Holding the Fort

Holding the Fort

by Regina Jennings


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Jennings Winningly Combines Humor, History, and Romance

Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she's able to make ends meet, but lately he's run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out.

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn't find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she'll take them.

When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she's mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess—they're not supposed to be so blamed pretty—but he's left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess's methods. Louisa's never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764218934
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/05/2017
Series: Fort Reno Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 385,622
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of numerous novels, including For the Record, A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. She has won a National Readers' Choice Award and been a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children and can be found online at www.reginajennings.com.

Read an Excerpt


June 1885 Wichita, Kansas

The fumes of the gaslights at the foot of the stage protected Louisa Bell from the more noxious odors of her audience. On hot nights like tonight, the scent of unwashed bodies in the Cat-Eye Saloon could be overwhelming. Braving a deep breath, Louisa delicately placed her hand against her beribboned polonaise and crescendoed her way into the next stanza. She lifted her head and sang to the rafters so she didn't have to meet the eyes of her overly interested, overly intoxicated, overly male audience. Their approval meant she had a place to live and food to eat. And while she knew that performing on stage carried certain undesirable associations, it was the only path open to her.

She held the final note while Charlie resolved the chord on the piano. The applause exploded immediately. Whistles and hoots filled the air.

"That was dandy, Lovely Lola." Slappy flopped his loose hands together in appreciation.

"Lovely Lola, will you marry me?" She didn't know his name, but the cowboy was there every summer when the cattle made it up the trail.

"You're an angel!" Rawbone cried.

Louisa might not be the youngest, most coquettish performer at the saloon, but the purity and emotion of her voice couldn't be denied. She curtsied elegantly, holding her flounced skirt to the side. Cimarron Ted held up a glass to toast her. She returned his smile as she prepared for her last song of the night. Charlie started the intro on the piano, and Louisa mentally recited her pre-song mantra.

I am Lovely Lola Bell. They will be enchanted by my performance and will love my show.

She caught movement out of the corner of her eye. It was Tim-Bob, the owner of the Cat-Eye Saloon. With his hand wrapped firmly around Persephone's white, shapely arm, he was marching through the stage curtains and onto the stage, right in the middle of Louisa's nightly performance.

"Hey, Charlie," Tim-Bob called, "cut off that music. I have an announcement to make."

The pianist wasted no time in stopping and taking a swig from his bottle. The crowd wasn't as quick to simmer down.

"Let Lovely Lola sing!" a man hollered.

"It's Saturday night! Can't have Saturday night without Lovely Lola."

Whatever was going on, Louisa wished it didn't have to happen in front of a rowdy mob. Persephone showed promise as a performer on Tuesday nights — that was Louisa's night off — but she showed more promise as Tim-Bob's next ladylove. So why was she here now?

Persephone's blond hair — Tim-Bob always preferred blondes — had been arranged to swoop dramatically over one eye. That same eye was kept carefully trained on the scarred stage floor, but there was a self-satisfied twist on her tinted lips. Louisa's stomach twisted, too, and it had nothing to do with stage fright.

Tim-Bob held up the hand that wasn't busy touching Persephone. "If y'all would settle down and listen. It's not often that an establishment is graced with two such talents as Lola Bell and Persephone, but when it is, then it owes its customers the opportunity to appreciate both."

"It's Saturday. I came to town to hear Lovely Lola!"

Through the smoke-filled room, Louisa could make out Cimarron Ted shaking a fist. Tim-Bob shaded his eyes, then dropped his hand as he recognized the complainer.

"I understand we have some old admirers of Miss Lola's, and that's just dandy, but they'll soon grow to appreciate the charms of a new face ... a younger face. I'm thinking of you, my friends, knowing how you'll thank me after you hear Persephone perform the finale tonight."

Persephone fluttered her eyelashes and smiled up at Tim-Bob. He gazed deeply into her eyes as Charlie jumped into action and played the opening notes to the song.

Louisa's song.

The audience, those traitors, barely noticed as Louisa backed away into the shadows. No one interrupted Persephone's slightly flat opening to call for Louisa's return. No one tried to stop Louisa from disappearing into the poorly lit hallway. No one except Tim-Bob.

"Lola, we need to talk." He stood next to a wall sconce. The gaslight flicked distorted shadows over his face. "Persephone's talent deserves a bigger audience, and she's young. With more experience, there's no limit to how she could develop."

Louisa pulled her cascading hair over her shoulder. Tim-Bob had said that about her at one time, but then she'd refused his advances. She'd thought her voice was enough to keep her job. Had he been looking for her replacement all this time?

"Is she taking every Saturday performance, then?" Louisa relied on her stage skills to keep her voice level — cheerful, even. "I suppose I could use the break from the daily —"

"Lola, just stop. It's best just to say this and get it over with. The Cat-Eye doesn't need two singers. Now, that doesn't mean I'm just going to dump you out on the street. You can keep your room while you find another job, or at least for a few weeks. I was a friend of your mother's, after all."

Her mother hadn't had any friends. Not in the end.

