Reviews of Jo Grafford’s Lost Colonists Series, BREAKING TIES and TRAIL OF CROSSES

BreakingTies_200x300Take yourself back in time, 1587, to be exact, and experience what the colonists had to endure in the New World.  These people were strong beyond imagination.  This is a truly glorious telling of a historical event coupled with a wonderful writer’s ability to make it live far above the pages!

Title: Breaking Ties, book 1 of The Lost Colony Series
Author: Jo Grafford
Genre: Colonial Historical Romance
Story Setting: Portsmouth, England April 26, 1587; Roanoke Island (presently part of Virginia) – Croatoan Island (presently part of North Carolina)
Pages: 404
Published By: Astraea Press (October 16, 2013)

Available at Amazon  BN  Smashwords  Kobo  Astraea Press  iTunes

About the Story: A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, Skype or Twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue – hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum – that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in Book One of the Lost Colony Series.

Here’s a clip about discovery

Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties.



Our sails caught the wind. We slowly picked up speed. I tasted the bitter thrill of success as the coastline grew smaller. I was leaving with little more than my integrity and the clothes on my back. Donnen would give our parents my love, and they could continue working on the tenant farm – none the wise about my true reason for leaving. Da would be proud that his only daughter had ventured off to see the world, after of course, he got over his rage for my failure to travel home and bid them farewell in person. Alas, I’d not had the time to pay them one last visit.
I blinked back tears. I would begin a new chapter wherever we landed. It was almost too simple.
My interview had been a hasty event three days earlier. Lady Dare had not batted an eye when I declared my sudden interest in becoming a colonists. Nor had she asked for a letter of reference. The only emotion on her plain features was relief at my willingness to hire on as the ship’s clerk. Apparently the last one had abandoned his post, giving neither advance notice nor an explanation.

My Thoughts: I have just started looking for historical novels with settings during the colonial days of North America. I have not been disappointed in the caliber of writing, historical research that has gone into what I’ve read to date. This particular series I will delightedly follow. I wish we had something like this to read when we were in high school–to read either in English or American History class. If I had I believe I would have been more engaged and eager to learn about the history of the United States. I often hear that we don’t have history. We are too young of a nation. But I certainly disagree. Only now that I’m older I appreciate the events of our history.

Even though a fictitious story, names of colonists who were aboard that fateful ship were characterized by the author and came alive to the reader. Knowing now what I know about what really happened to the lost colonists I’m eager to sit through another reading.

The story and plot were extremely well-written, a page-turner if there ever was one. The pages were full of adventure, love and hate amongst the colonists, romance, suffering and intrigue. Even though the colonists survived crossing the Atlantic through raging storms and depravity, they encountered further grief, hardship and death once landed at Roanoke Island.

The story blended dialog and actual events based on Jo Grafford’s research in an appealing manner. It gave us a very good description of the hardship and terror the colonists dealt with when trying to settle North America. I would not hesitate to recommend this book as well as the series to those who want to understand the colonization of North America, history buffs and anyone else who just loves a good love story mixed with adventure, suspense and intrigue.

* * * * * * *  *

TTrail of Crossesitle: Trail of Crosses, book 2 of the Lost Colony Series|
Author: Jo Grafford
Genre: Colonial Historical Fiction,
Story Setting: Prologue – July 26, 1587, Roanoke Island, Dasamonquepeuc
Published By: Astraea Press Publishing, LLC (September 8, 2014)
Pages: 378|

Available at Amazon   BN   Smashwords   iTunes   Kobo

About the Story: Jane Mannering can shoot a rifle and handle a knife as well as any Englishman. However, she is no match for the red-painted warriors who ambush her section of a Colonial caravan the moment she and her comrades reach the shores of Virginia. Jane plots their escape during a forced march inland, leaving a trail of Maltese crosses carved on the trees – their pre-agreed upon signal of distress. All the while, she fumes over what interest their captors could possibly have in a twenty-three-year-old spinster and a rugged band of brick masons, sawyers, and farmers. When the ruthless Chief Wanchese intercepts them at the crossroads of the Great Trading Path, Jane is shaken to discover their greatest enemy plans to keep her for himself. It’s a pity he’s the only man on two continents who’s ever stirred her heart. Alas, she has an entire colony to save, and capturing his attentions is not part of their escape plan.

