An Early American History Treat for Thanksgiving Day!

ThanksgivingOkay Swagger fans! It’s Thanksgiving Eve and time, not only to give our thanks here in America for the freedom and privileges we are accustomed to, but a time to learn a bit about history and the ‘what if’s’ of American culture from our co-conspirator chick and author; Jo Grafford!

Now, history to me, as proven by the plethora of new discoveries (like marking good old Chris Columbus as nothing but a wanted-christopher-columbus2pirate heathen), is a dynamic entity. What was written in history books twenty years ago is now being slated for the fable shelf! Scarey…I know. But how awesomely interesting and intriguing!!!

BreakingTiesSo today, it is with great pleasure, and excitement, that I introduce a visiting ‘Chick’ who puts the swagger into a must-read novel, giving the old ‘what-if’ question a new life in our country’s history books.

Welcome author and great friend to all ‘us chicks’, Jo Grafford, who has just published her breakout novel, Breaking Ties, an historical sassy romance about America’s lost colonists of 1587. Much of Jo’s story is based on fact! A stunning read!   

Hey, y’all. Jo here. Couldn’t resist greeting you with a bit of GRITS (Girls Raised in the South) swagger right up front. Actually, I’m a current transplant to Bavaria – compliments of Armed Forces Europe – a fabulous career move and a superlicious sightseeing and shopping opportunity. Still, it’s a lo-o-ong way from home for a Georgia gal.

I’m sure Rose Payne felt the same way when she sailed the opposite direction from me across the Atlantic in 1587. She’s the main character (by the way) in my debut historical romance, Breaking Ties, first book in the Lost Colony series. She was a Chick with loads of swagger, and she needed every ounce of it the moment she landed in the Colonies. Roanoke Island, to be exact. Not your typical luxury resort, with the only running water being the Atlantic that rolled past her. Hostile natives. An ancient conspiracy. You get the idea.

Enter Manteo, one amazing hunk of alpha male. He just happened to be traveling home from a diplomatic tour in London. Soon to be chief of the Croatoans on a neighboring island, his people were described in Elizabethan sailing journals as “taller and more built than the average Englishman.” Oh, yeah, he caught Rose’s eye, and she caught his for an entirely different reason. No spoiler alerts today, but it had something to do with a wet T-shirt. No contest. Actually it was a wet bodice.

So…let’s test your level of Elizabethan-era swagger: Do you have what it takes to survive the Lost Colony Challenge? Imagine yourself in Rose’s shoes (and wet bodice) and answer the five questions below with blatant honesty. At the end, your score will be ranked against the other contestants. Each question will enlighten you with a little history factoid after you answer!

Lost Colony Challenge


Jo Grafford

One last thing: November proceeds from Breaking Ties will help fund an upcoming archeological dig of the newly discovered Lost Colony fort site in NC. Also, I’m running a Rafflecopter drawing for three Amazon and BN gift cards at Winners will be announced tomorrow – Thanksgiving Day! Best wishes to each of you for winning and a big thank you to all the Chicks – Misty, Josie, Angela, Renee, Rachael, Vonnie, and Susannah – for celebrating this book release with me!  


FB:  Twitter:@jografford

Thanks Jo! But not so fast…I’m so interested in this historical event that you have such a passion for and I want to know more!

What made you decide to write the story? This may sound crazy, but ever since I was a kiddo in school the story of the Lost Colonists has saddened me. All my life, I wanted to find them. Think of how much it tugs our sympathies every time an amber alert hits the evening news. Those of us who are parents – man! Our hearts all but stop beating when the faces of those missing children flash across the screen. Picture this. When the Lost Colonists disappeared, over 100 missing persons were listed on the report: 17 women, at least 90 men, and 11 amber alerts (including two newborns). My hope is that Breaking Ties will draw a wave of renewed interest in their fate.

What is the link between your story and the archeological dig? I started writing Breaking Ties on blind faith that there was more to their story (other than a missing persons report) and that these amazing first American heroes would eventually be found. Imagine how I felt when a new clue to their whereabouts was discovered while I was still writing! Last October, the British Museum discovered the sketch of a previously unknown fort beneath a patch on one of the original Lost Colony maps in their collection. It will be an expensive archeological dig to verify the location of this fort beneath a luxury golf course at Scotch Hall Preserve in NC, so I am donating proceeds from the November sales of Breaking Ties to this worthy cause through a fundraiser called A Thanksgiving Wish. Visit for more details.

How much of Breaking Ties is fact versus fiction? Awesome question! The names of my characters are real – taken from the City of Raleigh ship manifests. The timeline of events (up to the point of their disappearance) is historically accurate, based on sailing journals and other maritime records. I was even able to track down many of the colonists’ family ties and vocations through church registries and other archives. The conversations and most of the individual relationships between the characters, however, are pure fiction.
Here’s a sneak peak at Breaking Ties!
Blurb: Rose Payne’s world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke’s son gets her dismissed from her position as clerk in his household. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, hoping for a fresh start and vowing to never again fall for a wealthy, titled gentleman.