"Thank you," Louisa mumbled, and her feet moved toward her room at the end of the dark hallway. She ignored his weak excuses as they faded behind her.

This couldn't be happening. What would she do? Where could she go? She fumbled blindly with her door, and when her eyes focused again, she was sitting at her vanity stand. Reaching for a cool rag, she began wiping the rouge off her cheeks.

"Come in," she answered to the knock at her door. Not because she wanted company, but because she was too stunned to refuse it.

Cimarron Ted entered, scratching at a spot of mud dried to his white beard. The metal on his gun belt jangled as he shifted his wiry frame to avoid bumping up against a satin dress hanging from the clothing rack. "I had some news for ya, but I don't figure you want to hear it right now."

Louisa's lips settled into a rare frown. "Tim-Bob is kicking me out. I don't know where I'm going to go."

Through the thin walls, she could hear the applause as Persephone sang the last of her number. The men were fickle. As long as they had some pretty entertainment to go along with their drink, it wouldn't matter much who it was. The important thing was that Louisa find another place to work. Something to keep her head above water so she didn't sink to desperate measures.

The lace on her wide neckline chaffed against her collarbone. Snapping out of her daze, she hopped up. "Here, help me out of this gown. I need to make plans." She turned her back toward the old mule driver as she considered her options.

Where else could she sing? She knew every house of entertainment in Wichita, and none were looking to hire. Finding a job outside of the smoky rooms on Douglas Avenue seemed unlikely, too. Even if her singing career hadn't tainted her, her mother's reputation had forever doomed her.

"My old fingers aren't as nimble as they used to be," Ted said. And he wasn't lying. The gown loosened slowly.

Louisa held the ribbons of the decorative front lacing in her hands, her feet tapping through her options. She'd always thought about giving voice lessons, but no respectable family in Wichita would welcome Lovely Lola into their home. If she had enough money for train fare, could she find work in another city?

"There you go," Cimarron Ted said. "If it weren't for you being like a daughter to me ..."

Louisa stepped out of her gown. From the red tint spreading up Ted's neck, she should've asked him to wait outside before stripping down to her corset cover and petticoats, but for the company Louisa kept, she was dressed as modestly as a bride.

She reached for her silk dressing gown. "I met my father, and he wasn't you." Although she'd much rather have a crusty mule skinner as a father than the wastrel that sired her. Bradley's pa wasn't any better, either. Best that they just relied on each other, as they always had.

Thinking of her brother brought a terrible suspicion to her mind.

"Ted, you said you had news for me?" Her hands shook as she hid them in her fur-lined pockets.

"Well, I thought you should know that Bradley is in trouble again. From what I've heard, he's been thrown in the guardhouse."

Louisa clutched her hands into fists. There couldn't be a worse time for him to mess up. "What's he in trouble for?"

"Nothing for you to worry about. Just a little drinking, from what I hear. I doubt it amounts to much. Major Adams is known for having a stiff collar, and Bradley's known for tomfoolery. You got troubles of your own."

This was no time for Bradley's hijinks. As bad as her situation was, at least she'd been assured that her younger brother was out of the rain. How could she fix him when she didn't know what to do herself?

"I'll go see him." The decision was made even as she spoke. "I need a job, and maybe they're hiring at the fort. Besides, he needs to know that he'd best walk the straight and narrow, because I can't help him right now."

"Pardon me for saying it, ma'am, but you ain't going to Fort Reno. There's nothing there but a passel of ornery cavalrymen and some irate Indians. There's no way you can help Bradley while he's under Major Adams. You've done all you can for the boy."

But even as he was talking, a plan was forming.

As long as she'd been in Wichita, Kansas, Louisa had never known the Cat-Eye Saloon to send performers on a tour, but with that many men in one place, there had to be a need for diversions. She didn't know if the officers at Fort Reno would allow it, but it was worth a try. If only she could convince the U.S. Cavalry that their troopers would benefit from some wholesome entertainment. Or halfway wholesome entertainment, at least.

Even if she wasn't a respectable lady, Louisa had her standards. No drinking, no carousing, and no fraternizing with the customers — even if all the women in town assumed she did. Even if such behavior would make her as popular as Persephone.

"Where is Fort Reno, exactly?" Hangers skidded across the clothing rack as she examined her wardrobe. She might have to fight Tim-Bob for them, but she'd sewn most of these costumes herself. They were the only gowns she owned.

"It's in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation, due south of here, but maybe you should write your brother and have a look-see over what to do next. I'd be sorrowed if you went all that way only to have to come back."

But she had to go somewhere. There was nothing in Wichita for her. She'd collect her last pay from Tim-Bob, pack her bags, and go see her only blood kin in the world.

It sounded like he might be in as much trouble as she was.

Darlington Agency Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation, Indian Territory

A line of sweat ran down Major Daniel Adams's back as the gate opened and a cow stumbled out of the chute. His horse's ears twitched, and the animal shifted beneath him as war whoops rose around the corral. Daniel stroked the neck of his horse to calm it. With no buffalo left to hunt, the Cheyenne men looked forward to some fun before the women came in to butcher the animals. Better the livestock catch their arrows than his troopers. The cow blinked at the wide-open prairie before it and then, to the delight of the braves, took off with hooves flying.

