Excerpt & Giveaway: Petunia 1949 by Leah Brewer

Petunia 1949 by Leah Brewer

Publication Date: May 1, 2023

Genre: Historical Fiction

Spitfire, Petunia Hollings was born in 1935 in the deep South. She spends her childhood working the cotton fields and longing for her daddy to love her as he does her siblings.

Spending time with her best friend Opal is one distraction Petunia looks forward to. Opal’s skin color was never a problem. Or so Petunia thought.

After young love sweeps Petunia to a new life in Chicago, she learns to accept love as it’s offered instead of expecting more than one can give.

When circumstances force her to return home, her friendship with Opal helps Petunia's fractured heart start to heal.

Then a new, even more dangerous threat surfaces. Will Petunia find the strength to overcome the hatred surrounding her?



Petunia rolled over, and a wasp stung her right on the hip. She hopped out of the twin bed and landed a half-asleep gaze on the mattress. She better find the wasp before it got her again.

Upon inspection, it wasn’t a wasp, after all. It was a stupid spring that dug into her side. Time to flip the mattress. If only her bones weren’t aching after working for hours in the field and garden, she’d do it now.

She needed a day of fishing with her friends. Maybe she’d talk Mama into letting her skip out early to get them some supper one day this week. If not, she’d have to wait for the weekend, which would be better than not going at all.

The back door slammed, and Petunia shot off the bed. It wasn't even five o'clock in the morning. Who would be up in the house? She slipped on her only pair of boots and tiptoed to the bedroom door.

Voices drifted from the backyard. She eased the window up a notch and sat on the floor. She'd love to have a piece of cake to snack on. Or some pie. Her stomach complained by growling for what seemed like an entire minute.

That's what she got for thinking of sweets when she knew they didn't have stuff to make any of that right now. Maybe she'd take on some laundry from town to make enough money for another banana cake.

The wind carried Mama’s voice through the open window. "Oliver Dewitt Hollings, I swear if I find out you've cheated on me with that Marshall woman, I'll kill you both!"

Daddy balked. "Calm yourself down, woman!" His voice lowered, so Petunia leaned into the screen. "Ain't nothing going on between me and Gail."

"Lies! She thinks she's better than me and our kids, but she looks at you like you're her man. Not mine!"

Petunia clamped her hand over her mouth. Surely Daddy wouldn't cheat with that woman!

"Your cockeyed notions are a pain in the neck, woman! I ain't tellin' you again. Nothing happened. Her leg’s broke anyways."

Things got quiet for a few minutes. Petunia would give anything to see what was happening. Or hear what they whispered.

Daddy spoke again, but his voice sounded different. "You ain't got a bit of room to talk about cheating. Not when one of the kids probably ain't even mine!"

A crack sounded then Mama spoke between sobs. The hurt in her voice made Petunia’s heart lurch. "I told you my mama was a redheaded woman. Why do you keep accusing me of something?"

"You say she was a redhead, but how do I know that for sure since we never met?"

"Now you accuse me of lying about Mama's hair color?!?"

Lloyd poked his head out of the little closet he called a bedroom. He walked over and slid down the wall, resting his hand on the floor beside Petunia's knee. "You shouldn't be listening to Mama and Daddy fight."

Hot tears threatened to fall as her eyes searched Lloyd’s. "Am I Daddy's kid?"

"Sure you are. Don't let his rantings bother you none.” He reached over and ruffled her hair. “Now go back to bed."

"But Daddy don't think I'm his kid." Her voice came out flat even to her own ears.

Lloyd’s shoulder raised in a half-shrug. "Who cares what he thinks? I sure don't. And if you ask me, you're lucky if you ain't his kid."

Unable to hold the tears back, Petunia bolted off the floor and out the front door at a dead run.

She ran until her legs were jelly, not caring she was in her slip of a nightgown. She had to get away from it all. And the bayou was the best place to do it.

When she reached her destination, the sun peeked beyond the trees above the water. She stopped in her tracks and stared at the ball of fire's reflection. A fish jumped out and back into the water. Bright pink, orange, and yellow waves softly skidded in the circles the fish left behind.

