Meet Tara: Mother Extraordinaire from “Buttonholed”


Last week (on a Tuesday!) I introduced Manderley, the main character/protagonist/heroine of Buttonholed. This week, you’ll meet Tara Jessup. On a Thursday because I have been housebound since Sunday afternoon with nothing to do except delay posting on a Tuesday.

Tara is Manderley’s mother and I enjoy her immensely. Practical and a romantic, artistically gifted and happy as a homemaker, trusting God but unable to fully eliminate worry over her offspring.

Here is Tara. Tara

Taken on vacation last year. She hates this photo because she’d gone swimming, had no makeup on, and her hair had dried “any which way.” Tara’s husband Pem loves the picture.

Her hair is short because “no woman over 35 should have long hair.” She’s wearing a very modest swimsuit because humans should never, ever show too much epidermis. Freckles and the red-gold hair she inherited from her Scots-Irish ancestors (although whether that hair color is all natural or gets help from the local beauty salon, we’ll never know. Tara and her hairdresser aren’t talking). The jewelry is a demonstration that the well-dressed Southern woman does not appear in public unadorned. Tara also wishes someone had told her the necklace had gone askew.

Below are some passages from Buttonholed that will help you get to know Tara. And if you want to know her even better, snag a copy of the book from Amazon! *


Tara could match her daughter sigh for sigh. She’d been practicing for fifty-four years, ever since, instead of a newborn’s lusty cry, her response to the doctor’s slap was a genteelly offended gasp. “Now Mandy Lee, don’t say it like that! How often do I call with dreadful news?”
It was a valid point. Last Sunday had been unbelievable news, the Tuesday before her mother was too shocked for words, and Manderley could recall twice in the past month when Tara’s calls began with “Darlin’ are you sittin’ down?”


Tara bustled around the kitchen. Bustling, according to Manderley’s mother, was how one should always tidy up, but now it was a cover story for fretting, which was how mothers waited for news of their offsprings’ activities.

Tara held a ladylike hand to her forehead. “Oh, gracious. I suppose. You go visit with the family. I’m peelin’ potatoes for tomorrow and no, you can’t help. Bartie bought this thing he calls a tablet and loaded it with all my favorite books on tape, and I can’t wait to start a new one.”

Manderley hid a smile. They would be ‚books on tape‛ to her mother no matter how technology tried to convince her otherwise.

“Now shoo. I don’t want any distractions.”



Tara fluttered her fingers before affecting great surprise at the time on her delicate wristwatch. “Heavens! So late! Barton, you can help me with the dishes. Ruthanne, isn’t it our baby girl’s nummies time?” Tara would never, under pain of death, refer to a baby as ‘nursing.‛




(Upon being complimented by Jameson, researcher on the duel, on a painting she’d done years ago.) Tara thawed. “Well, it was painted with a lot of love. My Grand-daddy Raikes was a wonderful man. I always thought our blue pansies resembled him.”
Manderley hastened to explain. “The markings in the middle of the flower. See the face? Like two bushy eyebrows and a full, sort of drooping mustache. Great-Granddaddy actually did look a lot like that.”
“You know what Mandy Lee?” Tara wore a dreamy expression. “I haven’t painted in a while, but I know for certain I could paint you your own little Grand-daddy pansy picture.”
Jameson was seized by a fit of coughing and Tara’s expression turned suspicious.


[Manderley] circled the blocks back home and found her mother in the study, soap operas sniveling in the background, and a sketchpad and pile of graphite pencils in front of her. She didn’t even turn her head when Manderley walked in.
“Oh, honey!” she wailed, waving a sheet with several half-finished pansies covering it. “I’ve lost my touch. My artistic eye must be failin’.”
“Not true. Creating art is like riding a bike. You never forget but you might wobble the first few times back on. Keep working. That one does look a lot like Great Grand-Daddy.”
“Of course, it does.” her mother snipped. “It just doesn’t look anything like a pansy.



