Category: New Releases

Caroline Clemmons Shares Her Downfall & Book Giveaway

Thank you for the exciting honor of being on Petticoats and Pistols. Yee Haw!

I will give away an e-copy of DANIEL McCLINTOCK to two people who comment. (Giveaway guidelines apply.)

I love research but it’s my downfall. One thing leads to another and the next thing I know I’ve spent precious minutes/hours falling down the rabbit hole. That’s not too bad, since I believe knowledge is never wasted. (Well, I’m not so sure about algebra since I’m a writer. ?) Research tangents can wreak havoc with a schedule.

Because I like to have unusual twists and occupations in my books, I’ve learned some intriguing things. For instance, did you know that long ago women were hired to mine the small, narrow crevices of coal mines? Or, that they worked in such hot conditions that they wore only a wide sash around their hips?

I learned that irrelevant tidbit researching for O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE (McClintocks book two). Even though the hero has to solve a mystery at a coal mine, this is a western. He’s involved in a trade: find the culprit who’s sabotaging the mine and he gets the money to buy a horse ranch. I wasn’t searching for ancient mining or even Regency era mines. I wanted information on Texas coal mines in the late 1800s. Fortunately, I found enough to make my book credible.

Later in the McClintock series, I researched the early beginnings of physical therapy for DANIEL McCLINTOCK, McClintocks book four. In the previous book, McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, I left that hero’s younger brother Daniel paralyzed from the waist down.

Oooh, the angry emails! The gist was that if I didn’t write a book to help Daniel I would lose many readers. These are romance books, so of course I would write his book. My goal is to entertain and leave readers with a happy glow. If we want to be depressed, we can watch the evening news.

I spent several hours researching Daniel’s problem and the origins of physical therapy. By a stroke of good luck (or angels watching over me) I met a man who had been paralyzed from the waist down just like Daniel. This man, who didn’t even use a cane or limp, told me how he regained use of his legs—and the process involved things I would not have found in research.

In DANIEL McCLINTOCK, Daniel has gone from being a shy, kind, hard-working young man to one who is depressed and cynical. You can see how that might happen, right? This book is a sweet romance with the exception of the words “damn” and “hell”.

After being used to ranching all his life, his abilities have been stolen from him by a villain’s bullet. At twenty-two, he fears he’s facing a lifetime of what he feels is being useless. He’s trapped in a shell of his former self.

However, Daniel isn’t totally idle. He paints beautiful pictures that he sells in the mercantile then donates the proceeds to the church. Keeping ranch records for his father is a definite boon for the older McClintock. Secretly, Daniel writes poetry. But, as his younger sister Rebecca accuses, he is grumpy as an old bear.

In Amsterdam, Clara Van Hoosan has been training as a heilgymnast in the new mechanotherapy field. At twenty two, she has had amazing success but faces the battle of patients preferring a man as their therapist. When a request comes from America, she is thrilled when her mentor suggests her—but she uses her initials rather than reveal she’s a woman.

Do you think Daniel will welcome Clara to help him? If you said no, you’re correct. Let me share the scene of their first meeting. Kathryn is Daniel’s mother.

DANIEL McCLINTOCK Excerpt:

Clara followed Kathryn to the room next door. When she entered, she stopped and stared. Daniel wasn’t a boy as she had imagined—he was a man her age or older. And, as handsome as any man she’d ever met.

Kathryn introduced them to one another.

“You’re not serious!” Daniel’s glare chilled Clara as he assessed her head to toe and back up. “You said a man was arriving. You think I’m going to work with this… woman?”

He looked away and made a dismissive wave with his hand. “Forget it and get her out of here.”

Kathryn offered Clara a helpless expression then left the room.

Clara stepped forward, forcing herself to assume her professional demeanor. She had faced this reaction before, but this was so much more important. As much as she longed to help anyone in his position, this man also represented her chance to establish herself in America.

“Daniel, I am here to help you learn to walk again. I have a contract and have moved into the room next door, so you might as well get used to having me here.”

His blue eyes were glacial. “I. Said. Get. Out.”

As if he hadn’t spoken, she continued, “I have completed courses in nursing and mechanotherapy and have helped dozens of people like you recover the use of their limbs. One of your workers has gone to the rail depot to claim my trunks. Inside two of them I have equipment which I will assemble here in your room.”

He threw a book at her but it landed at her feet. “I am not letting you near me.”

She picked up the book, glanced at the title. “Hmm, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I have wanted to read this. Thank you.” She laid it on the washstand.

“Give me my damned book.”

She smiled but didn’t return the tome. “But, you gave it to me.”

“You know very well I didn’t.” Using his arms and hands, he pushed up higher on his pillows. “You deliberately misled us by using your initials instead of your first name.”

She widened her eyes and blinked at him. “Oh? I believe it is customary to use initials in business correspondence.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “Don’t give me that innocent expression. You knew we thought you were a man—which is what you intended. I’m not having a woman working on me.”

Clara tapped a finger against her cheek. “I was under the impression your mother has been working with you to insure your leg muscles do not deteriorate. You were not averse to her and she is a woman.”

“That’s different.”

“She faces prejudice because she is a woman healer. I would think you, as her son who is aware of this, would be more tolerant of other women healers.”

“What she does is entirely different than what you supposedly do.”

“Not so. Each of us does our best to help people. In spite of your low opinion of me, I am going to be helping you for some time. I will be in early tomorrow to help you get ready for the day. After breakfast, I will begin assembling my equipment. You will find it fascinating. For now, good evening.” She reclaimed the book and carried it with her.

He yelled after her, “Bring me back my damned book!”

She smiled to herself as she walked to her room. She thought she had come out best in that round. Tomorrow would begin round two.

DANIEL McCLINTOCK, McClintocks book four, is available from Amazon:

Click Here To Order Daniel McClintock

The first book in the series, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. To order a permafree copy Click Here

Book two is O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE: Click Here to Order

Book three is McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE: Click Here To Order

My question for you is, do you enjoy research?

 

A LITTLE ABOUT CAROLINE

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To make up for this tragic error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs. The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won numerous awards. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.

Click on her for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Follow her on BookBub.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?

 

 

 

Updated: April 5, 2018 — 1:22 pm

Friendship Garden

 

Here at the junction, we had a great week with some of our Fillies blogging about Cabin Fever. Then yesterday, Trish did a thought provoking blog on her bucket list. These blogs brought to mind something I wanted to share that is sorta a followup to all the blogs. Didn’t take me long to dump today’s outline and post something I’ve been thinking about.

Here in the Texas Panhandle we didn’t have hardly any winter, so very little Cabin Fever.  We’ve been in a serious drought, which is great for cotton farms, but bad for about everybody else.  Oh yeah, we did have one day of snow flurries, but the next day neared 90 degrees!  Only in the Texas Panhandle!

Friendship Garden

The tending of a friendship garden is no small matter and is not to be taken lightly. Many a beautiful garden has gone to ruin for lack of proper care.  Here are some tips that may prove helpful.

Prepare the soil by tilling it with God’s unconditional love. Remove any rocks of judgment or critical attitudes. Pull out any roots of fear and jealousy. Destroy the seeds of gossip before they can even take root.

Seeds of friendship may be found most anywhere. Plant with care, using kind words and a listening ear. Germination is usually spontaneous, so be watchful. To ensure growth, water with kind deeds and a generous heart.

Make sure you give each friend plenty of room to grow.  Be realistic–don’t expect a marigold to smell like a rose. Fertilize generously with laughter and joy. Water deeply with tears of empathy and prayer to develop healthy roots and a stronger, more stable friendship.

Cultivating a friendship garden requires patience, perseverance, and time–but it’s worth it!

Thanks to Karla Dornacher, The Blessing of Friendship: A Gift from the Heart.

I can’t help but think that the farmers and ranchers during this drought and centuries before used parts of this hoping to get a good harvest, much like we might harvest our friendships.

Hope do you think people in the early days developed their friendships? No doubt every part of our country had different ways, so I’m excited to hear what you all think.

 

I’m thrilled that my newest contemporary western, and the second in my Kasota Springs Romance series, will be out next month!

To one lucky winner, I will give you the option of getting this book as an eBook early release or any other book of mine on Amazon.  I’ll also send you a $10.00 gift certificate from Bath and Body Works!

Late breaking news, I just got word from Kensington that The Tycoon and the Texan has been marked down to 99 cents as a special  Kindle Monthly Deal. It’s at Amazon today, but should be at other vendors later this week.  Go check it out!

 

Updated: April 3, 2018 — 9:55 am

HOW DO YOU STOP CABIN FEVER? (AND A GIVEAWAY!) by Cheryl Pierson

When the cold weather starts up, I’m all too ready to just hunker down and get out of the Oklahoma wind—the older I get, the more I feel that way. But one thing I’ve discovered: If you have plenty of food (for both humans and the big dog), running water, and firewood, it’s not terrible. Well, until you have to go out for MORE food!

In Oklahoma, we don’t normally get a lot of snow, but we do get some. The worst problem is the ice. It seems, here in Oklahoma City, we sit on the very cusp of the jet stream—and I can’t say how many times we’re told, “It COULD be just rain, but if the temps drop even one degree, it’ll be FREEZING rain and ice.”

I can’t even imagine how the men and women we write about in our novels survived those long, cold winters. They must have been chopping firewood every day, year-round, except when the freezing rains hit in the winter. With books so scarce, I’m sure the ones that were available must have been memorized by those who read.

Thank goodness we live in a day and age when we are able to read as much as we want—online (if the electricity stays on!) or the old-fashioned way—a paperback book in hand. I do a lot of reading for my work at Prairie Rose Publications, but I have books I read “for pleasure” when I get a chance—and in the winter months it seems I get a lot more time for that than in the summer. This is how I keep cabin fever at bay when the weather is too awful to venture out.

One of the few stories I’ve written that takes place in winter!

Here are some of my picks I read while I was waiting for spring to roll around. How about you? What do you do to stave off cabin fever in those winter months? Read any wonderful books lately? Please share! I’m always looking for more reading material!

I just recently started reading the COLLECTED COMPLETE WORKS OF CHARLES ALEXANDER EASTMAN and THE ESSENTIAL CHARLES EASTMAN (OHIYESA): LIGHT ON THE INDIAN WORLD (SACRED WORLDS). Here’s the blurb from Amazon about the latter:

This revised and updated edition contains the most important writings of Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), the first Native American author to live simultaneously in both the traditional world of the Santee Sioux and the modern civilization of the white man. Dr. Eastman also attended the injured at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Ohiyesa’s works represent a complete explanation of the philosophy and moral code of the Plains Indian. Ohiyesa’s message speaks to every person who seeks a spiritual way in the midst of a society increasingly dominated by materialism and industrial technology. Sun Dance chief, James Trosper writes, It is a small miracle that these important spiritual teachings have been preserved for us. This new edition contains 10 sepia photographs from Eastman’s life and a thought-provoking foreword by Raymond Wilson.

There are a LOT of books of writings by Charles Eastman—very interesting, poignant, and just downright wonderful, in my opinion.

Another excellent book—not really a romance, but a true western, is by my friend Robert Randisi—THE GHOST WITH BLUE EYES. It’s a story of how one mistake can make a person sink to the depths of a whiskey bottle, and what it takes to make him climb back out of it.

HERE’S THE AMAZON BLURB: Lancaster hangs up his six-shooter and grabs a bottle after accidentally killing a young girl in a gunfight, but when another girl needs his help, he will fight to regain his soul and his honor in order to save her.

