Category: History – General

Sally Scull – One Scary Woman

 

 

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday!  I have a bit of a guilty confession–I am fascinated by lady outlaws. Life was tough in the old west, and people did what they had to in order to survive. And some took things a step farther.

I don’t know what motivated Sally Scull , but over her lifetime she developed the reputation of being a female desperado. There are claims that she killed 30 men, including at least one of her husbands. She was also known as a horse and cattle thief, however, she was never arrested and never spent time in jail for her crimes.

Sally was born Sarah Jane Newman in Illinois in 1817. Her family moved to Texas in 1823 to become one of Stephen F. Austin’s original group of colonists. Sally’s mother, Rachel, was also a tough women. When a Native American intruder tried to come down the chimney, she lit her feather pillows on fire and smoked him out. When another intruder stuck his feet under the front door, she chopped off his toes.

Sally married Jesse Robinson, a  veteran of the first Texas Ranger Company when she was 16 years old. Jesse was twice her age and worked as a volunteer soldier and militia man. The marriage was a rocky one, and after 10 years, Jesse filed for divorce. Sally did not get custody of her children, a son and a daughter, however, she had a reputation as a fierce and loving mother.

Two weeks after her divorce, Sally married a gunsmith named George Scull. He died in 1849, allegedly by Sally’s hand. Although Sally married three more times before her death, she kept the name Scull, which was often spelled Skull–perhaps for effect. Legend has it that her name was used to frighten children of the day–“Behave or Sally Skull will get you.”

Her third husband, John Doyle, also allegedly met a violent end. According to the memoirs of  John ‘Rip’ Ford, “He heard the report of a pistol, raised his eyes, saw a man falling to the ground and a woman not far from him in the act of lowering a six-shooter. She was a noted character named Sally Scull. She was famed as a rough fighter, and prudent men did not willingly provoke her into a row. It was understood that she was justifiable in what she did on this occasion, having acted in self defense.” The man who fell was supposedly her husband.  Her fourth husband, Isaiah Wadkins either left the marriage peacefully…or was drowned by Sally in a barrel of whiskey. Tales differ.

Sally always wore a black bonnet, sometimes dressed as a man, and rode astride her horse instead of sidesaddle, as was appropriate for women of the day.  She was proficient with a bull whip, wore pistols at her waist, and was a deadly shot with both pistols and a rifle.  One visitor to Texas described her as “…Superbly mounted, wearing a black dress and sunbonnet, sitting as erect as a cavalry officer, with a six shooter hanging at her belt, complexion once fair but now swarthy from exposure to the sun and weather, with steel-blue eyes that seemed to penetrate the innermost recesses of the soul…”  there are reports of people witnessing her kill men in self-defense as she conducted her business of buying (or stealing) and selling horses and cattle. She carried her gold on a sack looped to her saddle horn, but no one was fool enough to try to steal it from her. Sally had a tough reputation.

When Union blockades kept the South from exporting cotton, or receiving needed supplies, Sally served the Confederacy by transporting cotton through Texas to Mexico, and then bringing contraband supplies back via this Cotton Road.

 

After the Civil War, Sally simply disappeared. There is no record of her death, and no grave.  One story is that she and her last husband, Christoph Horsdorff, a man 18 years her junior who was said to be without redeeming qualities, went for a ride. Christoph came back alone.  Another bit of lore says that she moved to West Texas and spent the remainder of her life living quietly. No one knows for certain.

 

Let’s Get Ready for the National Day of the Cowboy

July 22nd is the National Day of the Cowboy, so the fillies decided to give everyone a quick overview of Cowboy History in preparation for the big day.

The first cowboys in the United States weren’t called cowboys—they were colonial-era cattlemen in western Massachusetts, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina. These men typically did not ride horses as they pushed their cattle from area to area, following the grass, often grazing in trespass on public domain.

Modern cowboys developed after the Civil War. Wild cattle had proliferated in Texas at the same time that beef was in short supply in the north. A $4 steer in Texas, could bring $40 up north. The cattle drives began in 1866, primarily to Missouri, where the cattle could be loaded on trains. The men who pushed the cattle were called cowboys. They faced harsh conditions and were challenged by Native Americans and farmers who didn’t want the cattle crossing their land. As time passed, more trails were developed throughout the west and more men became cowboys.

