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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.

Praise for Brighter Than Her Fears

“Libraries and readers seeking historical novels…that feature proactive women in the throes of personal and political transformation will find Brighter Than Her Fears a gripping story.”
Midwest Book Review

“… recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction, is interested in 19th-century US history, loves the mountains of western North Carolina, or is looking for an inspiring story about a strong woman.” Goodreads Review

“Brighter Than Her Fears by Lisa Ard, immerses the reader in post Civil War western North Carolina, as seen through the eyes of the indomitable Alice Harris. Ard’s vivid descriptions of her characters keeps the reader highly invested in the outcomes of their challenges.”

Goodreads Review

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Lisa Ard is the author of the adult historical fiction novel: Brighter Than Her Fears, and three children’s books: Fright Flight, Dream Team, and Saving Halloween (a Kay Snow Award Finalist). When not writing, you’ll find Lisa leading bike tours in Palm Springs, golfing, or curled up with a good book.

Purchase Information for Brighter Than Her Fears

Ingram Content Group through ipage

Discounted and returnable

ISBN: 978-1956183146 

Contact Jean Lowd at jeanlowd@creativejamesmedia.com for signings and event information.