 

 

 

 

Okay, not a western, but a ROMANCE– THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE is book 1 in the “Highland Pleasures” series, or what is known as The Mackenzies. This is an excellent tale by Jennifer Ashley, a shorter piece, and it has a hero you will not likely forget. Ian Mackenzie is afflicted by something—because of the time period this story takes place in, we don’t really know what it is, but it could be autism, could Asperger’s Syndrome—and he is very different. This is the first in a series and I would like to read the others!

 

 

 

I must confess, I did some re-reading of some old favorites, as well. GOLDEN NIGHTS by Christine Monson…speaking of “different” heroes—and heroines—Christine Monson’s characters are always intriguing and no matter how many times you read her stories, the next time you read it again you will find something you didn’t see before.

Here’s the Amazon blurb: Abandoned by her weakling husband on their wedding night, beautiful socialite Suzanne Maintree sets out to track him down in the wilds of Colorado, but is quite distracted by her guide, a handsome English adventurer.

By the way, this blurb doesn’t do this book justice at all. It’s like saying your grandma’s homemade chicken and dumplin’s and cornbread was “good”—there’s so much more to this story!

 

 

I could go on and on, but how about a MOVIE to break the cabin fever monotony? Have you ever seen this one? PURGATORY is one you will want to watch. Refuge is a small town in the west where no one carries weapons. There’s no jail, and neither the sheriff nor his deputy even carry a gun. It’s an odd assortment of citizens, who know the rules, and to kill someone else for whatever reason means their mortal soul. It’s not gory, but does have some supernatural elements that are very well done. Stars Sam Shepard, Eric Roberts, Donnie Wahlberg, Randy Quaid, and JD Souther, among others.

I will leave you with an excerpt from FIRE EYES that takes place in my heroine’s cabin. FIRE EYES is part of a 6-book boxed set, UNDER A WESTERN SKY! I’m so proud to have my story in this set with 6 different authors (Agnes Alexander, Celia Yeary, Kaye Spencer, Patti Sherry-Crews, Tracy Garrett and Cheryl Pierson). The best part is, it’s only .99 right now!

EXCERPT FROM FIRE EYES:

THE SET UP: Jessica Monroe is living alone with her adopted daughter in the eastern part of Indian Territory. Her husband has been murdered by Andrew Fallon’s border raiders. Now, the Choctaws have brought her a U.S. Deputy Marshal who has been badly wounded by the same band of outlaws, in the hope that she will be able to save his life. Here’s what happens:

“You waitin’ on a…invitation?” A faint smile touched his battered mouth. “I’m fresh out.”

Jessica reached for the tin star. Her fingers closed around the uneven edges of it. No. She couldn’t wait any longer. “What’s your name?” Her voice came out jagged, like the metal she touched.

His bruised eyes slitted as he studied her a moment. “Turner. Kaedon Turner.”

Jessica sighed. “Well, Kaedon Turner, you’ve probably been a lot better places in your life than this. Take a deep breath, and try not to move.”

He gave a wry chuckle, letting his eyes drift completely closed. “Do it fast. I’ll be okay.”

She nodded, even though she knew he couldn’t see her. “Ready?”

“Go ahead.”

Even knowing what was coming, his voice sounded smoother than hers, she thought. She wrapped her hand tightly around the metal and pulled up fast, as he’d asked.

As the metal slid through his flesh, Kaed’s left hand moved convulsively, his fingers gripping the quilt. He was unable to hold back the soft hint of an agonized groan as he turned away from her. He swore as the thick steel pin cleared his skin, freeing the chambray shirt and cotton undershirt beneath it, blood spraying as his teeth closed solidly over his bottom lip.

Jessica lifted the material away, biting back her own curse as she surveyed the damage they’d done to him. His chest was a mass of purple bruises, uneven gashes, and burns. Her stomach turned over. She was not squeamish. But this—

It was just like what they’d done to Billy, before they’d killed him. Billy, the last man the Choctaws had dumped on her porch. Billy Monroe, the man she’d come to loathe during their one brief year of marriage.

She took a washrag from the nightstand and wet it in the nearby basin. Wordlessly, she placed her cool palm against Kaedon Turner’s stubbled, bruised cheek, turning his head toward her so she could clean his face and neck.

She knew instinctively he was the kind of man who would never stand for this if it wasn’t necessary. The kind of man who was unaccustomed to a woman’s comforting caress. The kind of man who would never complain, no matter how badly wounded he was.

“Fallon.” His voice was rough.

Jessica stopped her movements and watched him. “What about him?”

His brows drew together, as if he were trying to formulate what he wanted to say. “Is he…dead?”

What should she tell him?

The truth.

“I—don’t know.”

“Damn it.”

“You were losing a lot of blood out there,” Jessica said, determined to turn his thoughts from Fallon to the present. She ran the wet cloth lightly across the long split in his right cheek.

His breathing was controlled, even. “I took a bullet.” He said it quietly, almost conversationally.

Jessica stopped moving. “Where?”

*****************************************************************************************************************

I’M GIVING AWAY ONE FREE DIGITAL COPY OF UNDER A WESTERN SKY TO A LUCKY COMMENTER TODAY! Just answer the question below in the comments section to be entered for a chance to win!

Spring is on the way and winter is on the run! What did you do this winter to keep sane and keep cabin fever at bay?

Can’t wait to see if you won? Here’s the BUY LINK for AMAZON: https://tinyurl.com/y7nz3whj

 

How the West Was Wed–Giveaway

It’s PUB week for my book How the West Was Wed

and I’m giving away an eBook copy.

The only thing threatening their success is love.

After finding herself a widow at the age of twenty-six, JOSIE JOHNSON moves back home to Two-Time, Texas and takes over the town’s only newspaper, the Gazette.  Everything works as planned until the very charming, very handsome BRANDON WADE moves to town to start his own newspaper. At first Josie welcomes the competition, but soon learns that readers prefer Wade’s bold hyperbole to her more serious type of journalism.

Brandon never meant to put the pretty publisher out of business and suggests a solution.  Nothing sells newspapers like a good juicy scandal, but lacking that, the next best thing is a good old-fashioned print war between two battling editors.  Brandon even writes up an article disparaging himself and his paper to demonstrate. Josie refuses to stoop to such tactics.  She’ll gain her readers back on her own terms—or not at all!  But when her paper accidentally publishers Wade’s article, the print wars are on.

The rivalry between Josie and Brandon meets with immediate success and both newspapers fly off the racks. The editorial warfare is the talk of the town and readers can’t seem to get enough. While the ink wars rage on, Josie and Brandon find themselves fighting yet another battle—a mutual attraction that could put everything they worked for at risk.

Before the Civil War, people were content to receive news weeks and even months after an event, if at all.  The war changed that. Suddenly, people were demanding to know what was going on, and newspapers became an important part of life.  President Lincoln recognized that newspapers could be used to sway public opinion and he used them to good advantage, much as politicians do today.  

Here’s my question: What’s your favorite way of getting the news?

 

Amazon

 

Updated: March 17, 2018 — 7:03 am

A Little Bit of Fiction — A Little Bit of History — An excerpt & a Give-Away

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to watch a Rain Dance?  And to watch it from the “roof” of a 19th Century Mandan lodge?

Ever wonder if the men who tried to make it rain all those years ago were successful?

Interestingly, George Catlin — who visited the West in the 1830’s — wrote much about the Mandan Indians, about their rain dances, their ceremonies and religious practices, even the way their lodges looked.  Of course we who write historical romances often find ourselves completely captivated by the facts and outright interesting characters and happenings that we find in our research.  Often the facts of the matter are so outrageous, that an author might feel no one would believe it, and so she might write a scene around it, but “tone it down” a bit — just to make it believable.

I think the rain dance is one of those kinds of ceremonies, and yet it is a fact that many men tried to make it rain by testing their “medicine” against the elements, and that many were quite successful.  The following scene is written within the Minataree village.  The Minataree were a tribe of Indians who lived on the cliffs above the Missouri River.  They had a permanent village and very interesting customs.  These scene of course is romantic, but it also takes into account the terrific sight of a man pitting his strength against the elements in order to help his tribe by making it rain.

Enjoy!

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

Excerpt

As they approached the Minatarree village, they were at once treated to the sight of a horse race in full swing. The track was set upon the prairie and a good deal of the village had turned out to watch.

From a distance, unobserved, unnoticed, High Wolf and Sierra sat and watched the race for several moments, before deciding to go on. At last, they approached the main Minatarree village, and Sierra was the first to note the sounds of many drums from within the village.

“There seem to be more drums beating there than what I remember. Do you know why?”

“Perhaps the Minatarree are having a dance. Or maybe, if my vision is correct from this distance, we might find that there are Rain Makers on top of the council house.”

“What?”

“Rain Makers.”

“I have never heard of such a thing. What are they?”

High Wolf, who had been crawling through the shrub, stopped and turned toward her, his manner relaxed and full of good humor. He enlightened her, saying, “Have you seen that the Minatarree raise a great deal of corn and vegetables?”

“I have.”

“Have you also noticed that there has been no rain since we have been in this country, which is almost three weeks? That is a long time to go without rain, if one is raising crops.”

“Ah, I begin to understand.”

“Do you? Here is what happens. When the crops are failing, the women, who raise the corn, appeal to the medicine men of the tribe to help. And if the women’s cries are sufficient, these wise, old men will parley in the council lodge. Here they will burn sage and other medicine herbs, and then they will appeal to the Creator for help.

“Now, this lodge is closed to all but a few—perhaps fifteen young men. These are the young men who are willing to risk their reputations against the force of nature. With their own medicine, they appeal to the spirits to make it rain.

“If one of them fails, he will, then, never become a medicine man.  But if he succeeds, he will become a man of some importance.  Now, if I am correct, this could be the source of the drumming. Would you like to go and see?”

“Most definitely. But if this is a ceremony, won’t we interrupt it?”

“No one will notice our coming and going. There is too much taking place here today, and people will be watching the dancers, not us. But hurry, let us go there quickly and find a good location where we could sit and watch, for I believe you will find it interesting.”

Slowly, he turned around and started in the direction of the river, where they might wash the mud from their bodies before approaching the village. But Sierra tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Tell me, have any of these young men ever made it rain?”

“If their medicine is good.”

“Oh, really?”

“It is so..”

“And do you believe that one of them will do so now?”

“I do.”

“All because they implore the Creator for help?”

“That,” he agreed, “and because some of them have much medicine of their own, and can talk to the spirits.  I have known such people.”

Her eyes filled with humor, and she laughed. “Well, I, for one, don’t believe it.”

He grinned at her. “Would you like to make a bet?”

“Hmmm. Perhaps,” she felt non-committal. “What would we be betting?”

His eyes twinkled as he suggested, “It is my opinion that a good, long back rub would be in order.”

“Very well.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “I seem to remember you asking for a massage once before. However, I feel I should warn you that in this case, I will be the winner.” She gave him a merry, lopsided grin. “What do you think?”

He stretched, yawning. “Ah, I’ve always loved a good back rub…”

***

Entering the village as unobtrusively as possible, they made their way toward Yellow Moccasin’s lodge. Once there, they were able to quickly find a seat atop his earth lodge, sitting directly at the hut’s apex. That they shared their seat with several of the youngsters made it seem to Sierra as though she were on a picnic.

