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Boston, 1765. Unrest is in the air. 
A new tax has been imposed without colonial consent or 
representation. An underground resistance movement led by Sam Adams is picking up momentum. But Elizabeth Durham is too troubled to care. She believes she has killed a man. If he is dead, he deserves it, for he has violated her—but she dare not wait to find out. Instead, she will hide in the new world and find work there.
Squire John Rawlings, a Boston merchant, helps by taking her to his native village, hoping she will be able to teach at the town’s school. On the day of their arrival, they find a crowd waiting to watch a public flogging. The culprit is Squire John’s youngest brother, Benjamin, who has been caught in the act of fornication with a married woman.

When she sees him, Elizabeth is stunned. Handsome, utterly unrepentant, Ben Rawlings waits fearlessly for his punishment to begin. As he looks out over the crowd, his eyes meet hers and there is a quickening deep, deep within her. And so it begins…
When a new tax is devised by Parliament, collected by corrupt commissioners, enforced by a warship, and then by His Majesty’s army, the colonists are in turmoil. The Royalists struggle to prevail against them; Sam Adams and his group continue to undermine their power, and Elizabeth is caught in the middle. Between politics and the threat of war and the law itself, she and Ben Rawlings are hopelessly star crossed.
But not defeated.




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After the American Revolution, Elijah Merrick takes his place among the merchant sea-farers who now can trade in Europe without the constraints formerly imposed by His Majesty, King George III. Molly Deems, laboring under the cloud of her mother’s service to a Barnstable reprobate, knows that her future will be secure only through marriage to a man of humble beginnings and the ability to rise above them. This man is Elijah, who will make possible her own rise as the new nation takes its place in the European maritime community.  Molly leads her town’s society, accepted at last, then risks losing it all while Elijah, suspecting nothing, throws everything he has into a ship of his own, Sweet Charity, in an effort to regain what the War of 1812 has cost.


“Molly and Elijah Merrick present their own visions of possibility in post-revolutionary New England. Skillful, cunning, and caring in their often conflicting ways, the couple builds, loses, and struggles to regain fortune, trust, and love. The narrative language faithfully evokes the emerging maritime Cape Cod society.” Professor Bruce Allen, author of Voices of Earth: Stories of People, Place, and Nature and Literature of Nature: An International Sourcebook.

“Hill creates a lush, vibrant landscape in post-Revolutionary Cape Cod with historical details that blend seamlessly with the narrative. What compels the reader to turn the page, however, is Molly’s uncompromising will to not only survive but thrive in the midst of her persecution and the country’s upheaval…  Hill’s slowed pace…allows for full immersion in American maritime history. Seaworthy historical fiction at its best.”  Kirkus Reviews

“Important and worthwhile.”  Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, author of The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen

“Hill has captured the essence of the era.”  Marie Sherman, author of Say, ‘I Do!’ Wedding Tales of a Cape Cod Justice of the Peace

“Convincing as well as enjoyable.”  James H. Ellis, author of A Ruinous and Unhappy War

“A huge, roistering novel, This is the House is compelling reading throughout its length….And yet it’s not history but one of the finest, most unpretentious, complete pieces of writing to bring unusual incidents and characters to compelling life.”  Cameron Parks, Fort Wayne News Sentinal



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As a boy, Kingsley Merrick is taunted by his social betters at the Waterford Academy. As a young man, he is ostracized by the establishment of the small Cape Cod village, home of deep water captains. When he makes a fortune in Australia by running Concord Coaches to the gold fields, Kingsley returns, seeking retribution for the humiliations he has endured. Part of his plan includes marriage to his cousin.

Julia Merrick is imprisoned by her middle-class upbringing, and looks to Brahmin Boston for relief. Gradually insinuating herself into Beacon Hill society, her dream founders on the shoals of snobbery, and her virgin purity is besmirched by an alluring scion of wealth — just as her family is threatened with financial ruin in the panic of 1857. Julia can save them all by marrying Kingsley, just then on his way home, but at what a price! There will be no escape, for now she knows that the obligatory marital relation will break her spirit.