When open range ended in the west, after the terrible winters of 1887-1888 decimated the cattle industry, cowboys began building and fixing fences, growing hay and managing herds. Cattle from several outfits/ranches were often run together on the same range, then rounded up by cowboys from the various ranches. The cows would be divided out according to their mark or brand, which was why branding was so important in those days—and still is, for the exact same reason.

Cowboys today do essentially the same work as their forefathers, and wear the same gear—a broad brimmed hat to keep off the sun, boots with heels to keep their feet from sliding through the stirrups and getting hung up in the case of an accident, denim or canvas pants, a vest to keep warm in winter and to add an extra layer of protection from prickly plants and barbwire in the summer, a wild rag to soak up sweat or keep the neck warm in the colder months (silk works best for both).

Cowboys are mythical in some ways and real as can be in others—and maybe it’s that thin line between fantasy and reality that keeps the cowboy alive and well in our hearts.

The Historic St. James Hotel

 

There are some places that draw me over and over again. The St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico is one. Each time I pass through there, I have to stop. So much history happened there. I never fail to feel as though I brush shoulders with the many outlaws, ranchers and historic figures that once walked through those doors. Gunfights were a regular occurrence. But then, Cimarron was a rough place with no law.

The St. James Hotel was established in 1872 and continues to operate today. How I wish those adobe walls could talk. It seems as though I walk back in time. Henri Lambert, who was once a chef for President Abraham Lincoln, and his wife built the establishment–and trouble soon began.

Cimarron is Spanish for wild or unruly, and man, did the town live up to its name! The fastest guns quickly settled disputes and to say the undertaker was kept very busy is no exaggeration. The newspaper in nearby Las Vegas, New Mexico wrote in 1874 that things were awfully quiet in Cimarron because no one had been killed in three days. That must’ve been truly remarkable. At least 26 people lost their lives in the hotel and its saloon. After that they stopped counting. When the ceiling of the saloon was replaced in 1901, they discovered over 400 bullet holes. Yet, despite the gunplay, the business thrived.

Many well-known and influential people visited the St. James Hotel. The Earp Brothers stopped for several days on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. The Territorial Governor of New Mexico, Lew Wallace, wrote part of his novel BEN HUR there during visits to the area. This was where Buffalo Bill Cody laid down plans for his Wild West Show. Author Zane Grey began writing his novel, Fighting Caravans, while staying in Room 22.

The outlaws who sought lodging were too numerous to list but among them was Jesse James who always stayed in Room 14, Black Jack Ketchum, Clay Allison, Bob Ford, Pat Garrett, Doc Holliday, and Billy the Kid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found it interesting that David “Davy” Crockett, nephew of the famous Davy, was a regular at the hotel. He struck up a friendship with Clay Allison, then was killed one night by an unknown assailant and today lies buried in the Cimarron Cemetery.

I put Clay Allison in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy as Houston Legend’s head drover on that cattle drive and used his actual name. But my editor fell in love with him and wanted me to give Clay his own story, so I had to change his last name to Colby. I’m currently writing this story now and it’s due in two weeks. I love how the story came together and I think readers will love it too.

The real Clay Allison was responsible for killing 7 men in the St. James Hotel from 1872 to 1875. He loved to dance and did every chance he got and I incorporate that into my fictional Clay. Allison’s most quoted saying was this, “I never killed anyone who didn’t need it.” And from all the accounts he didn’t. He never bothered anyone who was doing right. He was well-liked and had a lot of friends. In 1881 he married  America Medora McCulloch and they had two daughters. He bought a ranch outside of Pecos, Texas and had a freak accident in 1887 involving a wagon and was killed. He was 46 years old.

I just love visiting the St. James Hotel and do every chance I get. History presses around me and if I close my eyes, I can smell gunpowder in the air.

What do you like best about visiting historical places? Have any left a lasting impression?

The Flavor of German Texas

Fredericksburg, Texas, one of the towns I used as inspiration for Blue Falls. Fredericksburg was named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. Photo credit: By Photolitherland Chris Litherland (Own work My own photo) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever done any traveling in Central Texas, roughly from the coastal plains near Houston over to San Antonio and Austin and up through the Hill Country, chances are you’ve at least seen a sign for a German bakery. Texas might seem an odd place to find so many German bakeries, but there’s a historical reason for their existence.