“Now there”—High Wolf pointed to a particular earth lodge—“is the council lodge, and inside are the medicine men who are singing and beating the drum.  Do you smell the herbs? They are burning them, so that the Creator will be pleased and will take pity on them.”

“And the man on top of the lodge?”

“That is one of the young men, who is determined to test his prowess.  This man I am told is Gray Elk.  Look, he is about to start.”

Gray Elk was certainly an extraordinary man, Sierra decided. Tall, big-boned and well built, he wore a most beautiful costume of what must be elk skin, for it was bleached white. He also carried in one hand a war shield, and in his other, his bow and two arrows.

Then, taking position and brandishing his bow and arrows toward the skies, he began to sing, as though the very air were filled with spirits.

“What is he saying?”

High Wolf leaned close, and whispered, “At present, he is telling the crowd that on this day, their woes are at an end. He is here to sacrifice himself to the task of making it rain, for he knows well that if he fails, he will be disgraced. He says that his shield will draw a great cloud, which will give them all rain.”

Sierra glanced around her, at the cloudless heavens overhead, and queried with good humor, “Is he a dreamer?”

“Perhaps. But he is given all day to make the rain fall from the sky. We have happened upon the fourth man to try.”

“The fourth?”

Haa’he, and Gray Elk will be on top of that lodge most of the day, pleading to the heavens.”

“Do you think he will make it rain and win you the bet?”

“Perhaps.”

Again, she smiled. Such strange customs. Still, she glanced right and left, noticing that behind her, arising, from the west, was a small cloud.

“High Wolf,” she pointed. “Look there.”

He did so, then slanted her a look of delight. “Ah, I will enjoy that back rub very much.”

She chuckled, her glance skimming over the heads of the villagers, who had also spotted the cloud. As Gray Elk’s pleas became more urgent, Sierra suddenly caught sight of something…someone on one of the other rooftops. An image of someone familiar…someone with dark hair, hair that was liberally sprinkled with gray, an oddity for one so young.

But it was not a Minatarree man. It was a white man. A white man she recognized…  Dear Lord, it was the prince.

Prince Alathom?  Here?

But wasn’t he dead? Hadn’t they sung songs over his grave?

Was he a ghost?

No, he looked real, for he was talking and laughing with some children, who were gathered round him.

Her head spun.  What did this mean? Or more importantly, what was she supposed to feel? Relief that a friend was still among the living?

Or remorse?

That’s when it happened. The reality of what this would mean to her, to High Wolf, to them, took hold of her.

 

“Someday, I will have to leave this place, and when that day arrives, there will be no room in my life, nor in my heart for you.  If you would love me, then you must do so knowing that this day will yet come.”

 

It had come. She would lose High Wolf.

No! This could not be. She could change her mind, couldn’t she? She shut her eyes, rubbing her forehead as her very own words came back to haunt her.

 

“We are not bound by rules so much as we are by duty. Duty to do the best that we can for our people and our countries. Rules can always be changed; duty cannot.”

 

No!

High Wolf could return home with her. High Wolf would become her prince. Not…not Alathom.

 

“I was adopted by the prince’s father and mother. Perhaps I could ease the situation between your countries.”

“I’m afraid that would make little difference,” Sierra had told him. “Your relationship to Alathom’s family is not that of a blood lineage. You cannot inherit the throne or rule. It has to be the prince or no one.”

 

No!

She and High Wolf had at last found happiness, had at last obtained peace with themselves. Hadn’t they only realized that they would be blessed with the rest of their lives together?

Yet her duty would be to…

Perhaps it didn’t matter.  Hadn’t she and High Wolf decided that Alathom had done what he had for them? So that the two of them could spend the rest of their lives together?

 

“A man can steal the wife of an enemy with little regard for his actions. But not so a brother. If your brother lives, you must give her up.”

 

Even Grandfather’s words came back to consume her.

No! Perhaps she could pretend she hadn’t seen him. Could she sneak away? Or was that a coward’s way out?

Surreptitiously, she glanced to the side, where High Wolf still sat beside her, unaware of the momentous occasion so unceremoniously thrust upon them. She caught him in the throes of a great deal of humor, as, leaning toward her, he so very sexually suggested, “Would you like to start that back rub now?”

But then he looked at her, really looked at her, and he must have sensed what was in her mind, in her heart, and most likely emblazed upon her countenance, for he asked, “Princess, are you all right? You look pale.  Is something wrong?”

It took Sierra a few moments to speak, and even then, she had no idea what to say. So when she at last spoke, saying, “He is alive,” it was no wonder that High Wolf frowned, gazing at her as though she had taken leave of her senses.

What was wrong with her? she wondered. Surely she could talk, although her tongue seemed oddly thick for her mouth. She found herself stumbling over her own words, as though she were a child of two. However, at last she managed to utter, “The prince…he’s alive.” And that’s when she pointed…

 

The Princess and the Wolf

by

Karen Kay

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521515063&sr=8-1&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

Updated: March 19, 2018 — 10:09 pm

The Princess and the Wolf, another excerpt

Howdy!

Welcome, welcome to a new week here at Petticoats and Pistols.  As you can see, I’m filling in for Winnie, who is busy, busy, busy at this moment.  Hope you will welcome me in her place for today.

Since a new has just been released, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, I thought I’d post another excerpt of the book.  I’ll post the blurb for the book so that the scene might make a little more sense, and then the excerpt.  Hope you’ll enjoy.  Do leave a comment, because as usual, I will do a drawing and gift this book to some lucky blogger.

I absolutely love this cover.  What do you think?

Here is the blurb of the book:

TWO HEARTS BETRAYED

Refusing to believe the rumors that the European prince she was forced to marry had died in a far-off land, the princess, Sierra, sets sail to America, bent on revenge and determined to learn the truth. Because she will require a scout to guide her through the wilderness, she calls in a favor from the man who had betrayed her long ago, the man she had once loved deeply and had hoped to wed, the noble Cheyenne scout, High Wolf.

Many years before, a European prince had invited High Wolf to travel an ocean and as a brother, to live as a member of the royal family. There High Wolf had fallen in love with the princess, Sierra. But instead of an engagement and the planned wedding, the princess had treacherously married his friend, the prince. Betrayed and broken-hearted, High Wolf sailed back to America, determined to forget the princess. But a promise given to her years earlier brings her back into his life, igniting a desire he must resist, for to surrender to her again is unthinkable.

Forced into one another’s company, with the threat of life or death around every corner, overcoming their prejudice might be their only means of survival. But can either of them trust in a love, once betrayed? Or will their past force them apart again, this time forever?…

This book has been previously published.

Warning: A sensuous romance that might fan the flames of desire. Be warned. You might fall in love all over again.
And here’s an excerpt from the book.  Enjoy!

The Princess and the Wolf

by

Karen Kay

 

A shadow crept over the water, moving steadily forward. It was looking for something, or someone. But what? Or rather, who?

By evening, Princess Sierra was once again to be found on deck, leaning against the railing, gazing down into the depths of the muddy and frightening waters of the Missouri River.

The boat was in readiness to move into position for its nightly mooring, and every voyageur was involved in the process of maneuvering the Diana through the heavy currents of the river. Perhaps that was why the air was heavy with smoke, much more so than usual. Or maybe it had something to do with the wind, which had shifted from the west to the north.

Dusk had yet to fade into darkness. Indeed, it was still quite light out, despite the fact that the sun was ever so gradually setting. Odd how the land picked up the pink and golden hues of the sky at sunset, the land magnifying the sunset’s intensity by creating the illusion that sky and land were one and the same. It gave a body the feeling of space, as though a person’s troubles gained room, moving away and dissipating.

But Sierra’s problems were far too large for the simple act of gaining space to solve them. The rift between herself and the prince, between herself and High Wolf, was too immense to make the grievance so easily resolved.

Still, glancing away from the sunset, she brought her sights back to the water, noticing how even the river mirrored the sky; the pinks, the blues, the golden hues. For a moment, if a moment only, these sights gave her peace.

Leisurely, she glanced toward a large stick, which had become caught up in the current, the force of the river itself spinning it, making the stick look as though it were dancing…as though it might be a dancer.

It reminded her of another place, another time…a happier time. And without consciously wishing it, she remembered…

 

Wide-eyed, Sierra Morena Colheart watched the toy ballet dancer spin in time to the tinkling strain of the music box. She stared at the miniature dancer, fascinated, until the music at last slowed and the dancer stopped. Glancing up at herself in the mirror, the sixteen-year-old princess smiled at her own image; her grin, young and fresh, was full of vigor. Indeed, it was the giddy gesture of a young woman in love.

Ah, she thought. Tonight was the night. Tonight it would happen. Dreamy-eyed, she stared out her window, only to witness the reddish rays of the setting sun.

Goodness, how long had she sat here, lost in thought? What was the time? Was it already half past six, the scheduled time she was to meet High Wolf? Was he even now awaiting her in their own secret place?

Glancing at the grand, old clock in the corner of her room, she realized she was “going before herself again,” as High Wolf had often said of her, which meant, she supposed, that she was living in the future instead of the present. The clock read only a quarter to five.

Still, she had much to do to prepare for the evening. Where was her maid?

Arising from her seat at the vanity, Sierra felt the urge to run to the rope that would summon Maria. But instead, she cautioned herself into taking steps that were as precise and dignified as her anxious heart would allow. But even then, a silent voice reprimanded:

“A monarch never hurries. Others will wait. You must learn, Princess Sierra, purred Father Junipero, “to sweep into a room as though you own it, and everyone in it.”

But sometimes, thought Sierra, she wished to simply let go of convention and formality. Wasn’t that what High Wolf often did? And if there were one wish Princess Sierra desired more than anything, it was to do everything that High Wolf found exciting.

Still, the habits of the last sixteen years could hardly be ignored, and she walked as calmly as she could to her door, where she rang for her maid.

Almost at once, Maria knocked gently at the door.

“Yes, Maria, do come in.”

Maria did as bid, bowing as she came farther into the room. “May I be of service, Your Highness?” she asked.

Sierra grinned. “Yes, you may, Maria. I need to dress for this evening, for it is to be a very special evening.”

Maria nodded. “Yes, Your Highness. That it is,” she said. “Have you thought of what you might wear? The yellow gown always looks well on you, as does the blue. Although since this is to be a special night, you might think of wearing the new gros de Naples gown. What do you think?”

“Hmmm. The gros de Naples, I think, but not the brown one. The pink one with the satin flowers and pearls. And of course I’ll need my long gloves, the pink pair.”

“Yes, Your Highness. The pink pair.”

“Oh, Maria, think of it,” urged the princess, holding up a pelisse robe to her bosom while she spun about in place. “This is the night my engagement is to be announced. It is to be the best night of my life. I just know it. I can feel it.”

Maria grinned back happily. “Yes, Your Highness,” she said matter-of-factly, and stepped to the closet, where she extracted a pair of white slippers.

“The pink ones, please, Maria.”

“Yes, of course,” agreed Maria, replacing the white pair. “And your hair? Would you prefer ringlets at the side of your face, as you usually wear, or curls?”

“Ringlets, I believe, as well as…”

“Pearls?”

“Ah, yes, pearls. Pearls to ornament my hair tonight instead of a coronet or tiara.”

“Yes, Your Highness. It will be beautiful. You will be beautiful.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I do.”

“But we must hurry, I think. I’m to meet with High Wolf and the prince before the ball, and I don’t wish to be late.”

