One of the greatest things about writing is that authors are able to indulge themselves with their own fantasies. One of mine is that I would have loved living in the West during the last part of the 1800’s–or at least, until the weather was severe and I had no central heat/air, no clean bathroom with running water, no antibiotics, and on and on. It’s a romantic time, though, which is why I love writing western romances. Another of my fantasies is that I wanted to look like the young Maureen O’Hara. More’s the pity, for I look nothing like her. But we’re talking about fantasies, right? This is why, Cenora Rose O’Neill, the heroine of my latest western romance, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, strongly resembles Miss O’Hara in appearance. What authors can’t accomplish ourselves, we accomplish through our characters.
When the infamous 1845 Irish potato famine struck and millions in Ireland literally starved to death, there was a mass immigration of Irish into the United States. But the O’Neill family didn’t lose their land in the famine. They were turned off many years later by a vengeful landlord.
For a long time in Ireland, it had been against the law for Irish to learn to read and write. Only the English could attend Irish schools. The Irish’s only education came from “hedgerow” schools in which someone would teach a small group of children while hidden behind a hedgerow and using a stick to draw on the ground. Anyone caught teaching Irish children to read and write was prosecuted. Due to their poor education, immigrants were looked down on by many, hence the signs “No Irish Need Apply.”
Because of the lack of schooling, Cenora cannot read cursive and reads only a few words in print. Her father, Sean O’Neill, can read a newspaper (slowly), and has done all the reading for his family and their traveling companions. The McClintocks value education, and Dallas McClintock reads most evenings. This difference causes only one of the many conflicts that arise in the book.
When forced off their land with only what they could carry, Cenora and her family fell in with a group of Irish Travelers. The Travelers, or tinkers, are not gypsies but are descended from medieval minstrels and poets who traveled Ireland telling myths and stories. In medieval times, they were respected and learned. From the time of Cromwell’s English occupation, many Irish families were turned out of their homes and drifted in with the traveling minstrels, eventually becoming the Irish Travelers. Travelers have their own language (cant), Sheldroo, which is linked by scholars to medieval language. They camped in fields at first. Later they acquired tents, then the colorful wagons that resemble gypsy wagons, such as the ones used in my novel. Like people everywhere, some Irish Travelers are good, some are not. The same is true for those portrayed in THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE.
I was fortunate enough to see a couple of their wagons in museums when my husband and I were in Ireland and Scotland. The wagons are unbelievably compact, and brightly painted inside and out in red, blue and green with yellow pinstripes. That’s the type of the two wagons acquired by the O’Neills through their ability to play instruments while Cenora sings for crowds when they pass through towns. Unfortunately, Sean O’Neill’s only abilities are playing music and the gift of gab–not much to supply a family’s needs. His sons Finn and Mac trade ponies for a bit of extra coin and the family gets by. On the other hand, Dallas McClintock has a strong work ethic and sense of honor. You can see more trouble looming, can’t you?
In THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father somehow arranged the trap for Dallas McClintock, but she agrees to wed the handsome stranger. She’d do anything to protect her family, and she wants to save herself from the bully Tom Williams. She believes a fine settled man like Dallas will rid himself of her soon enough, but at least she and her family will be safely away from Williams.
Texas rancher Dallas McClintock has no plans to wed for several years. Right now, he’s trying to establish himself as a successful horse breeder. Severely wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, Dallas is taken to her family’s wagon to be tended. He is trapped into marrying Cenora, but he is not a man who ever goes back on his word. His wife has a silly superstition for everything, but passion-filled nights with her make up for everything-even when her wild, eccentric family nearly drives him crazy.
Here’s an excerpt from the wedding in THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE:
Dallas raised his gaze where Aoife directed. Four girls danced, but only one drew his attention. Shoulders straight and feet flying, Cenora met his glance, then broke away from the other dancers to perform only a few yards from him.
Catcalls sounded nearby. She ignored them but gave a toss of her head. Her hair had come unbound, and her act sent her fiery hair awhirl. Light from the blazing campfire cast an aura-like radiance around her. Lantern glow overhead reflected her eyes sparked with merriment, challenge, and something mysterious he couldn’t name.
No longer the delicate china doll, her wild beauty called to him, mesmerized him. He visualized her brilliant tresses spread across a pillow, her milky skin bared only for him. His body responded, and savage desire shot through him. Surprised at the depth of his reaction, he wondered if her performance in bed would parallel the unbridled nature of her dance.
Good Lord, could this glorious woman truly be his wife? And if so, heaven help him, what on earth was he to do with her?
I hope you’ll read and enjoy THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. I’ll donate a free PDF download to someone who comments here and tells me they’ve gone to my blog at http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com to sign up for my Mostly Monthly Newsletter.
The buy link for THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE is www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638.html.
My website is www.carolineclemmons.com.
Thanks very much for letting me be a guest on Petticoats and Pistols.