Guest Jess Montgomery #giveaway

Edith here north of Boston, madly trying to finish a first draft.

I’m delighted to present Jess Montgomery, our next amazing historical mystery author in this month of Badass Babes from the Before Times. I love her Lily Ross and the Kinship books so very much, and I’m excited I have this new installment, The Echoes, to read. If you haven’t started the series, you must. Read to the end for a giveaway!

As July 4, 1928 approaches, Sheriff Lily Ross and her family look forward to the opening of an amusement park in a nearby town, created by Chalmer Fitzpatrick―a veteran and lumber mill owner. When Lily is alerted to the possible drowning of a girl, she goes to investigate, and discovers schisms going back several generations, in an ongoing dispute over the land on which Fitzpatrick has built the park.

Lily’s family life is soon rattled, too, with the revelation that before he died, her brother had a daughter, Esme, with a woman in France, and arrangements have been made for Esme to immigrate to the U.S. to live with them. But Esme never makes it to Kinship, and soon Lily discovers that she has been kidnapped. Not only that, but a young woman is indeed found murdered in the fishing pond on Fitzpatrick’s property, at the same time that a baby is left on his doorstep.

As the two crimes interweave, Lily must confront the question of what makes family: can we trust those we love? And what do we share, and what do we keep secret?

Take it away, Jess!

What a delight to contribute to “Badass Women from the Before Times!”

My Kinship Historical Mystery Series, set in the Appalachian southeast corner of Ohio, is inspired by the state’s true first female sheriff in Ohio… in 1925. Maude Collins, the real-life sheriff who inspired my protagonist Lily Ross, took on the job after her husband was killed in the line of duty. In 1926, Maude ran for office in her own right—and won by a landslide. All while working as a single mother, and solving crimes including a murder that was written up in the national press. Not only that, but she did so in an era well before modern technology and investigative tools (looking at you, DNA testing), while navigating the tough terrain of Appalachia.

Maude Collins busting a still.

Talk about being a badass.

Lily, too, is a badass as she investigates and solves murders, most recently in my fourth novel in the series, The Echoes, out from Minotaur Books on March 29.

Badass implies toughness, strength, not backing down or wimping out. Lily certainly has those attributes but she also employs de-escalation in tense situations, which requires an inner toughness. She also works closely with members of her community. Sometimes, it takes a village of badasses, after all, to take down the villain.

Her wisdom in understanding she must work with her community to do her job is one reason each of the Kinship novels is dual-narrated by Lily and one other member of her community. (So far, all of Lily’s co-narrators are female.) In The Echoes, Lily’s co-narrator is her mother, Beulah.

Beulah—or “Mama” as Lily calls her—has been a strong, supportive woman for Lily in the background of each of the three preceding novels. I thought it was time for Beulah to share her viewpoint, and this novel was the perfect opportunity as the plot turns on what really happened to Roger—Lily’s older brother and Beulah’s son—during The Great War.

To create Mama, I admit I drew on my own feelings as the mother of two badass daughters. But I also drew on strong women from my family of origin, particularly my paternal aunts, Aunt Opal and Aunt Mary. Both women were innovators in their careers in education and telecommunications, forging new paths as women. Yet, they never bragged about their accomplishments. They led by example—perhaps the best kind of bad-assery. (More about my Aunt Opal here).

Readers: Who in your family or from your childhood was a badass woman who inspires you? One commenter, drawn at random (U.S. only), will receive a copy of The Echoes.

Jess Montgomery is the author of the Kinship Historical Mysteries, set in 1920s Appalachian Ohio and inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff. Under her given name, she writes the “Level Up Your (Writing) Life” column for Writer’s Digest. She was formerly a newspaper columnist, focusing on the literary life, authors and events of her native Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Daily News. She is a three-time recipient of the Individual Excellence Award in Literary Arts from Ohio Arts Council, a two-time recipient of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts & Cultural District (MCAD) Artist Opportunity Grant, and has been a John E. Nance Writer in Residence at Thurber House (Columbus, Ohio). Jess lives in her native state of Ohio, where she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, swimming, baking, crocheting, and occasionally fishing and hiking. Learn more at

