I know. I’m not supposed to be here today. Margaret Brownley is. But we traded days this month, and I’m ever so happy that we did.
I can shamelessly promote my new book which hits the stands and the e-world at the end of the August. In ten days or so.
“The Lawman” has a special place in my heart. It will be my first western in nearly fifteen years. And it was westerns that started me writing. I was a perfectly happy public relations practitioner when strangers started haunting my every thought. I sat down and started writing. It was a tale of the Civil War in Texas. I’ve always been fascinated with the influence of the war on the west, the emotional wounds that so many men carried with them. This story’s roots is also based on that conflict.
Westerns have always been my first love. But when the western genre started to fade (my personal opinion is that they were so popular, publishers started to flood the market and flooding the market has never been good) I turned to Scotland. There were similarities between the two. Strong women. Strong, rugged men, usually wronged in some way and fighting for justice.
I went from Scotland to World War II to early America and finally to contemporary suspense, but all that time, western tales nagged at me, one character in particular. She’s been waiting for this story for a decade.
Her name is Samantha, and she was raised in a mining town in Colorado during the height of the gold craze. Her father was killed for his claim, and her mother cooked and washed clothes to support Samantha and herself. She eventually ran a boarding house, but then she died of pneumonia and, at eleven, Samantha was orphaned.
She appeared to me when I visited an old ghost mining town in Colorado. Most of it had burned down, but there were still a few ramshackle buildings. I could picture the thousands of hopeful men who risked everything for a nugget of gold. A dozen languages were spoken. Men came from every continent with great hopes and little else. Each camp had two or three or even five newspapers, not to mention the always present soiled doves. Vigilante justice ruled. I loved prowling though books about the mining towns and the people who lived there.
These towns grew and most then died as their hopeful populations went to the next find. A few developed into towns that exist today but not many.
But what was to happen to Samantha? She had no family left, not even distant ones. There was no respectable woman to take her. But three men — an outlaw, a gambler and a mule skinner – had all loved Samantha’s mother and swore to her that they would care for her daughter.
And they did. The outlaw taught her to shoot and take care of herself, the gambler taught her to win, and the mule skinner taught her about animals and doctoring. But no one, other than books, taught her anything about love.
The gold ran out. A fire consumed most of the town. Everyone left. Or almost everyone. Samantha and her three “godfathers” stayed. It was a safe place for the outlaw. The gambler could travel easily to other mining towns, and the irascible mule skinner loved the mountains, and the isolation.
Samantha was happy. She loved the mountains, the animals, the books the gambler brought. And yet an ache was beginning to grow, a yearning she didn’t really understand.
Until a marshal, intent on hanging one of godfathers, rode into town and Sam was all that stood between him and a badly wounded man who’d been like a father to her. Worse, he wasn’t there entirely out of duty. Convinced the outlaw had killed someone very important to him, he’d been hunting the outlaw relentlessly for ten years. He was, in fact, the reason they’d stayed in the abandoned town.
I don’t think there’s any conflict as powerful as that of conflicting loyalties. Deep down gut-wrenching loyalties. How does one choose between two children? Or between a lover and father? How do you choose which will live and which will die?
The book is a Harlequin Blaze, a little more sensual than I usually write but not as sexy as most Blazes. It’s also shorter, but it still has a rather large cast of characters I hope you come to love as I did.
And did I mention I was nervous?
That I, a normally well adjusted, easy-going Pollyanna, become a raving maniac when one of my books is published.
And my winner for my last contest is Cindy Woolard. Cindy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org