Surprises in History (and a Boxed-Set Giveaway)

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Research is one of the most important tools of the fiction author’s trade. Regardless what an author writes—historical, contemporary, fantasy, science fiction—he or she must have some knowledge of the real world in order to create a world in which characters live and breathe.

A Kiss to RememberGood authors don’t beat readers over the head with their research, but what they dig up informs every aspect of their stories. Much of what we discover doesn’t make it into our books. Instead, the information clutters up our heads and trickles out at odd times.

This is one of those times.

Each of the five authors who contributed to Prairie Rose Publications’s new release, the boxed set A Kiss to Remember, uncovered historical tidbits that surprised, charmed, or saddened her. Since all of us are good authors and would never dream of beating readers over the head with our research in our books, we’re taking the opportunity to beat readers over the head with our research in a blog post. We can be sneaky that way.

Without further ado…

 

Her SanctuaryHer Sanctuary by Tracy Garrett

Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward-bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible.

Tracy: I’m a “cradle Lutheran,” meaning I was born into a Lutheran family, baptized in the Lutheran church… You get the idea. Imagine my surprise when I began researching the history of the church in Missouri and found they’d been in the state a lot longer than I thought. It was fun, though.

 

Gabriels LawGabriel’s Law by Cheryl Pierson

Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and Gabriel’s Law.

Cheryl: Orphanages of the 1800s and early 1900s were mainly what I needed to research. And what sad research it was! The Indian orphanages and “schools” were the worst. The Indian children were forced to “assimilate”: cut their hair, wear white man’s clothing, and speak only English. Punishment was swift and sure if they were caught speaking their native tongues. In essence, they were taught they had to forget everything they knew—even their families—and adopt the ways of the whites completely. This only ensured they would never be wholly at ease in either world, white or Indian.

 

Outlaw HeartOutlaw Heart, by Tanya Hanson

Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive: a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an Outlaw Heart.

Tanya: The research that fascinated me the most was meeting and getting to know Dr. John Henry Holliday. What a guy. I’ve quite fallen in love with him. This handsome, soft-spoken, peaches-n-cream Southern gentleman can bring me to tears. He died slowly from tuberculosis for fifteen years after losing his beloved mother to the disease when he was 15. Talented pianist, multilingual, skilled surgeon who won awards for denture design… Most of his “deadly dentist” stuff was contrived. He needed a bad reputation to keep himself safe from angry gamblers. I was thrilled and honored both when he asked to be a character in Outlaw Heart.

 

The Dumont WayThe Dumont Way by Kathleen Rice Adams

The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains The Trouble with Honey, a new, never-before-published novella. Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things The Dumont Way.

Kathleen: Did you realize George Armstrong Custer was part of the Union occupation force in Texas after the Civil War? Neither did I. While I was double-checking my facts about Reconstruction-era Texas, I ran across that little tidbit. Texans may not have liked him any better than any other Yankee, but they were grateful for his kindness. During his five months in Texas, Custer was disliked by his own men because he strictly enforced Army regulations about “foraging” (read “stealing”) and poor treatment of civilians. I must admit I’m one of those who tended to view Custer as one of history’s real-life bad guys, but that one tidbit softened my impression. Funny how little things can make a big difference, isn’t it?

 

YESTERDAYS FLAMEYesterday’s Flame by Livia J. Washburn

When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell’s duties propel her from San Francisco in 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be. “A timeless and haunting tale of love.” ~ The Literary Times

Livia: I really enjoyed learning about the firefighting companies in San Francisco. The massive earthquake in 1906 was followed by an equally devastating fire, and there were a lot of heroes among those early firefighters.

 

Have you ever been surprised, charmed, alarmed, or vexed by something you’ve read—in either fiction or non-fiction? What was it? We’d love to hear! One brave soul who shares her or his discovery in the comments will win a digital copy of the brand-new boxed set A Kiss to Remember before it’s available to the public! The five books comprise more than 1,000 pages of heart-melting western historical romance…and that’s a fact.

 

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Kathleen Rice Adams
A Texan to the bone, award-winning author Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen's tales, even the good guys wear black hats.

Her short story “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” won the Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Fiction. Her novel Prodigal Gun won the EPIC Award for Historical Romance and is the only western historical romance ever to final for a Peacemaker in a book-length category.

Visit her at the Hole in the Web Gang's hideout, KathleenRiceAdams.com. Or, connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Her Amazon author page is here.

51 Comments

  1. I once read a story that had some of the characters snowed in a canyon in North Texas all winter. I found that a bit hard to swallow since I live in OK, several hundred miles further north, and we only get a few inches of snow a year. Things like that can ruin a good story. But it’s very rare to find something that jarring in a book.

    1. You got me thinking so hard on something odd in one of the books I’ve read, that I forgot to mention how interesting your collection sounds. And Tanya, I recently watch Wyatt Earp again and really enjoyed Dennis Quaid’s portrayal of him.

