western romance

Guest Blogger Renee Ryan

 

(Read the entire post to learn how to be entered for a FABULOUS giveaway Renee is offering)

Good mR.Ryanorning, Renee Ryan here. I want to thank Winnie for letting me stop by today. It’s great to be back in the junction with my favorite fillies. I’ve always loved westerns and am still writing them, even though I’m no longer a contributing member of this blog. In honor of my temporary return I have a special giveaway today, but more on that later.

It’s been nearly thirty years since I read my first romance novel. I was in college, pursuing a double major in Economics and Religious Studies. Both subjects required intensive reading of complicated material, including several religious texts in the original Greek and Hebrew. A sorority sister noticed my eyes crossing after a long night of studying in the chapter room and took pity on me. She handed me a Harlequin Romance novel and said, “Take a break.”

Skeptical, I did as she requested. Two hours later, I was hooked for life. And so began a fascination with romance novels. Reading these happily-ever-after stories became my greatest treat after a long day of studying or test taking. At the time, I never dreamed I’d one day write a novel (see my majors up above) or that I would write for the company where it all began that late spring evening. I certainly never dreamed I would incorporate some of very same themes I enjoyed all those years ago.

My first western historical romance was written by Teresa Medeiros called Nobody’s Darling. I’d found my favorite time period. I still enjoy reading Harlequin books and I still enjoy reading westerns. As a writer I’ve learned to incorporate my favorite romance novel themes (AKA tropes) in my favorite time period (the Old West). I especially love the following:

  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Reunion/Old Flame
  • Fish out of water (i.e. city girl on a ranch, etc.)
  • Cowboy
  • Rancher
  • Cowboy
  • Cowboy
  • Cowboy
  • Matchmaker/Matchmaker kids
  • Widow/widower
  • Single parent
  • Twins
  • Cowboy
  • Mistaken identity
  • Cowboy
  • Cowboy
  • Temporary Nanny
  • Guardian/Protector/Lawman
  • Bad boy meets Good girl
  • COWBOY!!!

Anyone see a theme? :)

Within each of the above tropes there are a million different storylines.  I’ve used one or more in all of my published novels. For example, in THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION I used cowboy and guardian/protector and bad boy meets good girl tropes. MISTAKEN BRIDE I had twins, mistaken identity, nanny, single parent, and widower.

I guess it’s true what they say, there are no new stories just new ways to tell them.

What about you?  When did you first start reading romance novels and what are your favorite themes?  Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of my latest Charity House book, THE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT. The book has the marriage of convenience and bad boy meets good girl and matchmaker tropes.

I’ll be giving away one copy of this book to a lucky reader and one full set of the entire Charity House series to one grand prize winner. THE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT is book 9 of 9 and wraps up the series. Bringing this series to an end has been bittersweet for me. Charity House is no ordinary orphanage, but rather a unique home for the by-blows of prostitutes and gunslingers.  By its very nature, Charity House lends itself to unique stories about people facing a world that didn’t want their “kind” and THE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT highlights one of the original orphans, Jonathon Hawkins, or Johnny.

 

 

The Marriage Agreement coverartTHE MARRIAGE AGREEMENT

Promoted to Wife?

Always the dutiful daughter, Fanny Mitchell surprised everyone when she broke her engagement. Now she’s working at the fancy Hotel Dupree and falling for the mysterious, handsome owner, Jonathon Hawkins. But when she and her boss are caught in an unexpected kiss at a ball, will her reputation be tarnished forever?

The son of a woman of ill repute, Jonathon knows that gossip can destroy lives in an instant. And he won’t allow sweet, lovely Fanny to suffer the consequences. When he proposes a marriage of convenience, Jonathon believes he can keep his heart to himself. But the more time he spends with Fanny, the more he realizes he may just be in love with his wife.

Charity House: Offering an oasis of hope, faith and love on the rugged Colorado frontier.

 

(To purchase a copy or learn more about this book, click on the book cover)

Rosanne Bittner: What’s in a Hero?

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I have recently needed to re-read several of my older titles for conversion to e-books.  After 60 titles and 32 years of writing, I can’t always remember exactly what happened in every book I wrote or who the hero and heroine were.  So far I have been pleasantly surprised at how good the stories are and how “hot” the heroes and the love scenes are.  Somehow I had the idea that “way back then” I was hesitant to get too racy with my love scenes, but gosh, they ain’t bad!