Mondays were distribution day at the agency. The women left their tepees at the river's edge to come to the agency for their weekly rations, and the men looked forward to finding sport with the poor cattle each family received — a rowdy practice that Daniel would rather not allow, but with the growing tension, it was best to let them have their fun. Another perceived attack on their way of life, and the Cheyenne might want to revive some of their other traditions — traditions that were better off forgotten. Daniel looked over his young troopers with a protective eye. Right now, he didn't have the numbers to defend the fort and agency both. He needed every man. Even men like Bradley Willis.

Daniel himself had written the report, and he had to admit it contained an impressive list of accomplishments for an intoxicated man — improper discharge of a firearm, insubordination to his superiors, and endangering the troopers and property of the U.S. Cavalry. Not that Private Willis wasn't capable of jumping his horse over the cannons, but he'd been standing in the saddle and shooting at the lanterns when he'd done it. And when Daniel had ordered an end to his merriment, it took four men to subdue him.

Or one bullet. Act like a fool in front of the wrong man, and Private Willis's life wasn't worth a gopher hole. In fact, he might have a better future in a gopher hole if he didn't straighten up.

But since being released from the guardhouse, Private Willis had been on his best behavior. Currently he was manning the door of the agency's brick commissary store. Using rudimentary sign language, he motioned an Arapaho woman back to her place in the line, even though her Cheyenne sisters were bunching together, refusing her entry.

Daniel urged his horse away from the stock pen and toward the dispute. Private Willis paused in his communication with the women at Daniel's approach and saluted.

"Sir, I want to thank you for returning me to duty. That guardhouse is no place to rot on a day like this." The young man's eyes were level and quick. While others seemed to be wilting in the heat, he looked as cool as the springhouse.

The U.S. Army needed men like Bradley Willis. Men who were brave, fearless, and — to be honest — just a little reckless. Sometimes Daniel envied his boldness. A widower with two daughters couldn't take the risks that Willis took, but that didn't mean Daniel wasn't brave. And just because, years ago, he'd had to learn how to braid hair and play dolls didn't make him less of a man, either.

"You'd still be there, were we not shorthanded," Daniel said.

"I appreciate you giving me another chance, sir."

"Don't mess up again. Your antics put your fellow troopers in danger."

Willis's eyebrow rose a fraction of an inch. That movement was a challenge, and Daniel didn't walk away from those.

Speaking with a patience he didn't really possess, Daniel said, "Those lanterns exploded when you shot them. Someone could've been hit by flying glass."

"I reckon," Willis allowed.

"Or a stray bullet could've killed someone, had you missed."

Willis squirmed. "No, sir. That's not likely."

Daniel's hand tightened on the reins. "Are you contradicting me, Private?"

Willis seemed to realize his mistake. "No, sir. Upon reflection, I allow it is possible that under the influence of strong drink, because of the extreme angle I had from standing in the saddle, and on account of the amazing speed my horse was traveling, that I could have missed my shot."

Evidently the guardhouse hadn't taught him enough. "You have sentry duty for the second watch every night this week as further punishment," Daniel said. "I'll notify whoever is on watch with you that you are not to leave their sight."

That took some of the sass out of him. "Yes, sir," he replied.

"And you are not allowed in a saddle on the campgrounds.

When you reach the boundaries of the post, you will dismount and walk your horse to the stable unless drilling with your company."

Judging from Willis's grimace, that was the punishment that hurt. At least it was the one that would have bothered Daniel the most.

"Yes, sir," Willis finally said.

"You have many talents, Private. Keep your nose clean, and you might —"

"Major Adams!" Sergeant O'Hare appeared from nowhere, holding out his field glasses in shaking hands. "Over there, past the corral."

Daniel didn't need O'Hare's panic to understand the urgency. Leaving Willis behind, he took the glasses, spurred his horse, and galloped to the edge of the settlement, narrowly missing the latest bovine victim.

The calls reaching him were not the war cries of the braves or hurrahs of his troopers. These voices were higher, feminine.

"Pa! Pa!" The strong voice of Daniel's eldest daughter carried across the prairie. "Tell Daisy to give it to me!"

He jerked the field glasses to his face with enough force to blacken his eyes. The two girls streaked toward him, their horses leaping over piles of cattle bones and avoiding the mangy dogs that scattered as they approached town. In front was the youngest, Daisy, who'd been playing Indian again. Her long braids whipped in the wind, the hawk feathers she'd woven in barely hanging on. Her feet were covered in high-lacing moccasins.


