C17 HF Spotlight: “Letters to Kezia” by Peni Jo Renner

I’ve known Peni Jo Renner for several years now (as the 17th-century was such a niche market for a while); so it is with pleasure that I welcome her to The Seventeenth Century Lady to discuss her latest 17th-century historical fiction book, Letters to Kezia!

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After reading my first novel, Puritan Witch; The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, most of my readers wanted to know what happened to Rebecca’s son, Daniel. Naturally, I considered writing from Daniel’s POV, but a male perspective can be difficult for me, so I decided to make Mary Case the main character instead.

She’s your typical Puritan minister’s dutiful daughter, resigned to a predictable fate of marrying her father’s assistant minister, although the pair obviously have no true interest in each other. And then she becomes smitten by none other than Daniel Eames as he stands locked in the pillory for thievery. While bringing him his meager rations as he sits in the small Hereford jail, he charms her further. Completely enamored, she helps him escape and sets into motion a chain of events that brings about the conception of her daughter Kezia.

The story is narrated at times by snippets of letters Mary writes to her daughter, who never knew her natural father. Characters from Puritan Witch make their return—not the least of which is Riff, the epitome of undying devotion.

The novel is populated by many real-life characters but also fortified by completely fictional ones, like the good-hearted Absalom Hart. His sorrow-filled past will be revealed in the third book of the series, tentatively titled Cocheco; Raid on Dover.

It is 1693 in Hereford, Connecticut, when Mary Case, the spinster daughter of a Puritan minister, finds herself hopelessly smitten by the roguish thief, Daniel Eames. Betrothed to a man she does not like or love, she is soon compelled to help Daniel escape from jail. Suddenly, she finds herself on the run, not only accused of being Daniel’s accomplice, but also of murder.

The fugitive pair soon finds solace-and a mutual attraction-among the escapee’s Algonquin friends until two men from Daniel’s dark past hunt them down. After Mary is captured and returned home to await trial, a tragedy takes the life of her younger sister, revealing a dark secret Mary’s father has kept for months. But just as Mary learns she is pregnant, she makes a horrifying discovery about Daniel that changes everything and prompts her to develop an unlikely bond with his mother, Rebecca, who soon saves Mary from a shocking fate. It is not until years later that her daughter, Kezia, finally learns the truth about her biological father and family.

Letters to Kezia shares a courageous woman’s journey through a Puritan life and beyond as she struggles with adversity and betrayal, and discovers that loyalty can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

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PENI JO RENNER is the author of the IPPY award-winning novel, Puritan Witch: the Redemption of Rebecca Eames.

Originally from North Dakota, Peni now lives with her husband in Maryland where she is currently researching for the third book in the Puritan Chronicles series.

You can visit her website:
www.thepuritanchronicles.com

 

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