What to Read Wednesay

11 Sep

Happy Wednesday and thank you for joining me for What to Read Wednesday. Today we have author Sarah Ballance joining us. She has a wonderful new historical release set during the Salem Witch Trials out from the Scandalous line with Entangled Publishing titled HER WICKED SIN, which is the first book in A Sins for Salem line.

Take it away Sarah!!!

5 Ways Colonial Puritans Got their Freak On (Sarah Ballance)

I don’t know about you, but I never considered Puritans to be the naughty type. Maybe it’s the way they tend to frown from those stodgy old sketches that populate text books, or perhaps it’s the reputation earned after they strung up their neighbors willy nilly during the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93. Or maybe I just can’t picture them gettin’ busy when they’re glaring at me from a few centuries back. (Y’all, now is NOT the time to google Cotton Mather, mkay?) But YOU GUYS, they totally got their freak on. Here are a few facts that’ll have you wishing you hadn’t clicked that link for ol’ Cotton (you did, didn’t you?), because you so don’t need that visual in your head for this.

The Wooden Plank for Birth Control

Young couples needed their parents’ blessings for courtship. This courtship often involved testing their compatibility by spending the night in the same bed (usually in the same room as the girl’s parents) with a board bundled between them. Interestingly, (and depending somewhat on who you ask) some 20-40% of these young ladies were knocked up before the big day. Now, I don’t know what they were going for with this compatibility test, but apparently the answer was all too frequently a resounding yes.

Covet Thy Neighbor

If a married woman had an affair, it was called adultery and was most often punished with death. Men who strayed to other women, however, were guilty of mere fornication. Their punishment for the very same act that could get a woman killed? A public lashing.  People knew this, and still they carried on like fiends. That, my friends, is dedication. (Or a lack thereof, as the case may be.)

Grounds for Divorce

Unsatisfying sex was grounds for divorce. So was a lack of sex. If you were impotent before the days of Viagra, you were screwed. (Or, rather, you were not so much screwed, but I digress.) Lest that seem unfair, women could also be accused of impotence. I’m not sure how that works, exactly, but good for them for thinking outside of the box.

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On…

Handfasting—something you will see in HER WICKED SIN—was a totally acceptable method of marrying. Basically, you shook on it. Anyone who’s ever dropped a few grand on a wedding can probably really get into this method, but men (sorry, guys, but it was usually the man) quickly figured out how to ruin it for the next few centuries. You saw this coming, right? “I will love you forever,” he says. Next morning, he’s hopping out the door on one leg trying to don his trousers with the other, never to be seen again. (Handfasting apparently worked better with witnesses.)

…But Not on Sundays

Pretty much everything was forbidden on Sundays, including travel, preparation of meals (they did this ahead on Saturday), work (not sure how the ministers got around this), and sex. Probably not the end of the world, but since many of them tended to believe babies were born on the same day of the week they were conceived, this little rule got quite a few good Puritans in a heap of trouble. Oftentimes those poor Sunday-born kids were even denied baptism, as many ministers were vehemently strict on this infraction. The Reverend Israel Loring was one such stalwart … until his wife delivered twins on a Sunday.

Now that you know Puritans aren’t quite as boring as we’ve all been led to believe, I hope you’ll carry some of that newfound interest over to HER WICKED SIN, my new historical romance from Entangled Scandalous. Set during the Salem Witch Trials, the story features a woman with a dark secret, a handsome stranger on a mysterious errand, combustible smexiness, and a couple of dark, delicious plot twists that will keep you out of the woods at night. Intrigued? Read on!

HER WICKED SIN Sarah Ballance


HER WICKED SIN (Sins of Salem #1) – Entangled Scandalous


SALEM, MA 1692

On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight….

Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.

Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply…away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse…and claiming her bed.

Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.

Find it @ Amazon Barnes & Noble | Kobo iTunes Goodreads



“Willard, you beast.” A round of profanity followed the utterance. Though the stranger’s words were foul, they offered for his equine companion both comfort and reassurance. Their soothing cadence eased the alarm from the horse’s eyes, leading his ears to relax from their pinned state.

Lydia found herself enchanted by the man’s tones and by his obvious affection for the horse. 

He shifted in the leaves, still facing away, and he had yet to acknowledge her. She should flee. She had freed him from his quandary, and his voice tinged itself not with pain, but with humor. She would feel no remorse for moving past, yet her feet did not budge.

If she remained silent, would he not know her there? No, eventually he would wonder what held the reins aloft. She watched, waiting for that moment. Through the profound darkness, she noticed his hair was a nutty brown and longer than that of a Puritan man, though its richness showed no trace of the powder worn by many wealthy travelers. He was a study of contrasts, this man. For all of his finery, he seemed to shun the ways of society, and his roguish nature appealed to those innermost desires she had thought long lost. Her husband, as he were, had ruined her womanhood. 

This stranger, in the most insignificant ways, had roused it.



Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly supernatural romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on her website.

Sarah Ballance

Find Sarah @ Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Book Excerpts, What to Read Wednesday


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15 responses to “What to Read Wednesay

  1. lizaoconnor

    September 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Fabulous excerpt. Great insight into a group now we rather think of as non-sexual. Didn’t know about the shame of babies on Sunday. Since I’m sure the Rev would never break the Sunday rule, did he conclude the babies weren’t his?

    • ChristineWarner

      September 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

      So glad you dropped by Liza and I hope you check out Sarah’s book. As for your question, I’ll leave that up to Sarah to answer if she knows. I have no clue. lol

    • sarahballance

      September 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

      That’s a good question, Liza! The research didn’t say…just that he decided Sunday-born babies were worthy of baptism after all. That would have been a very interesting conversation, indeed. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt – thanks so much for your comment!

  2. michellemclean

    September 11, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Love the excerpt, sounds like a great book! This posts reminds me of why I love researching so much 😀 Amazing what interesting little tidbits you can find! 😀

    • sarahballance

      September 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      You are so right about research! I can’t believe the things I found. Who knew Puritans would make me blush? LOL! Thanks so much for commenting, Michelle!

    • ChristineWarner

      September 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Thanks for stopping in Michelle 🙂

  3. Jennifer Lowery

    September 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Awesome post! I had no idea Puritans weren’t so pure, lol. Enjoyed the excerpt and can’t wait to read the book!

    • sarahballance

      September 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      INORITE? I’ve gained a whole new respect for ’em, I’ll tell ya. 🙂 Thank you for your visit, Jennifer!

    • ChristineWarner

      September 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      I’m with you there Jennifer…..loved Sarah’s post. Hope you enjoy her book.

  4. Hayson

    September 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Fascinating. Sleeping with a plank between a couple with a parent in the room? Where did they come up with these gems! Fabulous. Her Wicked Sin looks awesome. I can’t wait to read it.

    • sarahballance

      September 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Aw, YAY! Thank you, Hayson! And my husband would totally have whittled an access hole in the board. He’s all about the technicalities, LOL!

      • lizaoconnor

        September 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm

        Too funny! But beware of splinters!

      • ChristineWarner

        September 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm

        LOL….Love it! I bet there were some exceptional carpenters in Puritan days 🙂

    • ChristineWarner

      September 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Thanks for coming by Hayson!


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