Excerpted from "Holding the Fort"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Regina Jennings.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Holding the Fort 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Anonymous 27 days ago
Enjoyable story with a relateable cast of characters and an interesting plot. Will look for more by this author. pbn
Michaela Weidinger More than 1 year ago
With summer right around the corner, I needed a lighthearted read to match that sunny feeling in my soul. Holding the Fort was the exact book I was searching for! Spunky, fun, and downright giggly, Regina Jennings’ latest novel had me in stitches. When former dance hall singer Louisa Bell arrives in the Indian Territory looking for her brother, she never expected to be mistaken as a governess. A well-mannered, and well-read governess at that. But in need of a job while her dearly beloved brother sits in jail for shenanigans he may or may not have pulled, Louisa doesn’t offer clarity to her mistaken identity. Besides, if she can calm a crowd of drunken ruffians with only a song, how hard could it be to corral two young girls? Holding the Fort will leave you turning pages long into the night as Louisa navigates rowdy troops, endearing students, and a handsome Major who is way too keen for his own good. Get ready to be giggling for hours with this latest, sweet story! And let me know what you think once you’ve read it! I was graciously provided a free copy of this novel from Regina Jennings and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.
CaraPutman More than 1 year ago
Regina’s novels always have such fun characters and a sense of humor that is delightful. This one has that, but so much more. There’s a heroine who’s trapped between her past, and what she hopes her future will be. A hero who wants to be more than he is and who is tied to a formal status due to his rank in the US Army. The conflict and challenges between them are real…and humorous. And the possibility of love is sweet…and tangled. For those who love westerns filled with romance and set in fun locations, this book is a fantastic read!
swimreadbreathe4JC More than 1 year ago
Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings is the first book in a new series set at Fort Reno in Indian Territory, late 1800s. Louisa Bell just got fired from her job singing at a saloon in Kansas, and is trying to make herself some money and find her brother. In doing so, she accidentally lands herself a job as a governess for Major Adams' two daughters. Major Adams, after losing his wife, needs help raid his two girls at a military fort in Indian Territory. He has no idea how to turn his daughters into proper young ladies and while he has his reservations about Ms. Bell, he is just glad to have the assistance. There are certain reasons I enjoy Regina Jennings' novels: the historical western setting, the laugh-out-loud humor, the likable characters, and the unique romances. This novel only had the historical western setting. I found this book really hard to get into, the plot slow-moving, the characters unlikable, and the dialogue and quirkiness usually found in Jennings' novels missing. I was disappointed in how long Louisa kept up her deception (over 90% of the book), and felt that the romance between her and the major was not believable. They had virtually no chemistry and the only reason that they seemed to get together was their common love for the Major's daughters. The only redeeming quality of the book for me was the message of salvation woven into it, but even that seemed out of place in the midst of how disappointed I was in the rest of the book. I would recommend Karen Witemeyer's Head in the Clouds over this book if you're looking to find a Christian historical western about a governess who falls in love with the child's father. Thank you to Net Galley and Bethany House publishers for providing me with an electronic copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.
rkfall More than 1 year ago
Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings was a pleasant and delightful read! It had action, a great plot, romance, and it had twists and turns that kept me reading. It was funny sometimes and intense other times. The redemption of this brother and sister was inspiring! We can’t always control our upbringing but it doesn’t have to define who we CAN be for the future. There can be value, purpose, and love found in the unexpected places. Another great one by Regina Jennings! I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
RobinWillson More than 1 year ago
Sweet Christian Historical Romance that leaves you waiting for the next book. Endearing characters. I loved Louisa, who excelled as a singer but was not working in the best of places. When she hears that her brother is in trouble, she heads out to help him, stumbling on an opportunity that goes from misunderstanding to wonderful. Set at Historic Fort Reno, where an actual Cheyenne uprising did happen. Major Daniel Adams is known for having a stiff collar, but he soon finds himself grateful that Louisa is the governess to his two girls, although he can’t quite put his finger on what isn’t right about her. The girls begin to love and learn from Louisa, making it less likely that his mother-in-law will be able to take them away from him. For Louisa it’s a fabulous place to live where she can keep an eye on her brother and it opens a possibility for a new – more respectable – profession. Skillfully written and entertaining (as usual from Regina Jennings), leaving you holding your breath and cheering for Louisa all the way through. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Bethany House Publishers - Netgalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
SeasonsofGrace More than 1 year ago
