Spotlight and Review: The Knotted Ring by Myra Hargrave McIlvain

BNR The Knotted Ring Blitz


I’m thrilled to be spotlighting this book today. It looks like a moving story rich in history and character.

About the book, The Knotted Ring Cover The Knotted Ring

  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Family Saga / Historical Romance
  • Publisher: Next Chapter
  • Page Count: 412
  • Publication Date: December 7, 2023
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Susannah Mobley, expecting a baby by her lover, a slave owned by her family, submits to an arranged marriage to Hezekiah James who is headed to Texas to claim a Spanish land grant. Caught in a series of lies about the origin of a beautiful ring woven from her red hair and the circumstances of her pregnancy, Susannah embarks on the harsh trip to Texas, grieving for her lost love and determined to control her destiny.

On the wagon train journey, Hezekiah is tested by his beliefs and strengths with his slaves and Native Americans, as well as a strange Mad Stone. His determination to build a plantation as fine as Susannah’s home place and to make the best decisions for Susannah fails. Susannah will have to decide if she can live with the consequences of her lies and open herself to this man who shows every form of contrition or if she will allow longing for what she cannot have to destroy her life.

The Knotted Ring is currently a semi-finalist in the Laramie Awards for Western and Americana Fiction.

Praise for this book:

“An often engrossing and well-handled story of the 19th century.” —Kirkus Reviews

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Myra Hargrave McIlvain Author Photo McIlvain

Myra Hargrave McIlvain, a sixth-generation Texan, is a storyteller who has written Texas historical markers (yes, real people write those things lining Texas highways), articles for newspapers and magazines such as Texas Highways, and six nonfiction books about famous and infamous Texas characters and places.

McIlvain found her real love when she wrote her first historical fiction. All her tales take place in Texas during major periods of its history. However, The Knotted Ring was inspired by an old family story, and in her search to understand what may have happened, she imagined their lives set in a time that she knew well––the establishment of the first Anglo colony.

McIlvain views history as the story of a people; the people she knows best have made Texas home.

Connect with Myra:

Website | FacebookX (Twitter) | Amazon | Goodreads




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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

There are some books that you race through, and there are others that are better experienced as a slow simmer, taking time to truly savor the emotional truths and excellent research the author wrote into it. The Knotted Ring, by Myra Hargrave McIlvain is definitely one of the latter.

This story focuses on Susannah – her forbidden love, her struggle in the confines of a period in time where women didn’t have a lot of choice, and the trials and tribulations that come with life on the frontier. She’s a strong woman living in nearly impossible conditions, and I enjoyed meeting her, though I also felt for her situation.

This author is obviously highly skilled at her craft, because even though this novel abounds with lies and lawlessness and the hardship of a journey in less-than-ideal conditions, its heart is the often-strained, but still deep, relationship of a woman and man. The weaving in of Texas history felt organic and not overly expositional, and the plot moved at an acceptable pace.

Some novels are quick cups of soup – flavorful, but not necessarily sustaining. The Knotted Ring is a rich stew or Texas chili. Rich, hearty, and not without a little bit of bite in the form of social conventions and physical hardships. Ladle this novel into your reading bowl and immerse yourself in the storytelling. You won’t be sorry.

Goes well with: Chili made with brisket – no beans – and seasoned with “cowboy coffee.”




1st Prize: Autographed hardcover & tote bag; 2nd Prize: Autographed paperback + candle; 3rd Prize: Autographed paperback
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 02/29/24

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Schuyler’s Monster by Robert Rummel-Hudson

Schuyler's Monster Schuyler’s Monster
by Robert Rummel-Hudson
Get it at Amazon.

Sometime in late 2006 or early 2007, I stumbled across the blog of one Robert Rummel-Hudson, and quickly became engaged. His writing style is upbeat and candid. He’s funny, but isn’t shy about using the word “fuck” when it’s appropriate, and he’s clearly completely devoted to his young daughter, Schuyler. At the time I first “met” his words, he’d just sold his book, and was beginning the long path to publication. When I re-encountered his work about a week ago, sparked by watching Autism: the Musical on HBO, I found that not only had the book been released, but I’d missed the signing in my local bookstore. (We both live in the same metro area, but my end of it is a good hour or so from his end.)

I was disappointed, but vowed to buy the book anyway. That weekend at Borders, among all the new non-fiction about romance, modern philosophy, and diet pills, I saw the book, Schuyler’s Monster, and it was even an autographed copy. I grabbed it, stopped at Jamba Juice, and headed home to read the entire book in one sitting.

I’m not a parent, nor am I particularly interested in children, and I’m generally one to avoid disabled-kid stories like the plague because they tend to be over emotional and / or horribly fluffy. Schuyler’s Monster is neither. Rather, it’s a love story from a less-than-perfect (and therfore more than perfect) father to his (in his word) “broken” daughter.

Why broken? Because Schuyler, for all she’s a bright and mischievous child, has a neurological disorder that not only compromises her fine motor skills, but also makes her unable to form intelligible speech.

The book is as much about Rob’s reaction to his daughter’s disability, and their journey toward helping her work around it as it is an ode to playful and loving father-daughter relationships. Who wouldn’t want a dad who let you watch monster movies, even if you were really too young? I know I would.

This book was moving, yes, but it’s also funny, sweet, nostalgic, and triumphant. Like Rob’s blog, it’s upbeat and blunt. Unlike Rob’s blog, the word “fuck” isn’t used terribly often, if at all. (I should note, I don’t judge blogs by whether or not people curse. I just believe that if “fuck” is the most appropriate expression of frustration, joy, whatever, cheating on it’s use is, well, cheating. I don’t believe people should ever be afraid of language.)

(And actually he doesn’t use it that often in his blog, either).

Seriously, though, it’s a great book. You should read it for the writing alone, even if you don’t like disbled-kid stories, either.