      1. Should’ve looked at both of your comments before I answered. 😀 Tanya weaved Doc Holliday into her story in a charming way. If I do say so myself, A Kiss to Remember is a great collection. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

    2. Hi, Vicki! It’s always good to see you around the corral.

      Snowed-in in North Texas… That would’ve been an unbelievably bad winter in Texas and Oklahoma, wouldn’t it? Anything’s possible, but that would stretch credibility a mite. I did get snowed-in in Big Spring for three days, once. If I remember correctly, the freak storm happened in January in the late 1980s — just about 100 years after the Big Die-off, which resulted from a series of blizzards all over the West. Even during the Big Die-off, though, it wasn’t the depth of the snow that killed the cattle but drift fences that kept them from getting out of the cold and finding water and food.

      During the storm that stranded a group of friends and me, even 18-wheelers couldn’t move, mostly due to the region’s inability to deal with a big snowfall. You just don’t expect — or prepare for — that kind of thing in Texas and Oklahoma, do you?

  2. I’m not eligible for the lovely giveaway since I don’t have an e-reader, but I love this board and I also wanted to share a “surprise research” find I had.

    I used to work with a group here in the Northeast to bring at-risk Lakota youth East to share their culture, make some money, and have a different experience in that the Eastern audiences were absolutely enthralled and taken with them. A wonderful experience for everyone, as well as educational.

    The “surprise” came one summer when several of their adult chaperones were Lakota men who had acted as extras in the movie “Dances with Wolves,” even in the buffalo chase scene (riding bareback clothed only in breechclouts). I won’t go into all the sordid details here except to say those Lakota men felt every bit the second- (or no-) class citizens NOW that we read about in history. They did the work because it was employment, and it was nothing different than what they had experienced before, but it still horrifying for us to hear. I used to adore that movie but can’t watch it now.

    The other surprising “research” thing I learned long ago from my M.D. is that he learned in medical school how doctors during our colonial period regularly gave out the blankets of people who had died from small pox to Indians. On purpose. To make room for whites. Other European diseases also contributed to the loss of many Indians back then, all without a shot being fired.

    I have boxes of Indian research (mostly from Indian authors) so I find most Indian fiction difficult for me to read. But just so I can end on happier note: my childhood favorite TV show Cheyenne was more correct about Indians than I remembered after buying the DVDs to revisit. Of course the hero of that show was a white man raised by Indians so he had a dual perspective others didn’t. Ahead of its time it was. (And with a good looking 6’6” tall man to boot!)

    1. If you win, Eliza, I can send you a PDF copy. You can either read it on your computer screen or print out the pages and read that way. Never hesitate to enter a giveaway because you don’t have an ereader. We’ll figure out some way to get the prize to you if you win. 🙂

      Clint Walker, the hero in Cheyenne was a hunk, wasn’t he? Be still my heart. He was one good-looking man, and sexy. Yummy. 😀

      The Indian extermination and assimilation programs were an incredibly sad period in American history. The easiest way to subjugate a defeated people after war is to rob them of their culture. That has happened since the beginning of time. Both the victors and the defeated lose something important when cultures die, though. American Indians and other ethnic groups that aren’t bright white still suffer bigotry. Wouldn’t it be nice if the human race could get over that kind of thing?

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments about the corral. The fillies are honored to have you and several others as part of our family. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Kathleen, for your kind offer for a workaround on the off chance I would win, but you and others have already gone out of your way to be so kind to me already. I consider myself very fortunate as it is. I really don’t want to make extra work for y’all, nor do I want anyone to take time away from their writing!! y’hear?? 😀 I’ll have to give in eventually to get an ereader, won’t I?! Either that or stop posting on e-reading giveaway days, which I have done but sometimes I forget. sorry.

        Anyway, glad to hear your definition of a hunk matches mine in Clint Walker! 🙂

        1. Don’t you DARE stop commenting, young lady! We’d miss your insight and encouragement.

          Hugs!!!!

  3. I would have to say I am surprised by what Eliza just posted above regarding doctors handing out blankets from people who died of smallpox to Indians so they would die and make room for whites. It seems I remember reading something about that long ago. How sad and heartless that was. Afterall, the Native Americans (Indians) are the original Americans.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Cindy. Heartless is an excellent word for that kind of behavior. Shameful is another.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s always good to “see” you! 🙂

  4. I have noticed some things about police procedures. My husband retired from the state police and I know they cannot do some things. I used to read a mystery series and she broke the law and nothing really happened to her but she should have been arrested. Never read another one. I love research and you do find out the most interesting things.

    1. Isn’t that the truth about research, Debra? Research is one of my favorite parts of writing. I discover the most fascinating stuff! Sad, funny, frightening, despicable… Everything is grist for the mill. Do you, like me, ever wish folks would learn from history so the human race could stop making the same mistakes over and over and over again?