Manteo is certainly no gentleman but an influential diplomat with deep pockets, and that’s enough for Rose to keep her distance. Weary from the jaded intrigues of Court, the whiskey-eyed Native yearns for the shores of his island home on the outer banks of Virginia. A man of surprisingly few words, he sheds his English suit and stalks about the ship in nothing but his buckskins, earning the title of heathen and savage from the straight-laced colonists.

Manteo is soon bewitched by the fiery-haired Rose with her quick wit and fierce loyalty to her friends; in turn, she cannot help but admire the courageous leader beneath his unpolished speech and attire.

While Rose fights falling in love with a man of wealth and power all over again, their enemies are closing in. She wonders if perhaps the wrong kind of man for her is exactly the right sort of warrior to help her combat a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties.


“You want my help.” ‘Twas an accusation.


“You give nothing in return,” he snarled. “You only ask for more.”

“I would had I something to offer,” I whispered. “But I have nothing. I am nothing.”

“Then what use are you to me?” He wheeled away.

I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. I was unprepared when he swooped down upon me.

“I know our location.” His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. “I could swim ashore from here.”

“Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?”

“Governor White gave his word to deliver me home.”

“We are going to starve, Manteo. ‘Tis only a matter of days now.”

“Nay. You alone starve. The others eat.”

“I have no appetite.”

“You act as one already dead.”

I straightened my back. “I accept what I cannot change.”

“And I change what I cannot accept.” He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. “‘Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you.”

“Very well.”

My eyes flew open. “Ye will do this for us.”

“For you.” His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

I smiled tremulously. “I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is.” The new title felt strange on my lips.

“I have yet to name my price.”

I stared, confused.

He grunted in disgust. “You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services.”

I worried my lower lip between my teeth. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

“I will entreat the Dares for payment.”

“Nay. You are the one in my debt.”

I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

“You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too.”

“Ye would hire me as clerk?” Hope leaped in my chest. I would not have to part from him so soon.

“My people have no clerks.” His eyes narrowed. “We have slaves.”


Keeping Jo’s heroine, Rose, in mind;

When was the last time you stretched your boundaries and took a risk?

If you had absolutely nothing holding you back, what is a risk you’ve always wanted to take? A move? A job change? An event? 

Jo Grafford’s, Breaking Ties is a sassy, informative, romantic read.  Hmmm…sassy, informative…romantic? Sounds like SWAGGER to me!

A great many blessings wished to our Chick Swagger family for this Thanksgiving. We give thanks to you for your love and support.




  1. Jo, It sure sounds like Rose has swagger! Very interesting concept for a story. Love the uniqueness.

    Um, I took the quiz. I think I did pretty good, except for the nude beach question. Perhaps twenty years ago before gravity set in, I’d have been more on board.

    Happy holidays!

  2. LOL, Renee. I thought the nude beach question was particularly swaggerly. But blast back into the past with me for a moment. Many of the characters in Breaking Ties were members of a secret Separatist congregation (early Puritans) – very modest, straight-laced Elizabethans. Can you imagine their shock and horror when they first encountered the free-spirited, tree-hugging, scantily clad, and highly sun-kissed Natives of Virginia? What a clash of cultures! From it rose a gritty band of first Americans who many historians now believe formed the bridge to Jamestown.

  3. Hey there Jo, Susannah here! I am utterly fascinated by your personal story and your fictional-ish story. How cool. And how cool that you are donating ALL of November book sales to the arch dig. I can tell, you are a cool rockin’ chick, who just happens to also live in Bavaria 🙂 Triple cool. I’m off to buy your book now. Thank you so much for stopping by! xox, S

  4. Yay Jo, we are sooo pumped to have you with us today!! I am reading Breaking Ties right now! You have a beautiful knack for description and language that make everything so authentic it’s like I’m right there with Rose. I hope someday they can actually discover what happened to those lost colonists.

    Fun quiz by the way! I scored 480 but I don’t know if that’s adventurous or not. LOL 😀

  5. Josie Matthews says:

    Hey Jo! Josie here!!! I got at 250 on the quiz. (lower lip pouting…Misty got 480, guess I dont get to go…the new food question did me in…) I would’ve loved to have seen the new colonists meet the natives! A real Oscar/Felix moment! Talk about a party!!! Rose and Manteo…what a hot combo. I always thought I was the adventurous type, so to answer my own questions…I often dreamed of having no ties and taking off to anywhere the wind blew and working my way across country. I love to meet people and see how they live and what makes them tick. Sadly, still on my bucket list. I also really, really, really want to change my career…but those damn pesky bills keep gettin’ in the way! (and the hubby who has the annoying habit of living in reality-ville. I prefer my dream world….)
    So excited to see how the dig turns out! Thanks for being with us today.

