Category: Inspirational Western Romance

Mail Order Brides on the Texas Prairie

Miss Jamie Adams is obsessed with Texas. And Ranches. And cowboys. And cowboys on ranches in Texas. How could we not be glad to have her visit Wildflower Junction again?

By Jamie Adams

Corralling the Cowboy 2The last time I had the privilege of visiting with the gals here at Petticoats and Pistols we talked about cowboys. It’s been a while, but back then I used Toby Keith’s song “Should have been a Cowboy” to open up a discussion on our favorite men on horseback. This time I thought I’d switch it up a bit and talk about something different . . . like life on a ranch . . . in Texas . . . with Cowboys.

Who am I trying to kid?  I have a hopeless obsession with the handsome, brave men who tamed the Wild West. Good thing for me I have friends that share that same fascination or at least they pretend they do to keep me happy.

This past year I convinced some talented writers (MidwestChristianRomanceAuthors) to join me in creating a mail-order-bride box set series set on a ranch in Texas. When a widower Texas rancher is told he has a short time to live, he decides the best way to rein in his three rambunctious sons is to find them wives. He means business too. They have to marry within three months or lose their inheritance. A very substantial inheritance.

Mesquite Gulch is a small town where the men outnumber the women tenfold. Actually that’s an exaggerated guess. The last census was taken in 1880 and they skipped our little town. Just trust me. There aren’t any marrying age women in town. But that’s not a problem, not when you have only to put an ad in the paper, or if you’re a wealthy rancher you can have your lawyer take care of things for you. Mr. Logan wants to see his sons safely hitched, but if he doesn’t live long enough, his trusted lawyer will carry out his wishes. The father hears wedding bells in the future, but it resembles a dirge to the sons.

Now take several young women fresh out of an orphanage in Chicago and put them on a ranch in Texas and you have the Texas Brides Series. The young ladies have never stepped foot outside the city, and ranch life is rougher than they’d imagined. Nothing could have prepared them for the reception their given. Their prospective grooms are as welcoming as the wicked cactus dotting the landscape.  Didn’t they send for a bride? They had a strange way of showing affection. Who’d want to marry one of them?

Shotgunwedding 3a-A Bride by Christmas (1) 4a-The Substitute Groom (1) TBMOS5

Three rugged cowboys have no idea what is about to hit them and I have to admit it is so much fun to watch them be taken down one by one. This is a five book series. Yep that’s right, five not three. Things seldom go as planned. We’ve got twist and turns that we hope our readers will enjoy.

Just to show how excited we are to introduce ya’ll to the Logan family we’re going to give away a digital box set. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

 

About Jamie

JamieJamie Adams fell in love with books at an early age. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott opened her imagination and sparked a dream to be a writer. She wrote her first book as a school project in 6th grade.

A graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature as well as member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Writing Desk and several critique groups she spends most of her time writing, reading or learning more about the craft near to her heart.

The parents of three teenagers, she and her husband make their home in the beautiful Ozarks of Arkansas.

You can connect with Jamie on Facebook and Amazon.

 

Faith Blum: The Pinkerton Detective Agency

I am thrilled to be here again! I have so much fun reading the blog posts on this blog and even more fun when I get to be a guest author. Today, I’m going to talk about two of my favorite genres of books: Westerns and Mysteries.

When I discovered Dad’s Louis L’Amour books, I read every one we owned and then started getting more and more and more from the library. When I wasn’t reading one of Louis L’Amour’s books, I would read a mystery book, usually Sherlock Holmes. Of course, I also read other genres, but those were the two I loved the best.

3D The Solid RockBecause of my love of Westerns, becoming an author of Westerns was an easy choice. Mystery, though, was a genre I didn’t think I would be able to do successfully. Then I came to book five in my series and it didn’t work any other way than with a mystery. So I wrote it as a Western Mystery.

Along the way, I had to do some research on the Pinkerton Detective agency. Since the main character is a Pinkerton detective, I wanted to make sure I did things correctly. Even if that meant I ended up with two William’s in my story. I already had a William in the series who’s name couldn’t be changed and I couldn’t just ignore him since he was good friends with Joshua, the main character. And William Pinkerton was the boss after his father, Allan, died, so Joshua would naturally have to talk to him, too.

A few interesting facts about Pinkerton Detectives:

  • Allan wasn’t always a detective. He started out as a rabble-rouser in Ireland, then moved to Dundee, Illinois, with his very young wife (she claimed to be 17, but many think she may have been 14), where he became a cooper.
  • Allan’s first mystery was solved unintentionally. He went to an island to get some wood for his barrels and found evidence of some unsavory characters, told the sheriff, and was instrumental in putting some counterfeiters behind bars.
  • After that, Allan was asked to become a Deputy Sheriff of the county and did so for a short time.
  • His name started coming up to some people who then decided to hire him privately as a detective.
  • Allan started out with investigating train robberies.
  • On President Lincoln’s journey to the inauguration, Allan Pinkerton was the one who convinced President Lincoln to sneak into Washington. No one knows for sure if there were people ready to assassinate Lincoln before he could truly become President or not, but Allan Pinkerton was very convinced of it.
  • He fought in the Civil War under the name Major E. J. Allen.
  • He was very reluctant to hire a female detective, but eventually did.

