Friday, October 23, 2020

THE RED RIBBON by Pepper Basham, Reviewed by Rebecca, Kim, and Paula

"I reckon we all got bad blood, if you think about it girl . . . but . . . . We got something else that's a marvel."
Fear. It has hovered in the back of Ava Burcham's mind her entire life . . . . the what ifs . . what if she turned out to be as crazy as her mama, would she really hurt the ones that she loves the most? Unfortunately, there's more than family history to worry Ava; a heavy darkness is hovering over her beloved Blue Ridge mountains, a wickedness that slinks about in the shadows of the night, fed by greed and desperation, tainting the souls of good hard-working men. Will Ava's dogged determination to get the facts straight land her in a whole heap of trouble?
And then there's Jeremiah. Sweet, selfless Jeremiah Sutphin; who, all of a sudden, is making Ava's heart flutter in the craziest kind of way. Goodness! Why didn't someone warn her about the power of just one kiss?!
"One kiss and you're all sure-fired and sparkin'? . . . . . The kiss just made known what I have known for a long time, Ava Burcham."
Yes, this book is a tragic tale of family disputes turning all ugly and violent; resulting in what history remembers as "The Courthouse Massacre". It's also a peek into the best and worst of life in the Appalachian mountains, back when blood was thicker than water and no one but everyone, typically held a grudge. Granddaddy Sutphin knew what he was talking about when he quipped, "A quick temper and trigger finger makes for some bad company."
Yet the grandest takeaway just might be the love story; not only between a man and the young woman he has loved since childhood, but this narrative beautifully exemplifies and rightfully magnifies the deepest kind of love; that between the Creator and His created. Granny Burcham got it right, "God ain't sittin up in heaven watchin' a show down here on earth. He don't mind getting His hands dirty. Else, He'd never sent the Savior".
*I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 4.5 stars
“Truth douses fear, Ava. Truth and perfect love. The only way to keep your heart and head in the proper place, is to know both.”
“...the more we remember whose we are, the more equipped we are to handle whatever comes.”
I’ve read several of the stories in this true crime series by barber and this one is my new favorite! I know when I read a Pepper Basham book I’m going to get a good story with a faith thread seamlessly woven throughout and a lot of swoony moments. This one did not disappoint.
I loved both Jeremiah and Ava. I loved how their relationship ship started as friends and then grew throughout the story. It is such a sweet romance. I also love that Jeremiah and Ava were always there to help others, even if it meant they had to sacrifice something. I liked how the suspense in this story built up slowly until the climactic scene at the courthouse and how after that it was pretty much nonstop action. 
Another thing I can always count on with Pepper Basham is that her stories always feel really authentic.
If you haven’t read any of these stories in this historical true crime series, this is the perfect one to start with! 
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The faith thread is medium.

The Red Ribbon is a wonderful love story, steeped in hope but based in the real life incident of a courthouse massacre in 1912.

From her beloved Appalachian mountains, Ms. Basham has crafted a romantic tale among chaos and tragedy. She captures the flavor of her home county and mountain folk of yesteryear. The quaint sayings lend to the atmosphere but they speak wisdom, hope and a few chuckles. And the girl still knows how to write the best kissing scenes! Pepper Basham proves she can write in any genre. She is one of my very favorite authors.

Ava Burcham is capable, resourceful and loves to write. Jeremiah Sutphin is her best friend and they grow to mean so much more. Jeremiah is a brave, hardworking, fair man who weighs the facts properly. “Jeremiah knew enough to steer clear of sides in this particular place, because all too often right and wrong started taking convoluted shades of revenge, pride, and family ties over truth.”

Some of the best quotes, full of wisdom, come from Granny Burcham:

“God ain’t took His hand off none of His young‘uns, through the good or the bad. He’s workin’, moldin’, bendin’ us so we’ll have our hearts less fit for this ol’ world and more fit for the next”

“Granny tapped the Bible: Truth douses fear, Ava,. Truth and perfect love. The only way to keep your heart and head in the proper place, is to know both.”

“Home comes in all shapes and sizes. Round here, it’s mountain-sized with a whole lot of family tossed in for extra flavor.”
And from Granddaddy Sutphin:
“You ain’t responsible for other folks’ stupidity, even if you have to manage the consequences. Your job is to be stupid as little as possible so you can deal with the ones who don’t know how to be anything else.”

This was a thoroughly enjoyable story, shedding light on a historical tragedy and imagining a bright spot of romance in the mix.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
I give this 5 stars and a strong faith thread.

BackCover Blurb:
An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912
Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned. The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.
Barbour Publishing, October 2020
Available in digital ebook and paperback:


  1. Thanks so much, ladies!!!!! I’m glad you survived your trip to the Blue Ridge :)

  2. Excellent review, Ladies! Pepper is AMAZING!


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