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Tiny homes. It’s the latest craze to hit the housing industry–though families have been kiting around the country in “mobile homes” since the pioneer days. COVERED WAGON

A recent family discussion about the need for growing boys to have their own bedroom reminded me of a recent trip with my dh to explore and photograph an ancestral cabin in northern Arkansas.

James Garfield Finis & Phoebe Trimble built their first cabin on their farmland in Izard County, near Dolph, Arkansas, in 1815-1816. The exterior of the cabin measure 20×20’—so the inside would be 19×19’–and they raised ten (yes, TEN) children in the space.

The cabin is built without nails, the boards dovetailed to stay put and the cracks stuffed full of chinking. The cabin in these pictures is actually the second one built, though they made it exactly the same size. Don’t ask me why.

The main floor had the single fireplace, a table used for dining, repairs, school work, cooking, sewing… A spinning wheel probably held a permanent place near a window, too, as might a desk, a piano or a rocking chair.

Mr. & Mrs. Trimble probably had their bed in a corner of the room, too, away from the fireplace and windows. And up those stairs in the back of the room was the loft, where all of the children would sleep. No kid had their own room in this cabin! In fact, looking at it, I had to wonder how on earth they managed to find the privacy to conceive ten kids in there.

In TEXAS GOLD (previously released as Touch of Texas), my heroine lives in a cabin about the size of the Trimble cabin. When the hero literally trips over it, the cabin is inhabited by Rachel, her brother Nathan, and a goat and a few chickens are sheltering inside against a freak snow storm.

EXCERPT

Where am I? Jake lay still and took stock of his surroundings. He was definitely inside a structure. Though the air was ripe with the scent of animals, he didn’t think he was in a barn.

Something lay across his body, holding him in place. He listened for the sounds of people, footsteps, whispered words. Nothing. The silence was broken only by the shifting of a log in the fire. If anyone stood watch, he couldn’t hear them.

Taking care not to give away the fact he was awake, he opened his eyes a slit. He could see out of the right one, but the left eye was blurry and swollen nearly shut, thanks to a lucky punch from that murdering pack of thieves that jumped him.

How had he gotten here? The last thing he remembered was dragging himself through a raging blizzard after Harrison and his men had beaten the holy hell out of him. Now the scents of animals, wood smoke, and lavender surrounded him.

Glancing down, he found the source of the lavender. A woman lay stretched out on top of him. Silky blond hair the color of the summer sun ran in a river across her shoulder and onto his bare chest. Her forehead was smooth and she had a small nose that turned up a little at the end. Long lashes a little darker than her hair fanned across the milky skin of her cheeks. In spite of his battered body, he had a sudden strong desire to taste that skin.

He shook his head to clear it and bit back a curse as the movement shot pain through his skull. In a rush, the memories of the previous day returned. And so did the agony. Besides his head and face, they must have landed a few boots to his ribs. His side burned like hell-on-fire.

Taking shallow breaths to ease the pain, he looked around. The rising sun glowed around the edges of the window shutters. He couldn’t see a guard, but he hadn’t really expected to find one. If Harrison was around, a half-dozen guns would have finished the job they’d started last night.

He turned his head a little to one side and located the source of the smoke. A poorly built red-stone chimney staggered in drunken lines all the way to the whitewashed ceiling. Whoever had built it must have been working his way through a jug of moonshine at the same time. The floor was probably plank since he didn’t smell dust, but all he felt beneath his fingers was wool and the give of a straw mattress.

He rolled his head to the other side, stretching aching muscles. The room wasn’t large, but it was well kept. There was a curtained doorway behind him and stairs in the far corner led to an attic or second floor. Plenty of places for someone to hide. He’d check them out, as soon as he could coax his battered body to move.

A sturdy rocker was pulled up close to the warmth of the fire. There weren’t any fancy things lying around. A small plank table with benches down both sides separated the kitchen from this side of the room, but the table was bare except for a couple of books and a guttered candle. Nothing to give a hint of where he was or who’d taken him in.

He looked to the other side of the room and blinked his good eye to clear his vision. It didn’t help. In the far corner, he thought he saw two goats, four chickens in dilapidated cages, and his horse. There were animals inside the house.

Where was he? If Harrison or his men had found him, he’d be toes down in the snow. He must have stumbled on this place and whoever lived here had taken him in. By the feel of it, he’d been stripped down to what God gave him. His gaze returned to the woman lying across him.

