Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy (AKA Patrice Wayne) Interviews Susanna Lambert from Dearest Love (Do You Remember)
In Vicksburg, Mississippi, visitors find old fashioned charm and grace. Antebellum homes still stand along quiet tree lined streets on the bluffs high above the Mississippi River. On the edge of town, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and casinos represent the contemporary South but downtown and in the older areas, it’s easy to envision Vicksburg during the Civil War. The battlefield still exists and can be toured.
I’ve visited Vicksburg several times and I have some personal connections to the place. My husband’s family hails from across the river, in Louisiana, but Vicksburg is still familiar country. My great-great grandfather fought at Vicksburg during the Civil War and like many of my other ancestors, he wore Confederate gray. The famous siege led to the Union victory which secured the Mississippi river for the United States and won the war on the western front. So one of my historical romances is set in Vicksburg during the siege, in 1863 and today we’re going to visit with my heroine, Susanna Lambert. The book is Dearest Love (Do You Remember) published by Evernight Publishing.
LASM: Hello and welcome. Readers would like to know more about you so let’s start with your name, please.
SL: I am Susanna Lambert, the widow of Charles Lambert. My maiden name was Lewis.
LASM: Where do you call home and where are you from?
SL: I was born and raised in Vicksburg. As my story is told, I’m still living in Vicksburg at my late husband’s family home, Magnolia Groves.
LASM: Would you describe yourself?
SL: Oh, mercy, I suppose I could. I’m a widow although I scarcely had the chance to be a wife before Charles was killed in battle. Our courtship was very short. I became caught up in the excitement of the War when it began and we married very quickly, before he went away to fight. Charles was fifteen years older than I and if the war hadn’t come, I doubt we would have ever courted or married. We had little in common, I’m afraid.
LASM: You live at a house called Magnolia Groves. Is it your house?
SL: No, I’m afraid it’s not. It did belong to my late husband but after his death, it passed to his brother, Ronald. I live here as Charles’ widow, though.
LASM: Would you call yourself a Southern Belle?
SL: (laughs nervously) I don’t know if I would. I should, I’m sure. My family is socially beneath the Lamberts. We had a nice enough house but nothing at all like this one. My father fought in the Mexican War when I was an infant and was a sutler, you know, working with supplying the Army. He came home and with a partner opened a furniture store, King and Clark’s. They sold everything from cradles to coffins or so my daddy liked to say. We weren’t poor but we weren’t at the top of high society either. We did have a few servants but I learned to cook and sew as a child. Most belles never bothered with practical arts. I went to a day school for Young Ladies. I also love to read and most don’t. They’re much more accomplished at dancing and flirting and being beautiful.
LASM: Are you beautiful, Susanna?
SL: I wouldn’t say so although Isaac – that’s Isaac Barclay, a soldier I’ve met and befriended along with his brother – seems to think I am. I’m just another pretty face with long black hair and blue eyes.
LASM: So you have a beau? Tell us how you met Isaac.
SL: Now that is a story. As Pemberton’s Confederate troops fell back, the soldiers were everywhere. Against the Lambert family’s wishes, I went out to offer water and a little kindness to the soldiers. The moment I saw Isaac, I felt as if I knew him. But you must realize, he was filthy and crawling with lice.
LASM: Oh, my. That’s not very romantic, is it?
SL: Well, it truly was in a way. He had his younger brother. Zachariah, with him. The boy had been hurt and I offered to help. Isaac was so worried and I couldn’t stand not to help.
LASM: What about the many other soldiers?
SL: I just didn’t have the same connection as I did with Isaac but I did what I could.
LASM: Since you’re a widow, how did the Lambert family feel about Isaac?
SL: Well, they didn’t know. (Blushes). I managed to sneak both brothers into my bedroom at house but it was just before the Lamberts left Vicksburg to go to their old river plantation south of town. They thought they would be safer there but I had refused to go, even before I met Isaac.
LASM: I’m curious. Why?
SL: My relationship with the Lamberts was never very close. I think they resented the fact I married Charles and then he died so soon, they felt burdened with me. The plantation house is much smaller and I couldn’t bear to share the space with so many Lamberts. I could have gone somewhere with my family too, well, at least my mother and sisters because my daddy went to war but I couldn’t bear that much togetherness. There’s some jealousy that I married well there, too.
LASM: I see. So as a widow, are you in mourning and wearing black?
SL: I was but don’t judge me because I gave it up soon after the Lamberts went south and the Barclay brothers became part of my life. My heart wasn’t in it anyway and it wasn’t practical to be draped in black from head to toe with the siege underway anyway.
LASM: So what makes your story interesting, Susanna? Why should a reader choose to read Dearest Love (Do You Remember) over another historical romance?
SL: It’s a very intense love story, if you ask me and I’m the one living it. The town is under siege, Isaac and his brother are soldiers, and there’s constant danger. The Yankees have been shelling the town relentlessly. A lot of folks that had no place to go are living in caves but that was not for me, either. I wait for Isaac to come and visit when he can and worry he’ll be hurt or get sick. I think it’ll be hard but I hope we make it through the siege and the war.
LASM: Do you have any plans for after the war? Will you stay in Vicksburg?
SL: We plan to wed and go to Isaac’s native Texas. That’s the hope and dream if we can survive this war.
LASM: Thank you for taking time for an interview!
Susanna Lambert is the heroine of Dearest Love (Do You Remember),a historical romance written under Lee Ann’s pen name, Patrice Wayne, and published as an Ebook by Evernight Publishing.
Texan Isaac Barclay thinks the South isn’t all it’s been rumored to be. There’s a definite shortage of moonlight and magnolias. He’s yet to meet any Southern Belles and he’s not sure he’ll survive the Civil War. But, when the Confederate troops fall back into the sleepy town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, he meets a beautiful widow who is as attracted to him as he is to her. As the Yankees lay siege to the troops and the city, Isaac and Susanna Lambert fall in love. When he suffers from swamp fever, it’s her tender care that keeps him alive but as he weakens, everyone including Susanna, his brother Zach, and Susanna’s maid Venus knows he’ll die without quinine. Victory seems unlikely for the Rebel soldiers but Isaac would settle for a happy ending with Susanna back home in Texas – but he has to live before it can be possible.