiery accident that caused his brother’s disfigurement and the death of the bootlegging woman he loved, planting trees, building bridges and mentoring tough, homesick New Jersey boys brings him both penitence and the renewal of his own self-worth.

When he wins the love of Kate Alford, a local naturalist who envisions joining the Forest Service, which allows only men, he also captures the ire of a camp officer who refuses to let her go.

Just when he is ready to seek his brother’s forgiveness, he is falsely accused of rape. Every aspect of his life he has tried to rebuild is put in jeopardy.

In the end, the only way he can defend himself is to tell the truth about his brother, but he risks being kicked out of the camp. Worse, he could lose Kate’s love forever.

Get it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her characters come from all walks of life, but all stand up for something in their own time and place.

Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

When not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th century folkways, including churning some pretty mean butter.

Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017. It is set in 1860 on San Juan Island in Pacific NW during a time with the British Royal Marines and US Army jointly occupied the island—peacefully.

Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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The Quisling Factor

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A Thursday preview of the forthcoming new novel

By J.L. Oakley

Photo by Kererra Williams on Unsplash

Downstairs at the French doors, there was a faint light from a new moon caressing the glass panes. Haugland heard nothing, but his eyes caught an irregularity with the doors and going over, he discovered that they had opened and shut, but not completely. Moving as softly as smoke, he gently opened the door and looked out.

The pine forest beyond the grounds was dark and impenetrable. There was no wind, no call of night animals. He cocked his head again, straining, then heard a sound to his right. Easing back the hammer on his gun, he went forward stealthily, then stopped. A cat emerged from a bush close to the house and came out to serenade him. It was Tomsin, his mother’s cat.

Disgusted, Haugland drew back and returned to the door to the study. At the patio’s edge, he turned the flashlight on and shined it on the flagstones. There in the light’s yellow pool, he found two partial prints. Looking closer, he saw that they had been made by wet boots, possibly a man’s. He straightened up and pushing the doors into the room, looked for signs inside on the wood floor, but found none. They only appeared to be outside going in. He knelt down and closer for any depressions in the Oriental rug in the center of the study, but he could only see his own feet in passing. Further investigation in the hallway revealed nothing more. It was as though a ghost had come and drifted into the house, dissipating through the roof. He went back and closed the door. He was positive that something had been moving in the house, possibly outside his door upstairs, but whatever it was, it was gone. 

The Phoenix and Mission hotels, Trondheim, Norway, wartime headquarters of the Norwegian Gestapo.

Upstairs, he paused outside the children’s door, then on impulse went in. Lisel was still sleeping in the same position he had seen her last, her mouth slightly open as she slept. He pulled the summer blankets higher up on her, then gave her a kiss. Next he checked on Nils in his crib, remembering that he had not actually seen him the first time he had looked in. Shining the light near the baby’s face, Haugland was relieved to see that he was alright. The sweet blonde face was quiet, his thumb stuck into his mouth and from time to time he sucked as he slept on his stomach with his little fanny sticking up into the air. Haugland chuckled and wondered if the position was normal. He reached over and tried to unplug the thumb and discovered that the hand was grasping something.

Haugland put a hand on his tightening chest. The baby’s little fingers were gripping tightly onto what appeared to be a piece of newsprint. Gently, Haugland unrolled the fingers and slipped the paper out. It had been folded several times. It opened out into an eight by nine inch scrap. On one side there was text from several news items. On the other side—

Nazi paraphernalia from the occupation of Norway, Trondheim.

Haugland gasped. The noise in the house had been real. As he turned the paper around, he stared into a newswire photo of a scene from the Cloister. It had only been published yesterday, but it was old news to him. He did not look at the men demonstrating some torture method for the press. He only saw the poster of the skeleton on the wall. Above its bony frame in vaguely familiar printing were the words:

“I’M COMING.”

The Quisling Factor

Ex-Norwegian intelligence agent, Tore Haugland, is a survivor. In post-WWII Norway, he adjusts to life in his newly freed county with the woman he loves, German-American Anna Fromme.

A demonstration of torture from the trial of Henry Oliver Rinnan in 1946.

But first he must keep his promise to testify against one of the greatest monsters of the German occupation, Henry Oliver Rinnan. When mysterious notes threaten Haugland and his family, he must choose between protecting them or bringing to justice the man who captured and tortured him and destroyed the village that hid him.