There’s just a few fascinating facts about Allan Pinkerton. To close out my blog post, I’ll give you a little excerpt of Joshua talking to his adopted brother about Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective.

As they galloped and then slowed to a fast canter, Otis pondered what Joshua had shared. What had Allan fled from? What else had he done in his career as a detective? Had he been unwilling to hire a woman? And who was this Strong Eagle Joshua had known?

Otis looked around, drinking in the sights, sounds, and smells. He had never left Castle City and had always wondered what it looked like beyond the confines of their small town. Sure, they had silver mining and ranches, but that was nothing compared to the wildness of this country.

He knew Daniel and Harriet Brookings attributed it all to God. Even his aunt Eleanor believed it was all from God and she had grown up with his father. His father had said all the God talk was hogwash and was only for weaklings. But his father had been wrong about a lot of things. Was he wrong about God, too?

Otis sighed. Maybe after the Pinkerton and Indian discussions, he could ask Joshua.

He scowled. Why does everything have to be so confusing and complicated? It seems like it’s getting worse the older I get, too. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t been born, but then I wonder what would’ve happened to my sisters if I hadn’t been there. Why is God portrayed as loving when He allowed Pa to do so many bad things? If he’d only had one kid or none… Why did six have to suffer all that?

Otis shook his head and looked up. His cheeks warmed when he saw Joshua waiting for him. “Sorry, I didn’t realize Princess had slowed down.”

“It’s fine. You looked deep in thought.”

“Mm hm.”

“Want to share?”

“Maybe some other time. I’d rather hear about the woman detectives.”

Joshua and Otis got their horses trotting and Joshua smiled. “Kate Warne. She was the first. When she came into Pinkerton’s office and said she wanted to be a detective, at first Allan didn’t think she could handle it. A lot of the places detectives go are dangerous and require physical strength.

“He thought about it overnight and said yes the next morning. Mrs. Warne helped with the train robbery case I told you about, too, by befriending the wife of the man who was stealing the items.”

“How many women detectives does Mr. Pinkerton have?”

“I don’t know.”

“When did he start being a detective?”

“Eighteen-fifty.”

“Oh! So he probably fought in the War Between the States.”

“He was a major. Major E. J. Allen.”

Otis blinked. “What?”

“His real name was too well known.”

“Why?”

“He was the one to convince President Lincoln to sneak into Washington, D.C., before his inauguration. He’d uncovered a plot to have Lincoln assassinated and worked tirelessly to uncover it.”

“So he saved the President’s life?”

“Most likely. He was one of the few who believed there really was a threat.”

“Hmm.”

They were silent for a few minutes.

“What do Pinkertons do now?”

“Pretty much anything.”

“What have you done?”

Joshua took a deep breath. “We need to go fast again. I’ll answer that on our next trot.”

Otis wrinkled his nose. “Fine.” He spurred his horse forward and raced ahead of Joshua.

A Mighty FortressThe first book in my series, A Mighty Fortress, is now permafree, so feel free to click on the cover and pick up your copy. It is also available on iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

One lucky commenter will get an eBook of their choice of any of my books.

Author Picture 2015-2016 bFaith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. (The picture doesn’t show it well, but there are scribblings on the page of Green Eggs and Ham). Now that she’s grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.

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Vickie McDonough: The Lottery For Free Land

We’re very happy to welcome back Vickie McDonough! Her books pull you in and keep you there all the way to the last page, then leave you wanting more. Give her a big Wildflower Junction howdy.

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Vickie McDonough 3 smallIt’s great to be back at Petticoats & Pistols. Last time I was here, I talked about the Oklahoma land runs. After the chaos of the land rushes, where many people were injured and thousands of lawsuits filed over land disputes, the government sought a better, more civilized way to settle the remaining Indian lands. Thus, the decision was made to hold a land lottery.

 

On July 4, 1901, President William McKinley, signed the Proclamation opening for settlement all land acquired from the Kiowa-Comanche, Apaches, and Wichita Indians, with certain land set aside as grazing lands for Indians and for town sites. The Proclamation provided for the land to be divided into two districts by a line running east and west, with offices at El Reno and Lawton. All registrations for the lottery had to be done at either El Reno or Fort Sill. Applicants were required to designate which district he wanted to live in, because no one was permitted to register for a chance at both.

 

Vickie OK or bust

 

Thousands of people came from all corners of the country in hopes of being successful in securing a home on some of the last land available in Oklahoma. The government lottery had about thirteen thousand homesteads to distribute, worth from one hundred to five thousand dollars each. Though it is possible that some claims near the county seats may have been worth from ten thousand to forty thousand dollars.