“I declare baby doll, you are so pretty that I could shake all the single men in town, Chicago included, and ask if they are nearsighted, or plain stupid. But don’t you worry, sugar.” Tara checked furniture surfaces for dust mites, real or imagined. “Somewhere out there a man is waiting for a real lady like you to make his life complete. And I know how you can catch his eye.”



Manderley bedHOME BEAUTIFICATION: When she opened her eyes to nothing but darkness, Manderley didn’t know where she was, when it was, or why she couldn’t see. Floundering, she realized she’d buried her face in one of the ruffled pillows covering nearly every horizontal surface in her bedroom. No doubt she’d drooled on the flowered pillowcase.

DAUGHTER BEAUTIFICATION: Tara wore a summer robe too, but her hair and makeup were already fully marshaled, and she exclaimed in dismay at Manderley’s fresh-scrubbed face and ponytail.
“Darlin, we need to be gone in under an hour!”
“Mama, my makeup routine lasts five minutes, and that’s when I go all out.”
Still bleating, Tara prodded Manderley up the stairs and to her own dressing table. For the next half hour, she employed every cleanser, pore-reducer, tweezer, and concealer, liquid, powder, gel and stick. One eye on the clock, she set to work on her daughter’s hair, comparing the curling iron unfavorably to her hot rollers, a set that predated the Gulf War and finally expired from age and overwork. At five-fifteen, she turned Manderley around to the mirror.
It was disconcerting, that face looking back at her.



*To purchase:

A Field of (Honourable) Forget-me-nots


Rachel A. James’ book released Friday. Bless her—right in the middle of all the Covid-19 chaos. Which is why the Tuesday Prude is posting about it on a Saturday morning.

A Field of Forget-me-nots is part of the “Ponder This” series based on Philippians 4:8. The book centers on the virtue of honor. What is a noble, honourable way to behave in an almost impossible circumstance? That is what Luke and Ana grapple with as they enter into a marriage of convenience based on pity and desire to please the last wish of a beloved dying woman.

Let’s let Rachel tell us what the book is about. She is in the best position to know!

A Field of Forget-me-nots by Rachel A. James
When the patron of the Foundling School takes pity upon young orphan, Georgiana (Ana) Weston, Lady Dunston raises her as one of her own. However, years pass and Lady Dunston’s health begins to fail. With the Longworth estate entailed away, Ana is faced with an uncertain future.

Mr. Luke Renshaw still mourns the loss of his parents, and would rather travel the world than live in a place that reminds him of so much pain and loss. But responsibilities await, and when his only aunt becomes sick, he returns to Longworth. After all, it is where he will receive his inheritance.

Luke and Ana used to play together as children, though many years have passed and much has changed. The prospect of marriage without love holds little hope for their romantic ideals, and yet it seems the most sensible solution for both parties.


I read this novella, set in Victorian England, and enjoyed it! Then I had a few questions for Rachel.

The book has such a lovely title! And very appropriate. Do you have a favorite flower?
I love roses – especially white roses. I believe they’re supposed to symbolise innocent love!

-Do you have a favorite genre to read? Write?
My favorite genre to both read and write is Christian romance. It doesn’t matter if it is historical or contemporary, I just love clean romance with an inspirational storyline.

-Are you as accomplished as Ana, your heroine? The woman can do almost anything! Which of her accomplishments do you enjoy doing—or wish you could do?
No, I don’t think I’m accomplished at all, at least domestically like Ana is. I truly wish I could sew, though. I did take Textiles in high school, but I was better at the research than the practical, and my teacher had to rescue my feeble attempts on many occasions!

Your story is set in Victorian England. What do you like or admire about that era?
I’ve always loved the Victorian period ever since I studied it at school, I just find the way they lived back then so fascinating. I particularly admire the clothing and the charm that is associated with the Victorians.