39 Thoughts

  1. JESS: Congratulations on your historical books. Lily and Beulah are definitely strong (badass) women.
    My late mom was a strong, inspiring woman. Growing up in WWII Japan, she was the eldest of 4 children. Her mother died at the age of 39 from TB, so was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings from the age of 19. Then her father set up an arranged marriage and my mom emigrated to Toronto, Canada in the early 1960s. She had to learn English and how to cook/live in a strange North American city. I was born in the mid-60s and am the only child since my mom was advised not to try to have another child. My mom became sick was kidney disease from her early 30s and was on kidney dialysis (10+ hours/3 times a week). She never whined or complained about feeling tired/ill and did all the expected household chores and child-raising duties, including sewing all our clothes. Luckily, my mom got a kidney transplant in the mid-1970s and led a much more vibrant, healthy life. Once I left home to go to university, my mom shocked us by getting (her first) full-time job working for a haute couture Japanese designer in posh Yorkville. She worked that job until she suddenly died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 66. I miss her greatly.

      1. Thanks, Barb!
        JESS: Forgot to mention I am NOT eligible for the giveaway but I wanted to share my mom’s story here.

    1. Grace, your mom sounds AMAZING, and incredibly strong. I’m so sorry she was taken from you so young. But from what you’ve said, she lives on in your heart, and your memories bring you comfort. <3

  2. Definitely my mom! She overcame a very poor childhood where she had to leave school early to work for money for their very large family (13 children, including step and half sisters and brothers). Mom finally got her diploma when I was in my teens. She was a stay-at-home mom until my younger brother was around 10, then went on to have a successful career in the federal government. She was a very strong woman who we all relied upon for a calm port in life’s storms. When she got pancreatic cancer which quickly took her life, her bravery was incredible.

  3. Jess is an amazing writer and a very interesting person in her own right. Congratulations, Jess, on another wonderful installment in the Kinship series. Can’t wait to read it.

  4. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “The Echoes” which sounds absolutely amazing. Love the era it’s written in and love the cover as well.

    For me, my Mom was badass. My dad was a career Army man. Back in that day, it wasn’t like today with support for the wife and family. It was told that you weren’t issued a wife and family so it wasn’t their responsibility. When Dad was shipped to Korea for 18 months, it was Mom that had to take over everything from raising us kids to paying the bills. Mom not only held it all together, but she helped many other women in the same situation. I think her motto was “I will not fail” and her determination saw that she didn’t. What she didn’t know, she taught herself. If she didn’t have an answer, she searched it out and then shared with others. As an adult myself, I can’t fathom how she did it all from her normal household chores to taking all all the responsibilities my Dad had all with none of the modern conveniences of today, doing without what wasn’t available any more or figuring out what to substitute, and while tending to lovingly to my brother and me.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Your mom sounds really strong. “You weren’t issued a wife and family…” yikes! I’m glad there’s more support for military families today (though I would still love to see more support for veterans.) I love that she searched for answers, and then SHARED! That’s what community/kinship is all about!

  5. I love the theme of Badass Babes of the Before Times, and Sheriff Lily sounds pretty badness! This sounds like a series I’m going to love.

    I think the most badass woman in my family was my Aunt Lee. Married and divorced before I knew her, then remarried to a divorced man with a son. She wasn’t much good at mothering, left that to his mother while she and my uncle ran a very successful bookstore in NYC. After her husband’s death, Aunt Lee found that she couldn’t keep the store going on her own, so she sold it, moved to LA and reinvented herself as a literary agent. Aunt Lee could be a difficult woman, but she showed me the possibility of reinvention when life isn’t going well – and I followed her lead when I was divorced with a son, a mortgage & a low paying job – I went to college in my 40’s to become a teacher.

    1. Good for you for going to college in your 40s! Hey, you’re a badass babe! I like that Aunt Lee was able to admit that mothering wasn’t her thing, found a solution to that, and focused on what she was good at and reinvented as a literary agent. (That sounds really tough!) Reinvention–I love that as a theme… in life and in literature!