 

The registration offices opened on Wednesday morning, July 10th, and closed on July 26th. The registration process was simple. The settler presented an affidavit to the registration officer stating he or she was over twenty-one or head of a family and that he did not own more than 160 acres of land in some other state. Then he filled out a card with his name, date of birth, height, weight, and other information about himself. He was then given a registration receipt.

 

There were six regular booths where people could register. Booth number one was at the Kerfoot Hotel, and the Boomers were lined up in front of it all day. It was estimated that ten thousand came into El Reno Monday night, and around three hundred slept in line Tuesday night, waiting for the booth to reopen. There were over twelve thousand strangers tramping through the El Reno streets. Nine out of ten registrants were farmers. Although not many women participated, a special registration booth was provided for them. When the booths closed the last day of registration, one hundred and sixty-five thousand had registered in both districts.

 

land lottery tent

A platform thirty-two feet square was erected in the street on the north side of the Irving school ground. On Monday, July 29, the envelopes containing the names of all who had registered were brought to the platform in consecutively numbered pasteboard boxes. The envelopes were placed in two rotating bins, ten feet long, two and one-half feet wide, and two and one-half feet deep, one for each district, which were revolved for a sufficient length of time to insure a thorough mixing of the envelopes.

 

Fifty thousand people witnessed the drawing. The immense throng was wrought up to a frenzied pitch, and the drawing of the first few names was followed by a mighty shout that must have been heard for miles over the prairies. Each envelope drawn was consecutively numbered and opened at once. The identification slip, which it contained, was given the same number, and the name and residence of the winner was publicly announced. One thousand names were drawn from the wheel the first day, five hundred from El Reno and five hundred for Lawton.

 

On August 6th, those who won claims appeared at the land office to select their plots. They were processed in the order their name was drawn. All in all, the lottery was a peaceful endeavor and a great success.

 

Land Rush Dreams ad

 

My Land Rush Dreams trilogy features the 1889 and 1893 land runs and the land lottery of 1901. Sarah’s Surrender, book 3 in the series releases July 1st and is available for pre-order now. Click HERE.

Sarah's Surrender

 

When Sarah Worley rejects Luke McNeil’s marriage proposal to pursue property in the Oklahoma Territory land lottery in 1901, the ranch hand pulls up stakes and goes after her. But he’s the last person she wants to see. The land lottery gives Sarah the chance to realize her dream of independence and a home of her own. But with it comes challenges she never considered. When her dream becomes a nightmare, she must decide whether to stay on her land or give up and return to the life she left. Luke hopes that by winning a claim, he can give Sarah the home she’s always wanted. How can he prove his love and show the stubborn woman that he’s the right man for her?

 

I’m giving away a print copy of JOLINE’S REDEMPTION, book 2 in her Land Rush Dreams series. Also, I’d love to have anyone who’s interested sign up to receive my newsletter. Just visit this link:  NEWSLETTER

Jolene's Redemption

About Vickie:

Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is an award-winning author of more than 40 published books and novellas. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and End of the Trail, which was the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel winner. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Song of the Prairie won the 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her latest series, Land Rush Dreams, focuses on the Oklahoma land runs.

Vickie has been married forty years to Robert. They have four grown sons, one of whom is married, and a precocious nine-year-old granddaughter. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, antiquing, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com

 

 

An Excerpt and a Giveaway

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Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I’ve recently had the very fun experience of seeing my very first published book, which had been out of print for over a decade, given a new life by the folks a Serenade Books. It now carries a new title, A Matter Of Trust, and a new cover that I think is gorgeous (but I may be just a tiny bit biased).

Before it was re-published I went through it in order to do some revamping. A really fun side benefit of this was that I got to revisit this story and the characters and remember why I loved it in the first place.

Today I thought I’d share an excerpt from the book with you. So, without further ado…

 

21 AMOT SmallTexas   May, 1892

“The preacher’s cat is an elegant cat.”

“The preacher’s cat is a frightened cat.”

“The preacher’s cat is a gregarious cat.”

“Gregarious.” Toby drew the word out as he stretched the band on his slingshot. “What does that mean, Ma?”

Lucy Ames smiled down at the boy walking beside her. The Preacher’s Cat was a favorite game of Toby’s. He collected new words like other six year olds collected rocks and bugs.

“It means to be sociable, to want to be part of a group of other folk rather than off by yourself all the time.” Lucy pointed to the floppy-eared dog capering along beside them. “For example, Jasper here is very gregarious, but Mustard, for all his skills as a mouser, isn’t.”

“Oh.”

Lucy watched him mentally file away her definition. Her sweet, curious, intelligent little boy, so precious to her. Now that her mother was gone, he was all she had in her life that truly mattered.

Her smile faltered at that reminder, and she pressed a hand lightly against her bodice, comforted by the feel of her mother’s locket, cool against her skin. Then she hitched her shoulder, shifting the weight of the basket she carried. It was a beautiful day, tranquil here in the dappled shade of the woods, and they had an afternoon of picnicking and berry picking ahead of them. Time to concentrate on her blessings, not her losses.