Rosanne BittnerThrough all of this, I am noticing something about my heroes – they tend to be a lot alike – i.e. rugged, take no sh–, well built, extremely able with fists, guns or in the case of the Native Americans, sometimes knife, tomahawk or lance.  They are survivors.  I am falling in love all over again with each one of them as I read these older books and am re-discovering some great characters – both the heroes and the heroines.  Even the heroines are, for the most part, very strong women who “match” the men they’ve chosen to love and can stand right up to them (and often wrap them right around their little fingers)!   I was afraid I would find some “fainting flowers” in some of those older books, but so far I haven’t.

Let’s face it.  Women love to read about the bad-ass who’s vulnerable in some way when it comes to his woman – a man who would die for her, who loves her unconditionally (actually he adores her) – who always has her back and who is true to her.  He might be hard to live with, but what woman wants to live without him!

OUTLAW HEARTS COVERI am noticing with great relief that it’s only the bad-ass aspect that is very similar in most of my heroes.  Each one so far is turning out to be unique in his background and his reasons for turning out as he has.  I never want to be accused of writing the same man over and over.  Each hero has to be his own man with his own special story – and not all of them are tall and dark and have 6-pack abs, although that seems to be the preferred description.  My hero Mitch Brady in DESPERATE HEARTS (September 2014) has sandy hair and very blue eyes, but he is, of course, tall and has those abs!

I like to write a hero (and often a heroine) who has some kind of tragedy in his past that has caused him to turn out the way he has, either some traumatic childhood experience, or the horrors of the Civil War or Indian wars, or he’s been robbed of everything he called his own or his inheritance – or has lost a wife or child tragically – something that makes the heroine’s (and the reader’s) heart ache for the poor guy and want to just hug him and tell him everything will be all right – but of course he’s rugged and stoic and refuses (at first) to admit that he needs that hug.  After all, in the “old days” a man just didn’t cry.  When they do in my books, it tears your heart out because he’s such a macho man that it is a real surprise when he even gets tears in his eyes, let alone actually weeping.  No cry-babies here.  Just men who have suffered and have finally met a woman who understands that at least once he has to “let it all out.”

DO NOT FORSAKE MEI think another required “ingredient” for a hero is that he doesn’t just love and want the heroine – he NEEDS the heroine.  He should feel he couldn’t go on without her – feelings he of course fights at first, but feelings he can’t ignore forever.  In my books the hero often feels he is unworthy of the heroine’s love, or feels he could never be the kind of man he “thinks” she wants or needs.  I usually always find a way for hero and heroine to finally be together without either of them having to give up his and her own dreams.  That’s the way most romances turn out, but I refuse to do it the “soft, flowery” way.  Hero and heroine have to fight together to realize their dreams and to be able to spend their lives together.

It’s really fun reading these older books. But for now, you can read about one of the best heroes I’ve ever written – Jake Harkner – in OUTLAW HEARTS (June 2015) and DO NOT FORSAKE ME (July 2015).  I am currently working on the third book of this trilogy, LOVE’S SWEET REVENGE (scheduled for September 2016).  All three books comprise a great love story you will never forget.  Jake was horribly abused as a child, which led him into an outlaw life, but along comes Miranda, a woman fate brings into his pathway and who won’t get out of the way.  Miranda understands the “little boy” inside the macho man who is Jake Harkner … ruthless … lawless … a real bad-ass … a wanted man, which means life with Jake means life on the run (in OUTLAW HEARTS) but things work out and in Book #2 (DO NOT FORSAKE ME) Jake is a U.S. Marshal in Oklahoma – and still as bad-ass as they come!!

RT cover 2015As explained in a great spread I had in Romantic Times magazine(DO NOT FORSAKE ME was a “top pick”), these books are packed with powerful emotions, which make them tear-jerker stories you won’t soon forget.  Much like my SAVAGE DESTINY books, the Harkner books will be keepers!!  I can’t wait for you to read them and am anxious to hear back from my readers!

And by the way, for those of you who need fresh, new copies of all 7 of my SAVAGE DESTINY books – or for my new readers who have never read those first books I wrote 30 years ago – you can NOW GET ALL 7 SAVAGE DESTINY BOOKS IN PRINT WITH NEW COVERS!!  Just check them out on Amazon’s “print-on-demand” offers.  The new covers are beautiful (by Hot Dam Designs).  These were my first books and are still out-selling everything else … although sales for my “Jake” books are looking smashing!!  I have to say that Zeke from SAVAGE DESTINY and Jake from my OUTLAW TRILOGY are my favorite heroes of all time!

What are your favorite western romances? Doesn’t have to be historical.

Thanks for your support!  Rosanne Bittner

Rosanne is giving away 3 sets of both Outlaw Hearts and Do Not Forsake Me. Leave a comment to enter the drawing!