This book was very entertaining! I enjoy Regina's sense of humor and have always loved her books. In this book the main character, Louisa, ends up pretending to be a governess, completely by chance. She is a great performer, musically anyhow, but this performance is certainly a test she feels she must pass. She has always wanted a different life, after spending the majority of hers as a dance hall singer. Although she has not stooped low enough to singe her reputation, a dance hall singer's reputation is compromised simply by being who she is. Although she is not what Major Adams expected from a governess and her teaching abilities a bit unconventional, he finds himself drawn to her. The romance itself is interesting to watch as it develops. The characters well defined in their roles. I felt a bit sorry for Louisa's reckless brother who seemed to often find himself in a heap of trouble and yet he was every bit as heroic as the Major himself. I was impressed with the faith aspect woven through the story, as Louisa, who should know God as a Mennonite teacher, finds herself with all kinds of questions about Him and wonders if she could ever be worthy of his love. Regina did an awesome job! A big thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a complimentary copy for me to read. I was not asked or required to review in a positive manner. All opinions are solely mine.
Digging4Pearls More than 1 year ago
Louisa Bell finds herself jobless with no place to live. As a former dance hall singer, her prospects are limited. When she learns that her Army brother is in trouble again, she determines to travel to Indian Territory to talk some sense into him before he's kicked out of the cavalry because of his antics. When she arrives, she had no intention of deceiving her brother's commanding officer, but when she's mistaken for someone else and it means a job, she finds herself deciding to fill in for a short time. Major Daniel Adams is struggling with the home front - or at least his two rambunctious daughters. The governess the Mennonite Society sent isn't anything like he anticipated. Her methods and ways are sometimes unorthodox, but she seems to be able to take his daughters successfully in hand, which is what he desires. As long as he can keep his heart out of the mix he won't have any problems. I found Holding the Fort to be a delightful story. I particularly enjoyed the humor that Regina brings to each of her tales. She is a master at creating a story that the reader can't put down and is sad when the book comes to an end. I give it a 5 out of 5 for happily-ever-afters. This book was provided for free and a favorable review was not required.
thedanielsr More than 1 year ago
I liked the characters and the time period it was in. I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
cdscotton More than 1 year ago
Holding the Fort is the first book in the Fort Reno series, and the first work I’ve read by Regina Jennings. It definitely won’t be the last! Ms. Jennings has written a great book with underlying themes of honesty, grace, and overcoming our pasts. It is unexpectedly humorous as well, but never at the expense of the characters. You are laughing with them and never at them. Our heroine, Louisa, is a dance hall singer with a unique upbringing. This is generally not an occupation for the protagonist in Christian fiction, and Louisa’s perception of what others think of her job is the main cause of her internal conflict. Louisa is a great character. She’s fun, smart, and resourceful. Louisa does spend most of the book embroiled in deception, though she never feels at ease with it, and that makes her more sympathetic. Daniel, an Army major, is the hero, and he’s trying to raise two daughters while in charge of Fort Reno, which is in Indian Territory. He’s quick to realize something isn’t quite right with the story that Louisa is telling him, but she is able to connect with his daughters. Because of this, he’s willing to overlook the inconsistencies in Louisa’s story. Ms. Jennings’ writing brings the characters to life and the setting is perfectly realized. I really did feel I was in the Indian Territory! Holding the Fort’s themes, including overcoming your past through grace, never feel preachy or out of place, and are one of the best parts of this book. One part of the story that impacted my enjoyment of the book is that Louisa and Daniel make a lot of assumptions about each other in the beginning, and indeed almost to the end. The manner in which the truth about Louisa is revealed to Daniel disappointed me. Despite the above, I do believe in the HEA and the development of the relationship. I’m hoping that Louisa and Daniel reappear in the other books in the Fort Reno series. I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to readers who enjoy unusual settings, well-developed characters, and a lovely and sweet romance. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House. All opinions are my own.**
wfnren More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book!!! Love this book, of course I haven't found any of Regina's books that I don't love. Miss Bell has a strong will and can put on a good act, but is it good enough? Will she be able to convince everyone, mainly Major Adams, she is a governess/teacher? She does a good job of hiding who she is and what she is and who know that knowing how to play a good game of chess could actually change your life around. Oh, and wait until you read about how they actually met!!! Yep, you better grab a copy of this winning book! I don't know when the next book in the series is coming or the title, but it can't be written and released soon enough for me.
vics49548 More than 1 year ago
A fun plot, author Regina Jennings did a good job of showing us life on a fort in the 1800s. The story started out slow for me, but it picked up a few chapters in, and I enjoyed the characters. From drama to laughing, this book was entertaining. I thought Louisa’s ability to teach was a bit polished for someone who wasn’t a teacher but it wasn’t bad. The romance that blossomed was sweet and clean. If you’re looking for light reading, with humor and history thrown together, then you’ll enjoy Holding the Fort. I look forward to reading book 2. I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
Emme_Faith_Church More than 1 year ago
It was a good engaging book. The characters were interesting…and I thought it was neat. One thing I liked…was the tension. I felt that Regina Jennings uses her tension well. You wonder if her main girl is going to finally tell the secret {which remains a secret }. One thing I didn’t like as much was the cheesiness of the romance. It just seemed a little silly. All the ‘she looked like an angel to him’ stuff felt a bit cliche. There were some fun, humorous moments, and I thought the inclusion of chess throughout the book made for a good ‘special moment’. Although to me, the main character being deceptive for so long felt awful. I was just hoping she’d tell. But she didn’t. It drove me a little insane. But that’s tension for ya, you know? Also, in the same vein with the humor– are the awkward moments. I love these moments in books. They are one of the things I live for {being such an awkward person myself!}. So anyway…that’s all I got to say.