A smile curved one corner of his mouth. Wherever here was, he liked the

company. He reached for her, but his left arm wouldn’t move. Concerned, he tried again. If he could only draw one weapon, he needed to know. Of course, since he was stark naked on the floor, it didn’t matter a whole hell of a lot at the moment.

Giving up, he used only his right hand. Careful not to wake her, Jake searched for more of her softness and found cotton. She had a sweetly feminine shape buried under layers of cloth. Running his hand down the silken hair, he found her rounded bottom exactly where he’d hoped. He pressed her center to his rapidly hardening one, and couldn’t resist shifting his hips a little.

The groan of pain slipped out before he could stop it. Everything hurt, even his skin. A tiny sound brought his gaze back to the woman. Brilliant blue, the color of a clear mountain lake reflecting the sky, stared back at him.

TEXAS GOLD ~ Available now from Amazon.

Tracy will be giving away one e-copy (mobi file) of Texas Gold to one of our readers. Please leave a comment to enter.

  • What do you think of the tiny house movement? Do you like the simple life or do you prefer more spacious comfort?
  • How do you think you would fare in a covered wagon or living in a tiny cabin on the frontier?
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14 Comments

  1. I am not fond of tiny houses. I like my room. However, I would do fine on a wagon or a small house because that would be my expectation.

    1. Good morning, DebraG, and thanks for dropping by! Expectation may be the key to living in that small a space for that length of time.

  2. I could never live in a tiny house. I have too much stuff. If I ever win the lottery, I want to get a big house where I can convert an entire room into a closet.

    1. Janine, lol! I know what you mean. DH and I are planning to retire to an RV–then I open a closet in my 4 bedroom home. Yikes!

  3. Welcome back, Tracy!! I’m so happy to see that you’re re-releasing this book. I loved this story when I first read it and fell in love with Jake. He’s such a strong, unforgettable character. And you drew the inside of that cabin so vividly that I still remember it. I’ve always been amazed at how large those settlers families were and wondered how on earth they could cram so many people into such a tiny house. Somehow they did though. And they managed not to kill each other and that was a pure miracle. Those kids had to have heard (and seen) everything. There was no escaping it.

    I’m so glad you came for a visit! I hope you’re doing well and getting lonesome for us. We sure miss you, lady!

    Hugs and much love!

  4. Good morning, Linda! Thanks for the kind words and the welcome. Jake is still my favorite hero that I’ve “met.”

    I’ve been through reproductions of pioneer cabins–and seen this original family cabin. Privacy was not a concept they understood or worried about.

    It’s wonderful to be back at P&P! I miss you ladies!!!

  5. I love the tiny homes.

    1. Hi, Kim! Great of you to drop in.

  6. I do not think I would have enough room in a tiny house for all of my books! 🙂

    1. Colleen, absolutely true! I used to think I’d have all my books on a Kindle so no problem. But you should see my book shelves! lol

  7. Tracy, I can’t imagine raising ten kids in such a small area! Well, heck, it would be hard for me to imagine raising ten kids anywhere! Lol!

    You know I’m crazy over Texas Gold and all your wonderful characters! Jake and Rachel are on my keeper shelf, or sure.

    I would not do well in a tiny house. Or a wagon. I really love my “space”.

    1. Cheryl, I’m glad you love Jake & Rachel as much as I do!

  8. I could manage nicely in a small house, but not with all the stuff I currently own. I look at all the work involved in keeping up with and cleaning what we tend to accumulate and really do wish for simpler days. The “one thing” I would have a hard time parting with would be all of my books. I figure I could build book cases on all the walls and fill them full with books. They would add extra insulation to keep the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer. I am the oldest of six children and know that in families of that size the kids spend lots of time outside playing or doing chores. Being cooped up in small quarters when the weather is bad is not good. So yes, I could live in a small house, but only by myself or with my husband. We got a small RV last year. We have only used it for one long trip, but it works well. It is just a matter of figuring out what you really need and organizing it well for travel. Not much different than being in a covered wagon, except for the modern conveniences of course. We’ll see how well I do on more than a two week trip and with bad weather that keeps us cooped up inside. No dogs, chickens, goats, or horses allowed. I have had all but the horse inside and a small space like that isn’t something I want to share with them. I love our dogs, but we don’t travel with them.

  9. I am not sure I could live in a tiny home, maybe if it was just me I could manage but with the other two here I couldn’t. We have to much stuff. It might be nice to have a tiny home setting why out in the back yard just so you would have a place to go to and get away from everything and read.

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