The Quisling Factor, the sequel to J.L. Oakley’s bestselling World War II-set novel, The Jossing Affair, is coming soon.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her characters come from all walks of life, but all stand up for something in their own time and place.

Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

When not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th century folkways, including churning some pretty mean butter.

Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017. It is set in 1860 on San Juan Island in Pacific NW during a time with the British Royal Marines and US Army jointly occupied the island—peacefully.

Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Thursday teaser: Coconut Island

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This week’s teaser is from the brand-new Hilo Bay Mysteries collected edition, just published this week,

By J.L. Oakley

Before the first wave came, all the water emptied out of Hilo Bay. Boats were stranded, fish flopped in the sand patches and coral rocks only to be thrown back onto the beaches by a thigh-high wave.  A second wave came like a high black wall with boulders and studied force enough to knock homes and storefronts off their foundations and send them back into the buildings on the streets behind. It sucked people, cars, dogs and parts of the train depot out into the bay before the third wave came, a two-story monster. It smashed the cottages at Laupahoehoe School and grabbed four teachers and a score of students. It took out the train bridge in Hilo, the tuberculous hospital and washed away the USO buildings on Coconut Island. When all was done, the sea lay flat for several hours as if to ponder the devastation and the hundred and fifty souls left dead.

Chapter 1

Beatrice Watanabe stood at her bedroom window and looked out to Hilo Bay. It was early morning, the day just waking up but she could see far out beyond the sea break. Beatrice smiled. More than anything, she loved the sea and looked forwarded to presenting her science project on Honu, the green sea turtle, to her fourth grade classmates. She had spent a week going through old National Geographic magazines looking for pictures. Once her big sister, Hillary, took her down to Coconut Island where the turtles sometimes could be seen. When Beatrice spotted one, she took a picture with her Brownie camera. It only showed a ghostly back and head when the film was developed, so Beatrice drew some pictures with colored pencils to go with the black and white photo and pasted them onto her board. 

A truck horn beeped. On the street below her family’s two story apartment, Beatrice saw Mr. Chang’s grocery truck pull over to the beach-side of the street. Beatrice listened for the train whistle –the palm tree-lined Front Street ran parallel to the train tracks and wide beach beyond– but there was no train coming in from the Puna district at this hour. 

“Beatrice,” her mother called. “Come to breakfast. We haven’t much time.”

“Coming.” 

There was more than school today. Her brother, Jimmy, was coming home. For the past two years, he had served in the armed forces, fighting with 442nd in Italy. It was the most decorated fighting unit in the U.S. Army during the war and all Japanese. Jimmy had two purple hearts and was going to be awarded a Medal of Honor. Everyone in the family was so proud. 

Except Uncle Toshi, Beatrice thought. He had changed since the war. Always stern, he seemed angry all the time now. Maybe because he had to go away. 

“Beatrice. Please listen.”

“Coming, Mama.” Beatrice stuffed her books into her school bags, tied her brown and white saddle shoes, and started to go down to the kitchen, when she looked out the window. The water in the bay looked odd, like it was backing away from the beach. Swiftly, as though on little crab feet, the water receded behind the sea break. Down on the sidewalk, Mr. Chang stopped unloading his goods and taking his hat off, stared. 

Beatrice dropped her school bag and ran out into the hallway. “Mama! Something’s funny going on. The bay is all dry.” She rushed to the living room where there was a large window that looked over the street. 

There was a commotion in the kitchen. Bernice’s mother, hurried down to her. Her teenaged brother and sister, Clarence and Janice, were close behind. They all stared out the window at the empty bay.

Hilo’s 1946 Tsnami strikes. Photo: Hawaii News Now.

“I heard of this, children,” Beatrice’s mother said.

“Can we go down and look?” fourteen year-old Janice asked. “I could look for opihi and crab.”

“Or treasure,” Beatrice chimed in. “I could help Honu if he’s stranded.”

Their mother frowned. “No. The sea may come back and flood the street. But I think we will be safe here for now.”

Flood the street? Beatrice thought. Won’t it flood the flower shop below us? She opened a side window. The smell of plumeria and sour sea weed hit her, but the strongest thing she sensed was the lack of natural sound. No myna bird or dove called. It was deadly still.

The sea did come back. Beatrice watched in horror at the speed it filled in the bay, raced across the beach and spun Mr. Changg and his truck around. The building shuddered when something hit it.

“To the back, children.” Bernice’s mother pulled on her arm. “Now.”

“Where’s Hillary?” Clarence asked as they squeezed down the hallway. “Shall I wake her?”