She rubbed the chill bumps that sprang onto her arms and breathed in the smell of early morning on the water. This right here was her happy place.

It had been ever since Daddy got mad and cut down the swing Martin had set up in a tree for them to play on. That swing had been a piece of Martin after he passed away. Then Daddy took it away like everything else. All that had been left was ashes after he burned the swing in the woodpile.

She allowed her mind to drift back to a time of carefree laughter and playing outside. Evelyn pushing her as high as she could go in their swing while Teresa pretended to have a tea party. Those days of carefree playing were few and had passed way too quickly. The memory shattered, and the people from those days seemed like colorful fragments of broken glass. Broken apart by too many days of mind-numbing work in the cotton fields. She longed for a fishing pole to catch some good dinner and forget her worries. If her friend Opal was with her, she’d for sure fish.

A branch cracked, and then someone cleared his throat behind Petunia. She spun around and met Verlon Marshall's questioning gaze. He raised his hands to display two cane fishing poles in one hand and a tackle box in the other.

His eyebrows lifted as he set the tackle box at the water's edge. "Petunia? What in the world are you doing out here in your nightgown?"

Volcanic heat traveled from the soles of her feet to the top of her head. "None of your business is what."

He snickered and walked closer to where she stood. She bristled until he held his jacket out. "Put this on. You have to be cold."

Swallowing down the smart remark, she accepted the jacket. "Thanks."

He sat down on a log close to the water. "You didn't answer my question. Is everything all right?"

She raised her chin. "Maybe I wanted to catch some fish."

"Okay. Where's your equipment?" He craned his neck to look behind her.

She rested her right hand on her hip. "My what?"

"Tacklebox and fishing pole.” He scanned the area. “I don't see it."

She stomped a foot, then instantly regretted it. "Because I didn't bring it!"

He patted a space beside him on the log. "How about you join me then? Uncle Eddie was gonna come, but Aunt Gail needed his help with something."

She glanced over his shoulder and shrugged. "I dunno."

"Come on!" He pulled a fat worm out of a container. "You can keep whatever you catch."

A good old piece of fried Perch sounded too good to pass up. And she’d always had a good time fishing with Verlon when they were younger. "All right then. But I ain't a baby. I can put the worm on my own hook."

He raised his left eyebrow before handing her a pole. "Never said you was."

Three hours later, she skipped home with a string of Perch, Crappy, and a Bass. She couldn't wait to show Lloyd! And Daddy would even be happy to see her if she brought home dinner!

She walked past the barn, and loud crying caught her attention. She stuck her head in and sighed. Mama lay curled up beside the raggedy cat, bawling like an abandoned baby. Petunia meandered over to her and sat beside her.

Mama met Petunia’s eyes and raised her arms. Petunia wasted no time slipping into Mama's embrace and holding her close.

"He left again, Petunia!" Mama got out between sobs. "Don't ever marry a man who don't love you with all his heart."

Why would she say that? "Okay, Mama. I won’t.”

She should’ve known. Her daddy was gone again. And it was all her fault.

About the Author


Leah Brewer is a multi-genre author who writes clean novels. Even though she was the youngest of six and the only girl, she had a lot of time on her hands. She was born to her parents in a small town in Central Arkansas later in life. Growing up, you could find Leah playing make-believe near the White River or as she waded through water deep in the woods.

Leah is a Writers Ink of Northeast Arkansas member and is currently working on her third installment in her Seeds of Faith series.

Before she started writing, you could find Leah behind a computer working her telecommunications job that she’s had for over twenty-five years.

Leah spends her spare time with her husband, Mark, their grown children, and her brand-new granddaughter, Charlotte.

You can find Leah at facebook.com/writingleahbrewer or leahbrewerauthor.com.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 1
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 2
Review at Tammy Reads

Wednesday, May 3
Review & Excerpt at Connie's History Classroom

Wednesday, May 10
Review at Older & Smarter

Thursday, May 11
Review at Rajiv's Reviews

Friday, May 12
Review at Novels Alive
Review at Girl Who Reads
Review at Reading is My Remedy


Enter to win a copy of Petunia 1949 by Leah Brewer + $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Petunia 1949

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