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About Rosanne:

rosanneRosanne has been writing most of her life, beginning with poetry at a young age, then moving on to writing her first book 36 years ago. After writing a total of nine books after that, it was the ninth book that finally sold 33 years ago, SWEET PRAIRIE PASSION, which was then published in 1983 and became the first book of a 7-book series about the settling of Colorado called SAVAGE DESTINY. All 7 books are still selling and Amazon recently reissued all 7 books for print-on-demand with new covers!  Rosanne went on to write 53 more books since then, for a total of 60 published novels to date with #61 coming in 2016.

Rosanne wrote through many personal challenges and worked full time at secretarial work for the first several years of her writing. She’s been married 50 years and has two sons and three grandsons, and she helps run a family business in a small town in southwest Michigan. She attributes her success to the fact that her books are filled with real American history, which she brings alive through her fictitious characters, so well that fans often write wanting to know if those people really lived. Her books span the West, from Indiana to California and Mexico to Canada.

Rosanne has traveled to every location about which she writes, and her love for the magnificent western landscape shows through in her writing with descriptions of vast prairies and plains, and incredibly beautiful descriptions of  the Sierras and the Rockies.   When you read a Bittner book you are carried away into another time and into landscapes that once were virgin and unsettled. She has covered nearly every major historical event and has written many Native American stories.

Rosanne has a huge library of her own research books and has studied America’s history, especially the Old West and Native Americans, for forty years. She has won numerous writing awards, including the prestigious WILLA AWARD from Women Writing the West, and was named Queen of Western Romance and one of the “legends” of western romance by Romantic Times magazine.

Rosanne is available for speaking engagements and has conducted writers workshops at many writing conferences.

You can contact her:

WEBSITE  FACEBOOK  TWITTER  GOODREADS

19th Century Advice to Brides and the Men that Lasso Them

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“GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY.”

Oh my!  In the 1800s there were many advice books for women (and a few for men) on what to expect in conjugal relationships in marriage. All I can say is, I’m glad I was born in this century when it comes to marriage advice!

~ For the ladies ~

20150702_115717_resized (2)To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life. On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must pay the piper, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.    

At this point, dear reader, let me concede one shocking truth. Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.

On the other hand, the bride’s terror need not be extreme. While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured, and has been by women since the beginning of time, and is compensated for by the monogamous home and by the children produced through it. It is useless, in most cases, for the bride to prevail upon the groom to forego the sexual initiation. While the ideal husband would be one who would approach his bride only at her request and only for the purpose of begetting offspring, such nobility and unselfishness cannot be expected from the average man.
Ruth Smythers~ Instruction & Advice for the Young Bride Copyright 1894 The Madison Institute.

Cowboy Boot~And now for the men ~

Besides being the universal aggressor, he (man) is obliged…to break her into the harness of passion, by dint of both stratagem and perseverance. 

She may seem slow to accord to you the privileges of married life, but defer to her will; do nothing rashly. It will be quite a shock to feminine modesty when she, a pure-minded maiden, shall be called upon to lie down in the same bed with a man. It will seem repulsive at first, because she will feel that that lying down robs her of her feminine prerogative, and puts her person in the power of another.

Be a martyr for your own sake, if nothing else; let the world know just as little about your wretchedness as possible; put on, in society, a cheerful exterior, though domestic unhappiness should be feeding upon your very vitals. Better that, than a home broken up, and two, or perhaps a half-dozen lives blighted forever.    The Marriage Guide for Young Men: A Manual of Courtship and Marriage by George W. Hudson, 1883

Granted, I chose some of the more outlandish examples by today’s sensibilities and these authors did have other more sage advice, but with these attitudes, it is a wonder men and women married at all! I guess the ‘War between the Sexes’ was alive and well in the 19th Century!

I am fortunate to have a great example of an amazing union in my parent’s marriage. Sixty-five years and counting! The respect & love (not to mention fun) they afford each other has been an inspiration to my own marriage. The picture above is of my grandparent’s marriage in the early 1920s.

What advice have you heard or would you give a couple getting “hitched” today? 

(It definitely does not have to be about the marriage night!)

Comment to enter a drawing for the anthology Wild West Christmas. Dance With A Cowboy (my story in the anthology) received a 2015 Holt Medallion Award of Merit!

I have enjoyed this Wedding Week here at Petticoats & Pistols! What fun, informative posts. Everyone have a safe, fun 4th tomorrow!