As indeed it does, until she brings her husband to heel with a scheme that will free her to create an elite, Brahmin-like society right there in Waterford and at the same time keep him out of her bedroom.


After completing This is the House, 35 years ago, the author turned to the next ancestor of interest who, in fact, did make a fortune in Australia and tried again in South Africa, with the diamond strike there. Now releasing a new edition, Hill again realizes a dream come true with this, the second of the Kingsland Series.

“This is not just another romance, set in Massachusetts during the Civil War era. The story of the Merrick’s troubled marriage is played against the mores of New England in the 1860’s and the North’s economy [and] sends the reader searching for the author’s first book.” Susan Bernhardt…

“Dynastic tangles blaze at the heart of this splendid new saga set against the gradual decline of Cape Cod’s maritime trade.” Compass Rose Bookshop.

The thousands of readers who delighted in Deborah Hill’s deft mingling of New England history with the dreams and drama of her brilliantly realized characters will find The House of Kingsley Merrick a surpassingly evocative take that amply fulfills the author’s promise as a born storyteller.”

“What is most special is watching the evolution of the country but even more so the town, as well as the family over the generations. The values and choices of the ancestors impacting their descendants is something that can only be accomplished in a series of novels like this. There are timeless themes present in both books – class, ambition, loyalty – and the characters in this book deal with the themes in ways that were influenced by the earlier generations and times but with their current environment as well.” Linda Chuss.




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Emily Merrick, enjoying the new-found freedom of the Roaring 20’s, discovers that liberation can come at a high price. But it is her son, Steven, who will pay it. Raised under the crushing heel of the man Emily tricks into marrying her, young Steven endures the malicious control of his step-father by escaping to his memories of Kingsland, the Merrick estate in Waterford, on Cape Cod Bay. Its steadfast presence sustains him, as well as his love of the sea, as he endures the constant humiliations devised by his mother’s husband. Instead of entering Harvard, as he is supposed to do, Steven flees to Kingsland and lives there while he learns a trade in defiance of his pretentious step-father. He finds the simple life of the countryman a relief after the constricting pretentions with which he’s grown up. Eventually he saves enough money to enter the college of his choice, graduating just in time to join the corporate culture of the 50’s. By then he has inherited Kingsland, and when promotion passes him by, he again flees to Waterford, this time with his family. There he confronts the challenge of earning a living in so remote a place, and in the process of piecing together the possibilities meets Jenny Lawrence, an ancient lumber schooner that has been converted into a Windjammer Cruiser. She sails Nantucket Sound, carrying passengers to the picturesque ports of Martha’s Vineyard and to Nantucket itself, and from her, Steven will learn the wisdom of the tides and the wind. She will teach him that there is an alternative to his generation’s frantic post-war climb to the top, and she will carry him to the first woman – the only woman – he has ever loved, a woman through whom he will learn about the shame of his legacy, and a way to restore its honor.

“The story really is devoted to Steven and his life story through his first love, his marriage, working in corporate America of the 50’s with a suburban home. But his real love is the sea…As always, all the characters are beautifully drawn. The romances are clean and believable, and the author keeps great attention to detail as this 3rd volume we come closer to the decades many readers may have experienced themselves.” Pegster

“I recently read Deborah Hill’s third, and regrettably last, book in her Kingsland series, The Heir. The detail was astonishing. I would read along, caught up in the engrossing storyline, and then stumble across one of those details. a personal memory I’d forgotten sprang to the surface.If I remember correctly, Hill loosely based her trilogy on historical artifacts that were handed down by elders in her family. I’m sorry to see that legacy come to a close.” Lee Campbell, author of Stowaway.