“She didn’t come home.” 

Beatrice was shocked at the tone of her mother’s voice, even more at her determined assault on  every window in the kitchen. Mama shattered each glass pane with a heavy iron pan. Through the  gaping windows, Beatrice heard someone yell.

Honu, the sea turtle, from Wikimedia Commons.

“My honu project.” The thought of it getting wet if another wave should strike the front of the apartment made Beatrice sick. “I’ll be right back.” She dashed down the hall to her room and picked up the large sheet of cardboard. She peeked out the window. Down below, Mr. Chang and a neighbor were accessing the damage to the truck and what appeared to be missing railroad rails on the other side of the street. The little palm trees looked forlorn. 

“Beatrice!” 

Beatrice snatched a stuffed animal, clamped it under her arm, then grabbed her project. A roaring noise made her turn her head. Out beyond the sea break, she saw a black wall making its way toward the town of Hilo. It went over the break as easy someone pouring water. Huge boulders twisted and tumbled along with the wave’s flow. People started to scream. Beatrice ran.

The aftermath of Hilo’s 1946 tsunami. There would be more. Photo: Hawaiihistory.org

Half way down the hall, the apartment shook so violently, Beatrice was thrown to the wooden floor. She crab-crawled her way back onto her feet and ran to her mother just as the walls of the building collapsed  The floor tilted, then seemed to push her up, as the wave broke open the ceiling, then the roof to the morning sky. Beatrice grabbed onto the closest thing to her – the glass knob on the door that once led into her parent’s bedroom. Her cheek against the door, she rode the wave as it rushed debris and people in toward the red dirt and green hills behind the town. To her horror, as she spun, Beatrice caught a glimpse of the giant wave behind the one that carried her now– the biggest thing she had ever seen. Higher than the apartment, it smashed down the remaining structure of the home and neighborhood she had known all her short life. The door caught on a large piece of the apartment’s roof and threw her on top of it. She grabbed on, her bleeding fingers seeking anything to hold onto. Somewhere in the din, she heard her mother cry out to her. The last thing she saw was Mr. Chang’s truck sweeping past her upside down and Honu from the sea, beating its legs as fast as they could go. Even the turtle’s eyes looked terrified.

The last thing Beatrice remembered was that it was April’s Fool’s Day. 

Coconut Island

Investigative reporter Tawnie Takahashi is no stranger to mysteries, but can she handle one steeped in her own family’s history? A box of letters from a WWII soldier stationed on the Big Island is found at the Big Island Historical Society and unlocks painful memories for Tawnie’s Great Aunt Bee. Bee’s older sister was swept away in the 1946 tsunami, but now Wendy suspects she was murdered first. As she delves into the mystery, Tawnie meets a group of nonagenarians who were at the USO center on Coconut Island during the war. One is a hero. Another is a cold-blooded murderer.

Coconut Island is the first of the three Hilo Bay Mysteries.

Get it as part of the collected volume on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her characters come from all walks of life, but all stand up for something in their own time and place.

Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

When not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th century folkways, including churning some pretty mean butter.

Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017. It is set in 1860 on San Juan Island in Pacific NW during a time with the British Royal Marines and US Army jointly occupied the island—peacefully.

Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Thursday teaser: Mist-chi-mas: A Novel of Captivity

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This week’s excerpt is from the historical mystery-romance

By J.L. Oakley

At six o’clock a sergeant came over to escort the women to Captain George Pickett’s quarters next door where Pickett personally greeted Jeannie and the Jenkins women at the door. For the second time that day she mused that she was the same height as the captain. With dark shoulder length hair, mustache and a long unruly goatee, Pickett was only a little over five and a half feet tall. What he lacked in height, however, she had already learned he made up in audacity, charm and a strong scent of Jamaican rum cologne. He offered her his arm and led her into the candlelit dining room.

Gathered around the table was a collection of men and women from the area. Pickett gave immediate introductions. “May I present Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Marshall of Port Townsend, my second lieutenant, James W. Forsyth, two British naval officers from the HMS Satellite, Lieutenant Fuller—Mrs. Jenkins’ brother visiting from Fort Steilacoom, and Andrew Pierce from the settlement of Seattle.”

The men rose as the women were escorted to their seats at the table. The Jenkins women were treated with courtesy, but from Lucy’s pout not enough. When Pickett pulled out her chair, Jeannie thanked him for his hospitality and sat down.