Playing The Flirtation Game

MargaretBrownley-header

“Ever wonder why the word engagement describes

both a promise of marriage & war battle?”-Undercover Bride

Wedding-Week-sepiaMy husband was recently asked by a young man how he dated me before mobile phones and texting. We got a good laugh out of that one. Try explaining the concept of planning ahead to today’s spur-of-the-moment youths and see where that gets you.

It did get me thinking though; how did men and women come together without benefit of modern day technology?   At least my husband and I had access to what is now called a land phone. 

That’s when I discovered that “texting” isn’t all that new. Yep, you got that right. 19th century lads did indeed “text” and they didn’t need a modern day phone to do it. They simply passed out flirtation or escort cards asking permission to make a young woman’s acquaintance or escort her home. These preprinted cards were fun, clever and often rhymed.

If the answer was yes, the woman simply kept the card. If no, she would return it.  Would any of these cards win your heart?

 

Note: Many thanks to Alan Mays for his wonderful collection.

 

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My granddaughter thinks her generation invented chat acronyms. No doubt she’d be surprised to learn that many were developed during the 1800s to save money in sending telegrams. “Hw r u ts mng?” meant “How are you this morning?” And instead of lol they used the more efficient Ha. Love and kisses in telegram talk was simply 88.

 

Not sure I would want to be “interviewed” by a suitor. I’d pass on this one.

 

I’d be wary of a man with a stack of cards that said “two hearts beat as one.”

This one seems more like a business arrangement. Monkey business?

The words “escort” and “strictly confidential” makes me wonder what’s really on his mind.

Since we’re celebrating love and marriage this week,

tell us how you met your significant other.

                         

                              What Readers are Saying About Undercover Bride

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“5 Stars!”

“A truly entertaining must read”

“A thrilling escapade”

“A creative plot and delightful characters”

“Good clean fun western romance”

“Thumbs up for mystery western”

“Wild west guns and grins”

“Fantastic”

Amazon

                                                  B&N

HOW THE WEST WAS FUN!

MargaretBrownley-headerThe only good reason to ride a bull is to meet a nurse

Recently I read that the American cowboy wouldn’t have survived “lonesome” had it not been for his ihorse“guts and his hoss.” The author got it only partly right. For the cowboy had one more weapon of survival under his Stetson: his sense of humor.

Seeing the funny side of life in the Old West was just as vital, if not more so, than a cowboy’s horse or six-gun. Those early buckaroos survived long hours in the saddle under the most difficult conditions with jokes, horseplay and cock and bull stories.

fireNo campsite was complete without a tall tale or two. Cowboys didn’t experience weather like the rest of us. No sirree. One cowpuncher told about winter being so cold they couldn’t hear the foreman’s orders. “The words froze as they came outta his mouth. We had to break them off one by one so we could tell what he was sayin’.”

The wind was a popular subject. “You think this wind is bad? You ain’t seen nothin’.” Cowboys talked about feeding their chickens buckshot so they wouldn’t blow away in the wind. Not to be outdone some claimed it was so windy a chicken laid the same egg five times.

Don’t dig for water under the outhouse.

California’s current drought is nothing compared to what those cowboys of yesteryear experienced. “One teethdrought was so bad the cactus took to a-chasing after dogs.”

Texas was reportedly the healthiest state. So healthy, in fact, no one ever died there naturally. They needed the assistance of a bullet to accomplish that feat. More than one Texan was caught crossing the border just so he could “ride to the great beyond.”

Perhaps the most amusing rivalries in the Old West pitted cowboys against railroaders. Cowboys had little patience with the “bullheaded Irishmen” who stampeded their cattle. In turn, railroaders thought cowboys a bunch of troublemakers—and for good reason.

One railcar filled with smoke when a cowboy attempted to cook a steak on the train’s coal stove. Another cowpoke, on the way to meeting his best gal, shocked women passengers by stripping down to his long johns so he could don his new suit.

When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example,

he hands out good advice.

One foreman befuddled railroad officials by sending a wire requesting cars to ship 2,500 sea lions. The foremen figured his cattle had swum across so many streams that “sea lions” aptly described his sirloins.

Railroaders dished out as good as they got. One cowboy learned the hard way not to travel without a ticket when the train he was riding came to a screeching stop and left him stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Another cowboy boarded a train and when asked for his ticket pulled out his six-gun, declaring it the only ticket he needed. The conductor convinced him otherwise by returning with a rifle and sticking it under the cowboy’s nose.

Cowboys didn’t just laugh at these antics like regular folks. Oh, no. They’d sit ’round a campfire “grinnin’ like a weasel peekin’ in a henhouse.”

So when is the last time you grinned like a weasel? What tall tale, anecdote or family memory would you share around a campfire?

