As he says good-bye to his best friend, both men know the danger Duck faces but he comes from a long line of Texas Rangers and, much as Duck loves adventure, he loves Texas more.
His friend, a gambler named Lewton Paterson, prefers a quiet adventure of traveling to Whispering Mountain to court one of Duck’s cousins while his friend is out of town and can’t try to stop him. Though Lewt is successful in his world, he longs for a home and family, something gamblers rarely have.
Because of my love for Texas History, I knew of a raid the rangers made into Mexico to try to retrieve stolen cattle and to break up a gang of outlaws. It fit perfectly into my story.
Captain Leander McNelly organized a special force of rangers in 1875 and my character, Duncan McMurray, stepped into a time and place in history as wild as any western. It’s often said that early Texans were great fighters but poor writers, so very little facts about the raid are known. This story, like many others in Texas Legend, was passed down in the telling.
The raid they made became part of the legend of the Rangers. We do know a few men, wearing the circle star, raced across the border with guns blazing one night in 1875. When met by outlaws several times greater in numbers, McNelly made his stand and, with a great deal of brass, demanded the hundreds of head of cattle stolen be returned. Because it was night, the outlaws didn’t know how few rangers rode with Captain McNelly. By dawn cattle were driven back across the Rio Grande. More cattle, it turned out, than the rangers thought had been stolen.
You can read more about McNelly at http://www.theoutlaws.com/lawman3.htm.
In my story, Duncan is hurt and accidentally left behind. Without a horse and too weak to walk, he knows he’ll be killed if he doesn’t get help. An old woman dressed as a peddler finds him. He thinks he’s saved, but soon discovers she plans to auction him off to the highest outlaw bidding.
Lewt Patterson, unaware of what has happened to his best friend, travels to Whispering Mountain to meet the single ladies of a huge ranch called Whispering Mountain. The only women he’s ever known are girls who hang around the saloons. Lewt’s first surprise is that not all women find him irresistible.
I had great fun showing what ranching life in 1875 must have been like. The two stories of Lewt and Duck come together and both men grow as they define what it means to be a real hero.
TEXAS BLUE, like most of my historical romances, was sparked from true history. Ride along with me. I’ll bet you’ll fall in love with both men and the women strong enough to love them.
This is my fifth Whispering Mountain book and my first one of the new generation. If you would like to see Duck and the girls as children please read TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN.
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***Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 31 novels and 8 short story collections. As of July 2006, she was the 11th woman to be inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. She is also currently serving as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.