German migration to Stephen Austin’s colony of Texas began in the 1830s, following in the footsteps of Friedrich Dierks, who became known in Texas as Johanna Friedrich Ernst. He’d come to America planning to settle in Missouri but changed his mind when he heard about large land grants in Texas. He applied for and received a grant of some 4,000 acres in what is now Austin County, west of Houston. This became the heart of the German Belt in the years to come. Ernst wrote back to friends about Texas, and his letters became widely publicized. In the years following Ernst’s arrival, thousands more Germans immigrated to Texas. During the 1850s, the population of German-born Texans reached then passed 20,000. After the Civil War — and thus the Union blockade of Confederate ports — ended, ships loaded with Germans started arriving again.

Apple strudel. Photo credit: By che (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

German culture in Texas took a hit because of anti-German sentiment brought about by the World Wars and continued to decline afterward from its peak in the 1890s. However, the rich history of German immigration can still be seen throughout Central Texas in particular. Towns with names such as Fredericksburg, Gruene (pronounced “Green”), New Braunfels and Weimar; the King William Historic District in San Antonio, named after Wilhelm I, King of Prussia; enthusiastic celebrations of Oktoberfest; and the aforementioned German bakeries all stand as testament to the rich German heritage that has German still identified as the third-largest national-origin group in the state behind Hispanic per the 1990 Census.

It’s because of this German history and the fact that my fictional Hill Country town of Blue Falls, Texas needed a bakery that I created the Mehlerhaus Bakery, operated by Keri Mehler Teague. Characters in every book seem to end up at the bakery for delicious treats such as cookies, cakes and German sweets such as strudel. I even throw in some kolaches, Czech pastries, since Central Texas has a history of immigration from what is now the Czech Republic as well. The Mehlerhaus Bakery is part of the Main Street shopping district that is popular with locals and the growing tourist business as well. Keri and the bakery really came on the scene in The Cowboy Sheriff, the third book in my Teagues of Texas trilogy, which introduced the town of Blue Falls. But her business is so integral to the town that she and her sweet treats have continued to appear in the 12 Blue Falls stories that have come out since then and will continue to appear in the books to come.

Updated: July 2, 2017 — 6:51 pm

Learning to Love the Camas Root

I grew up in the Palouse area of Idaho, close to the Camas Prairie, and when I was in the third grade, while we were studying the Nez Perce Indians, I ate a cookie made with camas root flour. I can taste it to this day–and not in a good way.  It might have been the cook, it might have been the camas root flour. I don’t know, but that cookie did not agree with me. Interestingly, Lewis and Clark had a similar experience.

Before I tell you about Lewis and Clark, let me give you some background on the camas root. The camas is a blue flowering plant. It’s really quite beautiful and although there are several Camas Prairies, my Camas Prairie is an area in north central Idaho where the Nez Perce gathered camas roots for thousands of years.

The camas root is really a bulb, and it’s higher in protein that some fish. The native peoples would dig the root with sticks or parts of antlers in the early summer months. The time varied depending on the altitude. After the harvest, the camas roots were cooked in earthen ovens. The roots that were not eaten were dried for later consumption. Dried camas root lasted for years. There are stories of travelers eating camas roots that were more than thirty years old.

It was very important to only harvest the blue camas bulbs, because the white camas bulbs, which are also nutritious, closely resembled another species of camas known as White Death. The White Death could be lethal if enough was consumed, so white camas plants were generally avoided.

 So what happened to Lewis and Clark?

When the explorers reached the Weippe Prairie in Idaho in September of 1805, they were essentially starving. The Nez Perce fed the men camas roots, which were described as “sweet and good to the taste”. They were also very high in fiber and very hard on the starving men’s digestive systems.  The men fell ill with vomiting, diarrhea and gas. Captain Clark wrote, “Capt Lewis Scercely able to ride on a jentle horse which was furnishd by the Chief. Several men So unwell that they were Compelled to lie on the Side of the road for Some time others obliged to be put on horses.” The sickness lasted over five days, during which time the less weak men took care of the sicker men while making five canoes to travel the Clearwater River. Those guys were tough.

Later it was discovered that fermented camas made a decent beer and the men felt friendlier toward the root. Eventually, their bodies adapted. The men came to like the camas root and took a large supply with them when then traveled down the Clearwater in October 1805.

In researching the camas, I’ve learned that the roasted bulbs taste similar to pumpkin and sweet potato, both of which I hated as a kid, and that, I believe, was the source of my issues with the root. I would try a camas flour cookie again, given the chance. And hopefully, like Lewis and Clark, I would come to appreciate this historically valuable food source.

