About the Book
Book: Murmur in the Mudcaves
Author: Kathleen Denly
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release date: May 16, 2023
He came to cook for ranch hands, not three single women.
Gideon Swift, a visually impaired Civil War Veteran, responds to an ad for a ranch cook in the Southern California desert mountains. He wants nothing more than to forget his past and stay in the kitchen where he can do no harm. But when he arrives to find his employer murdered, the ranch turned to ashes, and three young women struggling to survive in the unforgiving Borrego Desert, he must decide whether his presence protects them or places them in greater danger.
Bridget “Biddie” Davidson finally receives word from her older sister who disappeared with their brother and pa eighteen years prior, but the news is not good. Determined to help her family, Biddie sets out for a remote desert ranch with her adopted father and best friend. Nothing she finds there is as she expected, including the man who came to cook for the shambles of a ranch.
When tragedy strikes, the danger threatens not only her plans to help her sister, but her own dreams for the future—with the man who’s stolen her heart.
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About the Author
Kathleen Denly lives in sunny Southern California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.
More from Kathleen
The Making of a Hero
Picture in your mind the typical male rancher or cowboy. Can you see him? If we’re going for the full stereotype, you’re looking at a tall, handsome man who is, above all, strong. Particularly in the nineteenth century, it takes strength to build a house, install fencing, chop wood, haul water, heft hay bales, and most of all manage cattle. Not to mention the 101 other things it takes to start and keep a ranch running.
Now consider the aftermath of the American Civil War. Many men never returned from the battlefields, and those who did often returned with injuries that would remain with them the rest of their lives. Some would suffer chronic pain until the day they died.
In considering whose story I wanted to tell next, I wondered about that last group of men in the context of running a ranch. How could a seriously injured man, suffering chronic pain, keep his ranch going in an era where able-bodied men were more difficult to find? And what about those whose ranches were too new and small to support the cost of hiring help?
This was the beginning of my inspiration for Gideon Swift–a Civil War Veteran still struggling daily with the consequences of having gone to war, ten years after his injuries sent him home.
Raised to believe true men were strong and weak men were next-to useless, Gideon’s identity is shattered when an explosion leaves him with brain damage that causes recurring migraines with aura and the loss of periphery vision in one eye. For those unfamiliar, a migraine with aura is a severe headache preceded or accompanied by sensory disturbances called aura. Examples of such disturbances include flashes of light, blind spots, general blurry vision, and blurry or shimmery lines in vision. There can also be speech or language difficulty, muscle weakness, and/or numbness or tingling in one side of a person’s face, one hand, or one limb. Gideon experiences most of these at different times, but his most common sensory disturbance is a curled shimmery line that appears in his vision.
He is further humbled by a series of tragic losses partially triggered by his medical condition. These are the events that send him to California, determined never to work with cattle again, and never to marry.
I am often asked how much of myself I put into my characters. In Gideon’s case, I modeled his pain partially after my own. While I have no peripheral vision loss, nor brain damage, I do have recurring migraines. In my case, these are brought about by my menstrual cycle and only occasionally involve aura symptoms. Still, these severe headaches have lasted from a mere hour, up to nearly a week, and are frequently beyond anything my medications can alleviate. Too often, this pain leaves me unable to function. If I’m lucky I can sleep through it. If not, I lay awake in a darkened room for hours with pain preventing me from drifting into blissful unconsciousness. Nauseousness, foggy thinking, dizziness, and exhaustion are frequently parts of my experience. I have also experienced one-sided tingling numbness and the same curly, shimmering line that Gideon experiences. Yet, I know others who have far worse migraines. So, in describing Gideon’s episodes, I combined my own experiences with those of family and friends whom I have witnessed suffering.
Through Murmur in the Mud Caves, we see how God works in Gideon’s life and heart to remind him of where his true value and strength come from. It is my hope that his journey will touch the hearts of readers and encourage them in whatever trials they may be facing. We are never alone. Whatever God brings us to, He will bring us through. He loves us and has a good purpose for everything we endure in this life, even when we cannot understand His reasons.
“If you doubt God’s forgiveness, then it seems to me, you’ve been listening to the wrong voice. “
Kathleen Denly brings us back to eastern San Diego County, CA, in Murmur in the Mudcaves(#4 Chaparral Hearts). The year is 1873, and Biddie Davidson, whose adoptive parents and story we read in a previous book, has become a young woman, ready to start her own bakery. But God and her biological sister, Ginny Baker, whom she hasn’t seen since she was four, have other plans for her, or at least, in Ginny’s case, her money.
Biddie meets the war-damaged hero, Gideon Swift, when he shows up to cook for Oliver Baker and his ranch, neither still in existence. When Gideon discovers three women in the middle of the desert with no real shelter, his sense of gentlemanliness will not let him leave the three women alone. But can a man who is damaged from the war really be the protector the women need in this wild place? Gideon has a lot to learn about blaming himself for circumstances beyond his control and also about forgiving himself for false guilt. I love one of the characters who ends up helping him learn this!! Not one I would have imagined.
I love the way Matthew helps interpret Scripture correctly for Gideon, both stealing his argument that he wasn’t strong enough and and offering hope for his spiritual condition as well. That’s what Jesus does. While He may or may not offer physical healing, that healing is never without spiritual healing also offered freely.
I did question one part of the story. “Even as kids, Ginny had always felt she had something to prove.” How would Biddie have understood this at 4 yrs old, since that was the last time she had seen her sister?
I liked that there are some issues and relationships left unresolved, and we are promised another book. I really hope Ginny and Clyve get their own story. Clyve slowly morphed into my fave secondary character. Denly drew him such that I despised him at first, so that is really saying something!
Of course, sometimes Denly just makes me smile. For example: “Biddie could talk a camel into trying to swim the Gulf of Mexico.” What a great word picture!!
With great discussion questions at the end and Denly’s obvious research, Murmur in the Mudcaves is a book I recommend. The Chapparal Hearts Series should probably be read in order.
“God’s voice convicts us when we’ve done wrong, but it sounds like you’ve been living with a heap of shame clogging your ears.”
“Being a man isn’t about what you can’t do, it’s about what you choose to do.”
lakesidelivingsite, May 17
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 18
Books You Can Feel Good About, May 18
Texas Book-aholic, May 19
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 20
For Him and My Family, May 20
Melissa’s Bookshelf, May 21
Connie’s History Classroom, May 21
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 22
Betti Mace, May 22
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 23
Madi’s Musings, May 23
Pause for Tales, May 24
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 25
Kristina Hall, May 25
Vicky Sluiter, May 26
Blossoms and Blessings, May 26
Blogging With Carol, May 27
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, May 28 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, May 28
Cover Lover Book Review, May 29
Holly’s Book Corner, May 30
Karen Baney Reviews, May 30
To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of 1 set of beautifully engraved, metal measuring spoons, 1 pouch of “Baking Day” potpourri, 1 Cat and Mouse kitchen timer, 1 vintage wooden sign with Christian encouragement message, 1 Cowboy Hat cookie cutter with recipe for Cowboy Sugar Cookies, 1 Kitchen towel that reads, “This Home is our Happily Ever After”, and 1 Kathleen Denly engraved pen!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.