She stepped over a knobby root and paused while Toby and Jasper studied a large beetle lumbering up the side of a hickory tree. There was no need to hurry, no sense of urgency. After all, the walk was as much a part of the outing as the destination. They’d been strolling along this leaf-carpeted trail through the woods for about thirty minutes, and the creek crossing was just past the bit of heavy brush up ahead. Some of the choicest blackberries in the county grew there.

Once they’d picked enough for Lucy to make a cobbler or two, Toby’s favorite treat, they’d eat the picnic lunch she’d packed. Afterwards, they could wiggle their toes in the creek, or look for cloud pictures, or—

A noisy commotion from somewhere up ahead caught her attention. At the same time, Toby reached for her hand. “Ma,” he whispered. “What’s that?”

“I’m not sure.” Lucy gave his hand a comforting squeeze as she tried to interpret the sounds. Was that a horse’s high-pitched whinny? The confusing sounds seemed to come from the clearing at the creek crossing, just beyond that bit of brush.

Putting a finger to her lips, Lucy reached into her skirt pocket, drawing courage from the feel of the pistol and two bullets hidden there. Ever since a rabid dog attacked the Conners boy in these woods a year ago, she’d made sure she could defend herself and Toby when they went out, even if they were only going berry picking.

She motioned for Toby to take hold of Jasper and stay put. After silently praying and loading the gun, she eased over to where she could see past the brush to what was causing all the fuss.

Merciful heavens! Roy and Vern Jefferson were beating the tar out of a man she’d never seen before.

She cringed at the viciousness of the no-holds-barred fight. Even though he was outnumbered, the fast moving stranger fought back with amazing agility. Then Vern picked up a fist-sized rock and hit the stranger on the head.

Lucy swallowed her cry of protest and scooted back to Toby.

This wasn’t her fight. She had no idea what it was about. For all she knew, the stranger could be as rotten as the Jeffersons. And there was Toby to consider. If she got involved and it turned against her, she’d be putting him in danger, too. The smart thing would be to keep hidden until the Jeffersons left, and then do what she could to help their victim.

But heaven help that stranger. Those brutes enjoyed hurting others. They weren’t likely to let up until he lay unconscious. Or worse.

She couldn’t just sit here and do nothing. Surely, with her gun and a bit of bluster, she could run them off. They might be meaner than a sack of rattlers, but they were cowards who’d run at the first hint they’d lost the upper hand.

Dear Father, please give me the courage to do what is needed here.

“Keep a tight hold on Jasper and stay here,” she whispered to Toby. “Stay very quiet, and don’t dare show yourself until I tell you it’s clear. No matter what. Do you understand?”

Looking at her with wide, frightened eyes, he nodded.

“Don’t worry.” She tousled his hair again. “I’ll be all right.”

As Lucy moved away, her smile vanished. Inching forward, she took another peek into the clearing. The stranger lay on the ground, belly down and unmoving. Roy and Vern stood nearby, rifling through his saddlebags.

Now that changed matters considerably. Lucy slipped further back into the cover of the brush. She might intervene to save a life, but not property. No, she’d wait until they took whatever they wanted and left. Thank goodness she wouldn’t have to—

Lucy stiffened as the stranger stirred and pushed himself up. She watched, open-mouthed, as he launched into Roy.

Some of Lucy’s sympathy evaporated as she silently fumed at his recklessness. Why couldn’t the fool just play possum until they rode off? Surely nothing in that saddlebag was worth dying for.

The injured stranger’s bravado proved no match for the bullies. Vern grabbed him from behind, pinning his arms. Roy, with a vengeful smile, punched the stranger in the gut. Then he pulled his fist back for another blow.

She didn’t dare wait longer. Offering up a silent prayer, and ignoring the nervous churning in her stomach, Lucy stepped into the open, pistol leveled.

Click on the book cover to learn more about the book.

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Leave a comment today to be entered in a drawing, winner to receive his or her choice of any book in my backlist.

 

 

 

Updated: April 10, 2016 — 1:26 am

The Alamo Wheelmen

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One of my favorite moments as a writer is when I stop to research some historical possibility and come away with a fascinating discovery. That happened to me just last week.

I’m currently about 1/3 of the way into a new full-length manuscript and instead of my usual cowboy hero, I decided to go in a slightly different direction. Instead of riding a horse, my hero prefers a bicycle. Seeing as how I’m married to a computer nerd and am busy raising two more males of that variety, I thought it was time I showed the world just how hunky and sigh-worthy the atypical romance hero could be.

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdock Mysteries – Great turn of the century Canadian mystery series I’ve been watching on Netflix.

Amos Bledsoe is slim and fit (from all his cycling), has a wonderful sense of humor, is loyal, intelligent, sensitive, and thanks to his great relationship with his sister and mother, insightful when it comes to appreciating a woman’s independence. Yet, his finer qualities are often overlooked because he’s not the rugged outdoorsman with tanned skin and broad shoulders. Even though I love my alpha male heroes, when it comes to a lifetime commitment, I’d much rather have the intelligent, funny, sensitive man than the arrogant, bull-headed fella. So I decided it was past time for me to write one.