What they’re saying about Undercover Bride

Expect some fun reading while the detective team attempts to unmask a pair of train robbers and murderers. That’s how Margaret Brownley writes. Western mystery with humor rolling throughout, like tumbleweeds on Main Street.-Harold Wolf, Amazon

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Amazon

B&N

What!! Clothes For Your Walls?

Linda Brodaypink flowersI love wallpaper. Always have. I still remember the flowered kind that covered the walls in the bedroom I shared with my little sister in the 1950s. The image on the right is similar to it.

Back then, everyone used wallpaper and it must not have been something only for the privileged because our parents didn’t have squat. That paper had to be awfully cheap and my mama and daddy pasted it on themselves.

To me wallpaper is like clothes for the walls.

Here are some that you’ve probably seen.

1800s wallpaper

vintage

Pink wallpaper

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can set a mood. Fun? Whimsical? Sassy? Daring? Elegant?

elegant wallpaper

pretty wallpaperwallpaper2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bordello? Funeral parlor? The first sample is from Downton Abbey.

downton abbey wallpaper

red wallpaper

green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Twice a Texas Bride, Rand Sinclair buys a rundown ranch. Everything needs tons of work and the house is no exception.

After he finds Callie Quinn hiding in one of his outbuildings in the dead of winter and hires her to cook for him, he talks her into sitting in the parlor with him. One night after a long cold day while relaxing by the fire, he asks her opinion about how to fix up the house.

gold wallpaperCallie tells him she had once gone into a fancy hotel in Kansas City and fell in love with the wallpaper in the lobby. It was gold and a very elegant design. Rand decides then and there that he’s going to put that in the parlor. If he gets the house fixed up real nice, maybe she’ll stay. Except for his brothers, everyone else always leaves.

I think this sample is closest to what she describes.

Now, what about you. Are you a wallpaper or paint person? Do you have any favorites of the above?

By the way, I’ve seen the cover for FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE – the third book and final book in the Bachelors of Battle Creek – and you’re gonna love it. Keep watching for it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the portrayal of Brett Liberty.

Mail Order BrideTwice a Texas Bride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bloodiest Trading Post in Kansas

 

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Header for EEBURKE FINAL

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Trading Post, Kansas, near the Marais Des Cygnes River, is about an hour down the highway from where I live. This unincorporated town is reputed to be the longest continuously occupied community in Kansas, established in 1825 as (you guessed it) a trading post with the Osage Indians.

For years I drove by this tiny spot on the map and had no idea of the monumental impact it had on this region and the whole United States.

In 1858, a brutal massacre on “free state” men occurred just a few miles away. John Brown built a cabin close by to protect fellow abolitionists and plotted vengeance on slave owners, which culminated with his raid on Harper’s Ferry Virginia, a year later. From trading post, Kansas Senator Jim Lane and his infamous Jayhawkers launched a retaliatory raid on southern sympathizers in Missouri in 1861.

All this from a little place called Trading Post.door to cabin

I stopped one day and visited the small museum there and found a few interesting artifacts. Here’s the door to the cabin built by John Brown, who vowed to protect “freestate men” in Kansas after the massacre.

Near the museum, a memorial to the massacre victims was erected.

memorial (1)

I also visited the site of the MARAIS DES CYNES MASSACRE, which inspired John Brown to greater violence, spurred Jim Lane to attack Missouri, and arguably lit the spark that started a Civil War.

Did you know?massacre image (1)

Kansas suffered the highest rate of fatal casualties of any Union state, largely because of its great internal divisions over the issue of slavery.

The bloodiest single incident in the Kansas-Missouri border struggles (1854-1861) occurred May 19, 1858, when thirty pro-slavery Missourians seized eleven Kansas ‘Free-State’ men and marched them to a creek bed near Trading Post. The eleven men were lined up execution style and promptly shot, apparently for no other reason than occupying land in a Free State.

The incident shocked the nation and galvanized abolitionists.

A few weeks later, John Brown arrived and built a two-story log “fort” (about 14 x 18 feet), which he occupied with a few men through that summer.  That December he led a raid into Missouri and liberated eleven slaves, killing one white man in the process. Ultimately, he took his fight east to Virginia, where after his ill-fated raid he was captured and hanged.

Later that same year, Kansans rejected a pro-slavery constitution and entered the Union as a “free state” in 1861.

curry print

A Brown follower bought Brown’s property near Trading Post and later, at the site of the fort, built a stone house that still stands there today. The building and grounds are now part of a State Historical Site.
fort site

Visiting this and other historical sites caught up in the bloody conflict, I thought about how the border conflict changed the lives of everyday people for decades to come.

