The Knotted Ring by Myra Hargrave McIlvain



Historical Fiction / Family Saga / Historical Romance
Publisher: Next Chapter
Page Count: 412
Publication Date: December 7, 2023

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Susannah Mobley, expecting a baby by her lover, a slave owned by her family, submits to an arranged marriage to Hezekiah James who is headed to Texas to claim a Spanish land grant. Caught in a series of lies about the origin of a beautiful ring woven from her red hair and the circumstances of her pregnancy, Susannah embarks on the harsh trip to Texas, grieving for her lost love and determined to control her destiny.

On the wagon train journey, Hezekiah is tested by his beliefs and strengths with his slaves and Native Americans, as well as a strange Mad Stone. His determination to build a plantation as fine as Susannah’s home place and to make the best decisions for Susannah fails. Susannah will have to decide if she can live with the consequences of her lies and open herself to this man who shows every form of contrition or if she will allow longing for what she cannot have to destroy her life.

The Knotted Ring is currently a semi-finalist status
in the Laramie Awards for Western and Americana Fiction.

"An often engrossing and well-handled story of the 19th century."
--Kirkus Reviews


The Short Story: An intense look at slavery, the settlement of Texas and the longings of the human heart. 

My Review: Author McIlvain serves up a doozy of a story loosely based on the lives of her ancestors. Susanna, the pampered, harp-playing daughter of a wealthy planter, is forced to marry a man she doesn’t know. Hezekiah is ambitious but not unkind, but his dreams take them far from the genteel society of Natchitoches, Louisiana, that Susanna is accustomed to. His dreams lead them deep into the Mexican territory of Texas and the Stephen F. Austin land grants.

The journey to their new home is rife with difficulties for the newly married couple, but the greatest barrier to their future happiness is Susanna’s pregnancy by the young man she loves, a kind, intelligent but enslaved young man.

As a Texas resident, I enjoyed reading about the couples’ journey to Texas, and their attempt to forge a new life. They must battle with Native Americans, illness, the elements and each other. The author deftly draws the reader into their world with her realistic and well-researched portrayal of pioneer life.

On a deeper note, McIlvain explores the relationship between the enslaved and their White owners, from the harsh enforcement to ambivalent acceptance of the status quo. She portrays the complex issues of slavery in an unflinching and gritty manner.

At the heart of the story is a wonderful tale of love, forgiveness and personal growth as Susanna and Hezekiah test the bounds of their relationship. All in all, a great tale. I highly recommend this book to lovers of history, Texas history, life in the 19th century.

I rate this book 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stars



Myra Hargrave McIlvain, a sixth-generation Texan, is a storyteller who has written Texas historical markers (yes, real people write those things lining Texas highways), articles for newspapers and magazines such as Texas Highways, and six nonfiction books about famous and infamous Texas characters and places.

McIlvain found her real love when she wrote her first historical fiction. All her tales take place in Texas during major periods of its history. However, The Knotted Ring was inspired by an old family story, and in her search to understand what may have happened, she imagined their lives set in a time that she knew well––the establishment of the first Anglo colony.

McIlvain views history as the story of a people; the people she knows best have made Texas home.                                                                                                                                     

1st Prize: Autographed hardcover & tote bag; 2nd Prize: Autographed paperback + candle; 3rd Prize: Autographed paperback
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 02/29/24)

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  1. Terrific review! I can't wait to get my copy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I enjoyed your review and agree that Myra wove a spell-bind tale!

  3. Thanks, Jean. I am honored by your terrific review and by having The Knotted Ring featured on your blog.


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