RESEARCHING the KANSAS of the 1870s

 

Kathryn Albright board

Researching – Kansas

How is that for a title of a post? I’m not sure it is very catchy.
We’ll have a little fun at the end. Promise!

I often want to include more history than necessary in my stories. (I find it fascinating!) My editor will put a ‘?’ by a sentence to indicate ‘What has this got to do with the story?’ when I include too much research. She reminds me that I am writing a historical romance—with the emphasis on the romance—and not a straight historical novel!

One thing that I needed to know for my new series set in Kansas was the Native American situation and whether it was realistic to have any Indian/Settler skirmishes at the time that my stories take place which is 1878-1880. By this time, Kansas was already a state in the Union. Statehood happened in 1861 and the story of how it came to be is an entire post in itself!

Kansas Seal 1861

Here is short timeline of things going on in 1870’s Kansas. I strive for historical accuracy and often information like this inspires my plotting. Some things I needed to know:

1. Whether Native American’s lived in the area and if they were friendly or otherwise.
2. When the train service began for shipping cattle to markets in the east.
3. The prevailing attitude about alcoholic beverages. (Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove, the kick-off book to this
series and available now, touches on the subject of alcohol and the twin heroines that run into trouble with their medicinal tonic and takes place in 1879.)

The following list is not exhaustive by any means, but it was pertinent to my new series–

1870 – The Kansas Pacific Railroad extends from Kansas City to Denver.
1871 – April 15 — ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok became the marshal of Abilene.
1872 – June 17 — Hoover’s Bar established in a tent shop five miles west of Fort Dodge.
It was the founding business of Dodge City. Up to then the town had been dry.
Ellsworth became the northern shipping point of the Texas cattle trail. (Succeeding Abilene.)
The Santa Fe Railroad was completed to the Colorado border and succeeded the Santa Fe
Trail as the main transportation route to the southwest.
1873 – The Kaw Indians were removed from their reservation in Morris County to Oklahoma
Territory.
Grasshopper plague from the Rocky Mountain Locust devastated the corn crop.
Four Kansas railroads shipped 122,914 head of Texas cattle in eight months.
1874 – Mennonites from Russia introduce Turkey Red wheat to Kansas.
1875 – Most of the buffalo in the state have been destroyed.
1876 – Wyatt Earp moved to Dodge City.
1878 – Cheyenne raid in Northwestern, Kansas. In Oklahoma Indian Territory, the Northern
Cheyenne left their reservation and headed north to their lands in Yellowstone. They were
stopped in Northwestern Kansas at Ladder Creek (known as Beaver Creek today.)
The last Indian raid in Kansas occurred in this year.
1879 – Prohibition is at the forefront of the Kansas legislature.
1880 – Kansas became the first state to pass an amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages.

The decade of the 1870’s went a long way in changing Kansas from a windswept open prairie to America’s agricultural heartland. The tranquil appearance of the vast open spaces belies the state’s rough and sometimes bloody path to the Kansas of today. Until I started delving into its history, I knew little about this fascinating state and the people that lived there.

OkaDog namey –so now for the fun part 🙂

I’ve started on the last book in the series (I think. It’s never a definite :-0) and I need a name for this cutie pie. I believe this little scruffy pup is going to be a miss not a mister. For a chance at a copy of my latest book, please suggest a name! That’s all there is to it.

NAME THIS PUPPY!

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Time Enough for Locks

Kathleen Rice Adams: Classic tales of the Old West...that never forget the power of love.

tumbler lock

Rendering of an ancient tumbler-style lock.

For as long as there have been haves and have-nots, the haves have sought ways to secure their valuables. History no longer remembers the inventor of the first lock, but invention of the first key is attributed to Theodore of Samos in the 6th century B.C., which leads to the suspicion locks have been around at least that long. In fact, crude locking mechanisms dating to about 2,000 B.C. have been found in Egyptian ruins.

The first devices resembling what we know today as door locks were discovered in the palace of Persian king Sargon II, who reigned from 722 to 705 B.C. They were large, clumsy devices made of wood. Nevertheless, they served as prototypes for contemporary security devices.

The first all-metal locks, probably made by English craftsmen, appeared between 870 and 900 A.D. in Rome. A row of bars of varying length, called tumblers, dropped into holes drilled through the horizontal bolt securing a door or gate. Only the person who possessed a metal bar fitted with pins corresponding to the tumblers could shove the bars upward through the holes, thus freeing the bolt.