The character of the hero in my upcoming novel, Fugitive Hearts, is shaped by this tragedy, which leads him down a path of vengeance first, and then to the pursuit of justice.

Read more about it here:

EEBurke_FugitiveHearts800 (2)

“Sheriff…I just shot my husband.”

Hotel owner Claire Daines is a respected member of the community. Until she shocks the entire town by rushing into a saloon wearing only her nightclothes and confessing to very inebriated lawman.

Is she a killer? Is she crazy? Or is she covering up something worse?

For years, Claire hushed up her husband’s dangerous condition to guard his reputation. When tragedy strikes, she puts her own life at risk when she vows to keep another terrible secret.

Sheriff Frank Garrity must get to the truth, although the tough, hard-drinking lawman hides his own secrets and would rather walk a lonely path than face his demons. But as Frank unravels Claire’s subterfuge and unlocks her heart, he’s torn between his desire to save her and his duty to bring her to justice.

Will he bring her to justice…or into his heart?

“Pure romance and passion that will steal your breath!”

Linda Broday, New York Times Best Selling Author

Coming July 28, 2015

Available for pre-order on Amazon

Other books in the series:

http://www.amazon.com/E.E.-Burke/e/B00EDYK9AU

Today, I’ll be giving away a free eBook in the Steam! Romance and Rails series: A Dangerous Passion. Just comment to enter the drawing.

Texas Ranger Badges: Fact or Fiction?

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Texas Ranger badges are a hot commodity in the collectibles market, but the caveat “buyer beware” applies in a big way. The vast majority of items marketed as genuine Texas Ranger badges are reproductions, facsimiles, or toys. Very few legitimate badges exist outside museums and family collections, and those that do hardly ever are sold. There’s a very good reason for that: Manufacturing, possessing, or selling Texas Ranger insignia, even fakes that are “deceptively similar” to the real thing, violates Texas law except in specific circumstances.

According to Byron A. Johnson, executive director of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum (the official historical center for the Texas Ranger law-enforcement agency), “Spurious badges and fraudulent representation or transactions connected with them date back to the 1950s and are increasing. We receive anywhere from 10 to 30 inquiries a month on badges, the majority connected with sales on eBay.”

If you had to, could you identify a legitimate Texas Ranger badge? Test your knowledge: Which of the alleged badges below are genuine? Pick one from each set. (All images are ©Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas, and are used with permission. All Rights Reserved.)

Set 1

1889Badge_130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

SpecialAgent130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: The left-hand badge, dated 1889, is the earliest authenticated Texas Ranger insignia in the collection of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. Badges weren’t standard issue for Rangers until 1935, although from 1874 onward, individual Rangers sometimes commissioned badges from jewelers or gunsmiths, who made them from Mexican coins. Relatively few Rangers wore a badge out in the open. As for the item on the right? There’s no such thing as a “Texas Ranger Special Agent.”

Set 2

FakeShield_130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

1938Badge_130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: On the right is an official shield-type badge issued between 1938 and 1957. Ranger captains received gold badges; the shields issued to lower ranks were silver. The badge on the left is a fake, though similar authentic badges exist.

Set 3

FrontierBattalionBadge_130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

1957Badge_130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: The badge on the right was the official badge of the Rangers from July 1957 to October 1962. Called the “blue bottle cap badge,” the solid, “modernized” design was universally reviled. The left-hand badge is a fake. According to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, “No genuine Texas Ranger badges are known to exist with ‘Frontier Battalion’ engraved on them.”

Set 4

1962Badge_130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

COF_130

©TRHFM, Waco, TX

Answer: The left-hand badge, called the “wagon wheel badge,” has been the official Texas Ranger badge since October 1962. Each is made from a Mexican five-peso silver coin. The badge on the right is a “fantasy badge.” According to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, the most common designation on such badges is “Co. A.”

How did you do? If you answered correctly for more than one without benefiting from a lucky guess, you did better than most people, including Texans. Give yourself extra points if you knew Rangers proved their legitimacy with Warrants of Authority, not badges, prior to 1935.

For more information about the Texas Rangers—including the history of the organization, biographical sketches of individual Rangers, and all kinds of information about badges and other insignia—visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum online at TexasRanger.org. The museum and its staff have my utmost gratitude for their assistance with this post. They do the Rangers proud.

 

While we’re on the subject of Rangers…

TheSecond-BestRangerInTexas_200x300On June 1, Western Fictioneers, a professional organization for authors of western novels and short stories, announced the winners of the 2015 Peacemaker Awards. Presented annually, the Peacemakers recognize the best western historical fiction published during the previous calendar year.