“Heaven forbid, Your Highness.”

For a moment, Sierra stopped, glancing askance at her maid. And then, without a word being spoken between the two of them, both females broke out in laughter.

Maria said, “I think the gentlemen will wait, do you not think so, also?”

“I believe you are right,” said Sierra. “The gentlemen will wait. But still, I would not cheat myself of a single moment that I might spend with High Wolf.”

Maria smiled. “Ah, to be so much in love. I wish it were I.”

“Someday it will be, Maria. But for now we must hurry.”

“Yes, Your Highness. We must. Now, if you would be so kind as to be seated, I will begin work on your hair.”

“Yes, Maria,” said the princess, dutifully taking her place at the vanity. “Anything you say, Maria,” she said, grinning widely and catching her maid’s gaze before both young women succumbed once again to a fit of giggles..

.

“Princess Sierra? Your Highness, shall I turn down your bed?”

Sierra jumped, startled. Maria’s voice, so close at hand, awakened her from out of the past, but none too gently. She took a moment to compose herself before saying, “Ah, no, not yet, Maria. I think I may watch the sunset for a while tonight. For in truth, you caught me deep in thought.”

“Did I?” asked Maria. “I am so sorry. And yet, it is a beautiful sunset. I can easily see how one could get lost in it.”

“Indeed.”

Maria hesitated, as though waiting for her mistress to say more, but when Sierra remained silent, Maria spoke up, saying, “If you don’t mind, I believe I will go on below and prepare your bed anyway. Perhaps an early bedtime for me, also, will refresh me.”

“That would be most advantageous,” said Sierra. “In the meanwhile, I think I’ll go topside and have a talk with our captain about this journey and when we might at last arrive at our destination.”

“Ah,” said Maria, “that would be most opportune.”

“Thank you, Maria.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” said Maria, and curtsying, she retreated.

But Sierra never did seek out the captain, nor did she change her position from against the rail. Too many thoughts had been brought back to mind; too many recollections were close to hand. And without consciously willing it, her mind replayed that most memorable night…

***

“My father said he would be announcing your engagement tonight,” said Prince Alathom.

Both Sierra and High Wolf grinned at each other, while High Wolf took her gloved hand in his, bringing it to his lips, where he pressed a kiss upon it. He said, “You are the most stunning creature in all the world .”

Sierra blushed, then grinned and looked shyly away. “There are many more young women who are prettier still than I. Many.”

“Where?” asked High Wolf. “Show them to me, for I do not think they exist.”

Sierra merely smiled rapturously up at him while Prince Alathom groaned aloud, saying, “I’m going to have to teach you some new forms of flattery, my fine friend, for I tire of hearing the same words said over and over.”

“Tire all you like,” High Wolf objected. “You may go elsewhere if you don’t like it, for I speak only the truth as I see it.”

Despite all her upbringing to the contrary, Princess Sierra giggled. Just then, as though in accompaniment to the merry sound of the three friends’ laughter, the strains of violins and cellos reached out to them.

“Oh, High Wolf, Alathom, the dance begins,” Sierra observed. “And I am so very anxious to dance. Shall we go?”

“We shall,” agreed High Wolf as he linked her arm with his, leaving Prince Alathom to follow along behind them, a circumstance to which the prince had never given objection.

“Alathom?” the princess called out over her shoulder.

“Yes?”

“Please, come up on the other side of me, that the three of us may enter into the room together and be announced at the same time.”

And without another word, Prince Alathom did exactly as asked…

***

Loud bells rang out unpleasantly, interrupting her reminiscence.

“Fire!”

What was that? Fire? Here? Now? Was that why there had been a smoke-heavy odor in the air?

“All hands on deck,” rang out the call. “All hands on deck. Fire!”

Without further pause, what had once been a calm evening turned riotous. Men rushed by her, below her, above her. Horses whinnied in the haul, while the hogs shrieked.

Sierra stood still, frozen, watching, barely able to comprehend the danger as being real. It had seemed so quiet only a few moments previous. Where was Mr. Dominic? Where was Maria?

She needed to find them…now. Turning, she backed up from the railing, intent on running away. However, she did no more than set herself into the path of a voyageur, who had suddenly come upon her. Inadvertently, she knocked him to the deck.

“I’m so sorry,” she apologized as she threw herself forward and out of the way. Quickly, she clung to the rail as the man jumped to his feet and sped away, all without uttering a word.

“Your Highness.”

It was Mr. Dominic. Somehow he had found her.

“Your Highness, you must come this way.” Taking hold of her elbow, he gestured toward his left. “I will see you safely into the lifeboat.”

“A lifeboat?” Abruptly, the panic of those around her took substance, became more of a reality. Still, “Surely that’s not necessary, is it? These men are undoubtedly able to put out a fire.”

“That they probably are, Your Highness, but there is still danger in staying here. If the voyageurs do manage to put out the fire, you can always reboard. But first you must be safe.”

“Do you know what has caused this?”

“Yes, Your Highness. The cotton being carried upriver caught fire, and has nearly consumed the lower level. It has been discovered too late, I fear. Now, come. There is no time to lose.”

Taking her arm, he propelled her along with him as he fought his way toward the lifeboat, shoving through the hurrying crowd of voyageurs. Confusion reigned supreme, and men rushed by them with little regard to what they did, more times than not pushing Mr. Dominic and Sierra out of the way.

Within moments, although it seemed to Sierra to take a lifetime, the two caught a glimpse of the lifeboat. Through the haze of smoke, they could see that several other passengers were scrambling toward it.

Sierra stared around her, coughing as she inhaled soot and smoke. “Where is Maria?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” answered Mr. Dominic, “but I am certain she will find her way here on her own.”

“Find her own way?… Mr. Dominic, do not lie to me. If she could easily come here, she would be here. Why is she not?”

Mr. Dominic didn’t answer.

“There must be trouble, I fear. Please, go and see to her.”

“I cannot, Your Highness. My first duty is to you, and we must get you quickly aboard this lifeboat, while there is still room aboard her.”

“Yes, you are right, I must, but you will not stay with me a moment longer. You are to go and find Maria.”

“Your Highness,” pleaded Mr. Dominic, “you cannot not ask me to desert you. It would cause me great alarm, for not only are you my first concern, I am duty-bound to your father, having promised him that I would not leave your side.”

“Mr. Dominic, how could you make a promise like that to my father?”

“It seemed little enough to ask.”

“Yes, well, you can ease your mind, Mr. Dominic. You have done your duty. My father could not have foreseen all situations that would arise on this trip.”

Mr. Dominic didn’t answer.

“Do you not see? I cannot leave this vessel until I can determine what has happened to Maria. What if she has fallen somewhere? My mind would never rest easy if I saved myself and deserted her.”

“But Your Highness—”

“It is either you go to see about her, or I will do it, myself.”

Mr. Dominic looked uncertain.

“Man the lifeboat!”

Eyes wide, Sierra grabbed hold of Mr. Dominic’s sleeve. She pleaded, “Tell me, is there another lifeboat aboard this vessel?”

“No, there is not, Your Highness.”

“Then you must leave this instant. You must find Maria, stay with her and keep her safe. Do you hear me? I will gladly step into this lifeboat, but not until you—”

Suddenly, Mr. Dominic bent over and picked her up, setting her into the boat. Then, straddling one leg over the side of the boat, he began to climb into it.

But Sierra would have none of that. She jumped up from her seat, straddling the boat herself, her pose an obvious dare. “Please.  I command you to find Maria this very instant. I would be of little help to her, as I cannot swim, but if you do not go, I will.”

“Your Highness, I beg you. I…” Mr. Dominic trailed off his objection, looking, for all that he was big and muscular, as though he might wail. But at last he appeared to capitulate, releasing his straddle from the lifeboat.

“Now go!” It was Sierra commanding again. “Before more time is wasted, go! I promise that I will ride this lifeboat to shore. Do not worry about me. I will await you both from the safety of the shoreline. Go quickly!”

Mr. Dominic looked as though he would raise yet another objection, but, as the flames climbed higher into the smoke-laden sky, and with little choice other than to obey his monarch, Mr. Dominic turned and fled in the direction of the maid’s cabin.

 

 

Chapter 9

 

“ ’Tis said she is the cause of our own prince’s death.”

“Aye,” said the housemaid, “that she is. ’Tis rumored as well that he died rather than return here to her side.”

Gossip between servants at

Prince Alathom’s castle

 

At the first hint that something had gone amiss, High Wolf immersed himself in the waters of the river, and in doing so, became a part of the river, so much so that not even a swirl could be seen in the water to indicate his progress. Cautiously, he floated toward the ship, practically invisible. He didn’t swim, nor did he float, but rather he executed what could only be described as a dance with the river’s current. Never did he fight the river’s power, but rather he moved with it, letting the water propel him closer to his target.

At last he came up close to the boat, himself a calm influence in comparison to the turmoil aboard the Diana. He could feel the terror there, sense the smoke-induced delirium of the boatmates, but it was not in his mind to aid these men. No, she was the reason he was here; he would find her.

Quickly, he perused the voyageurs, as well as the passengers who were still aboard the steamboat. Some of them were already jumping from the burning remnants of the boat, an action that could bring sorrow, unless a person either knew how to swim with the river’s flow or was strong enough of body to fight it. But perhaps these men were that hardy, for these white voyageurs, who worked the boats, were sometimes admired for the physical marvels they could perform.

Alas, however, High Wolf saw nothing of her.

Making a quick circle around the boat proved to be a waste of time, for he still had not seen her. And so it was that he found himself with little choice but to board the boat. Quickly, he hoisted himself up to the main deck, coming down flat-footed and at a run, aware as he did so that the steamboat was sinking, and with the majority of the Diana’s body enveloped in flames, there was little to be done for her. As it was, her lower deck was flooded, and in places already half submerged.

Still, without losing more than an instant, he found his way around the decks, until as he rounded a corner, something large and heavy fell into the water, creating a terrific splash. But the gray mist of smoke hung heavy over his eyes, and High Wolf found he could see but little.

Swiftly, he trod closer, and looking toward the spot, High Wolf recognized the cause at once: a smaller boat; one he knew to be a lifeboat, had been thrown into the rushing current.

Suddenly, things became worse: A piece of wood from above, engulfed in flames, broke off the Diana’s main hull and fell, streaking, toward the water. And before anyone knew what it was about, the wood, now a flaming dagger, struck the lifeboat. In moments, the boat tipped off balance, catching fire.

A feminine scream split the air, its intensity piercing High Wolf like a knife. Bodies dove off the lifeboat, but not one of these people was female. Where was she?

And then, through the soot-induced haze, he saw her, still aboard the blazing lifeboat, her countenance oddly composed. For she didn’t move, not even to save herself.

What was wrong with her? Was she frozen in place?  Although it seemed impossible, he knew that shock could sometimes cause a person to freeze and become unable to save themselves.

Or was the problem caused by another circumstance or a different emotion? Was it her outrageously full dress? Was she afraid, with so much weight upon her, that she might sink, becoming entangled in its mass?

But if that were true, she was surely acting in a poor manner to solve the problem, for she did not remove any of her clothing, or take any action to save herself. Instead, amid the ballet of diving bodies, the princess slowly sank along with the boat.

Quickly, High Wolf plunged into the Missouri’s depths, then came up for breath and caught his bearings. But she was gone, swallowed up by the muddy, swirling waters of the Missouri. That’s when it occurred to him:

Could she swim?

