Thumb Fire Desire by Carol Nickles released June 22 in the Historical Romance genre.
In the Spring of 1881, indigent seamstress Ginny Dahlke arrives in one of the earliest Polish American settlements-Parisville, Michigan. Deemed charmless and awkward by her mean-spirited sister-in-law, Ginny disparages her chance of securing love. But sought-after widowed farmer Peter Nickles is enamored by Ginny’s perseverance, her pioneer spirit and, her inclusive acceptance of the indigenous peoples of Michigan. The seductiveness of a buxom heiress, a twisted story of an old-country betrothal, and the largest natural disaster in Michigan’s history-The Great Thumb Fire of September 5, 1881, challenge their fledgling attraction and ultimate committal.
Peter sat atop the hay bale. Joseph’s shadow grew deeper and then faded away. For the first time, he and Ginny were alone—if he didn’t count a barn full of bawling sheep, milk cows dunking their heads in feed pails, Buster and Blue lazily flicking their tails, and slinky cats prowling the hay. His breathing came ragged. His chest puffed. He bent at the knees, shoved his hands under the bulk of shorn fleece, slowly aligned his spine, turned toward Ginny, and lost sensation in his arms. He dropped the pile, scattering barn dust and errant wool strands.
She stood idle. The sunshine pouring through the slats on the barn’s east side outlined her silhouette. The soft hollow in her neck swelled and emptied. A clothesline, bare for the warped wooden pins straddling it, swayed between its oak tree moorings behind her. She lifted the tray, set Joseph’s glass on it, and held her hand for his drink.
“I’ll wash your shirt. Sorry I spoiled it.” She leveled her gaze to his.
He turned the glass in his hand. A single mint leaf stuck to the bottom. He fished it out with a finger and rolled the bumpy foliage in his palm, releasing its scent. He rubbed the leaf on his wrist and opened his mouth. He bit into the sprig, savored the fresh prickly taste, and swished it around his gums and teeth. He swallowed.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Carol Nickles is the sixth generation of a German textile aficionado family. In 1881, her great-great-great-grandfather founded Yale Woolen Mill—the longest-lasting of Michigan’s once twenty-nine woolen mills. Carol earned a Master’s degree in Historic Clothing & Textiles at Michigan State University. Her thesis is a narrative of the Yale Woolen Mill. She held faculty positions at both Utah and Michigan State universities. She lives in West Michigan and enjoys spinning a tale, weaving a story, and threading a luring hook.
The geography of Poland is breathtaking—the majestic Carpathian mountains, the sandy beaches flanking the Baltic Sea, the six-hundred and fifty-one mile-long Vistula River, which has inspired paintings and music, and the fertile low-lying plains.
The Polish people have a culture rich in tradition. Hop on Pinterest to view exuberant traditional Polish costumes. Turn on a Polish American radio station and dance to a rousing polka. Step on the brakes if you notice a restaurant advertising pierogies or pickled beets.
So why, during the 1800s did the Polish people flee their homes and in so doing, jeopardize their health, the education of their children, and their financial status?
From 1772 to 1918, the nation of Poland, as we know it, was sectioned off and dictated by the empires of Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
Polish people were, in some cases, disallowed to speak their native tongue and to teach it to their children. Polish farmers were made serfs on their own lands. Polish men were forced to serve allegiance to and were conscripted into military service of the countries that usurped their homeland.
Thumb Fire Desire is set in Parisville, Michigan, a small, rural village that bears the distinction of the first Polish/American settlement in Michigan. Polish emigrants began arriving in Parisville in the early 1850s, during this period of Poland’s non-existence.
Sadly, this tale of political greed is manifested today. Sadly, this tale of homeless people is manifested today. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are at present, over one hundred million displaced people roaming our globe. Thirty-one million are refugees forced from their beloved homes by war, famine, and the ravages of escalating climate change.
What would our United States of America missed had we excluded Polish emigrants during that time?
We would not have benefitted from the humanity and perseverance demonstrated by Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zabrzewski (1829-1902) who established the New England Hospital for Women & Children and the first United States training school for nurses.
We would not have gained the expertise of Henryk Bronislaw Arctowski (1871-1958), a meteorologist. The Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station and a medal of the National Academy of Sciences are named in his honor.
So, how does the story of Thumb Fire Desire and its Polish refugee characters speak to us as modern readers?
Refugees today must be viewed as incoming contributors to bettering our society. Accepting them with open arms and hospitable hearts is the moral high ground.
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This post is part of a tour. The tour dates can be found here: https://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2022/05/vbt-thumb-fire-desire-by-carol-nickles.html
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