Tularosa. The word evokes the vision of a charming Mexican village in the desert, which is pretty close to accurate. Tularosa is the name of an actual town in New Mexico (nicknamed Tulie), and it is the setting for my upcoming contemporary romance, Lucky in Love, being released June 1 by Champagne Books.
I’ve been carrying on a romance with this southwestern village since 2004 when I traveled to the Land of Enchantment for the first time. It took only two days for me to fall in love with the flowering desert, the multi-faceted mountains, and the eternal sunshine. I fell so hard, in fact, that I bought five acres of land with the dream of building a ranch on it one day. From the adobe home I imagined on the property, the Sacramento Mountains lay out my back door while the sacred mountain, Sierra Blanca, provided an incredible northeast view from my kitchen window.
Tularosa derives its name from the Spanish word tule meaning rose colored reeds, which grew along the banks of the Rio Tularosa, which still exists along the north side of the town. Original settlers were attracted to this area in 1860 because the river flowed deep and cool year-round in the desert. However, due to frequent raids by the Apaches from what is now the Mescalero Apache Reservation, occupation was untenable and the site was abandoned. Two years later, Hispanic farmers from the Rio Grande valley succeeded in settling the area, with protection from Fort Stanton to the east. Orchards were planted and homes were built. In 1863, Tularosa was formally established and forty-nine blocks of the new village were plotted, with water rights distributed and recorded.
All was not peaceful in this idyllic setting, however. In 1868, the Apaches went on a vicious rampage, killing eleven men and two women, prompting a battle between settlers and soldiers against the Apaches at Round Mountain, a cone-shaped peak 1,000 feet above the 4,500 foot high desert floor. After that short skirmish, in which the Indians retreated, Tularosa was never again attacked, and the Hispanics promised to build a new church to commemorate the last battle with the Apaches. The St. Francis de Paula Mission was started that same year and still stands today, shaded by ancient cottonwoods that line one of the oldest acequias in southern New Mexico.
The original acequia (ditch irrigation system) remains virtually unchanged and still provides the water for the trees lining the streets, grassy lawns, and a variety of beautiful roses, which grace many private gardens. A Rose Festival is held annually, the first weekend in May, to celebrate the abundance of blossoms.
Some of the original block-long adobe homes still exist in Tulie as well. In 1979, the Tularosa Original Town-site District, consisting of the original forty-nine blocks on 1400 acres including 182 buildings was recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.
With a population of around 3,000, this picturesque village has welcomed the arrival of Spanish-speaking ranchers, Texas cattlemen, soldiers, Anglos and Apaches, and has managed to weather them all.
In Lucky in Love, my heroine, Jordan Mackenzie, is one of those transplants who falls in love with Tularosa, the lifestyle, and the natural beauty of New Mexico, much the same way that I did. Many of the landmarks, places and events in this story are real, such as The Lodge and Rebecca the ghost, the Otero County fair and rodeo, the fabulous Mexican restaurant, Casa de Suenos, and the Mission Church. This story is near and dear to my heart, as is Tulie. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. You can watch the video and read a blurb and excerpt of Lucky in Love on my website: http://www.staceycoverstone.com
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Thanks to the fillies for having me today. I always love talking to my fellow western romance fans.