About the Book
Slavery of a different kind, beyond physical chains, leads to a different type of escape . . .
Marissa Kristofferson can taste freedom. Her long years of suffering at the hands of her sadistic husband, Lance, are coming to an end as he lies dying. But she is stunned when he reveals the contents of his will and what she must do to keep Kristofferson Plantation, and how he plans to keep her bound to him even beyond the grave.
The beautiful slave Lolley has always envied Marissa’s life, and after learning that the master has also ordered her freed after his death, she is determined to reach for the life she wants by becoming the mistress of Marissa’s son, Shane, though she does not realize the lengths Marissa will go to to prevent the match, or the far-reaching consequences that will follow.
And Shelby, the plain and dutiful slave of free blacks, is unwittingly caught in the shocking drama that unfolds as a family is torn apart. Used as a pawn in a game of rivalry, deception, and betrayal, hers is a fight for survival while attempting to remain true to herself.
Three women—so very different but each carrying dark secrets that are closely intertwined, caught in a world between slave and free, a world which is becoming more fragile and precarious as war threatens and alliances shift, and each harboring seemingly impossible dreams of a better future.
In this first book of a dark historical saga, K. Willow paints a lush, emotional portrait of scandal, murder, injustice, and the ties that bind in the antebellum South.
“K. Willow’s historical novel, Ice Whispers, book one of The Hidden Hills Saga, is breathtaking beautiful and stunningly sad all at the same time. It’s really the story of two women, Agatha and Shelby, who are slaves in the Kristofferson and Franklin households respectively. They’re both amazingly strong, selfless and wise women who come from two succeeding generations of slaves. While all the drama and action in the tale revolves around the Kristoffersons and the Franklins, it was the story of those two larger-than-life women that kept me enthralled. Willow adroitly uses them as a lens for the reader to view the affairs in Hidden Hills, and it works magnificently. I just finished reading Ice Whispers, and I’m totally floored by this work. It’s marvelous and is very highly recommended.” -Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite “Part historical romance, part mystery, K. Willow’s book Ice Whispers is an entertaining and immersive read. Readers get to take the role of the voyeur as they explore the inner workings of the Hidden Hills society. Every member of the town has a role that they play, but each has their own secrets that they are trying to keep hidden. Willow’s novel is a quick and fun read that is full of vibrant characters. It is the perfect book for those who like to be in the know of the juiciest gossip or those who enjoy the drama of the workings of high society in mid-1800s America. I thoroughly enjoyed Ice Whispers, and I hope I get the opportunity to read more of Willow’s Hidden Hills novels.” -Tania Staley for Readers’ Favorite
About the Author
K. Willow is a novelist and award-winning writer with a background in television, film, theatre, and soap operas. She writes dark historical and urban fantasty and lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband.
Exerpt from the Book
Sometime in November, 1858
Outside of Charleston, South Carolina
“When I die,” he said, “and pass from this earth to a more satisfying place . . .”
Aggie stood hidden behind the door, listening and feeling the aged and winded voice of Master Lance Kristofferson whisper through the crevice and hover over the tiny hairs of her skin. His most powerful voice had always hushed the spirit, rebellious as it was, inside of her. And today’s morning, even more so, the spirit was stuck in her chest.
Not a person ever dared to speak whenever Master Lance Kristofferson was talking. Nor did they ever attempt to question his judgments, his authority over the multitude living there on Kristofferson Plantation, both slave and free. Unwise souls who did so always regretted it after enduring the merciless consequences from such a vengeful man. From warnings, most had acquired this lesson, but some had learned it through a most difficult way.
And so people in Hidden Hills, especially those on Kristofferson Plantation, knew to listen to Master Lance. They should preserve their truest feelings inside themselves and simply obey, for it was the best way to safeguard their lives. There hadn’t been a time that anyone, even the most elderly of slaves or the most gossip-driven society woman, could recall when Lance Kristofferson had not achieved what he wanted. He had always found a way.
He crowed, “I want you all to be aware of what exactly is going to become of each and every one of you.”
His audience of three, all dressed in their fine and elegant morning dress for the day, was assembled before him at the foot of his grand old metal bed, where he had slept alone for probably over two years now. Aggie’s mistress, Marissa Kristofferson, his younger wife, who was now more handsome than Master Lance had ever been at her age, sat ready between the other two. Mister Alexander Pratt, the faithful employee who oversaw the runnings of Kristofferson Plantation, and then Shane, Marissa’s dark-haired, sullen son of eighteen, whom Aggie had raised alongside her own daughter, Lolley.