To buy A Field of Forget-me-nots :

About Rachel
Rachel is an inspirational author. She has an MA in Creative Writing and loves to write fiction that uplifts, inspires, and encourages others. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three adorable girls and when not writing she enjoys idling time away in a vintage teashop or visiting a historic landmark in pursuit of a new story! For more information visit

Connect with Rachel


Susan and Kimberly and Charlotte and Lucy

Tuesday  I introduced you to Manderley, heroine of my soon-to-be-released novella Buttonholed. ( “Buttonholed” by Anita Klumpers (aka The Prude): Meet Manderley ) My book is part of a series, Ponder This, based on the virtues listed in Philippians 4:8.

The first two books in the series release this Friday! Charlotte’s Dilemma by my dear friend Susan Karsten, and Lucy in Love by Kimberly Miller (a new cyberspace friend) are delightful. I know—I read them both!


Charlotte’s Dilemma by Susan Karsten

Charlotte’s Dilemma is a Regency novella. Susan excels at this genre. Here she is. Isn’t she beautiful? me at anniv.

Here’s her blurb: She was part of a London scandal through no fault of her own. Now she’s been banished to the countryside to live as a schoolteacher under a false name. How can she go on, so alone, living in a rustic cottage, bereft of family and friends?


Here are some questions she graciously answered:

What is your favorite thing about writing Regency?

I am very familiar with the era because I am a huge fan of the genre, having read hundreds of Regency romance novels, and that adds to my enjoyment as I write my own. I also enjoy the language and slang that was used in that day, as well as the fashions, literature, and music.

If you could have lived at that time, what would you love?

I’m sure I would have loved the relative freedom brought in by the style of the dresses. English fashion was inspired by France. France’s revolution had liberated women from the physically restrictive, heavy clothing. The clothing was much more comfortable, and was very pretty, but not always very warm.

What would you definitely NOT love?

I would have hated the lack of indoor plumbing, as well as the lack of central heating.

Your “Ponder this” virtue is “Whatever is pure…” Tell us why this was a perfect attribute for you to write about.

My heroine, Charlotte, is a pure maiden, but is embroiled in a scandal for which she shouldn’t have been blamed. She kept her chin up even thought her purity was cruelly thrown into question. But in the end….no, you’ll have to read it to find out her outcome.


Susan’s bio: (Personal aside—she has raised three of the most wonderful children that walk on God’s good earth.)

Susan Karsten lives in a small Wisconsin town, is the wife of a real estate broker, mother of three married children, and grandmother of three. Her hobbies include fitness, quilting, and reading. Her interest in writing developed while in college, and she enjoys doing speaking engagements about writing, books, and other topics. With child-rearing days at an end, Susan now invests time in fiction writing. With her first cozy mystery and her four Regency historical romances— all  published—she is working on an Amish Romance with a twist.  She loves reading reviews of her books, so hop onto Amazon when you’ve finished her book(s) and leave a review.


AND here is her buying info. This book is good. Did I say that already?CharlottesDilemma_prc5483_680 nice

Buying info:, Barnes &, or


Lucy in Love by Kimberly Miller

Kimberly Miller wrote a fun contemporary romance with a thread of bittersweet woven into the fabric of the humor and love story.

Here is Kimberly: pic4

Here’s her blurb:

Things are finally looking up for Lucy Leti. Her bakery is doing well, her friends are amazing, and her family is supportive. She’s even so close to being past the heartbreak of her broken engagement that she can taste it.

But what’s missing is trust and love. And until her old friend Henry Lee comes back into her life after a ten year absence, Lucy is convinced she’ll never find either one.

Henry is handsome, successful, and has been secretly in love with Lucy for years. But the musician isn’t the same man Lucy knew in high school—he’s lost weight and gained confidence. And in no time at all, he’s in love with Lucy all over again.

And she could be in love with him too.

But when the couple’s first date goes terribly wrong, they’ll both need a little perspective to see things clearly.


She also graciously answered some quick questions and I’m glad she did. It was a fun way to get to know her better.

Tell us about your high school experience. Were you more Lucy, Henry, or somewhere in between? I had a great time in high school. Though I was probably more Lucy than Henry I wouldn’t say I was popular– even if I did have a good number of friends.