It seemed amazing to him that he had no answer to that; he, who should know her well. Instinctively, High Wolf swam toward the place he had last seen her, and diving deeper into the water, hunted for her, but not with his eyes, for the murky waters of the Missouri did not allow sight for more than a few feet.

No, he searched for her intuitively, spiritually, and in doing so, found her within seconds. But he had no time in which to experience relief. Grabbing hold of her, he kicked out hard, bringing her up with him to the river’s surface, forcing her head above water, where he heard her gasp for breath. She struggled, and down they both went once more.

He kept hold of her with one arm, while with his other hand, he took out his knife, and then he did the unthinkable. As quickly as the water would allow him, he cut off her dress.

In response, she mustered a formidable response. Whereas before he’d seen little life in her, she now fought him with renewed strength, as though he were some sort of madman, or perhaps she, a madwoman. But High Wolf didn’t have time or even the ability under water to explain his actions, and despite her best efforts, he continued cutting away until the dress was removed and the danger had passed.

The weight of her clothing fell away. That this left her attired in little more than her calf-length drawers, hose and corset was hardly discreditable, for she was still almost fully covered.

But their commotion under water had sunk them too low, and an undertow grabbed hold of them. Quickly, he seized her around the chin, and with mighty strokes, fought his way to the surface of the water, not stopping until he heard her sputter.

At least she was still breathing.

He caught his breath, feeling somewhat safer, now that their heads were above the channel’s surface, and he called out, “Do not fight the river’s current, or me, because if you do, this draught will claim us. You must become composed.” He spoke loudly, but calmly, as though the two of them were taking a stroll instead of fighting for their lives. He continued, “You must become one with the water, for if you do, it will protect you.”

But she appeared to be beyond listening, and she fought him with revitalized vigor. Once again, he called out, “Cease your struggles, or you will force me to bind you, so that you do not drown us both.”

He realized that she was obviously unused to the water, and in the end, it required him to use brute strength against her, holding her arms and legs with one each of his own. Meanwhile, he kept afloat, lugging her with him and letting the water carry them back to shore.

After a few moments, she came suddenly alive and howled at him, “I can’t breathe.” She fought him once more. “You…you’re drowning me.”

“I am not drowning you; you are doing it to yourself. Cease your struggle and merge your body with mine. I will not let you drown.”

“And who will keep you afloat?”

“The water, of course. I have no fear of the water. Only those who fight the river’s power ever come to harm in it.”

“But—”

“Do you see that you are speaking? That you have energy enough to talk back at me?”

“I… I…”

All at once, she ceased her struggle. In truth, his words must have had effect, for she at last let her body meld with his, allowing him to repeat his earlier dance with the river’s current, shoving off here, letting the stream take him there, forging through the water as easily as if he were picking his way across lily pads.

It took little time before he managed to set them ashore, appearing, to anyone who might have been looking, that the river had lovingly placed them there. At once, High Wolf left the water, and with her tucked under his arm, he crept into the protection of the bush, where he granted her a moment to catch her breath.

But a moment was all he could afford.

 

THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520213225&sr=8-1&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

Updated: March 4, 2018 — 8:36 pm

Erica Vetsch: Putting Historical Figures In Fiction

Erica Vetsch here. Thank you so much to the P&P ladies for inviting me to join you again! I love visiting with you all. That being said, I am on vacation today…sitting in a car, driving the 1700 miles back to frigid Minnesota from beautiful sunny Florida where I was visiting my awesome parents. I will most-likely be unable to respond personally to your messages until I get into my hotel room for the evening, so please, bear with me!

Using Historical Figures in Your Fiction

Have you ever read a novel that used an historical figure as one of the characters? Was it fun for you to ‘recognize’ a character and see the author’s portrayal of how they might have been in a given set of circumstances? Did the character ring true to what you knew about them?

I love stories that have cameo appearances by historical figures, especially famous cowboys and lawmen and outlaws of the Old West, or presidents, soldiers, and personalities of the Civil War, but when I read one and I see things that are glaringly off with an historical figure’s portrayal, I tend to cringe and put the book down for something else.

So how does an author go about using real people in their novels? Can you use a real person in fiction legally? Are there any rules?

First, it is certainly legal to use historical figures in your fiction. Writing about Richard the Lionheart or Wyatt Earp won’t get you into any trouble, even if you mischaracterize them or portray them in a less than glowing light. (FYI, writing about current public figures has different laws about slander, libel, and image copyright, so research those laws if you want to write contemporary fiction. Even flattering treatments of people who are alive and kicking can land you in a legal tangle.) Second, writing about historical figures doesn’t have any ‘rules’ per se, but there are some guidelines that I try to follow that will endear you to readers of historical fiction.

  • Learn the basic facts and personality of the character by reading history books, watching documentaries, and if possible, reading primary sources such as diaries, autobiographies, and first-hand newspaper accounts. (No matter which historical figure you use, there will be a reader or two out there who is an ‘expert’ on that character and jealously guards their canon. As much as possible, try to get the history correct—or you might hear about it later!) Some things that might be important to consider are: the character’s family situation, how they make decisions, attitudes and philosophies about social issues, familiar catchphrases or gestures (Think Teddy Roosevelt and “Bully!”) etc. You will also be able to create dialogue that feels authentic if you can read their own words and get a sense of their speech patterns and cadences from reading primary sources.
  • Create a timeline of the character’s life, paying particular attention to the time and setting of your story. If you are going to include an historical figure in a fictional situation, make sure they weren’t demonstrably elsewhere in real life. For example, if your scene takes place in St. Louis on November 19, 1863 and you have President Lincoln show up, EEEK! Lincoln was delivering the Gettysburg Address on that day and couldn’t possibly have been in Missouri at that time.
  • Stay true to the things you know about the character. Lincoln was tall, skeletal, with a dry wit. George Armstrong Custer was ambitious, overconfident, with a near-obsessive devotion to his wife. Clara Barton was a shy child, a determined crusader, and an autocratic leader. Readers will respond to an historical figure in your fiction that ‘feels’ like the character they already know.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of historical accuracy. Many people read historical fiction in order to learn while they read. Often, readers will take as gospel what they read of historical events and people in fiction, relying on the author to do the research and present it in a truthful way. Sometimes, you want or need an historical figure to do something in your story that you can’t authenticate through research. That’s fine, but be sure that you are staying within the bounds of historical accuracy when you do. (Unless you’re obviously writing a spoof piece like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.) If you include a fictional variation that might be misconstrued, use an author note to explain to the reader what is factual and what is fictional.

An example from my own work is the story A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas. I used several historical figures from Dodge City who would be familiar to readers of western fiction. Because they were used fictitiously, I wanted to make certain that readers understood which characters were historical and which were fictional, and which characteristics for real people I had manufactured for the sake of the story. I included an Author’s Note so that readers would feel I was ‘playing fair’ and not misleading them with inaccurate historical information. Here’s that Author’s Note as it appeared in the beginning of the book:

Author’s Note: While most of the characters in this story are fictitious, the characters of Charlie Basset, Luke Short, and Bat Masterson are taken from the annals of Dodge City history. I have tried to stay true to the historical record, with one noted exception: Bat Masterson’s proclivity for keeping printed material stacked in his office is fictional and entirely of my own creation.

In my story, it was important that a piece of paper get lost in the sheriff’s office. Since Bat Masterson was the sheriff during the setting of my story, I needed him to be a bit of a paper hoarder. But I also wanted to be clear to the reader that I had no historical facts that would indicate that he was an office slob. J Hence the author’s note.

Questions for you!

  1. If you are a writer, have you ever included historical figures in your fiction? If so, who?
  2. If you’re a reader, do you have a favorite novel that included an appearance by an historical figure?

Answer in the comments below to be entered to win a copy of my newest release, 7 Brides for 7 Texas Rangers!

* * * *

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

New Released E-Book, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF, Excerpt

Howdy!

Yes, indeed, The Princess and the Wolf has just been released in e-book format.  Plus, it’s undergone a terrific job in the editing department.  But before I get into the excerpt for the new book, I wanted to send out a call to all of my former Warriorettes.  My newest book, Brave Wolf and the Lady, will be coming out within a few months.  Currently it is undergoing editing.  It’s exciting for me, because Brave Wolf and the Lady is not only a brand new book, it has a cameo appearance of two very dear characters from my first book, Lakota Surrender.  The hero of the new book is the son of those two main characters.  So if you were ever one of my Warriorettes, please do contact me at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net.

Isn’t this an absolutely beautiful cover?  I love the pose.  I love the clothing.  I love the background.  It is my pleasure to show you this very newest cover — excerpt to follow.

I will be giving away a free copy of the book today, so please please sure to leave a comment — all you need to do to enter into the drawing.  All of our guidelines for give-aways apply — something I must say.

So here we go:  I’ll post the blurb, a few reviews, and then the excerpt.  Hope you will enjoy.

The Princess and the Wolf

by

Karen Kay

TWO HEARTS BETRAYED

Refusing to believe the rumors that the European prince she was forced to marry had died in a far-off land, the princess, Sierra, sets sail to America, bent on revenge and determined to learn the truth. Because she will require a scout to guide her through the wilderness, she calls in a favor from the man who had betrayed her long ago, the man she had once loved deeply and had hoped to wed, the noble Cheyenne scout, High Wolf.

Many years before, a European prince had invited High Wolf to travel an ocean and as a brother, to live as a member of the royal family. There High Wolf had fallen in love with the princess, Sierra. But instead of an engagement and the planned wedding, the princess had treacherously married his friend, the prince. Betrayed and broken-hearted, High Wolf sailed back to America, determined to forget the princess. But a promise given to her years earlier brings her back into his life, igniting a desire he must resist, for to surrender to her again is unthinkable.

Forced into one another’s company, with the threat of life or death around every corner, overcoming their prejudice might be their only means of survival. But can either of them trust in a love, once betrayed? Or will their past force them apart again, this time forever?…

This book has been previously published.

Warning: A sensuous romance that might fan the flames of desire. Be warned. You might fall in love all over again.

Reviews:

An adventure of the heart, this story will carry you to the heights of excitement as two old friends meet and the depths of despair when they acknowledge what they’ve lost.  Set in the days when the Missouri River was largely an unknown, untamed territory, the reader will thrill to the danger and joys the two share as they travel toward Fort Clark on their mission to learn the truth of Prince Alathom’s disappearance.

Highly recommended as a rewarding way to spend pleasant hours.  A trip back in time with descriptions so clear, you will feel as though you’ve been inside the homes and forts of the day;  A tale written by an author who knows her subject and writes from the heart.  Enjoy.

Anne K. Edwards

Review:

Karen Kay does a masterful job of weaving the past and the present together so that the two stories seem destined to connect.  The fierce passion and sensuality makes the story sparkle.  The characters dance off the page and come to life, remaining long after the end of the story.

Lori Soard, Reviewer

Review:

Karen Kay captures the hearts of her readers.  With beauty and elegance we become one with the Indian scout, with nature, with our senses.  We walk in their shoes, smell the damp leaves on the forest floor and visualize all the colors in a sunrise.  TheBestReviews.com

Review:

Karen Kay has a talent to pull you into the story and not let you go until it’s finished.  Even then, the story stays with you long after the last page.  High Wolf not only takes Princess Sierra on a journey, he takes the reader on one as well.  RomanceJunkies.com

Review:

The Princess and the Wolf gives readers a new thrill, taking one Princess and a Cheyenne brave, and turning what is forbidden into a fiery passion that was meant to be.  Writers and Readers Network.