    • Actually, Josie, your score reflects a lot more than where you fall on the adventure-o-meter. Your inner thrill-seeker has strong boundaries. You nailed it when you said you prefer to keep one foot in reality-ville. Unlike our 1587 colonists, you probably wouldn’t invest every cent you have in a ridiculously risky overseas venture, pack all your toys, and hop on a one-way trip into the unknown. Their trans-Atlantic voyage was an enormous gamble from every angle. Some called them crazy. I like to think they were following a dream in pursuit of something bigger than themselves. They didn’t just make history; they changed it!

  6. I took my kids to see The Lost Colony twice–an 800 mile trip. We have such fond memories and a few zany ones, too. I most definitely need this book. I took the test…scored a 400. This old broad needs a real bathroom. I once got a dose of poison ivy in my nether regions…OMG!!! Thanks for posting for us. Loved your excerpt and can’t wait to read your book. Off to order it now!!!

    • Great to hear from you, Vonnie! Obviously you share my fascination for the Lost Colony if you visited there twice yourself. 🙂 And believe me, this Chick also shares your need for a real bathroom plus a shower with plenty of hot water on tap and I’m just getting started. I have a list longer than Santa’s of all the 21st century things I would sniffle for if I had to give them up.

  7. SQUEEE!!!!! I ADORE this book and I’m so excited to have you here, Jo! *tosses chocolate confetti* Honestly, I love the kind of historical twist that you did so well in BREAKING TIES, and since you threw in some swoon-worthy romance, I was hooked! I’m so invested in the colonists, I’m afraid to find out what really happened to them *bites nails*. Much prefer your happy endings 🙂

    Oh, and folks, the story only gets more intense in book 2. I CAN’T wait!

    As for the challenge, my score was 400. Like Renee, I’m just too modest… LOL But sign me up for the rest of it!

    And to answer your question, Josie, Mr. S. and I have always considered going back to Malaysia (where he grew up) to live for 6 months or a year or so. I think it would be amazing for our kids, so we’ll have to see! 🙂

    • I LOVE chocolate confetti! Thank you thank you!! Modest or not, a score of 400 is pretty high on the adventure-o-meter. Yeah, you just might’ve gotten on a boat and traveled into the unknown. After all, you are considering Malaysia. Complete coolness!

      • Josie Matthews says:

        Oh Malaysia!! That sounds so wonderful! Can I come with? Someday I hope to do some traveling…These days Im lucky I make it from New York to Trenton NJ!!!

  8. Hi Jo and congratulations on publishing “Breaking Ties.” It takes an amazing amount of chick swagger to do Rose did, when she did it.

    I scored 450, which is higher than I expected. Since, Hubby is a all-American, (Polish/Italian/Irish/German/English) Philly boy and I am a Panamanian firecracker, we had the “marry for love rather than ethnicity” thing down. Don’t know about running around naked, though. I live in FL, where there are several “Clothing Optional” resorts, and the folks who visit and live there, are not exactly cover models. Some parts should really remain covered, at least for personal safety’s sake. My tolerance for the outdoors has decreased dramatically the older I’ve gotten. Staying somewhere without room service is akin to the Turkish prison in “Midnight Express.” No. Seriously. Just call me Ms. Crankypants if I don’t get a good night’s sleep.

    But, as I read about the “Breaking Ties” story, one face and name immediately came to mind as to whom “my” Manteo would be – Eric Schweig. He will forever be immortalized in my heart as Uncas, from the movie “The Last of the Mohicans.” Thankfully, I read the book in high school, because he’s the ONLY thing I remember from that movie, eclipsing Daniel Day Lewis. I mean, the HAIR, his BODY, and the whole silent, spiritual strength thing, had me panting. Did I mention his gorgeous face and BODY? He might be able to persuade me to “rough it.” 😉

  9. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. I love the way you think. LOL The Breaking Ties adventure definitely pushed the colonists to the outer reaches of their tolerance levels, turning some of them into real Mr. & Mrs. Crankypansters. According to one entry in a sailing journal I read for research, the nude beach thing had them in such a lather that one colonist took off his coat and insisted the Native put it on to cover himself. Thinking it was a gift, the Native signed his effusive gratitude to them. The wind was blowing so hard, though, that the hem of the coat kept flapping up and revealing far more of the colonists’ brawny host than they wished their women folk to see. I can only imagine how puzzled the Native was by the constant blushing and averted gazes of his visitors.

  10. ana morgan says:

    As a former Virginia resident, I was schooled in the history of the Colonies. I’m glad that history is subject to revision and correction, and am thrilled that the best history comes in entertaining packages like your book, Jo.

  11. Thank you, Ana. Really appreciate your words. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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