Loosely inspired by Detective William Murdoch from the Murdoch Mysteries series, Amos is an avid wheelman. However, when he travels to Harper’s Station to help the heroine, he leaves his velocipede behind. Now, seeing as how Harper’s Station is a women’s colony full of suffrage-minded women, and bicycling in the 1890’s was a great symbol of women’s increasing freedom and independence, I knew my ladies would want to take advantage of Amos’s skills and have him give them a few riding lessons. Only problem was, safety bicycles were still so new at this time, they were terribly expensive. So I needed a way for them to get hold of some used machines. Enter, the Alamo Wheelmen.

alamo-wheelmen-crestalamo-racing-teamThanks to the wonderful website of the Texas Transportation Museum, I discovered that bicycles were not only popular back east, but were in use in Texas as well. The Alamo Wheelmen was a cycling club in San Antonio founded in 1891. It was a chapter of the national organization – League of American Wheelmen – of which my hero was also a member.They had their own racing team and had numerous owners of bicycle shops as members as well. The perfect contact for my hero.

 

Women on BikesSo he used his connections to contact the Alamo group and find a selection of used female-style cycles as well as a more masculine style for himself. And all at a bargain price!

So what do you think?

Can a western hero ride a bicycle instead of a horse?

Do you enjoy a variety of hero types in your romances, or do you have a strong preference for the alpha males?

New Release and Giveaway!!!

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With This Ring bethany house

Click cover to order.

It’s always so exciting when a new book comes out, but I’ve been chomping at the bit to get this one into the hands of readers ever since A Worthy Pursuit came out last June. My latest project, a novella titled The Husband Maneuver (from the collection With This Ring?), is finally here! I’ve been dying to share Daniel Barrett (aka Dead-Eye Dan) and Marietta Hawkins’s story with you.

Dead-Eye Dan is a dime novel hero inspired by the exploits of Daniel Barrett during his bounty hunting days, but Dan gave up that life to be an ordinary mule trainer. Only, the dratted dime novels keep glorifying his past and making it impossible to escape. He’s been in love with his boss’s daughter for two years, but his promise not to make advances while in Jonah Hawkins’s employ has kept him silent about how he feels. That and the fact that he worries Etta couldn’t love an ordinary mule trainer if her head was full of dime novel nonsense.

Marietta loves the man, not the legend, but when Dan decides to leave her father’s ranch for good in order to start his own spread, she panics, fearing she’s about to lose him forever. She takes drastic measures to convince him of her wifely suitability, but when a deadly hailstorm hits the ranch, will her dreams shatter like broken window glass?

With all the dime novel aspects in this novella, I wanted to work in actual scenes from a Dead-Eye Dan novel. Those scenes ended up being my favorite sections to write. I start each chapter with a Dead-Eye Dan excerpt, so the reader gets to enjoy two stories in one!

I thought I would share one of the Dead-Eye Dan excerpts with you. Enjoy the over-the-top sensationalist dime novel style.

The cover for the e-single version that will be available in May.

The cover for the e-single version that will be available in May.

Dead-Eye Dan climbed the tall oak with the skill of a cougar. Jaw tight, he scaled the tree hand-over-hand, his gaze locked on the v-shaped branch above his head. He had one chance to slow his prey. One chance to gain the upper hand. He wouldn’t squander it.

When he reached the branch he sought, Dan positioned himself in the cradle, bracing his legs against the sturdy trunk. In a single, smooth motion, he slid his Remington long range rifle from the custom holster on his back and lifted the Vernier peep sight into position with a flick of his thumb. The walnut stock fit against his shoulder as if it were an extension of his body.

Dan leaned forward and rested the barrel against the branch in front of him, notching it against a broken twig’s stub to keep it steady. He located his target. Four horses, 750 yards ahead. Four thieves and a woman. His woman. Taken when the desperadoes left the bank. They thought to use her as a shield to keep him at bay. A fatal error. The moment they touched Mary Ellen Watkins, they’d signed their death warrants.

–from Dead-Eye Dan and the Outlaws of Devil’s Canyon

  • Who are your favorite over-the-top cowboy heroes? From TV, movies, books – there are plenty to choose from.
  • I’m giving away 2 copies of With This Ring? today. Leave a comment to enter.

A Thanksgiving Recipe and Book Giveaway!!!

Photo Credit: StGrundy via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: StGrundy via Compfight cc

I know we’re all busy with holiday preparations, so I’m going to keep today’s post short and sweet. And the sweet is quite literal. In honor of the best eating holiday around, I thought I’d share my mother’s recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving dish – Candied Yams. Mmmmmm. They are so good. I never quite get mine to taste as good as hers, but they’re close enough to thoroughly enjoy.

Candied Yams

Wrap 5 large Red Garnet Yams in foil (poke a few vent holes with a short knife in each) and bake in a 400 degree oven until soft (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Let cool.