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  5. I have definitely learned a lot about all the perils placed upon the Native Americans from reading Rosanne Bittner’s historical romances. She tells actual historical facts in her books and doesn’t sugar coat anything you get the raw emotional truth. Would love to win this box set by some authors I’ve never read

    1. Howdy again, Glenda! Rosanne Bittner’s stories are acclaimed for their portrayal of American Indians. Evidently, she enjoys research! 🙂

  6. I’m always being surprised by historical facts! It’s kind of fun, actually. Most recently I was amazed that Custer was a relative nice guy during the post Civil War occupation!

    1. I’m also surprised at how many Glenda’s there are in the online romance community. We’ve got such an uncommon name. 🙂

      1. Glenda, I’m so sorry I hopped right over you when I was answering comments! I’m going to blame that on the number of Glendas in the online community thing you mentioned. 😉

        Historical surprises are one of the high points of my life. Glad to hear you enjoy running across them, too!

  7. Great post on the facts you all found. Thanks for sharing them!

    1. You’re welcome! Thanks for coming by, Linda. 🙂

  8. Two other historical authors and I began a blog called History Imagined, just so we could present the history that didn’t make it into our books. I was surprised to find out about the federal reburial program, which dug up the bodies of Union soldiers and retrieved them from the south to rebury them on northern soil. I’d never heard of the program before, and never gave much thought as to how the bodies got to all the graveyards I’d visited that contained the bodies of those who fought the Civil War.

    1. I love your blog! I read it all the time, but I don’t often take time to clutter up the place with comments. I do, however, have the site bookmarked. Y’all have uncovered some really interesting stuff. It pays to keep an eye on you. 😉

      Now I’m going to have to go study the federal reburial program. I don’t recall hearing about that before. There’s a story in there, you know…

      Always nice to see you, Becky!

  9. Great post, Kathleen! The stories in this boxed set are very intriguing. I’m getting behind in my reading. I have several of yours I just haven’t gotten to. Research always surprises me. I love it when I find something fascinating but hidden in history. Makes me feel like an archaeologist. Ha! 🙂

    Hugs, my Filly sister!

    1. WHAT???? You’ve not read every single one of my golden words???? I’m…I’m crushed. **sniffle** 😉

      I know what you mean about feeling like an archeologist. That’s fun, isn’t it?

      Hugs back to you, Filly sister!

  10. Kathleen, what a great and touching compilation! Thanks from us all for the shout-out. Tracy, I’m a cradle Luthetan too…I had ancestors arriving in that 1832 trek to St. Louis. I keep hoping to have time to get back to Ancestry.com and dive in.

    I for sure can’t wait to hunker down with the stories in this set.

    1. Tanya, your revelations about Doc Holliday were beyond surprising. I knew none of those things about him. “What a guy” made me giggle. I could just see you swooning over a consumptive dentist as he lay dying, mopping his fevered brow, laying a gentle hand to his pale cheek… You’re illicit affair with the good doctor is going in a future story. Count on it. 😉

      All of the stories in this set are wonderful reads. I felt so sorry for poor Bronx. Life as an outlaw was tame compared to the hoops he jumped through to claim Lila. “What a guy!”

  11. That is an amazing collection! I used to leave in Spearman, Seagraves, and Midland areas. Now, Spearman got really cold and could have snow in May. I remember years ago reading a romance that took place in Montana and the way the author described the cold was so real. In the story they would have ropes from the house to the barn so they didn’t get lost in the snow going back and forth. They also had to break the ice on the animals water so they could drink. It sounded like winter was pretty rough. I’m not sure I’m tough enough for that kind of winter. I know when we lived in Spearman the kids in the area would be up really early taking care of livestock before school. They never seemed to mind.

    1. Kids are much tougher than I am. I think I’d refuse to leave the house in that weather! 😀

      Snow in May is obscene. Just sayin’.

      Thanks for coming by, Kay!

  12. Love finding out new things about history that I didn’t know about before.

    1. Howdy, Kim! Good to see you!

      We do our best around here to shoot our mouths off about history. Glad you enjoy our antics. 🙂

  13. This is what makes me get up in the morning, research and the stories that they inspire. For myself, and those who know me, research is the same as breathing. One of, if not the first woman medical school graduate in Colorado, Dr. Alida Avery had moved to California and had just moved to San Francisco from San Diego, when the earthquake hit. She survived and returned to San Diego to finish out her amazing life. Doris

    1. Doris, you’re a walking encyclopedia of women’s history — thank goodness, because at least I know who to ask when I have a question. 😀

      I always enjoy reading your posts about early women doctors. People don’t realize women have been playing major roles in society for much longer than history gives them credit. Keep spreading the gospel, my friend!

      Hugs!