Bodie Bank in Bodie, California, mid-1870s

Bodie [California] Bank’s vault, mid-1870s (photo by Dick Rowan, National Archives and Records Administration)

No great advancements in lock technology occurred until about the 14th century A.D., when locks small enough to carry appeared. Traveling tradesmen used the so-called “convenient locks” to secure their money and other valuables.

Although padlocks were known to the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, the first combination lock didn’t appear until the 18th century. Until 1857, most banks used combination locks of some kind to secure their vaults. The secret to combination locks was to create complex series of letters and numbers that would frustrate anyone who tried to disarm the mechanism. The code for the combination lock securing the safe in the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington D.C., for example, required a lengthy series of letters and numbers that provided 1,073,741,824 possible combinations. Because cracking the code by systematically running through all the possible combinations would require 2,042 years, 324 days, and 1 hour (barring a lucky guess), the lock was considered burglar-proof.

Nye & Ormsby County Bank, Manhattan, Nevada, 1906

Vault among the ruins of the 1906 Nye & Ormsby County Bank in Manhattan, Nevada. The bank crumbled (literally and figuratively), but the vault survived.

Soon enough, enterprising criminals figured out combination locks had an Achilles heel: Robbers could hold a bank employee at gunpoint and demand he or she dial in the correct code.

In 1873, James Sargent invented what he called a theft-proof lock. The device combined a combination lock with a timer that would not allow the safe to be opened until a certain number of hours had passed, even if one knew the combination.

By the late 1870s, theft-proof locks were de rigueur in banks all over the U.S. Though they weren’t quite unbreakable — dynamite trumps almost any security measure — theft-proof locks thwarted more thieves than any previous mechanism.

 

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Pirates, Vaqueros, and Cowgirls Make My Heart Beat Faster

Please welcome our guest, Jolene Navarro 

Jolene has generously agreed to give away a print copy each of Lone Star Bride and Texas Daddy and one eBook of Sweet Summer Night. So be sure to check back and see if you’re one of the winners.  (Contest guidelines apply)

 

I’m a Texas girl through and through so when I started writing Lone Star Bride I thought I knew plenty about Texas history. I mean come on, my family was here before we were Texas. I knew when I wrote about the history I love, it had to include a cattle drive. When people think of the great Texas cattle drives, they picture the millions of longhorn being pushed north along the Chisholm and Goodnight-Loving Trails.    

But long before a single beeve set hoof on these drives heading north, the Old Spanish Trail (also known as the Opelousas Trail) was being used to move cattle and horses from Texas to New Orleans. It is the oldest and longest used trail, so I’m not sure why it didn’t make it into Texas folklore and campfire songs. http://www.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/opelousa.htm

Many of the tools and skills the American cowboy used were picked up from the experienced vaqueros that had been in Texas for more than a century.

I knew that Spaniards had established the ranching industry and had been moving cattle and horses from Texas to Louisiana (most of the time illegally) for over a century, but it was a pleasant surprise to find that the women of Mexico often times had some of the same horse skills as their Vaqueros. That was some of the inspiration for my heroine in Lone Star Bride.

She was taught at an early age how to braid her own rope and the importance of a good horse, but she is denied the chance to work next to her father after the loss of her mother and brother. So what does any good stubborn daughter do to prove herself? She sneaks off to help on the cattle drive. Along the way, she has to rope the trail boss and teach him to live life without fear and love again. Together they find purpose in a life hope seems in short supply.

Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time on a horse.

In plotting, planning and researching the time and place for this story I came across something else that surprised me. Pirates.

Yes! Pirates. I found that for a brief time in history – in the narrow strip between the new country of Texas and the state of Louisiana was a no man’s land ruled by a few retired pirates. Pirates and cowboys in the same place and time in history?

I have to say it was a romance writer’s dream come true. I love Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time. The idea that he’s not as bad as he appears weakens my knees.  Is there hope that under that scruffy exterior is a heart of gold waiting to be healed?

Cowboy, Pirates and a bold woman seeking adventure, what more can you want in a Texas Historical Romance

Hugh Jackson

 

Do you have a favorite type of hero? A silent cowboy that carries a world of hurt? A dashing pirate that hides a soft heart? A greenhorn from Ireland that is looking for a new start in the wilds of Texas? Or maybe the mild preacher that suddenly finds himself in charge of six orphans?

