Panther Mountain: Caroline’s Story is a historical fiction novel based on true events in my great-great-grandmother Caroline’s life in antebellum and Civil War Virginia. Its centerpiece is a romantic mystery; a love letter, written to her by a suitor who was not my great-great-grandfather.
Caroline Grose was raised on a mountain deep in the heart of 19th Century western Virginia. Despite her geographical isolation, she was educated and well-read. At 19, she fell in love with a handsome young man whom she met at a church camp meeting. Her hopes for a romantic relationship were dashed, though, when she saw him kissing another girl.
The world around her grew increasingly chaotic. Caroline’s family members were Methodist Episcopalian abolitionists, and those beliefs pitted them against friends, neighbors and fellow church members. When she discovered that a runaway slave was hiding in a mountain cave near her home, she was faced with a hard choice: turn him over to the authorities or help him escape to freedom.
By 1854, Caroline was a spinster living at home with her parents. One day a letter arrived. It was from the love of her younger years. He wanted her back. Little did she realize, as she read the words on paper, that another man loved her, too. A romantic rivalry was in the making.
Caroline is challenged to go beyond her comfort zone and Victorian gender role to help and protect others. She showed courage in the face of violence and anarchy during the Civil War.