Tag: western romance with outlaws

How Much of a Line Existed Between Outlaws and Lawmen?

 

A rough outlaw town…A man seeking redemption…A hunted woman with no place to turn except agree to be outlaw Clay Colby’s wife.

This is the scenario in The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride. In case you haven’t heard, this new series is a bleed over from my Men of Legend and Clay Colby (whom you met in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy) is tired of running. He’s determined to make a stand on the last bit of mostly unsettled Texas land in the panhandle. He yearns to settle down with a wife and have a family. To be normal. So he starts building a town on the site of an old hideout called Devil’s Crossing. While he builds, he writes to Tally Shannon and Luke Legend carries the letters back and forth. She and a group of women are hiding out in a canyon, hunted in order to be returned to the Creedmore Asylum for the Insane.

Tally and these women first made an appearance at the end of Men of Legend Book 1 – To Love a Texas Ranger when outlaw Luke Legend began providing food, clothing, and medicine.

But Tally has grown weary of living in the shadows and wants more for herself and her band of fugitives. For once she wants to know what it’s like to have someone care for her—to have strong arms around her, to be safe, protected. Although afraid to trust, she agrees to marry Clay.

“What drew Clay most was the defiance on her face, and the determined glint in her eyes. Hard eyes, that had seen too much pain. Tally wouldn’t back down easily—from anything. The Colt strapped around her waist bore witness to that.”

I’ve often thought about the line drawn between outlaws and lawmen on the American Frontier and find that at times it became so blurred it was almost invisible. A man could be a sheriff or U.S. Marshal one day and a fugitive outlaw the next, depending on the circumstances. Or vice versa.

Millions upon millions of acres of raw land comprised the American Frontier, stretching from the Missouri River all the way to the Pacific Ocean. There were no laws, no courts, and little or no government. The few lawmen that existed had to cover huge areas and there was no way they could.

Often, the only law was what a man found for himself. The gun determined the outcome.

To get an idea of what I’m talking about, consider this: A man is minding his own business and taking care of his family when someone rides up and shoots his wife and children. He catches the murderer and kills him. That makes him an outlaw and he’d be on the run.

Then maybe one of the railroad or cattle towns needed to curb their lawlessness so they would hire the outlaw and pin a badge on his chest. There are plenty of examples in history.

Many such men straddled the fence, being whatever anyone wanted. Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Virgil Earp, Bat Masterson, and Pat Garrett to name a few. You might say they were the good “bad” guys.

That’s what Clay and his friends are. Sure, they’ve killed but they only see it as administering justice. They were the law where there was none and now they’re ready to give up their role.

But will others let them?

If you’ve read the book, tell me your favorite part or favorite character. Or talk about outlaws. What is your view? Were they good? Or bad?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of three copies of the book. Or if you already have it, to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Wanted Posters–and WANTED! by Pam Crooks

 

When we think of a Wanted poster, we think of the Old West when those handbills were tacked on the sides of buildings or poles, declaring the name of the alleged criminal and their crime, often with a grainy illustration, a reward and inscribed “Dead or Alive.” 

In truth, the Wanted posters had much humbler beginnings. From about 1840, they originated as a letter or a postcard with the specific information listed (physical description, crime, locale, etc.) and were distributed among frontier lawmen, who kept the paper folded in their pockets.  Occasionally, the information was printed in newspapers, but rarely were the letters circulated widely or even to the public. Travel was difficult, slow and assumed hindering to most criminals; thus, the posters were kept within a small area of local towns and counties.

The Pinkerton Agency was instrumental in improving the Wanted poster as a means of spreading the word in hopes of capturing a known lawbreaker. The admonishment of “Dead or Alive” was merely a disclaimer that if it came right down to it, shooting the guy if necessary kept the bounty hunter or vigilante virtually blameless.

And those rewards? The amount was dependent on the outlaw’s ruthlessness and how much someone was willing to pony up for it. The money was usually split between the arresting lawman and the one who had compiled the information and distributed it.

As time went on, about the turn of the century, photography improved and photos were added.  With more years rolling by, Wanted posters were even used as a form of propaganda throughout the world toward capturing Adolf Hitler, and later, Osama Bin Laden, who warranted a hefty $25 million reward in 2001. In the 1950s, the FBI created their Ten Most Wanted Fugitive list, including a broader range of criminals dictated by the unfortunate sophistication in their methods, namely terrorists and fugitives as well as missing or kidnap victims.

So you could say the Wanted poster was one of history’s first form of social media, right?

In my brand new re-release, WANTED!, Lark is a former outlaw turned responsible citizen and bank teller, who through circumstances beyond her control, finds herself under the care and protection of the man who once tried to arrest her. 

Here’s a peek at how a Wanted poster complicates Lark’s life­… or does it?

He strode into his bedroom and closed the door. He kept assorted pharmaceuticals on a shelf above his washbasin. But it was the bureau he headed for, and the bottom drawer he kept under lock and key.

Once he opened it, he found the flat, rectangular box he was looking for. He removed the lid, tossed it aside, his urgency growing as he rifled through the papers he kept within. Reports he’d penned. Payments he’d received. Documents from his past life as a bounty hunter.

Wanted posters.

He yanked out one in particular.

And there she was.

Lark Renault. Alias Wild Red. Once part of the notorious Reno gang. The artist’s drawing was at least seven years old, crude at best, but it was her. Thick, wavy hair, spilling from beneath a wide-brimmed hat. Eyes, dark and direct. She looked young in the drawing. Thinner, too.

But it was her.

She’d been there that day at the Turf Club. Ross was hell-bent on arresting her, but things turned ugly. Out of control. He never intended to shoot her down.

Catfish Jack took care of matters with his shotgun primed and ready. Ross never saw him coming.

He shut off the memories, dragged himself back to the present. Now, at last, he could finish the case he never solved, and the one person who could help him do it was sitting on his couch at this very moment.

The Wanted poster slipped from his fingers. He rose, strode to the door and yanked it wide open.

But Lark Renault had disappeared.

 

At this point, poor Lark and Ross are both caught up in quite a dilemma. I hope you’ll want to read more. #kindleunlimited

 

Here’s the link on  Amazon

I’d love to give away an ebook copy of WANTED!  (If you prefer a paperback copy, I’ll be happy to send that instead.)

1. To be eligible to win, just follow the above link to Amazon, click on the cover to read the excerpt and answer the following question:

 

Where is Mr. Templeton taking his family for the weekend, thus leaving Lark in charge of the bank?

 

2. When you find the answer, email me at pamcrooks1@gmail.com 

3.  Leave a comment that you found the answer, too.

Check back tonight and I’ll announce the winner!