ONorman0 More than 1 year ago
Loved reading this first book in a new series. The characters pulled me right into the story and made me feel like I was there in Fort Reno. I especially loved the ending but won't give that away. Looking forward to more in this series.
benhli38 More than 1 year ago
I love history as well as westerns. But when an author like Regina Jennings melds history, westerns, and romance together--anything can go. And boy does this book go. Allow me to explain tis point and where I'm about to go. From the beginning of the book I was hooked by Regina's writing and her style. She starts off with, "The fumes of the gaslights at the foot of the stage protected Louisa Bell from the most noxious odors of her audience." And that's the only text of the book you'll get from me. Over the next three hundred fifty-one pages of reading delight you are taken on this wonderful journey Louisa is on. I won't give the full account of the story but there is a great deal of humor in the writing. From scenes in Wichita, Kansas to Fort Reno Louisa is doing her best to keep not just her guard up, but in how others see her. Overall, I consider it a light-hearted and a light-feel book. Yes, there are surprises as there is romance. Regina does a good job, I believe, in talking about events that happened, such as negotiations between civilians and natives in "Unassigned Lands." These unassigned lands are what we now consider as the state of Oklahoma. What isn't mentioned in the book, since the year it's set in is 1885, is that these lands--the unassigned lands--were ceded to the United States by Creek and Seminole Indians. However, what is spoken of are the relations between cowboys, soldiers and buffalo soldiers, the Cheyenne and the Arapaho, as well as the Mennonite people within the Fort Reno area. It's the area between the Darlington agency and Fort Reno. Jennings does a wonderful, to be honest, a superb job of creating a fictional story around the activities of Scout Ben Clark, General Phil Sheridan, Agent Dyer, and Cheyenne leader Stone Calf. It's a tale of love, trouble, heroism, adventure, and finding oneself that I find captivating. I was able to read the book in one night due to the fact I truly enjoyed Regina Jennings's writing. Her writing is fresh, superb, and I dare add touching and sentimental. It can easily strike a chord with readers who love history, westerns, and romance. Even if you're not a romance buff, like some people, it's still a great read. Regina Jennings, on her website, has eight books listed, and as far as I can tell is doing wonderfully in her writing as an established author. She has won the National Readers' Choice Award and was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Her numerous books have garnered well-received and favorable praise due to her writing ability. And now there's my voice to consider when it comes to fictitious historical/western/romance. I would say of her writing overall, from this one book, is that she is a breath of fresh air in a genre : western, that is fighting hard to keep from totally disappearing. In my honest opinion and feedback on the book, I'd call her a female version of Louis L'Amour, whose books I have read and enjoyed. If it's any indication, I would say grab several copies of her books and see if what I'm saying doesn't hold true. I received a complimentary book from Bethany House for my honest opinion to review and give honest feedback on.
Ronya More than 1 year ago
Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings is the first book in her new The Fort Reno Series. This book is set in the late 1800s. Although it starts in Witchita, Kansas, most of the book is set in Indian territory – what is today, Fort Reno, Oklahoma. This is a fictional story set amidst real life history. From page one, Jennings’ characters arrest your attention and your heart. In the 1880s world of this story, Louisa (Lovely Lola) Bell, is a character that proper ladies and gentlemen would steer clear of. However, we can’t help but hope that she will become one of those favored few who are able to rise above her situation and succeed. Major Daniel Adams balances military structure with love of God and family in a way that encourages us to strive for a good balance of the same in our lives. The antics of the major’s daughters stir a desire to share their energy, as well as their awe and desire to learn of the world around them. Jennings does a wonderful job of introducing us to other characters in her story so that we are ready to learn more in the books that follow in this series. I love the humor (it had me laughing out loud so much that I was getting funny looks from my family). There are also wonderful sweet and tender moments, instances that catch you off guard and occasions that exasperate you. This book is full of emotion and fun. And in my opinion, a book is not complete without an element of faith. Jennings lightly weaves God (and the fear of Him) through the story in a way that leaves you wanting more. I highly recommend this book to lovers of fiction, history, comedy and romance…to those who enjoy military books, books of second chances, books with families and books about beating all odds. Pick it up. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did!
BrendaLee More than 1 year ago
Holding the Fort kept my interest right from the start. Louisa, a dance hall singer only worked in this place because that’s all she knew. Losing her job she ends up where her brother is stationed at a Fort trying to pose as a governess. Oh my the story gets really interesting. And then a little comical at times. Especially when the commanding officer does something a little crazy. I like reading about the military, the western forts and the history of the Indian Territory. There was tension between the Indians and the military men that I always enjoy. A sweet romance added and a little spirituality in the mix and you have a great book that is very enjoyable. Regina Jennings book’s are always a delight to read. If you like historical fiction you will enjoy this book! I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.
LifeofLiterature More than 1 year ago