“This book was by far my favorite in the trilogy. It looked at things in a light the others couldn’t – perhaps due to the time constraints of the period of the first two books. I loved that you could feel the stories from the past two books intermixed in this one here and there…it really felt to come alive from the characters to the plot. That being said the plot itself was beautifully romantic and engaging in a way some love stories will never be. It reminded me of Gatsby to an extent because the love affair was so subtle and yet strong.” A. Ostrow.




memiorAt the age of 75, Elijah Cobb wrote this memoir for his grandchildren. In it, he describes his “avenchures,” telling of his captures and escapes as he dodges the English and the French who close each other’s ports, hoping to starve one another into submission. The confiscation of his ship and cargo by the French, his meeting with Robespierre (whose name he cannot spell), smuggling, creating alternative trade routes, beating the Embargo of 1807, being captured by the British as the War of 1812 opens—these are recounted with wry humor and a certain flair.

Deborah Hill uses these recollections as the point of departure for her epic novel, This is the House. Cobb’s writing lends historical and personal authenticity to her fictional captain, Elijah Merrick, whose wife ran him in debt for a Cape Cod farm, just as Cobb’s did.


deborah-hill-author-photo1125 years after Cobb left an account of his career, Hill wrote the first edition of her first novel. She was living on Cape Cod at the time, and had access to ancient town and church records and, of course, the first edition of Cobb’s recollections. “It was too great an opportunity to pass up, with the bi-centennial of the Revolution coming along,” she tells us. “Envisioning a story using the memoir as a historical template, I was able to create This is the House.” That, of course, led to the next ancestor of interest, (The House of Kingsley Merrick) and finally, the conclusion of the Kingsland Series, (The Heir).





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May I welcome you to this ongoing discussion of the history behind This is the House?History is the North Star, guiding my novels in the direction they must go. Everything else fits in around it, and I’ve found that by faithfully following what is known, fictional situations simply sprout like spring seeds in the garden.

Take this serene painting, for example. It is dated June, 1776, and presumably takes place in Philadelphia where Betsy Ross had a shop. Everyone is dressed neatly, hair combed, e220px-Betsy_Ross_1777_cph.3g09905veryone is is clean, and there is no suggestion of the disaster that would happen the following winter, when the Continental Army camped and starved and froze to death at nearby Valley Forge.The men are admiring Betsy Ross’s new flag, except for General Washington, who seems more interested in the child on his knee than in Betsy, who is showing the guys how to make a five-pointed star. All very nice, even though Betsy’s involvement with the first flag is questionable, according to Wikipedia, and a lot of people were going to get very dirty and very messy and very hungry very quickly. And they’d face financial ruin, too, because Continental_Currency_One-Third-Dollar_17-Feb-76_obvContinental currency became quickly worthless and it was all Congress had to pay its debt to its citizens, soldiers, and their widows.

This is the situation at war’s end, when This is the House opens: …the flood of thanksgiving that had risen ebbed as men turned for the first time to the nation guided only by themselves.  From the leaf-bare forests of the South to the snow-covered freeholds of the North came the slow understanding that the devastating poverty of wartime was not done. 

Somehow, someway, starvation must be held at bay….

I used Brewster (which was the North parish of Harwich at that time) as a template for “Rockford”. The notes I made (from a source I no longer remember) describe the scene very well: “Town hard put to supply men, money and beef. Cut off from wale and codfish business, driven to tilling the exhausted soil, with little harvest because of draught”. My notes go on to say that “a quarter of families had no meat of any kind during the war, and minors were used to fill the quota because so many men were at sea.” (Privateering, I think.)


Cape Cod is right there beneath Boston and above New York

It is in this impoverished environment that Hannah Deems struggled to provide for her daughter and herself, and once the war was over, was forced to take whatever opportunity presented itself for survival. That opportunity was Seth Adams, making his way home from Yorktown (red ball, lower left) to Cape Cod (beneath Boston and above the K in New York).

And Seth needed a woman.

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