The final book in the Crawford Family Series, Her Safe Harbor, is set in Boston in 1893. Jennifer Crawford, our heroine, is involved with her family’s business, The Crawford Bank. She has uncovered financial irregularities on an account overseen by the man her mother is planning for her to marry against her wishes, and yet any hint of embezzlement could shutter the doors of their bank forever during this volatile economic time.
The US banking industry in 1893 was largely unregulated. Up until the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933, bank runs were common, especially for small and state monitored institutions. The panic of 1893 can be traced to an 1890 failed wheat crop and a coup in Argentina which lead to a run on gold as investors cashed in bonds in anticipation of international bank closings. As a result of the panic, 500 banks closed, 15,000 businesses failed, and many farms ceased operations. Unemployment the following year hit 25% in Pennsylvania, 35% in New York, and 43% in Michigan.
Her Safe Harbor is set just prior to that panic. While this book does not include many economic details, it is a romance after all, and economics rarely invokes images of growing, loving relationships, our readers rely on factual details to flesh out our stories. I want to thank Professor Yeva Nersisyan from Franklin & Marshall College for her invaluable help on this subject.
Jennifer begins her study of the questionable accounts in the scene below:
“Let’s take a look at our new Burrough’s arithmetic machine, shall we?” Jennifer said to her assistant.
“Oh, yes,” O’Brien said as she followed Jennifer into the office area. “But before we start with the new machine, I’d like to talk to you about the Fleming portfolio while it’s fresh in my brain.”
“Yes you’re right. Let’s begin with that. If my memory serves, Mr. Fleming has a few outstanding loans against deposits held here at the bank and properties in the city,” Jennifer said.
“That is correct. He has also bought a significant amount of stock certificates over the years and as I looked at the purchases as recorded, I did some calculations and found that the percentage of the sale that the bank took was six percent, not five as we’ve seen on other occasions. Perhaps it means nothing,” O’Brien said.
Jennifer took the green felt packet from O’Brien and untied the ribbon. She sat down at her desk and pulled out the contents. Individual packets of light yellow paper separated account tallies from stock certificates. Jennifer barely heard the click of the keys as O’Brien began testing the new adding machine as she was focused on the long column of numbers before her, and pulled out her tablet and pencil to make some calculations.
Thank heavens, The Ramsey School for Young Ladies curriculum included extensive mathematics classes. Jennifer had excelled in those classes and had been named the top student. Her father had allowed her access to his office when he was home in the evening and she remembers many nights as a young girl standing by his side, or sitting on his lap even, and tallying long lists of numbers, learning division and multiplication. He’d declared she had ‘a head for numbers’ even better than his own and that it was such a pity she was a girl rather than a boy. But he’d said it with a smile and a hug and Jennifer didn’t feel quite as bad as she might at what he said, because there was little doubt she was his favorite, even when Jillian still lived with them and was a perfect vision of beauty at a very young age.
The Crawford Family Series began with Train Station Bride, followed by Contract to Wed and a companion novella, The Maid’s Quarters. Her Safe Harbor is the final book in the series and is available for pre-order now at Amazon, B&N, ITunes, and KOBO and will be released on March 10, 2016. Please connect with me on FaceBook, at my website, Holly Bush Books, or on my Amazon Author Page. I love to hear from readers!