Dobsons 411

Hanging on for the ultimate ride--God's great adventure.
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Location: Oregon

The author of fourteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor and Chateau of Secrets. More info at

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Blog Has Moved

Thank you for stopping by my blog! It has been such a pleasure to write for the past ten years about our family adventures and about my research trips and book giveaways.

We have relaunched my website so my blog is now located at All the old posts are still there, but they are much better organized!

Thanks for journeying with me.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Gift for Readers

 Dear Friends,
Last year our family celebrated Christmas in Uganda. Our spirits were renewed as we sang, danced, and served with our African brothers and sisters. And we experienced the love and grace of our Savior in incredible ways (you can read more about our journey here). 

This year we are spending a quiet Christmas at our home in Oregon, and as I revel this season in the wonder of all God’s gifts, offered freely to each of us, I wanted to offer my readers a gift as well.
Blue Nativity iStock for Newsletter
Almost four years ago, a dear friend asked me to write a fictional account of the love story between Rahab and Salmon (found in Joshua 2-6) and the poignant reflection of God’s grace woven through the lineage of Christ. The story was read during a women’s prayer night back in 2011 and then I tucked it away.
Because redemption is at the heart of this season, I wanted to bring this story back out for Christmas and share it with each of you. It is a story about God cultivating beauty from ashes. A story about faith and love and the rescue of a courageous woman who risked her life for the God of grace.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction, 

you can download The Crimson Cord 

from my website by clicking here.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and for sharing your stories with me.
With joy,
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

WW II Anniversary Blog Tour

Thanks for stopping by! It's such a privilege to be part of this WWII anniversary blog tour and giveaway. If you would like to participate, please go to this page starting on September 1st for more details:

The main character in my latest novel (Chateau of Secrets) was attending the Université de Caen when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. In her youth, Gisèle was rather complacent about what was happening outside France, but nine months later, when Hitler takes Paris, her world is turned upside down. Here is the opening chapter of Chateau of Secrets, the night everything changes...

 For more information about 
Chateau of Secrets, please visit my website:

