Lisa Ard

GENRE:  Historical Fiction

The 19th century women’s rights movement and the rise of public education intertwine with one woman’s story of struggle, perseverance, and love.

When her father dies and the family inn falls to ruin in 1882, western North Carolina, thirty-year-old Alice Harris is compelled to marry Jasper Carter, a Civil War veteran twice her age. Far from home and a stranger in a new family, Alice remakes herself. She learns to farm tobacco, mothers her stepson, and comes to love her husband.

However, Alice uncovers pending trouble with the family’s land holdings, which threatens their livelihood on the farm. The growth in Asheville promises a different future—one of manufacturing, transportation, tourism, and wealth. Alice believes this future demands an education and she rebels against the limited rural instruction. She joins forces with other women campaigning for Asheville’s first public schools. Her actions spark the rebuke of the Carter men.

Tragedy strikes and Alice’s newfound security is ripped away. The family challenges her property rights and files for guardianship of her stepson. Battered but determined, Alice turns to the law—and a friendly court clerk—to fight for her independence. Will Alice lose everything? Not if she can help it.

Lisa Ard’s debut historical fiction novel will resonate with readers for its parallels, between then and now, on women’s rights, inequality, and racism.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Alice, I am the man of the house. I will decide if we rent the land or not.” Jasper delivered every word deliberately, punching me straight through. I quivered and my breath quickened.


“You’ve been teaching me about farming.” My voice shook. “I figured with such a valuable payment, you’d want them to continue on.”

Jasper turned toward me. His face was beet red, and a vein in his temple pulsed. “You know very well that’s not the issue. I’ve put up with your high-falutin’ ideas about education. I’ve protected you from those that don’t see eye to eye. But I will not have you wearing the pants in this family!”


My eyes welled with tears, but I was determined not to show it. I stared at my husband. His clear blue eyes pierced me through.


“Well, you know who you married!” I stormed through the house and escaped out the back door.


I wandered in our orchard, dreading a return to the house. The trees surrounded me, but their bare branches didn’t protect me. I swatted at them and they rattled. I’d done the right thing. The tenants were good for us. Why couldn’t Jasper see that? I balled my fists, rubbed my eyes, and a low cry gurgled out. I’d exchanged one confine for another, with the course of my life controlled by men—first my father, then my brother, and now my husband. I wallowed in the old feeling of dependency, familiar as a worn-out coat.

About the Author:

Lisa Ard is the author of the new historical fiction novel Brighter Than Her Fears, which is based on her great-great-grandmother’s experience in 19th century western North Carolina. Her previously published children's books include Fright Flight, Dream Team, and the Kay Snow award finalist Saving Halloween. When not writing, Lisa enjoys reading, hiking, golfing and sharing her love of history as a bike tour docent with the Palm Springs Historical Society. She and her husband live (and golf) in both Palm Springs and Portland, Oregon.

Q&A With the Author: 

What was your inspiration for writing this book? 

While discovering the mystery of my great-great-grandmother Alice’s marriage was the inspiration for my historical fiction novel Brighter Than Her Fears, the murder of George Floyd and a conversation with my son took the novel in a different direction. I realized that our history education is limited and particularly around the African-American experience in the United States. My son lamented that he’d been taught about Emancipation and the Civil Rights Era and nothing in between.

When I uncovered a critical event in Asheville’s history involving the Freedmen (formerly enslaved people), I knew it would play a key role in Alice’s story. Throughout the book, I portrayed several Freedmen to show the varied experiences of African-Americans in western North Carolina. In order to not appropriate a person of color’s story, these characters are seen through the eyes of the white characters. That’s not always pretty, but it’s realistic.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? 

Learning about the 1880s era. This was the Gilded Age, with tremendous wealth and rising inequality; a rise in women’s organizations and dismal women’s rights; plus strong parallels, between then and now, around racism, political divisions, economic growth, and more.

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about? 

I’m working on a gothic historical fiction in which a doomed steamship’s last days are told through the passengers and crew aboard. It takes place in 1875, so a similar timeframe to Brighter Than Her Fears, but the location is off the United State’s west coast, a wild and wooly area in the 19th century.

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future? 

I’m going to keep writing, critiquing, working on my craft, and promoting my books. I have in-person and online events promoting Brighter Than Her Fears coming up, plus several book club author visits. Right now I’m developing a short film about the real people and places in the story to share during author visits. Readers can find Event information on my website and also contact me to book an author visit. While there, sign up for my monthly newsletter for more behind-the-scenes information about this story and learn about my path from writing to publishing.

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I love to hear from readers! Send me a picture of you with my book and (with your permission) I’ll post it on my Facebook and Instagram page to help get the word out about Brighter Than Her Fears. Connect with me on Goodreads too, where I have over a thousand books rated or reviewed. Thank you!








Lisa Ard will award a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Love the time period setting for this read.

    1. Thank you! I hope you’ll check out my book and enjoy the story!

  2. This looks like a great read and I like the blurb.

    1. Thanks Sherry! Find out more on Goodreads annd right now enter a giveaway. Appreciate your comment.

  3. This looks really good. Thanks for hosting this tour.

  4. I love historical fiction and this one sounds interesting!

    1. Thanks Michael! I hope you’ll read and enjoy the story. Lmk if you do! 😀

    2. Thanks Jeanna. Stay tuned thru my website as I will be adding a behind the scenes look at the real people and places in the novel.


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