(Red Garnet Yams are much better than sweet potatoes, but if you can’t find them, sweet potatoes will work, too.)

candied yams

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of my mom’s yams, but this one came the closest. They won’t be syrupy, though. Just buttery and candied around the edges.

Unwrap yams, remove skin, and slice lengthwise into thin, oblong strips about 1/4 inch thick. Lay flat in a shallow baking dish (jelly roll pans work great), fitting them close together so almost no pan is visible. You will probably need at least 2 pans. Sprinkle generously with brown sugar. Drizzle (or spoon) melted butter over the yams until all the sugar is moistened. Bake in a 400 degree oven again until yams get dark (sticky and candied) around edges (usually 45-60 minutes).

Use a metal spatula to remove yams. Serve in a shallow dish.

Old-fashioned. Simple. And delicious!

Click Cover to Order

Click Cover to Order

The other sweet I’m offering today is a free book. WooHoo!!! Who doesn’t love a great Christmas story to curl up with around the holidays?

I had the honor of meeting author Jolene Navarro at a library event in the small Texas town of Llano. I snatched up a copy of her latest release, A Texas Christmas Wish, knowing all of my Petticoats & Pistols friends would love the chance to win a signed copy.

So, to enter for a chance to win, simply leave a comment about your favorite Thanksgiving dish.

Have a blessed day tomorrow with family and friends. May your hearts be filled with gratitude and your bellies be filled with delicious food.

 

 

The Holiday Courtship Excerpt and A Giveaway

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Hello everyone.  Winnie Griggs here. I have a new book coming up next month that I’m really excited about. It’s the seventh book in my Texas Grooms series set in Turnabout Texas. This one features Janell Whitman, one of the town’s schoolteachers – she’s been in nearly every book since the first one. Her hero is Hank Chandler who owns the town’s sawmill.  There are also two very special little children who I hope you’ll fall in love with just the way I did as I was writing their story.

For today’s post I wanted to give you a taste of this story by sharing an excerpt. And I’m also planning to give away a copy of the book to one (or more?) of the folks who leave a comment today. Read on to find out how to enter.

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“I wonder if you’d mind giving me your opinion on some potential candidates,” Mr. Chandler asked.

“You want my opinion on who would make you a good wife?” Janell couldn’t believe she’d heard him correctly. Did he really see nothing incongruous about asking the woman he’d just proposed to help him pick a wife?

He frowned as if insulted. “Not a wife. A mother for the children. There’s a difference. What I need from you is an opinion on how the lady under consideration and the children would get on.”

“I see.” The man really didn’t have an ounce of romance in him.

He nodded, apparently warming to the idea. “With your insights, you can save me from wasting time talking to someone who’s obviously not the right fit.”

Janell resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Assuming you find the right woman, may I ask how you intend to approach her?”

His eyebrow shot up at that.

“If you’re wondering if I intend to go a’courtin—” his tone had a sarcastic bite to it “—the answer is a very definite no, at least not in the usual way. Like I said, I will make it clear right up front what my intentions are. I don’t want to deceive anyone into thinking this will be more than a marriage of convenience.”

“Your intentions are admirable, I suppose, but I would advise you not to just baldly lay out your intentions, and propose.”

“Well, I—”

She didn’t let him finish. “I understand why you wouldn’t want to go through a conventional courtship or mislead the lady as to your feelings. But don’t you think you and your prospective bride should get to know each other before you propose? I mean, you must take the time to decide if she’s the right one to share your home, and the right one to share the responsibility for the children.”

He drew himself up. “I consider myself a good judge of character. It won’t take me long to figure out if she’s a good candidate or not.”

She held his gaze, hoping to make her disapproval obvious.

Apparently, it worked. “I assume you’d handle it differently.”

“I would.”

“Care to elaborate?”

Was she really about to give him pointers on how to find a wife? Janell swallowed a sigh—It seemed she was. “I’d recruit a third party to act as a go-between.” She leaned forward, trying to emphasize her point. “It should be someone you can count on to have your and the children’s best interest in mind, someone whose judgment you trust.”

“And what would this go-between do, exactly?”

“Go to the candidate on your behalf, of course. He or she would let the lady in question know the situation in general terms without extending any offers or promises, and ascertain said lady’s interest in such a match.”

“So you agree that a businesslike approach is best, just that I should go about it from a distance.”

“It could save a great deal of awkwardness and misunderstanding if you did so.”

“Assuming I go along with this plan of yours to use a go-between, and they acted on my behalf, then what?”

“Well, if the lady appears interested, he could ask a few discreet questions that would allow him to form an opinion of how good a fit she would be for you and the children. Then he would report back to you, and the two of you could discuss whether to pursue her or move on to another candidate.”

“In other words, you think I need a matchmaker.”

“You could look at it that way, I suppose. But you do want to approach this in a very businesslike manner, don’t you?”

He nodded. “I have to admit, it sounds like a good approach.”

Happy that he’d seen the wisdom of her advice, she moved to the next logical step. “Is there someone you could trust to take on this job of go-between?”