June 1940 (Agneaux, France)
Candlelight flickered on the medieval walls as Gisèle Duchant stepped into the warmth of the nave. The shadows in the sacristy were the only witnesses to her secret—no one but she and Michel knew the same small room that stored the vestments and supplies for their family’s chapelle was also a hiding place.
She slid the iron gate across the entry into the sacristy, and after locking it, she set down her picnic hamper—emptied of its Camembert cheese and Calvados—and turned toward the pews.
Five women from Agneaux, the tiny commune at the top of the lane, knelt before the altar, the sweet fragrance of incense blending with the smell of cigarette smoke on their clothing. For centuries, women had visited this chapelle to plead with the Almighty to protect their husbands, sons, and brothers as they fought for France. Now they battled in prayer even as the men they loved defended their country against Hitler and his ploy to assimilate the French people into his Third Reich.
Gisèle slid her fingers over the amber rosary beads around her neck, gently fingering the ornamented handle of the brass crucifix in the center. A cross that was also a key.
“Secrets can destroy.”
The words of her university professor echoed in her mind. If a secret was powerful enough, her philosophy professor had declared from his lectern, it could demolish an entire army. Or shatter the heart of a family.
The narrow pew creaked as she knelt beside it. Looking up at the crucifix that hung above the altar, she crossed herself and then whispered, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.”
Her mind wandered as the familiar prayer tumbled from her lips.
The healing powers of a secret intrigued her, the layers that sheltered families and nations alike. A secret could destroy, like her professor said, but it could also shield a family. Like the tangled hedgerows of brushwood and bramble that fortified the nearby city of Saint-Lô, a secret could keep those you love from destruction.
When did a secret cross over the gray wasteland between protecting one you loved and destroying him?
Last month Prime Minister Chamberlain had evacuated all the British troops he’d sent to France, along with a hundred thousand French soldiers. Michel had been among those evacuated at Dunkirk, and Papa thought his son was safe in England.
But Michel had snuck home after the evacuation, and she prayed God would forgive her for her trespasses, that her secret effort to save her younger brother’s life wouldn’t become a mortal sin.
The women whispered prayers around her, and like many of them, she couldn’t confess her sin to anyone, not even to the priest who came once a week to preside over mass. With the world in turmoil, they all had to guard secrets to protect the men they loved.
Aeroplane engines buzzed in the distance, and she shivered. The German bombers flew over them almost every night now, showing off their power for the citizens of Saint-Lô. Her country refused to be intimated by their display.
Candles rattled in their bronze holders.
“Deliver us from evil,” she whispered as the planes passed overhead. Then she repeated her words.
Unlike Austria and Denmark, France would fight the Nazis.
When the drone of engines settled into the night, the village women silently slipped out the door. Gisèle rose to attend to her duties.
Just as she was the keeper of Michel’s secret, she was the keeper of the Chapelle d’Agneaux. While other aristocratic women attended their formal gardens or antique collections, her mother had painstakingly cared for the chapelle for two decades. Instead of remembering her mother at the cemetery beside the chapelle, Gisèle liked to remember her inside these walls. When she was at the château, she unlocked the door of the chapelle every morning so villagers could pray, and every night she blew out the vigil candles and swept the stone floors.
Outside in the courtyard, the misty breath of the river Vire stole up and over the stone walls of the chapelle and the turrets of the medieval château that stood before her, the home of the Duchant family for more than three hundred years. While her family had lost sons and daughters to the guillotine during the revolution and to the wars that were waged across France, this fortress of stone towers and secret tunnels had sheltered many of her ancestors through wars and storms. It had been a solace for her mother. And for her.
Gisèle quickly crossed the gravel courtyard and hurried into the foyer of the Château d’Epines. Sliding off her red suede pumps, she padded across the marble floor in her silk stockings, the handles of the picnic hamper clutched in her hands. If she could store the hamper before she saw her father, she wouldn’t have to lie to him.
She snuck past the staircase that spiraled up to the second floor and the entrance to the drawing room, but before she reached the door to the kitchen, her father called her name. Then she heard the heels of his sturdy Richelieus clapping across the marble floor.
She dropped the hamper and kicked it to the edge of the antique console table.