Regina Jennings has yet again written a spunky, quirky heroine opposite a dashing, albeit sometimes clumsy, hero. There are laugh out loud moments and more serious romance sprinkled among historical events and plot twists. I did not love Louisa as much as I think I was meant to, but I did enjoy Daniel greatly. It was fun to read their interactions and Daniel’s hilarious attempt to figure out Louisa’s plans. I enjoyed this story and look forward to more books in this series! I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers/Regina Jennings in exchange for an honest review.
LisetteRue More than 1 year ago
Louisa Bell has ‘uncommon talent,’ and the first time Major Daniel Adams hears her voice, he’s done something ridiculous and has a head wound. Louisa has traveled to Fort Reno because her brother has run afoul of his commanding officer (ahem, Major Adams) for hijinks performed. She’s just lost her job as a dance hall singer, so she is hoping for work and is surprised when she’s mistaken for a governess to Major Adams’ two daughters. Desperate for a position and with nowhere else to go, she works hard to keep up the façade. But Louisa is not whom Daniel was expecting. She is fair of face and younger than he; he was expecting an old widow. Instead, he has a governess whom he finds too attractive. The chemistry is there, but how can Louisa express her true feelings for Daniel with her background and deceit? This charming novel is the first in a new series. While nothing overly surprised me as the story unfolded, I still found it to be multi-layered with likable protagonists in a dusty, character-driven setting. There’s a lack of cavalry when an uprising seems imminent, a mother-in-law who’s rather like a monster-in-law, secrets and deception. There’s also strong faith and faith absent. Louisa asks some questions, gets some answers and wants to embrace faith and gain a respectable future, but she carries so much shame. She doesn’t understand God’s love for her and feels she’s so undeserving of Him that He could therefore never accept her as His child. It is heartening to see her progress and, yes, struggle through the story to reach Him. This novel is smartly written and is an enjoyable tale that’s easy to enjoy if you’re a fan of the author and/or genre. -- Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are expressly my own.
Pooke More than 1 year ago
The Performance of her Life! “I am Lovely Lola Bell. They will be enchanted by my performance and love my show.” Each time Lola walks out to sing on the stage of the Cat-Eye Saloon, she says this under her breathe. Little does she know her career is about to end, and the biggest, along with the most dangerous role of her life is about to begin. After being abruptly replaced at the Cat-Eye, Lola is desperate to make money. Unfortunately, 1885 Wichita offers no other place for a dance hall girl to work who refuses to do anything immoral. With nowhere else to turn, and using what little money she has, she sets out for Fort Reno. That is where her younger brother, Bradley is stationed with the U. S. Calvary. He is her only relative, as well as, a life-long trouble maker. Bradley has often written to complain about the unfair treatment he receives from Major Daniel Adams, the commander of the fort. Perhaps she can convince the major to go easier on Bradley. Through a comedy of errors, Lola finds herself mistaken for the governess to the daughters of Major Daniel Adams--the same man that has been giving her brother such a hard time. With the hope that Lola with be able to help Bradley, she decides to pretend to be the governess. Amazingly, Lola likes this new “character” she is playing, and really enjoys being treated as a proper lady instead of a dance hall girl. However, she must stay up nights trying to study so she can stay ahead of her “students” education-wise. This tale has lots of twists and turns, as Lola’s on-stage experience inspires her to try acting out a real-life role. But lies can start unraveling, no matter how often she chants to herself, "I am the lovely Lola Bell...." Now that Lola has begun a relationship with God, what will she do? How can she go on pretending to be someone she isn’t? Will everyone reject her when her true identity is discovered, especially the Major? Since this job was her only source of money, and the fort is located in the middle of nowhere, what will she do to take care of herself? This is a great tale, well-written with characters and a story-line that are easy to relate to—who hasn’t been mistaken for somebody else? What would happen if you didn’t correct them? Read this book and find out a possible answer, while enjoying the bits of humor and irony thrown in along the way. I highly recommend this non-offensive 5-star book. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of Holding the Fort through Bethany House Publishing for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
The plot was normally what you would expect in this type of novel. What I really loved about this book was the comedy throughout. I wasn’t really expecting some laughs. It made the book stand out and an enjoyable read. The romance within was also nicely done. There were moments where it tore you up inside but at the same time makes you squeal for joy because you were cheering Daniel and Louisa on. But the ending! Oh my the ending got me all girly and squealing. I’d have to say it was one of the most beautiful endings I have read so far. But my oh my the romance in this book was excellent! The things Daniel does was enough to make you swoon. The chemistry he had with Louisa was also very well done and although there were a few frustrating moments were Louisa could just tell Daniel outright what the truth was, I guess it had to be dragged out to make the story complete (albeit not necessary. You sort of knew what was going to happen once Daniel found out the whole story.) Louisa is also very likable and her willingness to change paths is admirable and fun to read. I was hoping for two hellions for her to deal with (which the two girls were at first) but Louisa didn’t have to do much to get them to like her (which proves how likable and fun going she was.) As a non Christian reader, there are moments of the book where it gets preachy but it’s to be expected and one can gloss over those parts. It’s not extremely central to the book if you’re there to just read for the romance and the characters. I’m looking forward to reading the next few books and I hope they cover the rest of the characters at the fort. I’d love to know more about their stories and hope they find the same happiness Daniel and Louisa did. :)
