Thursday, November 5, 2020

Book Review: The Red Ribbon

My daughter recently had to make up a board game to earn a badge for American Heritage Girls.  She wanted help thinking of ideas, so I told her, "Pick a scenario."  She said, "I like survival," and that was enough to get her going on creating a game about survival while traversing the Appalachian mountains.  I thought that was an interesting choice since the only part of the Appalachians we've been to is the Great Smokey Mountains of east Tennessee.  I would love to go see more of the mountain ridge, including the Blue Ridge mountains where this next book is set.

The Red Ribbon is the fictional story of a couple who live during the time of a terrible courthouse massacre in Carroll County, Virginia.  We learn about the (true) events of this event that hit the national news in 1912 and we are also immersed in the lives of a fictional couple who are "there" at the same time.

I like the main characters, Ava and Jeremiah, and I like many of the secondary characters as well.  Just like with all good books, the characters are multi-layered and storied.  Ava's past makes her fearful of having a future with Jeremiah and she must come to terms with that - which she does so beautifully with the help of Jeremiah and her Granny Burcham.  Jeremiah has his own doubts at first, but he overcomes them quickly and begins to woo Ava.

There are a lot of great quotes in this book that are applicable to many situations (some especially now!).

"If you want to make a real difference, then find a way.  Make the difference."

"If you're gonna change the world around you, make sure you're not the one changing to fit."

"Had God given her those memories, those people, to reveal His presence in scenes from her childhood? Her adulthood?"

"Fear don't speak truth, never has.  You'd be wise to not heed it."

"If the Good Book says all this, why don't more people believe it?"  "That's a great question for sure, and I can only say that most folks believe exactly what they want to believe, whether it's true or not.  Makes it easier on fragile sensibilities and bigheaded pride."  She winked.  "Which means you got the choice too, don't you?  Hold on to truth or ride the wind of fear?"

"Truth douses fear, Ava.  Truth and perfect love.  The only way to keep your heart and head" -- Granny touched Ava's forehead -- "in the proper place, is to know both."

No wonder the refrain of forgiveness played such a massive theme throughout scripture.  The repercussions of its absence rocked nations and severed relationships like few other things.

I marked other quotes, but that's plenty!  I have Pepper's books before and really like them.  I love this series of books that tell fictional stories set in true events of crime and suspense.

I asked to review this book and received an advanced reader copy.

About the Book

Book: The Red Ribbon

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian historical/suspense

Release Date: October, 2020

An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912

Book 8 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.


Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains where her family have lived for generations. She’s the mom of five kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at the award winning Writer’s Alley blog. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015, and the second in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuted in April 2016.


More from Pepper

Feuds, Moonshine, and Family Loyalties by Pepper Basham

My upcoming release for Barbour’s True Colors series is really close to my heart…and pretty close to my house.

The Red Ribbon, my first foray into a historical suspense novel, takes place in the county where I grew up. Carroll County, Virginia, is a county on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, not too far from Mt. Airy (Mayberry).  Nestled in the foothills and mountains of the Blue Ridge, it is a part of the Appalachian Mountains, and with that comes similar histories as other backwoods Appalachian communities: feuds, moonshine, and family loyalties.

One thing I love most about my Appalachian upbringing is the intense closeness of family – and when I say ‘family’ I mean, of course, my mom, dad, and brother, but also my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents…the whole “gang”, as my granny used to say.

The closeness of family, and the protection of the family name, is a big deal in Appalachia. There’s a lot of pride in the way your ‘name’ is thought of throughout the community, so when someone insults your name, there’s a good chance the repercussions aren’t going to be pleasant. Especially back in the early 1900s, when The Red Ribbon takes place. In fact, insulting someone by “stealing a kiss” is one of the events that leads to The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre/Tragedy.

A long-time feud between the Allen family and the “Courthouse Clan” came to a head inside the Hillsville Courthouse in March 1912 and this event resulted in the largest shootout within a courthouse in Virginia history. The story followed with a nationwide manhunt and made national news until the sinking of the Titanic the following month.

Growing up in Carroll County, I knew a few things about this story. Rumors and whispers, really. Most folks didn’t talk about it because it still caused a stir among those who were descendants (because another thing about Appalachia is that families tend to stay on or around family land for generations). People still took “sides”. So, when I decided to write this book, I knew I was stepping into precarious territory. Not that anyone would start up a shootout nowadays because of a book, but because people still have some deep feelings about how their ancestors are portrayed in history, and since many of my family members still live in Carroll County, I wanted to tread carefully into the events of “The Allen Tragedy”.

What I discovered was a story that still held a whole lot of mystery even one hundred years later. Bullet holes still mark the courthouse steps from that fateful day, rumors still circulate about who was to blame, and no one knows who fired the first gunshot that began the tragic shooting.

I’m not a “scary” book writer or reader, but I love a good adventure, so this book takes the reader on an adventure into Appalachia to my neck of the woods, and follows the journey of Ava Burcham and Jeremiah Sutphin as they live among the illegal moonshiners, dirty cops, and mountain gunslingers of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

(To learn more about the true events of the Courthouse Tragedy, you can read about it here:

Have you ever read a book set in Appalachia? If so, what was the title and what did you learn about the Appalachian culture? Have you ever visited the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Let’s chat mountain people, mountain ways, and mountain books 😊

Blog Stops

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, October 29

Fiction Aficionado, October 29

deb's Book Review, October 29

Blossoms and Blessings, October 29

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 30

Texas Book-aholic, October 30

Blogging With Carol, October 30

Inklings and notions, October 31

Emily Yager, October 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 31

Hallie Reads, October 31

For Him and My Family, November 1

reviewingbooksplusmore, November 1

Christian Bookaholic, November 1

Betti Mace, November 2

Genesis 5020, November 2

For the Love of Literature, November 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , November 2

Rebecca Tews, November 3

Robin's Nest, November 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 3

Connect in Fiction, November 4

Older & Smarter?, November 4

To Everything There Is A Season, November 4

Artistic Nobody, November 4 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 5

By The Book, November 5

Remembrancy, November 5

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 6

Britt Reads Fiction, November 6

Life of Literature, November 6

Connie's History Classroom, November 7

Splashes of Joy, November 7

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 7

A Reader’s Brain, November 8

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 8

Through the Fire Blogs, November 8

Godly Book Reviews, November 8

Melissa Wardwell's Back Porch Reads, November 9

Bigreadersite, November 9

Where Faith and books Meet, November 9

Books I've Read, November 10

Just the Write Escape, November 10

Adventures of a Travelers Life, November 10

Amanda Tero, blog, November 11

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 11

Pause for Tales, November 11


To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

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  1. Thank you SO much, Ava!! I'm thrilled you enjoyed your fictional visit to the Blue Ridge but I hope you get a chance for real one some day (without manhunts and shootouts involved :-)

  2. Nice review, I am loving this series. It's fun to learn of unusual crimes in history.