I’m happy to say “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” received the award for Best Western Short Fiction. “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” tells the story of a washed-up Texas Ranger and a failed nun who find redemption in love.

The award marked the second time in two years a short story published by Prairie Rose Publications has been honored with a Peacemaker: Livia J. Washburn’s “Charlie’s Pie” received the Best Western Short Fiction award in 2014.

Available in paperback and e-book

In addition, Prodigal Gun, also published by Prairie Rose, was named a finalist in the Best Western First Novel category. Prodigal Gun is the first novel-length romance ever nominated for a Peacemaker.

I don’t say any of that to brag…

Oh, heck. Who am I trying to kid? I’m bragging. (Sorry, Mom!)

There really is a larger point, though: I think the award and nomination are important, but not because the books are mine. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right stories. There’s a hint at something much broader here: At long last, it seems, romances of all lengths are being recognized as “respectable literature” outside the romance category. That’s good news for all of us who enjoy a genre too often scoffed at and snubbed by the larger community of authors and readers.

Over the past eighteen months, a number of books published by Prairie Rose Publications have been nominated for or received awards of all kinds. If that’s any indication, PRP is off to a great start. Founded in August 2013 by Livia Washburn Reasoner and Cheryl Pierson, the company is and always will be dedicated to publishing traditional westerns and western romance written by women. Nevertheless, in less than two years, PRP has expanded to include young adult, inspirational, paranormal, and medieval lines. The “little publishing company” releases some darn fine fiction. I’m proud it publishes mine.

 

To celebrate good fortune in so many areas of my life, I’ll gift a copy of “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” to two folks who are brave enough to tell us how many of the badges above they identified correctly. To the comments with you!

 

 

Taking a Chance—a Big Chance—on Love & Book Giveaway

MargaretBrownley-header

“Did you ever wonder why we use the word engagement
to describe both a promise of marriage and a war battle?”-Undercover Bride

My June release Undercover Bride is a mail order bride story with a twist. Maggie Michaels is a Pinkerton detective working undercover to nab the Whistle-Stop Bandit. To do this she is posing as his mail order bride. The clock is ticking; if she doesn’t find the proof she needs to put him in jail, she could end up as his wife!

My heroine has a good reason for doing what she’s doing, but what about the thousands of other women during the 1800s who left family and friends to travel west and into the arms of strangers?

Shortage of Men

mailThe original mail order bride business grew out of necessity. The lack of marriageable women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War. The war created thousands of widows and a shortage of men.

As a result, marriage brokers and “Heart and Hand” catalogues popped up all around the country. Ads averaged five to fifteen cents and letters were exchanged along with photographs. It took ten days for a letter to travel by Pony Express and often the wax seals would melt in the desert heat, causing letters to be thrown away before reaching their destinations.

According to an article in the Toledo Blade a lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalogue company asking for brides (the latest such letter received was from a lonely Marine during the Vietnam War).

                                      Cultural Attitudes

wife

Marriage was thought to be the only path to female respectability. Anyone not conforming to society’s expectations was often subjected to public scorn. Women who had reached the “age” of spinsterhood with no promising prospects were more likely to take a chance on answering a mail order bride ad than younger women.

Not Always Love at First Sight

For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail order bride were so enamored with each other they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.

Not every bride was so lucky. In her book Hearts West, Christ Enss tells the story of mail order bride Eleanor Berry. En route to her wedding her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men. Shortly after saying “I do,” and while signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her. The marriage lasted less than an hour.

Men: Do Not Be Deceivedmail2

Women weren’t the only ones who could be duped. Ads popped up warning men not to be seduced by artificial bosoms, bolstered hips, padded limbs, cosmetic paints and false hair.

Despite occasional pitfalls, historians say that most matches were successful. That’s because the ads were generally honest, painfully so in some cases. If a woman was fat and ugly she often said so. If not, photographs didn’t lie (at least not before Photoshop came along).

There may have been another reason for so much married bliss. A groom often signed a paper in front of three upstanding citizens promising not to abuse or mistreat his bride. She in turn promised not to nag or try to change him.

No one seems to know how many mail order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey who, by the turn of the century, had married off 5000 Harvey girls.

Okay, since it’s almost June and I’ve got brides on my mind how about sharing a wedding memory, either your own or someone else’s?  It can be funny, sweet, nightmarish or just plain special.  Fair warning: anything you say could be used in a book!  If all else fails just stop by and say hello and I’ll put your name in the old Stetson.