jcservantslave More than 1 year ago
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED THIS BOOK!!! I can't even find the words to describe how much I loved this book! The author has created one of my favorite stories ever, here! I mean, not only did I absolutely ADORE the characters, but I fell in love with Fort Reno itself! And Louisa's attempts at teaching a subject, never having learned it herself? Priceless! And the Major! He shocked me at every turn! I mean (without giving away any spoilers), I SO thought I could see the eventual outcome from a mile away...Boy, was I wrong! I was shocked! Regina Jennings is SUCH a talented author! I mean, I knew my sister loved her books, but now I know WHY. And I wonder why it took me so long to get around to reading one! Holding the Fort is highly, HIGHLY recommended!! I can't WAIT for book 2! (Now I think I'll go sniff out some more Regina Jennings books to read!)
tmurrell2 More than 1 year ago
Louisa is a dance hall singer. When she receives a letter that her brother is in prison at the army fort, she worries about his reckless behavior. When she's fired from her job, she decides to head to the fort to save her brother from himself. Due to a huge miscommunication she's now working as a governess for two wild little girls. And their father, Daniel, is as full of secrets as she is. This was a fun book. The plot was well thought out and while predictable in its romance, it was also full of surprises and tiny twists. The characters were well written and I enjoyed the several of the secondary characters as much as the main ones. I think the romantic parts were well written for the time period and fit well with the story. I wasn't as fond of Louisa as I would have liked to be, but I think Daniel made up for it. I really liked his character. Overall, it was a fun book to read, just don't expect depth, this isn't one of those books. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House. All thoughts expressed are my own.
Librarycataloger More than 1 year ago
Holding the Fort is a book filled with history, romance and fun. Author Regina Jennings uses facts and events involving the real historic Fort Reno to tell the story of a young dance hall singer who finds herself jobless and homeless in Wichita, Kansas. Seeking help from her brother she travels to the Indian Territory but he is in the brigade at Fort Reno and unable to help her. Her next resort is to pose as a governess and what follows is a story filled with love and laughter as Louisa tries to care for the two young daughters of a major stationed at the Fort. She has no idea where to start and Major Adams is doubtful of this unusual governess but he is also desperate to keep his daughters from being taken away by his mother-in-law. As Louisa's act continues it soon becomes apparent that a bond is developing between Louisa, Caroline and Daisy and the trio's affection isn't lost on the Major. I enjoyed seeing Louisa blossom as she cared for these children and also tried to help her brother. And, even though deception was a part of her story, I couldn't keep myself from liking Louisa and hoping that she could find a home, family, respectability and love! Holding the Fort is a great story for readers who like historical Christian fiction and I look forward to the next book in The Fort Reno Series. I was given a complimentary copy by the author and Bethany House Publishers but was under no obligation to post a favorable review.
BlueJeansAndTeacups More than 1 year ago
•°o•:*:•.Very Enjoyable.•:*:• o°• Wichita, Kansas 1885 Louisa Bell, with the captivating voice, is the star performer at the Cat-Eye Saloon, until she’s not! Private Bradley Willis, her act-before-you-think little brother, is stationed at Ft. Reno in Indian Territory. Word has it he’s found trouble… again. Being desperate for work and a roof, and determined to find a way to help her brother, she heads off for the fort with as many dancehall dresses as she can manage. In her mind, soldiers must need entertainment. Along the way, she meets a kindly Mennonite woman, Mrs. Sheridan, who is also headed to the fort to become a governess to Major Daniel Adams children. However, an awful case of hay fever has changed those plans. She is distraught at not being able to deliver the chest of books she has brought for the Major. Louisa offers to take them for her. Mrs. Sheridan is grateful, and leaves her “a more serviceable blouse and skirt; so she won’t ruin her fine things traveling in a coach.” Ch. 3 “May God make your trip good and no sinning and everything good,” Louisa said. Mrs. Townsend’s eyes twinkled. “That, my dear, is the most original benediction I’ve ever received.” I absolutely loved the way Daniel and Louisa met for the first time. It is so unique I won’t spoil it here. Later, when Louisa arrives at the fort, Lt. Jack Hennessey mistakes her for the new Mennonite governess, and she decides not to correct him or reveal her relationship to Bradley Willis. Privately, she pulls him aside to describe her account of an accident befalling one of the troopers. The details send Jack into a fit of laughter he has a hard time hiding. Jack has a big heart, and often a twinkle in his eye. I hope to learn more of his story in future installments. He shows Louisa to her “quarters”; Major Adams home! She soon meets his rowdy daughters, Caroline & Daisy, who aren’t the small children she was expecting. How will she possibly be able to teach them anything? Major Adams is a no-nonsense, widower of ten years. He has worked hard to climb the ranks of the military, and he expects the same of his soldiers. When Private Willis decides to blow off steam by drinking and shooting out lanterns on the base, he throws him in the guard house. But the WAY he did it, gives him pause. Meanwhile, he’s had all he can take of his bickering daughters and decides it’s high time to bring in reinforcements. A stern, older teacher from the Mennonite community that he respects so much should make a perfect governess for his girls, and hopefully, keep his busy-body mother-in-law at bay. I enjoyed this historical, Christian romance, and recommend it to others. You can also look up on you tube, “Fort Reno Interview” where the author shot a location video in OK! (about 4 minutes).