My Thoughts: I didn’t think I could love her second book of the series as much as I did the first. I didn’t. I loved it even more! For the last couple of days I’ve been living in an Indian settlement. The book was written in first person. Therefore the reader (you) gets to experience it all from the moment Jane (you, again!)  is attacked by Indians, dragged to the Great Trading Path where you’re sold as a slave—a slave to grace the bed of one son-of-bitch, uncle to Chief Wanchese, namely, Chief Dasan.  I didn’t know me from Jane, nor Jane from me!  I tell you, I was scared!  Do you like action and one big adventure?  This will surely fill the bill.

This story only gets better and better as it moves forward. And what is so wonderful to me is that the events closely follow historically what is believed to have happened to the colonists of the Lost Colony.  Make sure you peruse Jo Grafford’s website  It is packed with information of that time with actual known colonists who are in the story.

I enjoyed how the Indian community took in the English colonists.  If they hadn’t, they would have surely died. Chief Wanchese purchased as many of the colonists he could, taking with him Jane Manning whom he’d been spying on when she was staying at the fort.  Jane was no wimp.  Chief Wanchese was intrigued and attracted to this white woman.  He was asked by his brother, chief of another tribe to keep an eye on the colonists, but he didn’t anticipate what followed. He was able to save her and a few of the colonist from the Indians who attacked the settlers.  Jane and the colonists thought they would be slaves to the Indians, but they were instead initiated into the community and were given good lives becoming active participants in the village. Each colonist had their own particular skills, but knew they could not survive without the knowledge their captors had.

I liked the way  Jane was considered a spinster in London, at age 24, taller than most men and not well-born. She finds herself in a completely different position amongst the Indians when she is adopted by Nadie, the Wise Woman of the tribe. Jane was strong and knew how to take care of herself in the wild. She had a sense of danger where many did not, tracked among the best of them and could row. She had her family back in England to thank for these particular skills. All these qualities did her little good in London, but in the New World they saved her life and others. She also had a wonderful sense of responsibility to her other fellow colonists who pulled her from despair in England and took her with them to settle in the City of Raleigh.

I suspect, most of all, I loved the way the author created such a sensual love story between peoples with very different beginnings.  Chief Wanchese was the hero amongst his tribe, and certainly Jane’s (mine), as well.

This series I consider one of the best historical fiction reads I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year. I look forward to its continuation.  I’m hoping that the author will consider making it into an audiobook.  It would be awesome!


I scooted to the far end of the long room and faced the door. I was alone. No fire crackled here, but plenty of sunlight poured through several small, square openings overhead, too high to climb through. Deerskin canvases graced the interior stone walls. In the center of the room, a long platform boasted a thick pile of furs. ‘Twas a bed.

Cold acceptance filled me. This was the end, for I would rather die than play the role Dasan intended for me. He was old enough to be my father, at least, perhaps my grandfather, I scanned the meagerly furnished room for something that might serve as a weapon.

The door covering swept aside once more, and Chief Dasan entered. I trembled as dark eyes set in a leathery face roved over my person. He whispered something in his guttural tongue and raised and lowered his hand slowly. Eyes never leaving me, he removed his headdress of many feathers and hung it on a peg next to the entrance. Then he stepped from his moccasins. His hands went to the rope at his waist, and he loosened the ties of this buckskins.

His movement confirmed my worst fears. My knees trembled. I felt soiled already by the mere thought of him touching me.

There must be a way out, I cried inwardly. There always is. Or was in the past.

Dasan lowered the first leg of his buckskins. I met the determined gaze of my owner, summoning the resolve to endure my plight. Howevr, he would have to wrestle me into submission first. No way will I lie meekly on that blasted platform without a fight. My fingers flexed in anticipation.

Dasna’s eyes dropped to my hands. Resignation flickered in his weathered features. He withdrew a coil of hemp cord from the band at his waist. I had missed it, for it had been tucked behind him when he entered.

He would need to tie me. I braced for a struggle.

“Hassan.” He did not raise his voice, but Hassan and three other braves slipped into the tent. I wrestled fiercely, but they quickly subdued me and secured my limbs to the corners of the sleeping platform. Dasan motioned them away, and the men vanished as silently as they had appeared.

He surveyed me in satisfaction. The light of passion rekindled in his gaze as he loosened the ties of his second legging. I averted my face. This cannot possibly be happening to me.

