Dobsons 411

Hanging on for the ultimate ride--God's great adventure.
My Photo
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

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

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Spring Scavenger Hunt Stop #32

I hope you've enjoyed the Spring 2014 Scavenger Hunt! The hunt ends in the next post at Midnight MT on Sunday, April 6th. If you’re new to the hunt, please click here to begin collecting the red-marked clues at 33 stops with unique content and giveaways. The hunt is open to international entries and prizes include a Kindle Fire HDX, a $100 gift certificate, and copies of the latest releases from all the participating authors.

It is with great honor that I introduce the last guest on the scavenger hunt—Robin Lee Hatcher. A best-selling novelist, Robin is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is actually one of the authors who inspired me to begin a career writing fiction. Fifteen years ago I read her novel The Forgiving Hour, and this incredible book put the desire in my heart as well to write compelling, truth-filled, page-turning stories that could change a reader’s life.

Robin is now the author of seventy novels and novellas with more than five million copies of her stories in print. She has won many awards including the Christy, RITA, Carol, Inspirational Reader's Choice, and she is the recipient of the prestigious RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. 


God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it.
But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved. What had become of His promise?

Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.

The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she’d misunderstood.

Now living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman a lot like herself.

As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord? For a woman accustomed to being someone else’s savior, that will be even harder than it sounds.

A Promise Kept
is Robin Lee Hatcher’s most intimate work yet and an emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His time and His own ways. A Promise Kept is  available on these links at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and

By Robin Lee Hatcher

When I came up with the idea for my latest novel, A Promise Kept, I knew that it would take place in an Idaho mountain community. As a writer, I love to create a fictional place and plop it down in the middle of reality. Usually I have a real town or location in mind as I invent the one that fits my story. That was true of Kings Meadow, too.

I had a lot of photographs on my computer to help me envision the long, boomerang-shaped valley, surrounded on all sides by mountains, where Kings Meadow began to grow. I love the true history of the area (many of my books have been set in the mountains of southwest Idaho), and I also fell in love with the history I created for the town of Kings Meadow and the people who live there.

It tickles me, how many reviewers and readers of A Promise Kept have mentioned Kings Meadow. Several have said they wish they could go live there themselves. This just makes me so happy.

And because I grew so fond of the town and its people, I realized I couldn't let go of 
either of them yet.
So, with my editor's blessing, I set aside the historical series I'd planned to write. The first contemporary novel in the Kings Meadow Romance series, Love Without End, will release in November 2014. I think readers of A Promise Kept will be glad to know that Chet Leonard is the hero of this new novel. (I owed him a happy ending after giving him so much sorrow in A Promise Kept.) Each of the books in this series will include an historical thread about the town and its people. I'm loving that so much.

Most authors spend months and months with their characters and setting for a novel. It's much more enjoyable when they become real in our minds, the way Kings Meadow has become real to me.

I hope you'll join me there, first in A Promise Kept and then in the Kings Meadow Romance series, beginning with Love without End.

The clue for this stop on the hunt is CHESTERTON.

The next stop (#33) is Robin Lee Hatcher’s site.

In addition to the Scavenger Hunt grand prizes, I am giving away five copies of my upcoming novel Chateau of Secrets. To register for this giveaway, please leave a comment below with your email address or subscribe to my newsletter list here on

Thanks for stopping by!