We know Lucy had regrets about high school, in spite of her popularity. If you could go back to those high school years, what would you change? If I could go back to high school, I’d probably be more brave and try more things and not worry so much what other people thought of me.

Music and baked goods play a big role in the story.

What’s your favorite music genre? I am pretty eclectic in my musical tastes, and they shift often depending what I’m writing. In HS I was pretty rock and roll, but now I’d say I like everything from Harry Connick Jr. to Jon McLaughlin (a current favorite!) to Matchbox 20 or Queen.

Favorite baked good? Now you’re asking really tough questions! I love chocolate- so probably a good chocolate cake


And here is her bio, so we can get to know her even better!

Kimberly M. Miller is a writing and film professor by day, author by night. She enjoys watching movies, making jewelry, and creating fun stories for her readers. Currently, Kimberly has two published novels, Picking Daisy and Forgiving Tess, but she looks forward to bringing more romance your way soon!


Buying info? Of course:

lucy cover large

Here’s the link for Amazon:

“Buttonholed” by Anita Klumpers (aka The Prude): Meet Manderley

Buttonholed_prc5474_750 2Hoo boy. My next book, “Buttonholed,” comes out March 13 and I have a sinking feeling I was already supposed to be going great guns with promotions and publicity.

On the plus side, I am finally putting up a Tuesday Prude post on a Tuesday.

“Buttonholed” is a light-hearted romance set in eastern Tennessee. I was there once and felt sufficiently imprinted and inculcated with all things southern to set a book in this beautiful, hill-covered region. Or maybe they are mountains. Not sure I remember.

It is also the first of my published books with no murder. That’s right. No one gets killed— but not for lack of trying. Manderley’s several-times great grandfather tried to kill his nemesis in an 1816 duel and…well, you’ll have to get the book if you want to learn why.

Back to Manderley Jessup, our heroine. Here is how I picture her, when she is in top form.


Unfortunately her top form has been a bit over-the-top lately. She’s barely touched her makeup bag in the past year, and cut her own hair to save money. And none of her clothes fit.

She took a teaching job in Chicago to escape a hopeless crush. More on that
A side benefit would be escaping southern fried chicken, biscuits with sausage and gravy, shrimp with grits, corn on the cob and peach pie.
All she needed was to live where the best tasting food wasn’t yellow, and she would be fine.
She hadn’t reckoned with the multi-colored delights of deep dish pizza, Chicago style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and rainbow ice cream cones.
Calories infiltrated the entire color wheel.

I really like this girl. She is a people-pleaser, with just enough gumption to keep from being walked over. Manderley loves her family passionately and in spite of their faults. She loves the Lord. Hates plucking her eyebrows. And after an entire school year in Chicago without a single proposition from a single male, she’s beginning to think God gave her the gift of singleness, and she would like to return that gift, thank you very much.

Manderley’s parents are Pemberley and Tara Jessup, her brothers are Thornfield and Barton, her sister is Marguerite.
Extra credit if you figure out what the names have in common!


A distress call from her mother, Tara, sends Manderley scurrying from Chicago to her hometown of Lowellton, Tennessee. A New York film crew is researching the duel between Tara’s ancestor, Talbot Latimer, and his arch-enemy Henderson Coventry. The results of that ill-fated battle have split Lowellton for over 200 years. For some reason, Tara is certain Manderley will be able to run interference and protect the family honor.

Manderley thinks she is up to the challenge. A sermon on Philippians 4:8 and “whatever is of good repute” convinces her the best way to protect the family honor is to heal the two centuries-and-counting breach between the Coventrys and Latimers.

Problem is, the only one who can help end the hostilities is Abram Coventry— descendant of the despicable Henderson Coventry and the object of Manderley’s hopeless crush. But he barely knows she exists.

Just when it appears Manderley might have the family feud beat, her best-laid plans backfire spectacularly. And it’s all Abram Coventry’s fault.


Although “Buttonholed” doesn’t release in e-book until March 13, it is available for pre-order for $3.99 on Amazon, even as we speak.