Though there was no fire in the room, the scent of smoke settled over us. Dasan knelt beside me and reached for me with a sign of longing.

The smoke thickened. I coughed to clear my lungs and blinked as my eyes began to sting.

A scream split the silence. “Bocuttaw!”

“Fire,” James cried from somewhere nearby. “Jane! Where are you?”

Chief Dasan shot me a frustrated look and rose. Slinging a cape around his shoulders, he ducked from the room.

Moments later, a wicked blade sliced through the canvas door covering. Wanchese appeared, a reckless glint in his re-gold eyes.

“You?” I stared, dumbfounded. “What—“

“Come,” he said simply.

He intended to rescue me? The chief of our most hostile neighbors? Instantly suspicious, I wheezed between fits of coughing, “As you can see, I am detained. Perhaps you might lend me a blade.”

Instead of handing over his knife, he sprang to my side and slashed the bonds himself.

Shaken, I babbled, “A few seconds more and it would have been too late.” I slapped at my wrists and stomped to ease the tingling, but my legs refused to hold me when I tried to stand.

Wanchese grunted in disgust and half drug, half carried me from the room. Outside, the air billowed with smoke and frantic shouts. The sentries who guarded the door lay crumpled on their sides, eyes closed. Dogs barked in the distance.

“Ungrateful wench,” my rescuer said in perfect English as he swung me over his shoulder and broke into a run, “I arrived just in time.”

* * * * * * * * * * *


Jo GraffordAbout the Author: Jo is a mega reader of all genres and loves to indulge in marathon showings of Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and Castle. Her favorite books are rich in Colonial and Elizabethan history, romance, strong women, alpha males, Native Americans, and creatures from the paranormal – an occasional dragon, vampire, or time traveler.

From St. Louis, Missouri, Jo moves a lot with her soldier husband. She has lived in the Midwest, the deep South, and now resides in Bavaria. Jo holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, college finance instructor, and high school business teacher. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter, and the Writers Group of Ansbach/Katterbach/Illesheim.

Twitter: @jografford
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About eileendandashi

I am a lover of books, both reading and writing. 2018 marks the beginning of my own journey from writer to published author. This blog will showcase various authors' thoughts on the elements of novel crafting, and my attempts to find my voice in writing. While journaling this journey, I hope to encourage others to follow their dreams. Book reviews continue as I have the last four years, only making time for my new pursuits.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Reviews of Jo Grafford’s Lost Colonists Series, BREAKING TIES and TRAIL OF CROSSES

  1. Jo Grafford says:

    Reblogged this on Jo Grafford and commented:
    Wow! Gasp! I am humbled and thrilled to see such rave reviews on the Lost Colony Series. So happy to see readers and bloggers get caught up in the thrilling heroics of this amazing group of first Americans. Thank you, Eileen. –All best, Jo


  2. Jo Grafford says:

    Wow, Eileen! Thank you so much for taking the time to write up such rave reviews and for hosting me today. I’m thrilled you are enjoying the Lost Colony Series. –All best, Jo


  3. I meant every word I said! When are you releasing the next one of the series?


  4. Jo Grafford says:

    I’m actually in the middle of writing it right now 🙂 and hoping to release it early to mid-2015. Always depends on the publisher’s schedule. This one is Agnes’s story. Can’t wait to share it with you! Here’s a sneak peak of the blurb (still under construction, of course):

    INTO THE MAIN — Book #3 in the Lost Colony Series. Historical Romance.

    Like most of her shipmates, AGNES WOOD, a skilled apothecary, crosses the Atlantic under an assumed name to escape arrest as a Separatist and dissenter from the Church of England. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time in her eighteen years she’s changed her name, and she has a lot more to hide than the rest of her fellow colonists.

    LORD ANTHONY CAGE, Sheriff of Huntington, has been well paid to track down a dangerous woman with the face of a china doll and a deadly hand on the trigger. On a hunch, he boards Agnes’s ship and trails her to the New World, where he hopes to expose her crimes and carry her back to England in chains.

    Through mutiny, tragedy, and ambushes, the sheriff discovers there is far more to Agnes than the trail of most-wanted posters stretching halfway around the world. He is at a crossroads. Should he expose her past sins and destroy the new life she has fought so hard to build, or should he risk it all for love and the future they could build together?


  5. Jo, the new book sounds wonderful! Now don’t forget to go audiobook with this series. It would be just amazing!


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