 

Enjoy this excerpt from The Princess and the Wolf

 

“The housekeeper tells that tis well known the prince would divorce her, were he here,” said the kitchen maid.

“Aye, that he would,” replied the housemaid. “And good riddance, says I. It was she that drove him away. That she did.”

 

Gossip between servants at

Prince Alathom’s  Castle

 

“Do you wish anything else before we go ashore?”

“No, Maria,” answered Princess Sierra, watching from her perch high above the dock, as Governor Clark stepped from the carriage, accompanied by an Indian maiden. “I do not require anything else at the moment. You’ve done quite well, my friend, despite the demanding conditions of this vessel.” She gave Maria a brief smile. “Would you please find Mr. Dominic and inform him that I am ready to leave this ship?”

“Yes, Your Highness. At once. Do we go to greet Governor Clark, then?”

“I believe so,” said the princess. “And for this task, I will have need of you both to accompany me.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” Maria said, curtsying before she turned to do as bid.

Sierra smoothed a white-gloved hand over the blue and white muslin of her very full skirt, pulling the lace that bordered her walking dress into place. Straightening her shoulders, she settled her blue and white-lace mantle over the double bouffant of her sleeves, buttoning the mantle’s closure at the neck. Briefly, she touched her wide belt, which was made of the same light blue color as her dress, pulling it a little more tightly around her waist so as to accentuate its most tiny aspect. A white straw bonnet, adorned with ribbons of blue and tied at the neck, completed the image of the fashionable royal that she was.

Opening her blue and white parasol, Sierra narrowed her eyes, placing a hand gently over her forehead as though it were an extra shield from the sun. She frowned.

From her view of it, there seemed to be no sign of the man she had instructed Governor Clark to hire. Had she needlessly tortured herself over this first meeting with High Wolf?

Perhaps he hadn’t yet arrived.

Or maybe, she thought on a grimmer note, he wasn’t coming. Had he mayhap learned that it was she behind the request?

For a moment, she worried over the possibility. As absurd as it might appear, such a thing was possible: He might know of her coming. He’d always seemed to have ways of gleaning information about things—ways that she had never understood. Perhaps he had discovered her scheme well ahead of the fact.

At that thought, Sierra tried to swallow her disappointment.

It wasn’t that she was looking forward to seeing him again. No. It was only that he, and he alone, could lead her to Prince Alathom, and it was Prince Alathom she needed to find and challenge, Prince Alathom whom she would repay in kind…if need be…

Squaring her shoulders and setting her features into as delightful a smile as she could, Princess Sierra pulled unconsciously at her mantle, noticing as she did so that her fingers shook with the effort.

It was then that she caught sight of something in her peripheral vision…something familiar. She turned her head carefully to the left, her eyes colliding with and staring hard at a pair of dark eyes looking directly back at her.

Her stomach flipped over twice before it at last performed a dive toward her toes. She inhaled swiftly to try to quell the reaction.

It was he, High Wolf. He had come, after all.

As impossible as it might seem, she stared back at a face that she had once thought never to see again. Yet, there he was; there, across a very short distance.

And unable to curtail it, she was suddenly awash in nearly palpable relief.

Relief? Nonsense. It was probably more to the point to say that she was glad that her scheme now contained the element of possibility, the possibility of success.

But if he were to be caught looking up at her, she would be staring back down at him as well, almost as though she were hungry for the sight of him…although she corrected herself, this last thought was ridiculous.

Again, she reminded herself that he, as well as the prince, had betrayed her. In different ways, perhaps. But betrayal was certain treachery after all, regardless of the circumstances. And faith, once lost, could never be restored.

Still, despite the intervening years, an all too familiar pain shot through her, and without her conscious will, she found herself scrutinizing the man she had once thought herself to be in love with…a man who had left her for no more than three hundred gold dukaten.

He looked much the same as he had ten years ago, yet different. Whereas High Wolf had been little more than a boy then, he was now very much a man, and he looked bigger somehow, though he was still extraordinarily slim. Perhaps it was because his chest was wider, larger…or perhaps he was more muscular.

He looked…better, more handsome, more virile.

Sierra grimaced at her thoughts and decided to scrutinize something else less potent…his manner of dress, for instance…

Gone were the fashionable trousers and high leather boots that she remembered him wearing in the past; in their place were buckskin leggings, breechcloth and moccasins. Gone also were the carefully stitched linen shirt and cravat so precisely tied, supplanted now with a long buckskin shirt, fringed, with the bottom of it hanging down almost past his breechcloth. An ornament of what looked to be a concatenation of beads and bone, in the shape of a breastplate, hung down over his chest. It was a sight she had never beheld until this moment.

Instead of a hat, however, he now wore feathers on his head—or at least there was one feather sticking straight up behind him. And his hair…

Relegated to the past was the fashionable haircut she recalled so well, displaced now by long, black hair that hung well past his shoulders.

He looked…Indian, alien from all she had ever known and loved. Yet his countenance was, contrarily, as familiar to her as a well-rehearsed play.

And she wondered: Despite their past, would he help her?

Not if he knew her purpose.

Only too well, she recalled that High Wolf considered the prince to be more than a friend. To him, and perhaps rightly so, Prince Alathom was a brother, a brother in fact as well as in deed. Besides, High Wolf would hardly condone her murderous plan…a scheme she fully intended to execute if the prince refused to return to the Continent, whereupon he would take up his responsibilities.

Indeed, she would be satisfied.

Those at home thought she knew nothing of their wagging tongues; they believed their whispered insults were discreet. But Sierra did know. She did care. And he would pay.

Oh, yes, he would pay.

Which meant, she realized, that the real reason for her journey must remain a well-guarded secret; from Governor Clark, from her guides and especially from High Wolf.

She only wondered if she could successfully hide her motives from High Wolf. After all, as she had already surmised, High Wolf was an extremely perceptive man. Might he guess?

Well, it was up to her to keep her secret well hidden. She only hoped she was up to the task.

***

He stared at her as though he had come face-to-face with his worst nightmare—or maybe his best fantasy. Princess Sierra? Here? Now?

His heart skipped a beat, then picked up its pace, pounding onward in triple speed. High Wolf caught his breath before forcing himself to breathe in and out. In a daze, he stared up at her, feeling as though he were caught in an illusion.

Had she come for him? Had she traveled all this distance to reach out to him, realizing after all this time that she could not live without him, as she had once proclaimed?

Or was she a mere mirage, the same sort of image that haunted his dreams?

Without warning, the desire to run to her, to take her in his arms and embrace her, was almost more real than the solidness of the ground beneath him. Of its own will, the memory of the taste of her, the scent of her, the sweetness of her embrace, overwhelmed him.

And he knew he needed, he wanted to kiss her. Now. In truth, so strong was the desire, he had taken a few steps toward her before he became once more fully aware of himself, and stopped.

The prince. How could he have forgotten the prince—as well as her duplicity—so easily? Where was the prince?

Odd, he thought, how the mind could forget the pain, the anguish, the loss. For a moment, all had been gone, replaced by the simple joy of seeing her again. Odd, too, how his body was even now reacting, that most manly part of him pulsing with every pounding of his heart, remembering, anticipating…what could never be.

He groaned. He had to bring himself, his thoughts, his body under control, quickly.

Concentrate on her faithlessness, he cautioned himself. Hers and Prince Alathom’s.

He glanced to the side of her and all around her. Where was the prince?

And then, as though it came through the fog cluttering his mind, a thought came to him. Governor Clark had hired him, had told High Wolf that he was to escort and protect a royal party, one that was coming to the Americas for a wild-game hunt.

It was the prince and princess . It had to be.

Had the two of them asked for him, personally? For old time’s sake? Was that why Clark had sent for him?

Or was this mere coincidence?

Coincidence? He sneered. High Wolf knew there was no such thing.

Had the two of them no compassion? No pity?

Surely they were aware of what the mere act of seeing them again—together—would do to him.

Or did they think that they could renew friendship? That he would have forgotten?

Well, he had not forgotten; he could not.

Breathing in deeply, High Wolf calmed himself. He was letting his emotions take control of his mind, even of his body. It was possible, he conceded, that he was not thinking clearly, putting elements together that did not necessarily go together.

Besides, he didn’t have to take the job at hand. He had not pledged his word.

And it wouldn’t be as if he were deserting the prince and princess, either. After all, there were these two disreputable trappers that Clark had hired as well.

Wearily, High Wolf glanced at the two shabbily dressed men. Yes, let them have the assignment…while he, High Wolf, quietly disappeared…

Surely, that would be best. For indeed, if this were his initial reaction to the princess—and at this great a distance from her—what would be his fate if he were to witness her beauty closer to hand?

At that thought, a rush of desire swept through him that was as uncontrollable as it was unwelcome. In truth, so swift was his reaction, he rocked back on his feet.

The response shocked him as much as it excited him. And High Wolf knew he had best renew his intention to leave—quickly…

Yet he didn’t budge so much as an inch. In faith, he could not have turned away from her now had he been a saint. Not yet.

Contrarily, another part of him reasoned that little harm could come from feasting his sights upon her for a while longer. Perhaps the image gained could serve to fuel the fiber of his imagination in the lonely nights ahead of him.

Make no mistake, Princess Sierra had always been the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, and it appeared she had changed little, except to have blossomed. More curves, more womanly features.

As he stared, his heart warmed to his subject. Dark curls bounced around her face while her bonnet hid the rest of her coiffure. Oval face, high cheekbones, eyes that he knew were as green as a prairie in spring. Even from this distance, he could attest that her skin still glowed with health and vitality. It was one of the features he remembered most about her. Her skin had been luminous, clear; had shone with a radiance even under cover of darkness, as though she might be lit by a fire within.

How he had loved to run his hands over her face, her neck, those curves…

Cease this, he cautioned himself, letting out his breath.

Yet the mind was often a mysterious thing, and despite himself, his thoughts rambled on. At five foot four, she had always been a slender little thing. He recalled that he had once spanned her waist within the outstretched grip of both his hands. They had laughed about it.  All three of them. Himself, Prince Alathom and the princess.

Odd, how close the three of them had once been, so close they had shared most everything.

High Wolf sighed.

Perhaps it was the way of the world that some things—even good things—were destined to end. Maybe that was why one should reach out for all the happiness he could have, while it still lay within his grasp.

Taking a few steps away, High Wolf at last turned his back on the sight of her. Best to disappear now, as quickly as possible. For of one matter he was entirely certain: He would not escort the princess and the prince. Not now. Not ever.

He took a few steps away.

“High Wolf!”

His insides plummeted at the sound of her voice. Yet he remained steadfast in his decision and kept walking, ignoring the call.

“High Wolf, don’t go!”

Don’t listen to her, he counseled himself. Go now, before she has a chance to weave her spell around you. Go at once .

But even as he thought it, an odd music, a rhythm perchance, began to pound through his mind, reminding him of other places, other times…

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

Step, sweep, sweep; up, up, back. Hands locked together, step apart, meet. Smile at her, she at him; step, sweep, sweep. Hands held, turn; up to the toes; down again. Shoulder to shoulder, change position. Step, sweep, sweep. Hands touching; smile…

 

High Wolf could practically hear the strains of the violins and cello in three-quarter beat. It had been a different time and place; a different environment. In truth, it had been like a different life.

