The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

Praise for
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

“Reminiscent of
The Last of the Mohicans
and equally as stirring,
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
is a rare book that kept me up late into the night. Ms. Benton is an exquisite storyteller whose majestic descriptions, suspenseful plot, and passionate romance are not soon to be forgotten.”

—M
ARYLU
T
YNDALL
, author of the Escape to Paradise trilogy

“Founded on a fascinating little-known moment in early American history,
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
is one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read. In this tightly paced flight into fear, hope, and mystery, author Lori Benton emerges as the quintessential artist, able to pull her readers into the story through her well-drawn, multidimensional characters, their emotions, motivations, and dreams.”

—S
UE
H
ARRISON
, international best-selling author of the Ivory Carver trilogy

“Benton has created another masterpiece. With rich historical detail, she brings to life the early frontier with all its beauty and danger. Her descriptions are unique and often breathtaking. She creates realistic dialogue, vibrant characters, and an intriguing plot. Benton has quickly become one of my favorite authors.”

—J
ODY
H
EDLUND
, best-selling author of
Rebellious Heart


The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
is a beautifully written novel, rich in historical details that will transport you back to the mountains of North Carolina in the late eighteenth century. The characters are so real and their circumstance so compelling, they jump off the page and into your heart. Readers of historical romance will be captivated, and those who read her debut novel,
Burning Sky
, will be thrilled with this new story.”

—C
ARRIE
T
URANSKY
, author of
The Governess of Highland Hall
and
The Daughter of Highland Hall

“Seldom has a tale swept me away so powerfully that I’m left both breathless and bereft at its end, reluctant to let go.
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
is such a book, a gentle masterpiece destined to be treasured and acclaimed.”

—J
ULIE
L
ESSMAN
, award-winning author of the Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series

“With gorgeous prose and characters that will steal your heart, Benton has breathed live and passion into history.
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
is a captivating example of excellence. Flawless!”

—R
OSEANNA
M. W
HITE
, author of the Culper Ring series

“A breathtaking novel from start to incandescent conclusion. Lori Benton portrays the rugged North Carolina terrain in such vivid detail, readers will feel they’ve followed Tamsen’s journey every pulse-pounding step of the way. A must-read!”

—A
NN
S
HOREY
, author of
Love’s Sweet Beginning

“In this sweeping colonial saga, author Lori Benton has crafted a powerful tale wherein every element of storytelling is vividly woven together. Poetic, emotional, and rich in historic detail,
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
is a stirring page-turner.”

—J
OANNE
B
ISCHOF
, award-winning author of
Be Still My Soul
and
Though My Heart Is Torn

A
LSO BY
L
ORI
B
ENTON

Burning Sky

THE PURSUIT OF TAMSEN LITTLEJOHN
PUBLISHED BY WATERBROOK PRESS
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921

All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version.

The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.

Trade Paperback ISBN 978-0-307-73149-4
eBook ISBN 978-0-307-73150-0

Copyright © 2014 by Lori Benton

Cover design by Kristopher K. Orr

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Published in the United States by WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, New York, a Penguin Random House Company.

WATERBROOK and its deer colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Benton, Lori.
  The pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn : a novel / Lori Benton.
        pages cm
  ISBN 978-0-307-73149-4 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-307-73150-0 (electronic) 1. Man-woman relationships Fiction. 2. Frontier and pioneer life—Fiction. I. Title.
  PS3602.E6974P88 2014
  813′.6—dc23
                                                                                                                                 2013043110

v3.1

For Brian
And for those of my maternal ancestors who pioneered—Puryears, Hites, and Amises—at least one of whom became an Overmountain Man
.
And I said, O that I had wings like a dove!
For then would I fly away, and be at rest.
Lo, then would I wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness. Selah.
I would hasten my escape
From the windy storm and tempest.
Psalm 55:6–8

Contents

Cover

Other Books by This Author

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

For Richer, for Poorer

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

For Better, for Worse

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

To Have and to Hold

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

To Love and to Cherish

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Till Death Do Us Part

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

From This Day Forward

Epilogue

Author’s Notes and Acknowledgments

Readers Guide

Glossary of Native Words and Phrases

About the Author

Western North Carolina
September 1787

To Jesse Bird’s reckoning, any man charged with driving forty head of Overmountain cattle to market best have three things in his possession—a primed rifle, a steady horse, and a heap of staying power.

Jesse had the first two, one balanced across his thighs; the other tired, fly bitten, and dusty between them. As for staying power … with miles to go before he’d be shed of those forty beeves, he was making a studied effort to let patience have its perfect work in him.

Looking back across their brown and brindled ranks, he spotted Cade and the packhorses rounding a bend in the river trace, where sunlight still speared the hazy air in moted streaks of gold. Riding behind the drove at the mercy of its dust, Cade had a kerchief tied across his mouth and nose, hat pulled low to shield his eyes. Though Jesse hadn’t ridden rear guard since midday, the choke of that same dust gritted his throat. Grime coated the foot drovers too, spread out through the summer-fattened herd, armed with rifles and staves, eyes darting glances at the crowding wooded slopes.

Grasshoppers whirred beside the trace, leaping clear of trampling hooves that crackled the weeds. The sun hung to westward, its warmth fading, leaving rivulets of sweat drying on Jesse’s neck, sticking his shirt where the straps of bullet-bag and knapsack crossed. He was thinking they’d reach their next camp a nip ahead of dark, with time to pen the cattle before swimming the dust off his hide, when something with the
force of a slung stone clipped his hat brim. Thinking a deer fly had marked him for a meal, he reached for the hat, meaning to swat the pest.

The hat was gone clean off his head. It dangled from a nearby tulip poplar, pinned by a feathered arrow.

Jesse gave a whoop, then was out of the saddle and ducking behind a clump of rhododendron, putting his horse crosswise between himself and the beeves. From across the river came a spotty rain of arrows, pinging off rocks, thunking into trees along the bank. The drovers ducked behind the cattle on the hill-slope side of the trace, rifles shouldered.

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