Sycamores and History

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Highlighting Historical Romance with Jessica James on history, generations, and stately old trees.

Lacewood is really a labor of love that combines a great deal of research I did for my other Civil War novels with a tiny tidbit of my own background and history.

To back up a little, the title Lacewood came about after looking up the history behind sycamore trees, those trees with snowy white limbs and mottled gray, brown, cream bark at the bottom. After learning the part these trees played in America’s history, I began to picture an old, abandoned mansion with stately sycamores in front of it—and thus Lacewood was born.

So where is my own background in this? Number one, I’m a tree hugger—or more accurately, a tree toucher, meaning, that when I see a grand, old tree, I have to touch it. I have to put my palm on the bark, close my eyes, and let its energy, its history, soak into me.

 Author's Blog Highlighting History

Author Jessica James planted a sycamore tree in her front yard to mark the occasion of publishing Lacewood.

Number two, after searching for years for a property that was secluded enough, I bought a 200-year-old house. After tracing the ownership back to its original days, I discovered it was owned by a Revolutionary War captain, whose family was among the original founders of the town of Gettysburg and surrounding county.

Many years later, while visiting a local cemetery, I noticed the last name of the former owner listed as a middle name of one of my ancestors. I soon learned that my grandmother’s kin married this man’s kin so that this wonderful house that took me so long to find, belonged to someone in my own past.

A random chance? Or grand design?

That’s when I began to really think about the people who make up our history…real people with hopes and dreams, laughter and tears. We’re all connected in some way…the past is never far away from our present.

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About the Book

Sometimes love is too powerful for one lifetime…

Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.

MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.

Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story, Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.

As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the shadows for centuries is fulfilled.


Turning in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace with an ornately carved hearth. Her attention was immediately drawn to a painting of a woman in nineteenth century dress that hung prominently over the mantel.

“Who is she?”

The sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history kind of got lost with the house. Everyone around here calls her the Widow of Lacewood.”

Katie stood spellbound. The woman was clothed completely in black, but the magnificence of the gown gave the impression of sophistication and class. Her chin was slightly elevated as if to project strength, yet there was more than a hint of sorrow and pain in her eyes.

“She looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could she be a widow?”

The sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried.”

Katie’s heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a way, that’s why she was here.

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About the Author

Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to modern day.

She is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.

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Caroline Warfield, Author

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