A hand clapped him on the shoulder. “High Wolf?” It was a male voice.

Sighing deeply, High Wolf put the memory from him, while at the same time he glanced around behind him, casting a look over his shoulder, espying the well-dressed, yet massive gentleman who stood behind him. Pivoting slowly, he came to stare at the man, who was, perhaps, the tallest human being High Wolf had ever seen.

Silence reigned until at last the other man said, “Princess Sierra Morena requests that you await an audience with her.”

High Wolf squinted at this giant, rendering him with as condescending a look as he could muster, though inwardly an ugly emotion ripped at his innards. Aloud he asked, “Does she?”

“Yes, sir. If you will wait a moment.”

High Wolf turned aside. “But I won’t wait,” he said, feigning a foreign accent that was all too natural, at least for his own peace of mind. “Please give my regards to the princess.” He bowed slightly, more out of a long-ago habit than in deference, a habit, he realized, he hadn’t used in ten long years.

A hand came up to clasp his shoulder. “The princess wishes to speak to you now.”

High Wolf paused as he considered his options. He could leave. It was probably what he should do. After all, there was no man alive who could keep him here; not if High Wolf desired to walk away.

He cast another glance at his opponent. No, not even this big, brawny man could keep him if he truly wished to flee.

But did he?

Would she look different up close; would she be different? Would her marriage to the prince have matured her? Or would she still be the sweet, young girl he had once loved so very, very well?

High Wolf rocked back on his feet. He was caught. Truly caught. Not by his own honor, but by his curiosity.

Later, he would take his leave of this party, and in particular, of the princess. But not now.

No, for now he would wait. He would observe. And then he would go, quickly, and as silently as he had done ten years ago.

Inured to his fate, he gazed upward, watching the princess depart the steamship, scrutinizing her progress down the ramp as closely as if he were reading a track marked upon the earth. He caught her smile as she grinned at Governor Clark, saw her speak a few words to that gentleman, scolded himself for wishing he might be the man on the receiving end of her smile.

And then gradually, so very, very slowly, she turned toward him, raising her sights to meet his.

And High Wolf stared back, his gaze, for all that he was aware of her faults, still hungry for the sight of her. And for a moment, time distorted. There was no past, no present, no future. There was only she… and he, the rest of the world diminished, as though it were no more than their own personal backdrop.

He sighed, recalling too well his loss. And the magic of the moment faded.

In vain he awaited the shy downturn of her eyelashes as she stared at him, the flirtatious one he remembered so very well.

It never came.

No, the princess gazed back at him boldly, brazenly, and try as he might to find it, there was nothing coquettish about the look she gave him. In faith, if he were to examine her appearance at this moment, he would have to conclude that she was beautiful. Yes. Beautiful, but hard—as though time had extracted all the softness from her.

So, he thought, the princess, too, had changed in many more ways than those of a physical nature.

As he took note of her approach, time passed quickly, and yet in a way it seemed to drag.  Leisurely, he watched her, knowing that hidden deep within him, there was an impossible hope that perhaps this was all a mistake, a horrible ten-year-old mistake.

It was remarkable, he thought as his gaze drank in her beauty, how the princess could appear so severe, yet still innocent in countenance. As though she bore no shame, no regret; as though she had never been the cause of an injustice.

Saaaa. He used the Cheyenne expression which stood for many things, including astonishment. It was as though she might be the wounded party from all those years ago…not he.

High Wolf nodded a silent acknowledgment, even if the movement of his head was a slight one. Then, leaning his weight upon his rifle, he awaited the “angel in blue” as she approached.

***

“Ho’neoxhaa’eho’ese,” she pronounced his name in Cheyenne as soon as she stepped within a few feet of him. “It has been a long time.”

She did not offer her hand, and her words, softly spoken, cut through him, as though the sound of her voice were blazed in steel. Yet High Wolf simply nodded, trying to shake off the feeling of being ill-at-ease.

In contrast, she seemed all poise and assurance; she even smiled. However, he took careful note, no happiness reached those green eyes before she asked, “How have you been?”

“I am well,” he replied, his voice, usually full-bodied, no more than a dull monotone.

She seemed unaware of any problem with him, however, and replied, “That is good. That is good, indeed.”

“And you?” he inquired politely.

Again, she grinned up at him, before saying, “I am well, as you can see.”

High Wolf inclined his head toward her, catching her eye before he said, “And your husband?”

She flinched as though he might have dealt her a blow, and oddly, her face drained of color, her eyes becoming suddenly dull. Hurriedly, she glanced away.

Strange.

Frowning, High Wolf ventured further, “Is he in company with you?”

However, the princess did not deign to answer; her gaze looked instead out upon the dock as though it were of great interest—a dock that was streaming with people. “Mr. High Wolf,” she said at last, “over there, due west of us”—she nodded toward the spot—“there is a patch of level ground that looks fairly well deserted of people. I would very much like to take a turn in it, if you would be so kind as to accompany me.”

Take a turn. He hadn’t heard that phrase, hadn’t spoken that phrase in well over ten years. Hearing it again, unfortunately for him, had the effect of turning back time.

Politely, out of a habit from long ago, he bowed at the waist. “I would be happy to join you, Your Highness,” he said, “at some other time. But I am afraid that I have…other business that calls my attention at the moment.”

She acknowledged him with a delicate dip of her head. “I understand,” she said. “I am assuming this business relates to Governor Clark and his hiring you as a guide?”

High Wolf said nothing in reply.

“And I am sure you have already surmised that I am to be the party you are to accompany into the interior.”

He blinked at her, his only acknowledgement.

“And you are considering declining, now that you know more of the facts?” She might have asked it as such, but he knew her words were no question.

He shrugged, saying, “As you say.”

“Very well,” she acknowledged, “although I find it monstrous ill that you can turn so easily away from a promise.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“For you see,” she continued, “I am calling in a favor you once granted me. A favor, you had once said, that would send you to me in a moment of distress. If I remember correctly”—she gave him a sly look—“you vowed to come to my aid if I did no more than call upon you.”

He didn’t blink—not even a single eyelash—as he countered, “All such promises came to nothing, Your Highness, on the day you became Prince Alathom’s wife, by the very nature of that act.”

When she frowned, he went on to observe, “Did you not vow to forsake all others? That would include me, would it not?”

“Perhaps,” she said, then grinned up at him, while High Wolf suddenly found himself at odds, disliking her, while all the while longing to take her in his arms. Instead of doing either, however, he stepped back, away from her.

But she continued, “If I remember correctly, there were no restraints upon your favor when you made the vow, although I do admit it was a long time ago. You merely said, ‘Ask, and I will come.’” She smiled at him flirtatiously. “Perhaps your favors expire with time if not used?”

He shrugged off the insult. “It was the heartfelt promise of a boy from long ago. You have a husband now to attend to your needs.”

“But that is precisely the reason for my visit, Mr. High Wolf,” she said, her expression suddenly modest. “For you see, to all the world, I no longer have a husband.”

High Wolf went very still, his outward demeanor showing little of his agitation. Instead he watched her watching him; saw her scrutinize him, her glance perhaps hoping to find some weakness in him. But High Wolf was too well versed in the ways of a scout, and much too observant to be affected by such an overt contemplation, and with ease, he carefully hid the sudden quickening of his heart.

But she was continuing to speak, and said, “Now, please, Mr. High Wolf, let us take that turn.” And sweeping her skirts with a grand gesture, she stepped toward the place she had earlier indicated, though shortly she turned back. “Mr. Dominic,” she called over her shoulder, “please inform Governor Clark that I will join him soon. I shall be only a moment.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” said Mr. Dominic, and bowing, turned away.

Slowly, Princess Sierra pivoted around, her gaze capturing his . “Now, Mr. High Wolf,” she said, “shall we?”

And High Wolf, bound by an imprudent oath from his past, had no other option—at least none at the moment—but to hear her out. And though he wished himself somewhere else—anywhere else—he followed her lead.

***

Oh, how she wished the past were different. Oh, how she longed to turn back time. But events were as they were, and not even God in His heaven could change the history of what had come to be.

Princess Sierra sighed and, as she stepped lightly toward the spot she had earlier indicated, she wondered what she could say to this man that would sway him to her cause, trying to recall her well-rehearsed speech.

It was one thing to determine and practice such words of favor in the privacy of one’s quarters, quite another to confront the actual man. Plus she hadn’t counted on the increased rate of her heartbeat, or on the weakness which came over her limbs. And despite herself, Princess Sierra was experiencing a desire to throw herself into High Wolf’s arms and beg for his mercy.

She snorted instead. She? Beg this man?

Never.

Still, she must do something to solicit his help, and all without allowing him to perceive her real purpose. Could she do it? Could she fool this very insightful man?

Oh, if only life could be different. For within her, and increasing with every minute, was a sensation of old, a desire to purge herself of her troubles—as she had often done with this man in their not-too-distant past.

But she could hardly afford such a luxury and remain true to herself. Indeed, not only must she continue to be steadfast, she daren’t forget that this was the same man whose treachery had broken her heart…

Sierra inhaled deeply once again. There were some actions, that once were done, could never be taken back. And make no mistake, this man’s offense had been such a one.

Well, so be it. Squaring her shoulders, the princess turned to face him and said, “The prince is dead.”

High Wolf frowned. “Dead?”

“Yes, apparently so.”

“Apparently?” As High Wolf’s frown deepened, his stare became piercing.

Ignoring the look, she continued, “Prince Alathom was not home when the event which took his life happened, as you might already know.”

High Wolf raised one single eyebrow. He repeated, “Already know?”

“Yes,” she stated it as though it were a certainty. “It was a hunting accident—here in the Americas. We received word of the incident only a few months ago.”

“We?”

“Our families.” Sierra swallowed, and inhaling a deep breath, took a plunge, when perhaps it might have been more prudent to tread water. However, she continued, “Come now, High Wolf, I’m certain that I’m not telling you anything of which you are not already aware.”

If he detected the note of censure in her voice, he overlooked it, for all he said was, “Why would you think that?”

How dare he pretend to be innocent? Did he mean to insult her intelligence? Did he honestly think she would not be able to piece together the facts?

Well, perhaps it was time to show him that she could play any game that he chose to play. And, determined to put him in his place, she began, “I would think that, because the accident that took his life happened here…in the West, you would be well versed in it.”

High Wolf narrowed a glance at her. “Meaning that you think he and I were together when it happened?”

“If the shoe fits… ”

“And you think I was responsible for his death? Is this what you’re insinuating?”

“No,” she denied, momentarily thrown off guard by his question. In vain, she tried to ignore the confusion his question brought her, for despite her anger at him, she never would have thought this man responsible for the prince’s accident. He and Alathom were simply too close.

No, the truth was that she simply did not believe such an accident had taken place.  If she were correct—and there was no reason to assume she was not—the prince and High Wolf had conceived the deceit together, had planned it as deceptively as they had once planned another escape.

But she could not very well tell him that.

However, he was frowning at her, staring at her in a way that brought her to understand that he was reading every nuance of her reaction…something he was quite adept at, and a little too breathlessly, she continued, “I… I would not accuse you of having caused his death. I know you would never do anything to intentionally harm the prince. It’s only that…”

“You think I should have died in his place?”

“No.”

“Then what?”

Then why, when you had a reason to do so , didn’t you come back to me?