  14. I learned the Salem Witch hysteria could’ve been caused by moldy rye flour, thus producing delusions in the young girls. Also, it was a good “excuse” for others to steal the property of those accused. More of the accused died in prison than being hanged.

    1. I hadn’t heard that, Di, but it makes sense. Ergotism can cause delusions, hallucinations, and all kinds of other mental and physical disturbances. Sad to think such deadly hysteria was caused by poisoned food, isn’t it?

  15. I enjoyed this post, Kathleen. Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome, Alisa! Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy seeing you. 🙂

  16. Great stories and great research. What a wonderful boxed set!

    1. Well, of COURSE it’s a wonderful boxed set. You expected trash? 😉

      Thanks for your kind words, Cactus. They mean a lot to all of us. 🙂

  17. I hadn’t realized that the Irish were sold into slavery starting in the 1600’s and it continued until the 1800’s. Men, women, and children were shipped to work the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. ” During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia.” Some came as indentured servants, but that was a form of slavery itself. If a woman had a child while she was an indentured servant, the child was considered the property of the person who held her indenture. The Catholic Irish were hated by Protestant English and treated very harshly. Black slaves were actually treated better because they were more expensive and tolerated the hot weather much better.

    I also did not know that the Irish Famine was more a creation of England to “solve” the Irish catholic “problem.” There were warehouses of food in Ireland. What was being grown in Ireland was actually being exported to England while the catholic irish starved.

    1. I didn’t know any of that, Patricia. Thanks for sharing! Man’s inhumanity to man knows no boundaries, does it? Sad.

  18. Keep beating me over the head then, I love all the facts and research you can stuff in me! And the books sound devine!

    1. Aw, Melody, you’re a sweetheart. I don’t think you have to worry that any of the Fillies will let readers down on the historical information anytime soon. Hugs!!!!

  19. Karen Witemeyer and Mary Connealy’s books always makes me laugh with their character portrayals and book covers. Julie Lessman’s books generally have a character that just make me want to kick them in the rear end, from selfishness, etc. I love feeling I’m a part of the story!

    1. Both Karen and Mary tell immersive stories, don’t they? I’m not familiar with Julie’s work, but I’ll look her up based on your recommendation. Thanks! 🙂

  20. Thank you for this wonderful post. I love to find out new tidbits of info in what I read.
    When I read a series of books set at OK land rush I was intrigued by the way law and order was maintained before, during, and immediately after the land rush.
    Thank you all for sharing your gift with us.

    1. You’re most welcome, Shirley. The Fillies always are eager to share. 🙂

      Cheryl Pierson, who has a book in this boxed set, sets most of her stories in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Unless I’m mistaken, she’s working on one set during the land rush. I know what you mean about law and order on the frontier. Hollywood has led us all to believe lawmen and outlaws were something other than what they really were.

  21. This box set sounds like an awesome read. There has been several times I have wondered about certain things in books but wasn’t sure about. Then I think well I am reading fiction so as long as the book is good I am ok with it.

    1. Love your attitude, Quilt Lady! One of the imperatives of author-dom is to tell a story so real that readers won’t care if you get a few details out of whack. Authors frequently “adjust” the details about real-world events and places. Often, they’ll acknowledge their “artistic license” in end notes with a brief overview of the events, people, and dates as they actually were.

      Basing stories on real people and events is a lot of fun — plus, we get to give happy endings to characters who may have suffered in real life. 🙂

  22. Kathleen, I have to say I eat up and excitedly digest all and any info I pick up in historicals or even contemp, etc.. But the one bit of info I found mind boggling and most divatating was from Cheryl’s Gabriel’s Law. Here in the north–at least my area in NYS–we learned about cowboys, the Indians in the east and west, major happenings in the western states back when, but never did I learn in school about exactly how cruel and insincere–however you want to phrase it the cruelty–what us whites did to the Indians and their children when they forced them into the schools and orphanages. I cringe every time I think of families and the children.

    Great post and this is a great release. I’ve read most of the stories, but I think I missed one and will buy the darn thing anyway so I can have it. Great job ladies. Wishing much success with this fantastic read.

    1. The extermination and “re-education” programs still make me cringe. Many Indian children from Texas and Oklahoma were sent to the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania, which I understand wasn’t particularly pleasant. Imagine being ripped away from your family and sent up north to a place where people didn’t speak your language or understand your culture — and didn’t want to. Those children were regarded like animals in a zoo. And like Cheryl mentioned, those children never fit in either world after that. That’s such a sad commentary on the way people treat one another.

      Thank you for your kind words and wishes, Bev! HUGS!!!!

  23. Hot diggity dog! Thank you for drawing my name out of your hat! That Nicaragua trip on the bus won’t be any trouble at all, with these stories in my hands!

    1. I’m glad you’re thrilled! Have fun in Nicaragua!

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