With my latest book, A Reason to Sin, I bring the Forrester brothers trilogy to an end, which was both exhilarating and incredibly sad. After spending two years with the Forresters, it was difficult to let them go but also wonderfully gratifying to give them each a woman who could love them and bring them happiness.
When I began bringing to life the Forrester brothers, I really wanted to make one of the brothers be a gambler. I’ve had different story ideas with a Bret Maverick type hero but for one reason or another, the plot wouldn’t come together. But with “A Reason to Sin” the bare bones background of Slater Forrester was already set up–orphaned at a young age and placed in a children’s home with his younger brother. This gave the foundation for our wounded hero Slater. Since it was only a couple years after the War Between the States ended, maybe Slater had been involved in the War, and maybe because of the role he played, he was damaged even further. What if he’d been a Yankee spy and was captured and thrown in the infamous Andersonville prison? Now I was really excited to write Slater’s story. How can a man who’d faced so much adversity and donned a bitter façade, find a happily ever after?
However, it’s love for her infant son that brings her to such sinful ways in the Scarlet Garter. Back in the 1800’s widows with children had few options. If they remained single, how could they support their families? The wide diversity of jobs open to women nowadays was not the case then. With little education, maybe they might find a job as a laundress or a seamstress, but those were few and far between. They could marry again…and often did quickly because there were few “good” women to be had in the western frontier. However, often the new husband didn’t want a readymade family and the woman had to give her children to a relative to raise, or leave them in a children’s home. It might seem like those mothers who did that were heartless creatures, but the fact was in most cases their only other choice was to work in a saloon or parlor house, which meant condemnation of their souls.
Consider a woman like Rebecca Glory Bowen Colfax, who was raised wanting nothing, who then lost her parents, married the first slick talker who came around, then found out he’d gambled everything away and left her, alone, penniless, and expecting a child. Without family, Rebecca had to give up her child and she becomes obsessed with finding her husband and getting her infant son back. She will do anything to regain her son, including work in the Scarlet Garter. The problem is, she never expected to meet a man like Slater Forrester, a gambler like her husband. However, despite the similar professions, Rebecca senses there’s more to Slater than his gambling persona. Much much more…
I’m equally attracted and repulsed by the conditions in which women had to live in the 19th century. While I admire strong, independent women, I realize that in that day and age, strong and independent were characterized by taking care of family and home. However, when they lost those things, where did they turn? What did they do? It’s those women I prefer to write about. Those women who because of one reason or another have found themselves in dire circumstances and must search deep within their souls to find the strength to do what they must in order to survive, and just as importantly, to find love and thrive in these new conditions. I believe that tragic conditions often times act as a crucible, exposing the true person beneath the masks we each wear day after day. And isn’t love all about truth and baring one’s heart and soul to another human being?
Currently I’m working on another western romance proposal, although my next book out is a romantic suspense titled Where There’s Fire. Although I truly enjoy writing the romantic suspense, I have to admit I’m never as comfortable in that world as I am with the American West.
But then, where I live, how could it be any different. As you can see with this last picture, taken from our front door, the West is a part of my life each and every day.
Maureen is giving away autographed copies of the trilogy–the three Forrester brothers books–to one lucky winner! A Reason to Live, A Reason to Believe and A Reason to Sin will being to one reader who comments this weekend. Gee, that was a great reason to drop by today, wasn’t it?