He rubbed his jaw, deep in thought. Finally he looked up. “How about you?”

“Me?” She raised a hand to her chest, surprised. “Surely you have some close friend—”

“You’re already intimately acquainted with our situation. I have complete confidence that you’d be looking out for the children’s best interests. And this was your idea in the first place so I don’t have to do a lot of explaining . In other words, you’re the perfect candidate.”

“Still, I would think you’d want someone you know better—”

“It also occurred to me that this is a role that would benefit from a woman’s touch.”

He had a point there.  Why not? “Well then, if you’re sure you trust my judgment, I would be glad to assist you in finding a wife.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, Janell wondered what she’d just gotten herself into. Was she really going to take on the role of matchmaker for Hank?

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He Wanted A Wife by Christmas… 

As Christmas approaches, Hank Chandler is determined to find a wife to mother his sister’s orphaned children. When schoolteacher Janell Whitman offers to help him with his niece and nephew, she seems to be the perfect match—but she won’t accept his proposal. Instead, she insists she’ll find him another bride before the holidays. 

Janell moved to Turnabout, Texas, to put her past behind her and focus on her future—one that doesn’t include marriage. But while she plays matchmaker and cares for Hank’s children, she loses her heart to the two youngsters…and their adoptive father. If Janell reveals her secrets to Hank, will he still want her to be his Christmas bride?

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Leave a comment about what it is you like (or don’t like) about Christmas books and I’ll throw your name in the hat for the giveaway!

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Updated: November 9, 2015 — 12:56 am

Vickie McDonough Visits with a Giveaway!

Thanks for inviting me to be a guest on Petticoats and Pistols. I always have a wonderful time here. Don’t forget to leave a comment (U.S. residents only) for a chance to win Jolene’s Redemption!Vickie McDonough 3 small

Vickie OK or bust

I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and I’ve always been interested in the land runs, one aspect of our state’s unique history. In case you’re not familiar with Oklahoma, much of the state was designated as Indian Territory in the later half of the nineteenth century. Over forty Indian tribes were eventually moved there because white settlers in other states and territories wanted their valuable land.Vickie OK land run

Cherokee strip sign up

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once much of the West had been settled, people started looking at Oklahoma as one of their last chances to get free land. They pressured the government to open the Unassigned Lands–land that had been promised to certain tribes, but no Indians had settled on it. The government finally agreed, and President Benjamin Harrison signed the paperwork for what was later called Harrison’s Hoss Race.

Vickie mapGabriel's AtonementOn April 22, 1889, over two million acres of land was opened for settlement in Oklahoma’s first land run. The homesteads were 160 acres with much smaller town lots also available. Anybody twenty-one and older could ride—women, foreigners, and blacks included. The race began with the blast of cannon and gunfire and a cheer so loud it made ears ache. An instant stampeded ensued. In less than a few hours, all of the homesteads had been claimed, leaving many people disillusioned and unhappy because they didn’t get one. In the first book in my series, Gabriel’s Atonement, my hero and heroine ride in the 1889 land run, which led to the settlement of Guthrie, Oklahoma City, and several other towns.

Joline’s Redemption, which released on November 1st, is the second book in my Land Rush Dreams series. It features the Cherokee Outlet aka Cherokee Strip land run, which was held on September 16, 1893. More than 100,000 hopeful settlers raced for 42,000 claims. I’m sure you can imagine the chaos of such an event. Lucky winners settled in sod homes and dugouts carved from the prairie while others lived in their covered wagons. The first winters were harsh as the land tested the endurance and character of its new inhabitants. Many of the settlers could not endure the harsh conditions, and after weeks or months, gave up their dream. But for those who stayed, hard times gave way to better days as crops flourished and communities, schools and churches rose from the wind-swept plains.

Jolene's Redemption

The land rushes were a chance for many folks to start over, and that’s what my heroine hopes to do.

Sarah’s Surrender, the final book in the series, releases next year, and it features the Oklahoma land lottery, which proved to be a less chaotic and less dangerous way to claim the land.

I’d love for you to follow my book news by signing up to receive my newsletter: http://www.vickiemcdonough.com/www.vickiemcdonough.com/Newsletter_Sign-up.html

You can find me online here:

Website:http://www.vickiemcdonough.com

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Heroes, Heroines, and History blog: http://HHHistory.com

Guest Michael K. Reynolds: Romancing the West!

There is tremendous irony in how popular the Western genre of Historical Romance is with today’s readers.

After all, life in the Western United States in the late 19th century was hardly the stuff romantic dreams were made of.

Sweaty saddles, dusty bedrolls, boll weevils in the breakfast bowl, horse flies feasting on your neck and only the most rudimentary levels of sanitation. Not exactly Harry Met Sally.

painting- New York Harbor about 1855 Fitz Henry Lane,American American, 1804–1865And during the Gold Rush era, romance was barely mathematically possible as there was a severe shortage of ladies in the bustling, burgeoning Barbary Coast area. The fairer sex were even scarcer in the desolate hills of the Gold Country and the few women who did reside in the region were…uh um…mostly of the working variety.