Aggie could hear them, see them, even though, as it had often been over the years, she was veiled from them. Unassuming, but witnessing everything. She knew that not one of them wanted to be there in that cold, drab room with Master Lance. Even Aggie could smell the disease that was devouring him, seeping through his pores and rubbing up against the bodies of all close to him, from their fingertips to their little toes. She could hear things, and she could hear it laughing. And she wanted to shut it up, that sickness that had thieved the beauty of this once overly superior man. Now he was as ugly on the outside as he was on the inside.
The other cups sitting on the tray held out in front of Master Lance jiggled together as he struggled to place his own teacup on it. But Lucas, the darkest skinned one in the room, was holding that tray, and he wouldn’t let it fall for fear of the wrath to come to anyone who embarrassed the master.
From the doorway, Aggie watched as Lucas held the tray with the large pot and all of the teacups secure in place, unaffected. She knew that he had become accustomed to Master Lance’s growing physical frailness, even though Master Lance had not been able to admit it was so. The master’s mind was still as strong and devilish as it ever had been. Aggie felt her spirit rising up against her, becoming anxious as she heard the scrambling of the soles of old shoes downstairs on the main floor, tirelessly working to fulfill their morning chores, calling her to help, to see to it that the teams of slaves in the Kristofferson household were doing as they had been told.
Rivulets of sweat dripped down from her tight, curly hairline over her dark, chiseled skin, but she steeled herself to maintain her statuesque position, waiting for Lance to continue making his great announcement. But knowing Master Lance, his sudden quietness signaled that he was also waiting—for Lucas to leave.
Lucas turned and trailed toward the door. It was obvious to Aggie that Master Lance didn’t want Lucas spreading word of what was going to happen to Kristofferson Plantation—and to all of them—just yet. He would rather torment them all by allowing the gossip and the hearsay to just keep running amok in every circle of the plantation.
Lucas finally lifted his sharp hazel eyes to the probing deep and dark ones of Aggie. He mouthed, “No.”
No, Aggie thought, though he had been there a good fifteen minutes before she had arrived in the shadows of the doorway. Lucas had not heard any new information. As soon as he stepped both feet in the hallway and was out of sight of the white folks inside, she wrapped her long fingers around the tingling knob and dragged the door closed.
“Bring that tray on out to the kitchen,” she whispered. “Miss Marissa, Mister Pratt, and Master Shane will want to be eating shortly after their talk.”
He nodded and strode on skinny legs beneath dark, perfectly creased trousers down the hallway. She watched until he had disappeared around the worn corner leading down the back stairwell.
Trying one more time, hoping for good fortune, she positioned her body with her head tilted toward the door to see if she could hear anything. But all was still in there except for a throaty hum of a voice, which she knew must be Master Lance’s. She could not make the words out.
Aggie sighed as the spirit inside of her relaxed back down into the center of her belly, and she started to stroll down the hallway, knowing there was always the possibility that the mistress might just let slip out later what had happened in that room.
K. Willow has written a story that is both beautiful, but haunting. This novel takes place in the 1800’s during the time of slavery right before the American Civil War, bringing to life and acknowledging some of the brutal truths that took place during this time period. A story of three women, each enslaved in a different way, will capture reader’s attention as they learn about dark secrets and consequences of choices made by these women and the people surrounding them. I would recommend this novel to those that enjoy historical fiction come to life in a new and heart-wrenching way.
Note: There are also a few sex scenes, specifically in chapters 12 and 22, which readers may choose to skip.
Series: The Hidden Hills Saga
Genre: historical fiction
Literary Awards: Readers’ Favorite
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication date: November 21, 2014
Number of pages: 274
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, August 31
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Tuesday, September 1
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Wednesday, September 2
Review at A Book Geek
Friday, September 4
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, September 8
Guest Post at Shelf Full of Books
Wednesday, September 9
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, September 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Friday, September 11
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Saturday, September 12
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Sunday, September 13
Interview at A Fold in the Spine
Monday, September 14
Review & Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, September 16
Review, Interview & Giveaway at Singing Librarian Books
Thursday, September 17
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, September 18
Tour Wrap-Up & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
A review copy of this novel was provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the author K. Willow.
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