  6. I don’t really have many badass women in my family. I guess the best one to chose would be my mom. She was a very strong willed individual. When she put her mind to something, she was like a dog with a bone. After my dad died at only 59 she managed to pull herself up by her bootstraps and continue on for the next thirty some years. My sister had moved in with my mom and dad with her baby after her divorce and my mom managed to help raise her grandson. My sister had numerous health problems and my mom ended up taking care of her all over again. Her strength is what strikes me the most.

    1. Strength and strong will are definitely aspects of badass-babe-ery. Your dad died so young! It sounds like your mom really kept it together for your sister and nephew. Inspiring!

  7. Congratulations, Jess! I think all of the women in my life – my mother, and two grandmothers – were badasses in their own way and I think they’ve each contributed to who I am today.

  8. Congratulations, Jess! Looking forward diving into Lily’s world. As other commenters have noted, war brings out the strength in a lot of people. My Filipino grandmother, pregnant at the time my grandfather was held POW in a Japanese military camp near Manila, would visit him on Sunday afternoons and chat through a fence. Usually the Japanese soldiers would look the other way when the Filipinas would do this but one Sunday they decided to chase the women away. My grandmother, great with child and unable to run, couldn’t outrun the Japanese soldier who caught up to her and jammed the butt of his rifle into the small of her back. She made it home, but went into labor that night and gave birth to my uncle 2 months premature. Thank the Lord they all lived to tell this story but what strength and “bad-assedness” it took to get through this harrowing episode.

    1. Oh my goodness! I gasped out loud, reading the story of your grandmother. I’m so glad she made it home and that your uncle was born and lived. Your grandmother definitely exhibited mama-bear ferocity. <3

    1. Aunt Betty sounds like a dear. It does seem that often the most giving people don’t realize how much they mean to others. I like to think she knew at some level and is smiling at you from the heavens. She lives on in your heart!

  9. I love this post and all the comments! I had a formidable female doctor when I was a teenager, gray hair in a stern bun and all. She must have had to fight a lot of battles to get there, but it never occurred to me to ask her. My grandmothers were strong and sweet women, and I’m making them even more badass in a new work of fiction!

  10. My mom is the strongest person I know. We may not see eye to eye but her strength has taught me so much about life and about who I am. She showed me how to stand up for yourself and use your voice.

  11. Congratulations your book sounds like a very good read and like a Must read especially for women! I have 3 older brothers and 2 younger sisters and I think my youngest sister is a Badass woman. She was the last of us to get married and she lost her husband suddenly going on 4 yrs now. Well she has always been a go getter and she never lets anything get in her way when it comes to getting things done. She is a very smart lady and she has 3 dogs. She rides a Harley and she takes care of everything at her house. She does not depend on anyone. She is a great inspiration to all. She is always ready to help anyone in need. Have a great week and stay safe. I loved your blurb.

    1. Thank you! And your little sister sounds truly inspiring. I’m impressed she rides a Harley! My one motorcycle ride was behind the driver (rider?), up and down a tiny side street… and that was enough for me, LOL!

  12. My maternal Grandmother was a bad ass woman. My Grandfater died when my Mom was ten years old My Mom was the oldest of three and my Grandmother had to work to support them and provide a home for them. My Mom told me that for years my Grandmother only paid the interest on the mortgage so she could afford to keep the house for her family.

  13. Definitely my grandmother! She was a bad ass woman. She taught me how to stand up for myself and a lot about life. Miss her dearly. Congrats on your book! You are a new author to me. Thanks for the chance!

  14. My grandmother was cool, but I was always happy to be able to grow up knowing her sister as well. She was a WAC during WWII , rivaled Granny in her cooking skills and raised German shepherds.

    1. How fascinating that your great aunt was a WAC! I hope you got to hear interesting stories. Just knowing your great aunt was a WAC had to be intriguing and inspiring.

  15. My Mom is the person who inspired me. When I was in elemetary school, she took on the school board to remove a principal who was not appropriately in the correct profession. She also stopped a camper during a tornado from blowing away. She was the president of PTA, Room Mothers, and girl scout leader to name a few. Thanks for letting me share about her. God bless you.

  16. Hurrah for your mom! I love that she took on the school board, and wow, stopping a camper from blowing away in a tornado? That is definitely bad-ass babe action! (I was a Girl Scout leader when my kids were young, but I never stopped a camper like that!) Glad you shared about her.

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