The sight of her father in his brown cardigan and trousers, the familiar scent of applewood and tobacco, usually comforted her, but tonight the fear in his blue eyes wasn’t familiar at all. Papa—known in France as the esteemed Vicomte Jean-François Bouchard Duchant—was never afraid.
She clasped the pumps to her chest. “What is it?”
His gaze wandered toward the tall window by the front door, like he was seeking solace from the chapelle outside as well.
“Hitler—” His voice cracked, and he hesitated as if he hadn’t yet digested the news he bore.
“Papa?” she whispered.
“Hitler has taken Paris.”
Her shoes clattered on the marble and she stumbled backward as if the tiles had shifted under her feet. Her hands flailed, searching until they caught the banister.
Paris was a great city, the greatest in the world. How could it bow to a lunatic?
“But the war—” she stammered. “It has just begun.”
Papa’s shoulders dropped. “The government in Paris . . . they decided not to fight.”
She squeezed the iron banister. How could the Parisians refuse to fight?
If the French resisted together, if they refused to cower . . .
They had to resist.
“What will happen?” she whispered.
“Phillipe is coming to drive you south, to the manor in Lyon.”
“I don’t care what happens to me.” Her voice trembled. “What will happen to France?”
He hesitated again, like he wasn’t sure he should tell her the truth. He might still have thought her twelve, but she was twenty-two years old now. A graduate of the prestigious Université de Caen. She was certainly old enough to know the truth.
She willed strength into her voice. If he thought her strong, perhaps he would be honest. “You must tell me.”
He seemed to consider her words before he spoke. “Hitler won’t stop until he takes all of Europe.”
She released the banister to pick up her pumps, her hands trembling. “I can’t go to Lyon.”
Compassion mixed with the fear in his eyes. “We must leave. Hitler seems determined to take London next, and his army will march through here on their way to the port at Cherbourg.”
She rubbed her bare arms. Lyon was ten hours southeast. “If they’ve taken Paris, it won’t be long before the Germans take Lyon too.”
“Perhaps.” Papa tugged on the hem of his cardigan. “But Phillipe can take you to Switzerland before then.”
Hitler’s appetite for power seemed insatiable. He’d taken much of Europe now, but she doubted conquering the rest of France and even London would satisfy the German führer. With the French government refusing to fight, they needed courageous Frenchmen—former soldiers like Michel—to stop him.
But nine years ago, before her mother died, she’d begged Gisèle to care for Michel. Even though she was just a girl, Gisèle had sworn, on the crucifix of her mother’s rosary, that she would give her very life to watch over her brother. Michel may have been nineteen now, but he was just as headstrong as when he was a boy. How could she protect him from an onslaught of the German army and their bombs?
Papa rang a bell. “Émilie will help you pack your things for the trip.”
Seconds later their housemaid rushed into the hall, her white apron tied over her black uniform and her graying hair pinned back in a neat knot. But instead of stopping, Émilie rushed past Gisèle to the front door, a valise clutched in each of her hands.
Papa called out to her. “Where are you going?”
Émilie set down one of her bags. “My sister just called from Cahagnes. German tanks are moving through the town.”
Papa swore. Cahagnes was just thirty kilometers away.
As the door opened and then rattled shut, Gisèle slipped on her shoes. Before she left, she had to warn Michel that the Germans were near.
“You must pack your things,” Papa said as he glanced at his watch. “Phillipe said he would be here within the half hour.”
Her chest felt as if it might explode. The Germans might kill them if they stayed, but she couldn’t leave without telling her brother. He had to flee as well.
“I need more time,” she pleaded.
Ma chérie,” he said tenderly as he reached for her hand, imploring her. “It is not safe for you to stay here any longer.”
Her heart felt as if it might rip into two. How could she make him understand without revealing Michel’s secret?
He nudged her toward the steps. “I will meet you in Lyon.”
Still she didn’t move. “You must come with us, Papa.”
“I will follow soon, after I hide the silver and your mother’s jewelry. If they arrive while I’m here—” He cleared his throat. “The Germans won’t harm a member of the aristocracy.”
She nudged her chin up. “Nor will they harm his daughter.”
A siren wailed and the floor shook from more aeroplanes sweeping low in the valley. Hair bristled on the back of her neck.
Papa turned her shoulders toward the stairs. “Hurry, Gisèle.”
“I can’t—”
“You don’t have a choice.”
She knew he was afraid that he would lose her, just like he had her mother, but if she left right now—
She feared they would both lose Michel.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Welcome to the D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour

This month ten authors of inspirational World War II novels are commemorating the brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Thank you for joining us as we remember their heroism and sacrifice!

Our novels illuminate different aspects of the war from the Holocaust to the Pacific to the US Home Front. Each day we will share about our stories, our research, and our unique settings, and with each blog post, you'll have the opportunity to win that author's novel, plus a chance to win a packet of all ten featured novels!

Giveaway Details 

For a chance to win ALL TEN novels featured on our blog tour, please visit each blog listed below, collect the answers to the questions and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway on the BLOG TOUR PAGE. You have a new chance to enter each day of the tour! The contest opened June 2 and closes June 13, 2014 at 11 pm PST. The winners will be announced on Monday, June 15. Several of the titles will not be released until later in the year--these copies will be mailed to the winners after the release dates.

To win the prize of all ten books, you must collect all ten answers. The winner must be prepared to send all ten answers within 24 hours of notification by email or a new winner will be selected. 

You can enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once each day! The more often you visit, the more entries you receive. To collect the ten answers, you may want to download the Word document answer sheet on the BLOG TOUR PAGE.

A huge thank you to two talented ladies--Sarah Sundin for all of her hard work organizing this tour and Kristy Cambron for gifting all of us with the beautiful artwork to accompany it. Here is a bit of my story:

The Soil of Normandy

As I stood on the shore of Utah Beach last spring, watching waves from the English Channel brush over the golden sand, I tried to imagine the more than twenty thousand troops storming this stretch in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. Twenty thousand incredibly brave men, young and old, many of them seasick, cold and terrified.

I thought about the courage of Captain George Edick, the father of a friend, who arrived on this beach eight days after the surprise invasion in 1944 and helped push back the Germans through France. I thought about the strength of the French people who resisted the Germans from the inside of their country and protected Allied paratroopers from the enemy. And I thought about another friend's mother-in-law, a French noblewoman named Genevieve de Saint Pern who rescued downed Allied airmen even as the Germans occupied her family's home.

For a week, two girlfriends and I explored Normandy, and on our journey, we heard story after story of courageous men and women who stood up against evil and risked their life to save others. One elegant woman named Marie-Charlotte told us about her parents who led the local French resistance.

Afternoon with Serge and Marie-Charlotte
As a girl, Marie-Charlotte delivered the counterfeit ID cards for American pilots while her parents helped transfer Allied airmen and gather information for the Americans before D-Day.

Marie-Charlotte didn't speak much English but her husband Serge did.

The soil in Normandy is damp with American blood.

This is what Serge told us as they shared their memories. Then he brought out strips of soiled nylon he'd found nearby, pieces of a parachute used by an American trooper seventy years ago. He honored us, thanking my friends and I as Americans for what we had done to help save France.

My friends and I weren't there in 1944. I wasn't even born for another twenty-plus years. Thousands of Allied and French men and women died that June in Normandy, and in that moment with Serge and Marie-Charlotte, holding the nylon and other gifts they gave us, I felt guilty. I had done nothing to deserve this while Marie-Charlotte, her parents, and so many others had done so much.
"Chateau of Secrets" before the war

But then I realized that more than anything, our new friends honored us not just because of the past. They honored us because of what they desire for the future. They want Americans to remember the stories of the courageous men and women who fought for their country.

When I returned home, I sat down and wrote a story about the courage and tenacity of the French people during that occupation and about the Allied men who helped them. A story that I hope will help people remember some of the forgotten heroes of World War II.

Today, seventy years after the Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, I want to honor Serge, Marie-Charlotte, George Edick, Genevieve de Saint Pern and every man and woman
who defied the evil that had overtaken France and
risked their life to save someone else.

Chateau of Secrets

"Amazing characters, deep family secrets, 
and an authentic French chateau make Dobson's story a delight."
RT Book Review (4 1/2 stars)

Overview: Chateau of Secrets is about a courageous French noblewoman who hides members of the French resistance in the tunnels under her father's chateau even as the Germans occupy her home. Seventy years later, her granddaughter Chloe Sauver returns to the chateau to work with a filmmaker to unravel her family's story, and the secrets they uncover will change both of their lives forever.

More information about Chateau of Secrets can be found here:

As well as giving away Chateau of Secrets at the end of this tour, I will be giving away a copy of this novel to readers here. If you would like to enter this giveaway, please leave a comment with your email address below or sign up for my newsletter at this link. Thank you for stopping by!

Blog Tour Question: The soil of Normandy is damp with what?

Schedule for the D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour 

(Links below will go live on the post date)

June 2: SARAH SUNDIN, author of In Perfect Time
June 3: LIZ TOLSMA, author of Daisies Are Forever
June 4: MURRAY PURA, author of London Dawn
June 5: CARA PUTMAN, author of Shadowed by Grace
June 6: MELANIE DOBSON, author of Chateau of Secrets
June 7: KRISTY CAMBRON, author of The Butterfly and the Violin
June 9: TRICIA GOYER, author of Chasing Mona Lisa
June 10: PATTY SMITH HALL, author of Hearts Rekindled
June 11: CATHY GOHLKE, author of Saving Amelie
June 12: SIGMUND BROUWER, author of Thief of Glory

Monday, May 12, 2014

Giving Away Ten Copies of Chateau of Secrets

Chateau of Secrets is a "time slip" novel about a French noblewoman named Gisele Duchant who hides the French resistance in tunnels under her family's medieval chateau even as the Nazi Germans occupy her home. Seventy years later, her granddaughter Chloe Sauver returns to the Chateau d'Epines and is shocked as she and a filmmaker named Riley Holtz begin to uncover the secrets of her family's past.