What kind of hero makes you move a book to the top of your reading pile?

 

 

Blurb for Lone Star Bride: An Unwanted Marriage  

 

Sofia De Zavala wants to help her father run their family’s Texas ranch—but he has other ideas for her future. Faced with an arranged marriage, Sofia dresses as a boy and joins a cattle drive, determined to prove herself to her father. But her plan backfires when she’s forced to save her reputation by marrying trail boss Jackson McCreed.

Jackson thought he was hiring a scrappy young boy—instead, the wary widower has landed his business partner’s feisty, headstrong daughter as his bride. He believes a marriage of convenience is the best they can hope for. But Sofia dares him to look to the future again…and find a love strong enough to lasso a lifetime of happiness.

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About Jolene:  Jolene’s life, much like her stories, is filled with faith, family, laughter, and all of life’s wonderful messiness. A seventh generation Texan and PW bestselling author, Jolene Navarro knows that, as much as the world changes, people stay the same. Good and evil. Vow-keepers and heart breakers. Jolene married a vow-keeper who showed her that dancing in the rain never gets old. She uses her art degree to teach inner city kids about the world, and they teach her about life.

If you’re looking for some sweet summer reads, you can get these six stories for only .99 cents. Leah Atwood, Belle Calhoune, Danica Favorite, Jessica Keller and Kristen Ethridge along with myself have put together six fun contemporaries

To purchase click here:

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If you want to talk more about this find my at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jolene.g.navarro

For my latest books follow me at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jolene-navarro

 

 

Updated: June 5, 2017 — 1:50 pm

Welcome Guest – Tracy Garrett

 

Home Tiny Home

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?

A Match Made in Texas: Book Giveaway

“Are you’re askin’ if your virtue is safe with me?”
She blushed, but refused to back down. The man didn’t mince words and neither would she. “Well, is it?”
“Safe as you want it to be,” he said finally.
                                –From Margaret’s new book, A Match Made in Texas
My new book will be released June 6th and I wanted to share a little bit about it.  This is Amanda Lockwood’s story.  If you read Left at the Altar, you might remember that she is the sister who was always in trouble.  Well, she’s in really big trouble this time around. 

The book opens with Amanda stuck in the middle of nowhere after been thrown off a stagecoach for criticizing the driver.  This is where Rick Rennick finds hers and he offers to give her a ride.   After assurances that her virtue is safe with him, she accepts.  Here’s what happens next:

No sooner had she seated herself upon the wooden bench than Mr. Rennick took off hell-bent for leather. Glued to the back of the seat, she cried out. “Oh, dear. Oh, my. Ohhh!”

What had looked like a perfectly calm and passive black horse had suddenly turned into a demon. With pounding hooves and flowing mane, the steed flew over potholes and dirt mounds, giving no heed to the cargo behind. The wagon rolled and pitched like a ship in stormy seas. Dust whirled in the air and rocks hit the bottom and sides.

Holding on to her hat with one hand and the seat with the other, Amanda watched in wide-eye horror as the scenery flew by in a blur.

The wagon sailed over a hill as if it was airborne and she held on for dear life. The wheels hit the ground, jolting her hard and rattling her teeth. The hope chest bounced up and down like dice in a gambler’s hand. Her breath whooshed out and it was all she could do to find her voice.

“Mr. R-Rennick!” she stammered, grabbing hold of his arm. She had to shout to be heard.

“What?” he yelled back.

“Y-you sh-should—” She stared straight ahead, her horrified eyes searching for a soft place to land should the need arise. “S-slow down and enjoy the s-scenery.”

Her hat had tilted sideways and he swiped the peacock feather away from his face. “Been my experience that sand and sagebrush look a whole lot better when travelin’ fast,” he shouted in his strong baritone voice.

He made a good point, but at the moment she was more concerned with life and limb.

He urged his horse to go faster before adding, “It’s also been my experience that travelin’ fast is the best way to outrun bandits.”

“W-what do you mean? B-bandits?” It was then that she heard gunfire.

She swung around in her seat and her jaw dropped. Three masked horsemen were giving chase and closing in fast.

Have you ever been stranded? 

Leave a comment and you could win a copy of

Left at the Altar.  (Giveaway guidelines apply)

A Romance Writers of America  RITA finalist

There’s a new sheriff in town, and she almost always gets her man!

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Updated: May 25, 2017 — 7:07 am
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