“Surrender at Orchard Rest”, a Southern Gothic romance, chronicles the journey of Somerset Forrest, a former belle, as she struggles to accept love and give her life new meaning after her fiancé dies in the Civil War.
Despite Somerset’s resolve, she finds that there are many people in Century Grove, Alabama, still burdened with the guilt of secret tragedies committed during the War—and all of them directly affect her.
Will her love for Sawyer Russell stand the test of time?
Exclusive Interview with Somerset Forrest
Interviewed by Hope Denney, Author of “Surrender at Orchard Rest”
Hope: Hello, Somerset. We appreciate you joining us for this interview today. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Somerset: I live at Orchard Rest Plantation in Century Grove, Alabama. My parents both came from society families in Richmond, Virginia, and my mother would like that same kind of life for me. I’m the third of their five children. I was a nurse in Atlanta during the Civil War.
Hope: How did a sheltered Southern lady end up nursing during the Civil War?
Somerset: My fiancé Eric Rutherford disappeared during the Battle of the Chickamauga. His body was never found so I ran away to Georgia, where he disappeared, to look for him in hospitals and on battlefields. That was five years ago, and he’s never turned up.
Hope: Rumor has it that you’ve been linked to another handsome man.
Hope: Is there someone new in your life?
Somerset: Sawyer Russell. He’s Eric’s best friend and cousin.
Hope: What is Sawyer like? He’d have to be a special man to take Eric’s place.
Somerset: He’s as handsome as can be. He has the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen and golden brown hair streaked with blond. Sawyer is sensitive, and he puts everyone ahead of himself. He’s stayed on at Riverside, his family’s plantation, to help farm it and run the family general store.
Hope: Is it serious?
Somerset: We’re engaged to be married, but Sawyer is behaving strangely. He’s pulling away from me. I think he’s getting ready to leave me.
Hope: Can you think of a reason why?
Somerset: No, he’s been in love with me for years. Mother says if I’m not settled soon, she’ll take me home to Virginia to try to arrange a society match for me. I don’t want to be with Richmond’s most eligible bachelor—I just want Sawyer.
Hope: Your mother sounds powerful.
Somerset: She comes from an old, wealthy family, and she’s accustomed to getting her way. Mother has her own secrets though, and they’re destroying our family from the inside out.
Hope: Thank you for the interview, Somerset. We’ll have to read “Surrender at Orchard Rest” to find out what choices you make and uncover the rest of the Forrest family secrets.
Hope Denney was born and raised in Middle Tennessee. A longtime lover of Southern Gothic fiction, she has previously published numerous flash fiction pieces in The Dead Mule School of Literature. “Surrender at Orchard Rest” is her debut novel. When she isn’t dreaming up new plotlines, you will most likely find her chasing after two young children, researching genealogy, or drooling over a new cookbook.