So why is it that historical novelists such as myself and well informed readers…like you…cling so tightly to the notion there is romance in the air of those Western Skies?

For me, there always was something undeniably, absolutely captivating about the wide open spaces of the West. In fact, in writing In Golden Splendor, the second novel of my Heirs of Ireland series, I discovered the landscapes themselves became a central character in the book.

They became inseparably entwined in the courtship of the story. Here are some examples:

The Emptiness

Any good romance starts with our leading lady or man with a yearning in their heart, a sense of aloneness. The great expanses of the unexplored wilderness of the West naturally provoke emotions of deep yearning, always a key to a great romance.

Even at a distance, the ribs of the great beast showed through its patchy and scarred chestnut fur. Through the barrel’s eye, Seamus tracked the young bull as it limped its way over to an aspen tree. The elk raised its head, crowned in mockery by horns uneven and fractured.

Did it catch his scent?

Then the animal relaxed, bared its teeth, and tugged on a low-lying branch, releasing a powdery mist of fresh snowfall and uncovering autumnal leaves of maroon, amber and burnt orange. Brilliant watercolor splashes on a white canvas.

In the deadly stillness of a finger pointed on a trigger, Seamus shared a kinship of loneliness and futility with his prey, whose ear flapped and jaw bulged as it chewed.

The Grandeur

FlightOfTheEarlsWhat is romance without beauty, whether it is expressed through a perfectly sculpted face or experienced in the depths of a pure heart? When it comes to landscapes of the American West there are few areas on our planet that offer as seductive a setting for an epic journey of the soul.

Can you imagine being the first to capture sights of Yosemite? Long before there were roads and campgrounds?

There spinning beneath them, breathlessly and seemingly miles below, was a valley finely tailored in a stunning cloak of white and generously covered with snow-flocked forestry. It lay at the base of a symphony of granite that reached like grateful hands up to the heavens. Tears of adoration poured freely from great waterfalls that descended with fullness, despite the lateness of the season. Behind this all, the sun lowered its head beneath the distant edge of the crucible, pouring into the sky cottony plumes of pink, rose, and rusted orange.

The Struggle

Just as the thorn to the rose, the territory of the West can prove to be the perfect villain in the story, an antagonist who challenges our heroes to the core of their being:

Now also coming into clarity was the gruesome evidence of the trail’s savagery. Lining either side of the pathway were the tragic debris of failed crossings. Sun-blanched rib cages and scattered bones of oxen, horses, mules, as well as broken wagon frames and wheels with missing spokes. Even more haunting were the discarded dolls and toys and even cribs, a reminder of how death dealt no better hands to the young.

The Ephemeral Moods

This scenery of the West as well can prove to be a treasured palette for authors, allowing us to shift emotion and moods of a story.

The harbor fog drifted in as they weaved between the ghost ships, amidst the lofting smells of dead fish, rotting wood, and mildew. The waves splashing against the hulls and moans of bending timber and strained ropes added to the eeriness of the evening. The farther they were from the shoreline, the more desolate and forbidden became this naval graveyard.

Characters of Strength

SongsOfTheShenandoahBut the rich scenery is far from the only tool of the Western-themed novelist. Also in romancing the West a writer can tap into the deep complexity and intrigue of those who would respond to such a Manifest Destiny in their lives.

What great romance awaits such complex characters!

Which is why in the blending of all of this mostly male humanity, the woman who approached appeared so extraordinary and so out of place. She was dark enough in skin color to be Mexican, but her facial features were European, with high cheeks and taut skin. Her hair flowed freely, brown and straight and nearly all the way to her glistening silver belt buckle. She glanced at Seamus with playful and alluring eyes.

Yet rather than being dressed in the bright, ornamental dresses off the painted ladies in town, she was dressed more as a man, with leather leggings, a red plaid shirt, spurred boots, and a black flat-brimmed hat. Most notably, she swayed with confidence and strength.

The Pen is Yours

What about you? What do you think makes the American West such a perfect accompaniment for romance?

One of the commenters who answers Michael’s question will win an autographed copy of his or her choice from the Heirs of Ireland series: Flight of the Earls, In Golden Splendor, or Songs of the Shenandoah. Click on the book covers above to find out more about each book. The winner will be announced Sunday evening (Aug. 23).

 

MichaelKReynolds_GoldABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael K. Reynolds’s debut novel, Flight of the Earls, about the Great Irish Potato Famine was a finalist for RT Book Reviews 2013 novel of the year award in the category of Inspirational Romance. In Golden Splendor, set during the San Francisco Gold Rush, earned fourth place as Forewords Best Historical Novel of 2013 and Songs of the Shenandoah, the Civil War-era conclusion to the trilogy was a Top Pick in RT Book Reviews, as well as a finalist for RT’s Book Reviews Book of the Year and was the Gold Award Winner as Forewords Best Historical Novel of 2014.

You can learn more about Michael at MichaelKReynolds.com. Find all of his books on his Amazon author page.

 

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