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Wild West Guns and Grins or How the West Was Fun

 Another Pinkerton Lady Detective is on the case. This time the female operative masquerades as a mail-order bride. Pretty funny overall plot to begin with, so expect some fun reading while the detective team attempts to unmask a pair of train robbers and murderers. That’s how Margaret Brownley writes. Western mystery with humor rolling throughout, like tumbleweeds on Main Street.

                                                           -Harold Wolf on Amazon

Amazon

B&N

 

First Petticoats & Pistols Giveaway of Now and Forever

Now and Forever Book #2 of the Wild at Heart Series is now shipping from Amazon!

To celebrate it’s release I’m posting an excerpt and giving away a signed copy to one lucky commentor. (please try and think of yourself as lucky!)

Matt Tucker could take people for only so long and then he had to get up in the mountains, all the way up where he was more likely to run into a golden eagle than a man. He’d wander in the thin pure air for a week or two, to clear his thoughts. Forget the smell and behavior of men.

This time it wasn’t men driving him to the high-up peaks. This time it was a certain head full of dark curls and a pair of shining blue eyes. Not a man—though no one would admit it—which was so odd he almost turned around.

In fact he wanted to turn around so bad he walked faster.

            He scooted past a boulder—and stomped on the toe of a bear cub.

A squall drew his eyes down. A roar dragged them up. He looked into the gaping maw of an angry mama grizzly. He hadn’t heard her or smelled her. Honestly, that was so careless and stupid he almost deserved to die.

            She swung a massive paw and he had no time to dodge. She knocked him over the side of that mountain. Not a cliff, but the next thing to it. He slammed into an aspen.

He bounced off and plummeted.

The next Aspen hit so hard his ribs howled in pain. He snagged. His arms, legs and back whipped forward but his haversack held. It saved him.

That’s when he heard a roar. It brought his head around.

The mama wasn’t satisfied with knocking him off a mountain. She was coming, and coming fast, finding a way down somehow.

Finally he slammed into level ground and stopped, sprawled flat on his back. He flickered his eyes open, knowing he had to get up and run. The bear was coming.

            His blurred vision filled with a cap of dark curls and the prettiest blue eyes he’d ever seen.

            Well, no. Not ever.

            Because he’d seen them before on the roof of Aaron and Kylie Masterson’s cabin. He wanted to just lay there and look forever.

            And then that dratted bear roared and those blue eyes, looking at him all worried, turned uphill and changed from concern to horror.

            The pretty little gal reached down, grabbed Tucker by the front of his shirt, and hauled him upright. What was she going to do, throw him over her shoulder and run? He didn’t think that was going to work. He was about six inches taller and outweighed her by a hundred pounds.

            But Mama Grizz was coming, so someone was going to have to do something. They couldn’t stay here, and Tucker wasn’t sure he was up to moving. Of course he’d only had about two second to think about it. He hadn’t really tried.

            “Hang on!” She shoved him backward, clinging so tight it was like he’d gotten a second pack hooked on.

            She screamed.

            They flew. There was no more rolling. No more aspens. No more rocks. They soared.

            Tucker saw the walls of the cliff rushing past and knew where they were. Worse yet, he knew where they were going to land. “Are you crazy?”

             They were falling to almost certain death. He’d just been killed by a woman as crazy as he was. Well, he wasn’t killed yet. But it was only a few minutes ahead of them.

            The bear roared overhead.

            The dark curled madwoman shouted, “I hope Bailey’s not too stubborn to tend my sheep.”

            “I hate sheep.”

            They hit the water so hard it was like slamming into granite.

 

Mary Connealy
Mary Connealy

Except over….Mary again.

Well, things only get worse for poor Tucker and Shannon right along with him. They’re a long while saving themselves and as a reward for doing it??? It turns out they spent five days alone together, day and night. Only a wedding will do.

It’s a lot of fun this adventure with Shannon and Tucker. Give it a chance.

 

NOW AND FOREVER

Saddle up for romance and adventure with the Wilde sisters!

Shannon Wilde is the middle sister–and the one who loves animals. She’s established her own homestead and is raising sheep for their wool. Things are going fine…until Shannon gets swept over a cliff by Matthew Tucker!

Tucker seizes every opportunity to get away from civilization, but one particular walk in the woods ends with him sprinting away from an angry grizzly and plunging into a raging river, accidentally taking Shannon Wilde with him. Their adventure in the wilderness results in the solitary mountain man finding himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.

As Tucker and Shannon learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon’s land. Someone clearly wants to drive her off, but whoever it is apparently didn’t count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad–and trying to hurt the woman he’s falling in love with sets off something even he never expected.

 

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015