“Now, Mrs. Naughton,” Captain Pickett said as he sat down. “Do tell us all about your time in Kanaka Town. It has concerned us all, considerin’ someone has left his earthly bounds.” He put his napkin in his lap and sipped water from the crystal glass at his place.

Jeannie glanced around. The table was set just as fine as the officer’s table at the Royal Marine Camp with a linen cloth, several candlesticks spread out down the middle, and a large hurricane lamp set in the center. The candles cast soft yellow light on all the diners. Captain Pickett winked at her, but she pretended she did not notice. “An act of bravery, I might add,” Pickett went on. “Do tell.”

Jeannie wasn’t sure what account to give or whether it was a proper subject for the dinner table, but they seemed anxious to know about her time with the people of Kanaka Town, so she told them of her days there. When she was done, Pickett directed the dinner guests to a discussion of health in general. He sat at his place at the head of the table, his long hair curling at his jacket’s collar, like a country gentleman hosting guests at his estate. Jeannie could understand why Mr. Breed said he was popular with both military camps and civilians.

It soon became apparent that the women were not taken with her account. Mrs. Jenkins’ lips seemed to get acutely puckered as Jeannie went on. Mrs. Marshall, the merchant’s wife, burst out that the whole affair was unseemly.

“Don’t you think, Mrs. Jenkins, a woman should be more particular in what she chooses to undertake?” Mrs. Marshall’s rag curls banged against her neck.

“I do indeed. Don’t you, Mr. Pierce?”

Andrew Pierce was mid-bite on an appetizer of oysters. He looked startled, then blushed at Jeannie sitting next to him. “You caught me off-guard, ma’am. I’ll have to think on it.”

“I don’t believe that there is anything to think on,” said the captain of the HMS Satellite. “Women served valiantly in our hospitals in the late Crimean War. Miss Nightingale for one. An extraordinary woman. Saved many a soldier’s life.”

Mrs. Jenkins and the other ladies shrank back when the military men agreed. The matter of Jeannie’s incautious adventure was settled and to her relief, in her favor. The men agreed that containing the smallpox was imperative. It touched her deeply when they gave tender acknowledgment to her loss and the irony she could not help her son.

Dinner was served in the French style with all the dishes on the table and the serving plates assisted around. Pickett continued playing host, leading the conversation and letting topics flow from local politics to news of the social season. Occasionally, he’d interject, “Sir, ah believe that is the most interesting thing ah heard” or something to that effect. Jeannie found his accent hard to understand.

During the second hour, the conversation turned to more national subjects, though Jeannie noticed that by some unspoken agreement, they did not speak of the growing discord and talk of secession back in the States she had heard during conversations in Victoria. Instead,

the conversation settled on Pickett’s exploits in the Mexican war. The British officers were interested in the tactics of General Winfield Scott. Pickett obliged them with an arrangement of salt cellars and candlesticks on the table.

As he laid out the battlefield, Jeannie was amused to see that he had brought Mrs. Jenkins and the other women to a complete stop. Their fan-covered faces and asides were muffled. The officers leaned over and the battle began. When Pickett was done, salt had been spilled and a candlestick dripped its beeswax onto the linen cloth. To that, everyone clapped. The officers raised their glasses as Pickett returned to his seat in good cheer.

About Mist-Chi-Mas

In Mist-chi-mas, everyone is bound to something.

Jeannie Naughton never intended to run away from her troubles, but in 1860, a woman’s reputation is everything. A scandal not of her own making forces her to flee England for an island in the Pacific Northwest, a territory jointly occupied by British and American military forces. At English Camp, Jeannie meets American Jonas Breed. Breed was once a captive and slave — a mistchimas — of the Haida, and still retains close ties to the Coast Salish Indians.

But the inhabitants of the island mistrust Breed for his friendship with the tribes. When one of Breed’s friends is murdered, he is quickly accused of a gruesome retaliation. Jeannie knows he’s innocent, and plans to go away with him, legitimizing their passionate affair with a marriage. But when she receives word that Breed has been killed in a fight, Jeannie’s world falls apart. Although she carries Jonas Breed’s child, she feels she has no choice but to accept a proposal from another man.

Twenty years later, Jeannie finds reason to believe that Breed may still be alive. She must embark on a journey to uncover the truth, unaware that she is stirring up an old and dangerous struggle for power and revenge…

Find it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written the Hilo Bay series of four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands. Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017.

 Get to know more about Janet on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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