No, that wasn’t right. She couldn’t have actually thought that—not about this man.

High Wolf, however, as though ill-at-ease, crossed his arms over his chest before repeating, “Then what? What are you accusing me of?”

“I’m not accusing you of anything except perhaps being more friendly toward the prince than you have been to me.”

This last appeared to baffle High Wolf, and even he could not subdue the look of bewilderment that settled across his features. In truth, so honest was his perplexity, had she not known better, she would almost have believed in his innocence—almost…

And she said, “Come now, High Wolf, we were always friends, weren’t we? You, the prince and myself?”

High Wolf visibly stiffened, though all he said was, “We were—once.”

“And so all I am asking of you is that you give me as much deference as you would, or more correctly, as you have, the prince. I would like to go into the interior for a hunt, perhaps to ease my mind from my ‘loss.’” She emphasized the word. “I would request that you guide me there.”

Sierra glanced up to see, not the countenance of a man who had been caught out in a lie and was quietly ready to admit it, but rather she was met with indisputable contempt.

Oddly, it was this look that gave her courage. For it was she, not he, who had a right to indignation.

He stirred, moving away from her, and said, “I will not lead you into the interior of this country.”

Instantly, a feeling of disdain swept over her, returning to her a presence of mind. And she said, “Stay where you are. I have not yet given you permission to leave.”

He stilled. “No, you haven’t, Your Highness,” he said, pivoting around and coming face-to-face with her once more. However, with a leer on his countenance, he added, “But perhaps you should look around you.”

In defiance, she kept her glance glued to him.

“And maybe, if you did so, you might examine your environment even more carefully.”

Sierra stared straight ahead, still training her gaze on him and him alone.

He continued, “For, Your Highness, if you were to do this simple act, you might discover that you are no longer in Europe. Now look at me closely.”

“I already am.”

“More closely than even this.”

She blew out her breath, refusing to do as he bid, and glanced away from him instead.

But if her reaction bothered him, he seemed not to show it. Indeed, he said, “Do you see that I am not one of your subjects?”

Even as he uttered the words, the sneer in his tone, the curtness of his very manner, could not have been mistaken for anything other than what it was: disrespect. In response, her chin lifted high into the air, and she declared, “One does not need to be a subject of a particular country in order to exhibit proper manners,” she scolded. “And there is nothing that I have said that gives you leave to mock me. Indeed, I ask a simple thing.”

If she had hoped to make him more propitious, she had certainly failed, for within his glance was pure defiance, and he said, “True, the request is simple, but I suspect that the entreaty which is so sweetly given is yet filled with venom.”

She sucked in her breath.

He continued, “I am not for hire by you.” He spun about, ready to leave.

Goodness! The man hated her.

For an instant, the realization caused her to sway from where she stood. And for another heartfelt moment, she felt as though every single drop of blood in her body had become frozen.

She had certainly not anticipated this man’s hatred. After all, by what right did he dare show her ridicule? She, and she alone , possessed leave to seek revenge.

Yet he was retreating from her, without her leave, without her approval and with as much ill-will as she had ever witnessed. Worse, his departure was not something she would or could permit.

Reaching forward, she grabbed hold of his sleeve, the rough leather of his shirt feeling oddly soft against her fingers, a softness, she noted, that was not reflected in his countenance, or in any other part of him. She said, “What did I ever do to you that you feel compelled to treat me like this?”

He stopped, he stiffened, he inhaled slowly before he at last rocked back on his feet. Then swallowing hard, as though he were not as confident as he might like her to believe, he shut his eyes, letting go of his breath.

It was a show of minor weakness, but it was also the advantage she wanted, and she said, “You, sir, deserted me. It was not the other way around.”

“Was it not?”

“What do you mean?”

He let out his breath. “Try to understand, Your Highness, I am a different man now than I was when you once knew me. Ten years can bring about a great deal of change in a person.”

“I see,” she said dumbly, as yet another thought struck her. Aloud, she asked, “Are you married?”

She held her breath. It was a reasonable question, given their situation. It was also one she should have asked herself before now, if only to soften any surprise. After all, High Wolf was nothing if not a handsome and virile man. And being such, he was probably much sought after as a husband.

Her stomach dropped, and unreasonably, she felt defeated.

He questioned, “Does it matter if I am?”

“Of course not. Not to me.”

“Then why would you ask, I wonder?”

She shrugged. “Curiosity. Is this, then—your marriage—the reason why you will not guide me?”

“Could be.”

“I see.” She gulped in air. “You could bring her with you. I would not mind.”

It was a lie; even as she spoke the words, Sierra knew she would rather die than meet this man’s wife. It was an odd thought to become aware of, and she trembled with realization: Did she still care about this man? Impossible. It simply could not be.

She glanced up to catch him grinning at her. But his good humor was far from a pretty sight. In truth, his grin was simply a movement of his lips, with no inclination to mirth whatsoever, a mere shadow of what she remembered.

However, he was speaking, and he said, “Well, I, for one, if I did have a wife, would mind bringing her along, although I realize you might not share my scruples on that.”

If he had a wife…?

“No, Princess,” he continued, “you are wasting your precious time on me. Go home. Leave me to my own thoughts, and let me grieve for my friend in private, for I meant what I said. I will not lead you anywhere in this country.”

The words had no more left his mouth than he had spun about and was doing exactly as he had threatened: He left, without so much as a by-your-leave, and with no deference to her whatsoever.

But this time Princess Sierra barely noticed. In truth, she was frowning, thinking…

Had High Wolf always harbored such antagonism? And if he had, how had she missed seeing it until now?

Sierra closed her eyes, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Well, this was a fine mess. Should she have confided her own doubts about the prince? That he might still be alive? And if he were, that she wanted nothing more than to have a council with him? Would that have persuaded High Wolf to her cause?

No, she had already made up her mind on this account, and she was certain: High Wolf and the prince were in one another’s confidence, as they had always been. And little good would come from her pleading. But, dear Lord, what was she to do now?

The Princess and the Wolf

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519095306&sr=8-2&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kayhe&tag=pettpist-20 href=”https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519095306&sr=8-2&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kayhe&tag=pettpist-20 rel=”> Princess and the Wolf

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Wolf-Clan-Book-ebook/dp/B079QPW33V/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519095306&sr=8-2&keywords=the+princess+and+the+wolf+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

 

Updated: February 21, 2018 — 8:39 pm

Come With Me To Santa Anna!

Settings are very important to me in my stories and when I can, I go to visit the land. I stand, close my eyes and listen to what the wind tells me. Often I hear voices long past whispering in the breeze and I know this is what I’m supposed to write.

In the back of The Cowboy Who Came Calling, I explain that everything I put in the story is historical fact. I think readers want to know that.

This story is set in the small town of Santa Anna, Texas in the central part of the state. Both the town and the nearby mountain were named for the Comanche war chief, Santanna. He was an important chief and the first of his tribe to visit Washington, D.C. There, he saw what his people were up against and began advocating for peace. He was struck down and died in a cholera epidemic in 1849.

Here are the Santa Anna Mountains in the distance. Not very high at all. Most probably wouldn’t even call them a mountain range.

This monument was erected by the state to mark the site of Camp Colorado. It was part of a line of forts built in the 1800s to protect settlers against the Indians. There wasn’t anything left when I last visited here. It’s on private land now. Luke McClain joins a gang who use the old fort as a hideout in my story.

The town (only 8 miles from Coleman, TX) was never very large and today the population is a little over a thousand people. Here is a very old building and an old crumbling wall.

 

The picture below shows the thick vegetation and in the distance, the ridge of Santa Anna Mountains above the treeline.

Below is Bead Mountain that I mention in the story is actually a sacred Indian burial ground. When it rains, colorful beads wash down the sides. It’s actually reputed to be haunted.

Okay, that’s a quick look at my setting. I apologize for the poor quality pictures.

Here’s your question: How often do you look on the map for the place a story is set when you’re reading? Do you feel cheated just a bit when you find it’s a made-up place? I’m giving away four copies (winner’s choice of print or ebook) of The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Comment to enter the drawing.

Allison B. Collins Dreams Up Her Stories

I’m so excited to be here on Petticoats & Pistols today! What a wonderful group of women who all love cowboys as much as I do.  Thank you for having me here, ladies!

A couple of years ago I had a dream about five brothers who ran a ranch with their dad. In this dream I saw the oldest brother was a wounded Army veteran returning home, there was a veterinarian, a charmer, a very cynical man burned by love, and a rebel cowboy.  I even saw their assorted girlfriends or wives.  The only anomaly was that the dream ended with a fashion show in which they all participated. (That was my day job insinuating itself into my cowboy dream!)

When I woke up from the dream, it was still so vivid in my mind I had to write it all down. And it stuck with me so much I knew I had to turn it into a book. Or rather, five books.

The first book in the series about a wounded rancher debuts this month, published by Harlequin. I’m so very excited that “A Family for the Rancher” is finally here.  This quote from Pinnochio has been running through my mind all week: “I’m a real boy!”  Well, for me now “It’s a real book!”

I’m a fifth generation Texan, so I’ve got the Old West running deep in my veins. I was born and raised in El Paso, which is THE farthest west you can go in Texas.  Among my ancestors are a Texas Ranger and a spy for Robert E. Lee. Future stories? You better believe it.

I live in Dallas now, practically at the base of Southfork Ranch. Remember J.R., Bobby, Sue Ellen, and Pam? It’s still a thrill every time I drive by that house, and the theme song runs on continuous loop in my head.

I guess my love of cowboys has been with me all my life.  I love sweet tea, bluebonnets, cowboy boots, and western hats.  Heck, the Resistol Hat factory is practically around the corner from my house!  Cowboys have a code of honor bone deep, one they live their entire lives by. They’re good to their mommas, their sweethearts, and their animals.

Perhaps John Wayne said it best: “A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.”  My Sullivan brothers follow that creed.

For the Cowboys to Grooms series I took the story to Montana. Where else could I write about vast open lands, soaring mountains, sunny summer days, and cold winter days where the hero and heroine are snowbound in a log cabin for days on end?

My husband and I spent some time in Montana a few years ago, and I just fell in love with the whole state. Crystal clear water, abundant wildlife, and cowboys!  In fact, the scene in which Kelsey sees a bear while kissing Nash was inspired by my first bear sighting on that trip.

As I write, I have to visualize the characters, so Pinterest is my best friend.  If you’d like to see who my inspiration is for each of the five Sullivan brothers, here’s a link to my board:  https://tinyurl.com/ycrflp2

Oh, and since I also love weddings, I couldn’t resist writing a little twist into the last scene of each book—it’s what determines which brother’s book comes next in the Cowboys to Grooms series!

* * * *

Nash Sullivan doesn’t need help from anyone. Not his father, not his brothers and sure as heck not from a physical therapist—even a darn feisty one like Kelsey Summers. He lost his leg during his overseas deployment and he just wants to be left alone. Besides, the last thing a woman like Kelsey needs is half a man.

Single mom Kelsey knows all too well that the scars on the inside run the deepest. She needs to move on from her own tragic past, but the Sullivan ranch is starting to feel a little too much like home. And she can’t stop thinking about her wounded—and gorgeous—patient. Could Nash be the cure for her own broken heart?

* * * *

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of “A Family for the Rancher” (Kindle ebook or autographed print book – winner’s choice), let me know who your favorite cowboys are (old or new), and why.  I’d love to chat with you here on Petticoats & Pistols!

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