Chateau of Secrets was based on the courage and faith of a real life French noblewoman named Genevieve de Saint Pern Menke.

You can read more about Genevieve's courageous story in my last blog. 

Chateau of Secrets releases today and to celebrate the release, I will be giving away a copy to ten different readers. If you would like to sign up for this drawing, please leave your email address in a comment below or subscribe to my newsletter at this link on my website. 

I will email the winners after the giveaway closes on May 27th. Thank you for celebrating with me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chateau of Secrets

Last year I had the privilege of visiting Normandy with several girlfriends to research for my next time-slip novel Chateau of Secrets (releases in May). On a snowy March evening, Ann Menke gave us a tour of the medieval Château d’Agneaux set on jagged cliffs above the River Vire. 

The chateau had been bombed during World War II so only half of the thousand-year-old structure remained, but it has been beautifully restored with antique furnishings and modern appliances. It was a remarkable place, brimming with history and mystique, but even more remarkable than the house were the stories Ann told us about her mother-in-law who’d lived in the Château d’Agneaux during the war.

Genevieve de Saint Pern Menke was a French noblewoman who grew up at the Château d’Agneaux outside Saint-Lo. Under her family’s home was a tunnel where—according to family legend— her ancestors hid during the French Revolution. When the Nazi Germans occupied Genevieve's country and ultimately her home, she risked her life to hide downed Allied airmen and members of the French resistance in this tunnel underneath the chateau.

Genevieve joined the Red Cross in her early twenties and drove an ambulance to assist wounded soldiers in France. After the war, she was awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal for carrying soldiers to her ambulance while under fire from automatic weapons and mortars, the Red Cross Medal of Honor for treating soldiers on the battlefront, and a second Croix de Guerre for courageously and successfully negotiating the release of the French villagers in Germolles before they were executed by firing squad. During the hours of negotiation, she told the German officer that “an honorable man would not kill innocent people.”

While we were in France, we biked around the village where Genevieve once lived and spent our nights in the Menke family's renovated manoir with its old stone tower and elegant paintings of ancestors on the walls. The people of Normandy welcomed us warmly, and we spent an afternoon dining with Serge and Marie Charlotte Letourneur, a beautiful couple who shared their memories of the war with us. Marie Charlotte's father and mother had both been leaders in the local French resistance, and Serge gave us pieces of nylon from an American parachute that he'd found after D-Day. They honored us because we were Americans, and we were completely humbled by their regard.

Chateau of Secrets is based on the heroic true stories of the French and German people who fought against Hitler and his regime from the inside. Genevieve Menke passed away in 2010, but her legacy of courage and compassion lives on through her five sons, her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I hope now as well through these fictional characters inspired by her heroism. 

Here are few pics of Genevieve and my adventure with friends in France:

Herman and Genevieve Menke outside the family's manoir

Chateau d'Agneaux before it was bombed during World War II

Genevieve de Saint Pern in the 1940s

Mary Kay Taylor and Ann Menke by the lake below the chateau

Seventy years after the war and crops still won't grow where the bombs hit

Afternoon with the delightful Serge and Marie Charlotte

Looking down on the valley and river Vire below the chateau

Wish we could have kayaked on the Vire like my characters!

Stairs down to the old wine cellar (cave) and tunnel

A lovely dinner with Mary Kay Taylor, Ann Menke, and Darwin and Emmanuelle Menke in Paris